PC to PBX in 4 Minutes – Possible?

Knopsterisk is a LIVE CD Linux system with a preconfigured Asterisk already installed. Knopsterisk is based on Knoppix, the LIVE Linux CD which will boot and self configure on most current PCs.

Asterisk, the open source pbx, makes a regular PC into a phone switch and VoIP gateway. Asterisk can be used with or without special telephony hardware. Autoattendant, Voicemail, Music on hold and many other pbx features are built into Asterisk. Knopsterisk gives you an instant Asterisk PBX.

With sound card and a broadband connection, you can access VoIP networks like Free World Dialup, low priced long distance and other VoIP services. Run Asterisk on a LAN, and Windows, Linux or Mac computers on that LAN can use softphones (iaxcomm, sjphone, xlite, kphone and others) with Asterisk.

Asterisk can be connected to the PSTN and to analog telephones using PCI cards from Digium and various other hardware.

Knopsterisk includes the Knoppix hard disk install script making it easy to set up a linux telephony server.

The standard Knopsterisk CD has a basic preset configuration but can be re-configured by the user.

What is Asterisk?

Asterisk is the open source PBX. Asterisk runs under Linux and implements PBX features like auto attendant, voicemail, call transfer, music on hold, interactive voice response (IVR), call queueing and more. Asterisk supports the major VoIP protocols (SIP, IAX, H323, MGCP and SCCP) and works with IP phones from Cisco, Grandstream and others.

What is the minimum hardware needed to run Knopsterisk?

Recommended minimum is a 500 Mhz or better x86 processor with 192M or more of RAM, a soundcard (with headphones and microphone) and cable or ADSL connection. Avoid cheap motherboards. By booting in a line by line (no X Windows) mode, it is possible to run with much less RAM but this is not recommended for beginners.

What about soft IP phones?

Soft IP phones are telephones implemented in software to emulate hard phones by using the soundcard of a host computer for audio and the network card of the host computer for call connection. There are many free soft IP phones that run on Windows, Linux or Macintosh and will connect via Asterisk. A headset connected to the soundcard is recommended for serious use of soft phones.

What about hard IP phones?

Hard IP phones are telephones, usually with some extra buttons and lights, which connect through a LAN or the to internet directly. Hard IP phones can be expensive and well featured multi line speakerphones or simple and cheap. Analog Terminal Adapters (ATAs) contain the hard IP phone logic in a small box that regular analog phones can be connected to making the analog phone into a simple hard IP phone. Implementing a whole office PBX with Asterisk, the pre-existing office LAN and IP phones/ATAs is a reasonable alternative to an analog or proprietary PBX phone system.

What about telephony hardware?

To connect with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and use ordinary analog phones as local extensions, PCI cards are typically installed in the Asterisk server. The Digium X100P (or a clone) card will connect an Asterisk server to a subscriber phone line. Digium’s TDM400P card can connect up to four analog extensions. There are also T1 cards, channel banks and lots of other hardware that works with Asterisk. Have a good motherboard in your Asterisk box if you want to use multiple PCI telephony cards. (There are also ATA devices which can do the job of the X100P card).

What is a good starter hardware setup?

A generic PC with a decent motherboard, sound card and ethernet card, an X100P card and an SPA 2000 makes a simple 1×2 PBX. X100Ps and SPA 2000s are easy to obtain at reasonable prices. Two X100Ps and two SPAs will make it a 2×4 PBX. A Knopsterisk pre-configured CD for either of these setups produces a feature rich PBX in just minutes.