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Totek - Asterisk VoIP (SIP) News & Technology Source

Choosing The Best Hardware For Your Asterisk/Trixbox Server PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Web Master   
Thursday, 12 July 2007

One of the major problems with using Open Source software is drivers and compatibility between hardware brands. One of the questions that I keep seeing is about choosing the right hardware for Linux. The most often wrong answer that I see is “Linux works well with old hardware so anything will work.” This is not true, if you see answers like this please keep away from any future advice from these types of individuals.


In order to have a successful Asterisk/Trixbox Server you need to choose:

  1. The Right Hardware,

  2. The Right Linux Distribution

  3. The Right Asterisk/Trixbox Installation (RPM/DEB Packages – ISO Installation – Or Compile from Source)

This can be a little harder than it sounds and many have discovered this if you look in the online Forums.

If your Asterisk/Trixbox server is going to be using any kind of Analog/Digital PCI cards then you need to take additional steps to ensure that the PCI hardware is compatible. If you are using Digium hardware you must ensure that your server hardware is PCI 2.2 compliant. For this reason alone old hardware no matter how fast it is won't do!

How do you choose the right hardware?

This is based on what kind of support you will need. If you plan on using online Forums to resolve most of your technical problems than you need to pick what the most popular Linux version is for Asterisk. At this point it looks like Red Hat ES 4.x or CentOS 4.x. CentOS is a clone of of Red Hat, the sources are obtained from Red Hat Servers, any trademark art or content is removed and recompiled. This gives you the benefits of a using a tested distribution without paying for huge support fees. The popular Trixbox uses CentOS as a base for its Asterisk distribution.

When choosing hardware you also need to figure out what level of support you need from your hardware vendor. If you are using clone hardware you will also need to take risk that this hardware will work with your Linux distribution. Most of these clone vendors do not officially support Linux. If the hardware fails on your server can you wait a month to receive replacement hardware? If you are using any kind of clone hardware such as ASUS or other popular clone brands than expect to wait a while before you receive anything. This is why you save all that money, support is a big part of price. the less support you have it usually means the less you have paid.

This is unacceptable if you are using Asterisk in a Business environment. If you are going to be using clone hardware components you better stock at least 2 of each component because your customers will not want to hear excuses.

Your other options are to use big name brands such as HP, IBM, or Dell servers. Using brand name servers is in my opinion a better choice. You will need to identify what servers are compatible with your Linux Distribution by using each vendors HCL (Hardware Compatibility List). In my opinion I have found HP equipment to be the most Linux friendly. Besides the regular warranty you receive from your server you can purchase additional support for hardware replacement. This would allow you to receive replacement hardware the same or next day. You pay a premium for that kind of support, but at least you can sleep at night.