VoIP with Asterisk on Slackware

At the time I started iinix about 3 years ago, some of my friends recommended I get into VoIP (voice over IP) (thanks for trying Ken), the next big thing after Linux. Partly due to my stubbornness and mostly because I already had too much invested in core Linux services and Linux on the desktop, I didn’t pay much attention to learning more about this relatively new technology.

With so many call centers cropping up around Pakistan and VoIP now becoming a household thing, I decided to dive in. It was now or never and it was getting frustrating to refuse so many requests. Since late last year I’ve been working a lot with Asterisk, related VoIP software and voice protocols and codecs.

It’s worth noting that voip is illegal in Pakistan, with the exception of call centers who require a license to operate, and voice protocols, such as SIP, are blocked by the main Internet gateways. The “Big TelCo” has too much clout and is very protective of its main revenue-generating services. Nevermind where the rest of the world is going. We just have to live in the dark ages because the Big Guys refuse to change.

The authorities are also surprisingly efficient at enforcing this particular ban and the penalties are very severe. Yet just the limited customer-base is generating a lot of demand and the local solution providers are hardly upto the task. Maybe if the rules are adjusted to the 21st Century, more quality people would get into this.

Anyway, to the technical stuff. CentOS is a very popular choice for all servers these days and that, and sometimes Fedora, was what I used to run Asterisk and supporting software. Asterisk@Home, the no-hassle auto-installing CD for Asterisk, is based on CentOS. Though CentOS is so popular and easty to setup, I was not impressed. There is no comparison to Slackware Linux in terms of security, stability and even performance.

I’m now running Asterisk on Slackware (10.2), with the default 2.4 kernel, and things are going very smoothly. It should run even better with an optimized 2.6 kernel. Pleasant surprise after all the weird issues I’ve had with CentOS and Fedora.