Two Tomes Tackle Asterisk

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2006-01-23 Print this article Print

An application as richly featured and complex as the asterisk PBX requires administrators to have the best documentation available.

An application as richly featured and complex as the Asterisk PBX requires administrators to have the best documentation available. While a lot of information is available at many Web sites , beginners may find a good book to be the best starting place. eWEEK Labs recently took a look at two books—one we can highly recommend for beginners and one with more script examples for the more adventurous.

Click here to eWEEK Labs review of Asterisk 1.2.1.
eWEEK Labs found OReilly Media Inc.s 404-page "Asterisk: The Future of Telephony," by Jim Van Meggelen, Jared Smith and Leif Madsen, to be the most helpful book for Asterisk newbies weve seen to date. After a brief explanation of some telephony concepts, the book dives into installation instructions and then slowly builds the readers familiarity with various concepts—providing a series of exercises to build the readers understanding of the role and structure of Asterisks many configuration files. However, the application appendix provides less-than-ideal documentation for more advanced configurations. The book, published in September, costs $39.95.

Taking the opposite tack is Paul Mahlers "VoIP Telephony with Asterisk, Second Edition," published in August by Signate LLC, a provider of technical services for Asterisk and VOIP (voice over IP) telephony. Mahlers book immediately dumps a fully formed dial plan in the readers lap and then haphazardly tries to backtrack to explain the initial presentation. However, Mahlers book introduces more concepts than OReillys offering, presenting more script examples for a wider variety of Asterisk apps.

Annoyingly, the $39.95 "VoIP Telephony with Asterisk" frequently hawks Signates Asterisk Installation 2005 CD (available for an additional $60 from, which includes the Asterisk binaries and a full Linux distribution based on CentOS. However, the sound configuration advice throughout the text applies just as well to an ad hoc Asterisk implementation.

Neither book will satisfy the most advanced Asterisk users, however, since neither delves into complex operations for large deployments, such as leveraging an external MySQL database to store the dial plan.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.
Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at

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