can someone shed a light on using Asterisks at home?

Discussion in 'DIY and Makers Spot' started by vl1969, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. vl1969

    vl1969 Active Member

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    well the question is really more on,
    I have seen a lot of talk about people setting up Asterisks server etc... for home use. VoIP
    I thought maybe someone can explain to me more on what would be needed in more details on
    what hardware and hoe would I set things up if I want to use, let say Asterisks at home?
    what effort and possible expense I am looking at and what the benefits of all of this?

    thansk Vl.
     
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  2. PigLover

    PigLover Moderator

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    Asterisk works great, but I wouldn't try to run it "raw". Configuring Asterisk without a wrapper is a PITA.

    There are several good packages out there - FreePBX is one of the more popular and simple to set up with a fairly decent GUI configuration/management wrapper. RasPBX is a fork of FreePBX packaged to run on a Raspberry Pi, which is more than enough server for a 3-5 phone home deployment (could be many more stations that that as long as only 3-5 are actually off-hook together).

    FreePBX
    Asterisk for Raspberry Pi
     
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  3. StevenDTX

    StevenDTX Active Member

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    I have been running IncrediblePBX (in a VM on ESXi) with Yealink phones at home for several years now. I couldn't be happier with it.

    You can set up a common voicemail, or a separate voicemail for each extension. Intercom. My favorite function...intercom all the extensions at one time. A web dashboard for caller ID and voicemails. Voicemail to email. I have mine set up to record every single call, in or out. That became very handy with a recent insurance claim.

    I get my trunks from voip.ms.

    I also use a softphone on my iPad and Android phone, as an extension of home PBX, so I can make and receive calls on those numbers.

    This is the phone currently sitting at my desk:

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. ttabbal

    ttabbal Active Member

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    It's not hard to set up using FreePBX, I stopped using it and instead did an Obi220 via Google Voice. If you want to use Asterisk, the Obi devices make a nice adapter to connect POTS devices to the system. Obi devices can link to any SIP server, so you can just put the Asterisk address etc. in and it will connect up fine.
     
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  5. vl1969

    vl1969 Active Member

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    thanks guys, at the moment is is just a curiosity talking.
    my house is not network wired. all I have is old POTS line/jacks with cable /phone/ internet service.
    but I keep seeing people posting things about using Asterisks @ home so I want to understand how and what is involved.
    in old days I know you needed a special SIP cards connected to the phones etc.
    who has this @ home?
     
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  6. Stephan

    Stephan IT Professional

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    If you mean BRI/PRI cards, that is still used in places but they're on their way out. Really the only thing needed is a server (x86, ARM), a SIP desk phone and some upstream provider that is talked to via your ordinary internet connection (also via SIP). To connect up POTS desk phones I suggest one of the new Grandstream HT-8xx adapters (best chipset).

    I built up Asterisk by compiling it myself and then starting from scratch with literally empty config files. You have to understand SIP (being the extensible hell it has become), networking, Asterisk and much more to pull this off, though. Dialplan work can be maddening. Clients like phones, software phones or even apps on Android/IOS are still a different story and sometimes it takes a day or two to even get only one feature working.

    For really hardcore Asterisk you are looking at 10 weeks of work.
     
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  7. PigLover

    PigLover Moderator

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    @Stephan has it right. Get rid of all thoughts about your POTS connections. Go SIP completely or don't go. I'd second @StevenDTX's suggestion for using voip.ms as a provider. They are both reliable and cheap. Port your phone number to them, disconnect your POTS lines and be happy.

    For transition use a PAP so that you can re-use your two-wire phones. The Grandstream HT-8xx are solid. If you want to count pennies look for Linksys PAP2 on ebay - you get often get them used as low as $5-10.
     
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  8. Blinky 42

    Blinky 42 Active Member

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    I have been using Asterisk for over a decade now. First set it up at the home office and tried various hardware to settle on Sangoma interface cards (the Digium cards were a mess back then) and Polycom phones then when the day job moved locations I set up a box with Asterisk a Sangoma PRI card + analog card for the fax line to support the whole office of 50+.

    I still use the same hardware today but it has grown to cover home lines, the home office + satellite offices for work (all connected via IPSec) and it "just works" once you put the time in to set it up and understand how to configure it properly.

    You need to be SUPER careful to lock it down from the internet however - it does not take long for scanners to find an opening and then hack in to make international calls 24x7 until you shut them down. I have heard horror stories that the phone company just laughs at you and you are SOL and on the hook for whatever bill they rack up if that happens.

    Of late I have been using Twilio for my SIP trunks and they are great and inexpensive. I was able to port old cell phones to Twilio easy and I can do SMS messages using their API and SIP trunk calls on the same numbers.

    View it as something you need to spend some time to learn the ins and outs of and it isn't going to come together instantly and you will be fine. And just remember that actions you take can have $ or annoyance consequences (how to test dial plans for 911 / 999 properly for example).
     
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  9. StevenDTX

    StevenDTX Active Member

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    voip.ms is doing free porting right now.

    I had an Ooma account still active, but their "fees" have creeped up to almost $7/month. I ported it to voip.ms for less than $1/month.
     
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  10. StevenDTX

    StevenDTX Active Member

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    For this reason, I havent opened any ports on my firewall directly to my PBX. When I use my softphone, I make a VPN connection home first, then register my phone.

    Or, I make a connection directly to voip.ms servers, bypassing my PBX all together.
     
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  11. PigLover

    PigLover Moderator

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    Agree on the security issue. Make sure your Asterisk servers are not exposed directly to the Internet. I run Suricata on my pfSense box - almost 10% of the alerts/blocks I see in the logs are "SIPvicious scans", which is a well known tool to look for open SIP ports and attack them.
     
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  12. Stephan

    Stephan IT Professional

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    Concerning security, I even run with allowguest=yes and context=incoming_guests in sip.conf [general]. But this context will just look if you are actually trying to reach one of my legit numbers and ring the correct phone even. Otherwise it will send me an email and answer with the voice of a slightly crazy Florida man, inquiring who is it, in a loop. If such a call is actually made, I get the MP3 recording from that by email as well. Usually it is some poorer european nation state or chinese IP address trying to fraudulently call an african premium number. Contrary to portrayal in "Enemy of the state" police haven't caught anybody yet though. Guess Interpol needs another 10-20 years to establish their voice print database of everyone who ever said something on social media or to one of those Alexa bins or in front of their smart TV.

    As for the other type of security, I have never encountered an Asterisk installation that actually pushes things like with tlscipher=AES256+kEECDH+aRSA:AES256+kEDH+aRSA (RSA for authentication, ephemeral DH for key exchange, i.e. a bust might reveal the RSA secret key, but not compromise any prior call, AES256 for encryption). Even though since June 5th 2013 things haven't been quite like they used to.

    Since the service is internet-facing, it should be jailed with nsjail and possibly seccomp syscall filtering, to mitigate exploitation attempts. Or it should be stuck behind a VPN like @StevenDTX suggested. Other methods like filtering everything incoming statefully and using keepalive=50 to keep the UDP port open for your provider might be further advanced topics requiring study.
     
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  13. CJRoss

    CJRoss Member

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    Any recommendations for cheap SIP phones?
     
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  14. pricklypunter

    pricklypunter Well-Known Member

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    I have used Asterisk for 10+ years, both at home and at work. It's great, but does have it's foibles. As everyone else has mentioned, to roll your own at home from a bare install, is a painful learning experience, fun though, if the only thing you are concerned about is ordering a pizza when you finally make your first real test call. Also, as has been mentioned, never let it loose on the open internet as it will cost you. WHEN, not if, it gets hacked :)

    After learning how to make Asterisk work, I decided that it was too involved to go the bare install route and after having tried lots of different wrappers, I finally settled on Elastix, been using it pretty much since. It is essentially built upon FreePBX and just works. I haven't seen a feature yet that I wanted that I couldn't add or that wasn't already rolled in to it.

    More recently I have been playing around with Freeswitch, which I like a lot and is pretty darn good, it's certainly less resource intensive, but like Asterisk, has it's own issues and until I find ways of making it reliable for me, I'll be sticking with what I have. It is not as intuitive to use either, at least I don't think so, as Elastix or FreePBX etc and requires more learning.

    If you plan to use your old preexisting handsets, a cheap fxs card from China will get you there, or as has been suggested, use a SIP adapter, of which there are plenty. I like the Cisco SPA's personally.

    For phones I use Cisco or Grandstream endpoints whenever I have the choice and use Cisco handsets exclusively at home.

    If you use a TDM card of any kind, be careful if you run your PBX in a VM. Timing is critical here and can cause you all manner of headaches. I would go as far as to say the best plan, in that circumstance, is to run your PBX on bare metal. If you are doing SIP only and do not need Analog at all, then running in a VM is perfectly usable :)

    Have a go compiling your own Asterisk PBX and get it working properly, what you'll learn from doing that is invaluable. Then try as many different distributions as you can and when things don't work quite as expected, you will know where to look in the config files to fix it. Either way, it's a journey :D
     
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    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
  15. pricklypunter

    pricklypunter Well-Known Member

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    Good used handsets from Cisco, Grandstream, Avaya, Polycom and Mitel from ebay and telecoms resellers would be where I would put my own money, for work Cisco or Grandstream for me, if I have the choice or have to make a recommendation :)
     
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  16. vl1969

    vl1969 Active Member

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    PigLover, I do not have POTS line coming into the house, well I do but that is not connected anymore,
    I get my phone service from Optimum along with my internet and TV.
    what I mean is that my house is not ethernet wired.
    I do not have CAT-5/6 wiring anywhere except 2 or 3 places where I run the cable myself.
    I use mostly wireless phones in the house with extended stations (Panasonic DEC6 with 5 stations)
    the optimum modem phone line is connected to the main POTS wiring hub in the basement that makes all my old phone jacks in the house active and ready for the phones.
    the base is connected to one of the jacks and the rest is wireless.
    now if I want to go VoIP all the way, I need to wire a network (cat-5/6 with RJ-45) avery where I want a phone, right?
     
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  17. pricklypunter

    pricklypunter Well-Known Member

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    Yes you do, it coexists on the same line as your, most likely, VDSL2 that is supplying you with Internet & T.V services. I would lay a bet that if you plugged in an old rotary dial phone, the line still accepts loop disconnect dialing pulses :)

    CAT3 will run VOIP just fine, providing you lock the equipment down to using 10BaseT properly. One way Latency and Jitter are generally the main causes of call issues, not the media it travels over necessarily.

    You can also run VOIP over your existing WiFi if you want to, there's plenty of wireless SIP phones around, effectively providing you an equivalent to your current DECT handset installation.

    Not at all, but it's really handy to have line speed anywhere there are endpoints that can make use of the bandwidth, so I would say do it anyway :)
     
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  18. vl1969

    vl1969 Active Member

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    No actually I do not. First of all I am in USA, just incase it matters.
    and while I do have a copper POTS line coming into the house(I can see it outside and in my basement where it comes in) it is totally disconnected from the internal wiring. I should know I disconnect it myself when I looped the distribution block into my FIOS TNT couple of years back, and now into my Cable modem. and my service is will not accepts loop disconnect dialing pulses. it is going via Optimum Cable modem thus it is essentially a VoIP service and requires Tone dialing, not pulse.


    I know Cat3 will run it, but if I am wiring the house I think CAT5e or Cat6 is a better choice.

    now that is a good to know info. :)
     
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  19. StevenDTX

    StevenDTX Active Member

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  20. StevenDTX

    StevenDTX Active Member

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    Also, you can use a softphone (like Zoiper) on your cell phone via wifi.
     
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