Asterisk: A PBX Phone system for free?

Solo lawyers (and the rest of the world for that matter) know about Skype and/or VOIP for making cheap, good quality calls, reducing overhead and changing the way professional service is delivered.

Well, it’s time I turned up the heat on this whole “leveraging technology” concept. Let’s see how much juice I can squeeze out of a dime.

asteriskI’m about to enter the hairy little world of Asterisk, a Linux based PBX system which is open source, feature rich and well, FREE. Actually, I’m taking the “easier” route by creating a Trixbox server (or perhaps a 3cx Server).

trixbox[Background: I'm a computer nerd. Have been since my uncle brought home an TRS-80 (Thank you, Texas Instruments, for the TRS-80 AND your graphing calculators). I've got no professional training except for a C++ class which I had to take twice, only to sneak by with a C-.]

Basically, Trixbox packages the Asterisk architecture along with a few other items in a “turnkey” downloadable format, which you then burn to a cd and install on an old but functional computer. That computer acts as your PBX system which handles incoming calls through a VOIP carrier.

Bored yet? Lost?

Well, I’ll be blogging about my attempt to set this up. If I can do it, I’ll rave about my success. If I can’t, I’ll probably go crazy trying or hire some 20 year old to do it for me.

What I have so far:

  • VOIP “Pay as you go” Service through Teliax.
  • An old computer (The Trixbox site recommends at least a 500MHZ PIII with 256megs of RAM – Pretty much top of the line hardware back in 1998)

What I plan to buy:

What I plan to achieve:

  • Setup a fully featured PBX phone system which boasts the following:
    • Call transfer, music on hold, remote softphone call in/out, auto attendant, etc…
  • Personal Joy in knowing that my fully featured PBX system costs less than one month of service with my conventional business phone bill.

FAQ’s:

Q: Are you still practicing law?

A: Yes, but I’ll make time for this project.

Q: Why don’t you just hire the 20 year old now to do this for you?

A: Because I have a burning desire to know EVERYTHING.

Q: Is this a rational delegation of your valuable time?

A: Absolutely not. But then again, going to the gym and then Taco Bell has been always been easy to rationalize.

Join me won’t you?

ps. If I figure this out, I’ll gladly accept invitations to come set up this system at your office! (at my usual hourly rate)