AstLinux Users Guide Chapter 0

20 January 2010
Astlinux has now reached version 0.7. These pages are therefore extremely out-of-date. Please refer to the official Astlinux site:


About the Project

Viewed 22593 times since 27 Aug 07

How it all started

AstLinux was almost solely created by Kristian Kielhofner, president of KrisCompanies, a consulting firm based in beautiful Lake Geneva, WI. Kristian has been working with Linux professionally for over five years since he began doing Linux system administration at the age of 16. Kristian started KrisCompanies in 2004 to help local area businesses with their technology needs.

Like most open source software, AstLinux was created to fill a need. After discovering Asterisk in June 2004, Kristian became obsessed with the possibilities of a multi-protocol telephony toolkit and Linux. The main issue with Asterisk is that without a kernel and other base software (a distribution), it doesn't do anything. It is an application, and you need much more than an application for an actual working solution. The existing approach to this was to install a generic, general-purpose Linux distribution and to install Asterisk. This approach has several problems. The biggest of these problems is bloat. Most general purpose distros include everything from Apache to Samba and more. These are all fine applications, but they are not the kind of thing you want installed or running on your PBX. Also, configuration was always a problem. To have a complete Asterisk solution using a general purpose distro, you will need to know a great deal about Linux, Asterisk, and network protocols. This just isn't necessary for a PBX! And, while I was at it, I wanted to make sure that my distro would run well from Compact Flash. Every serious network appliance runs from flash memory, not hard drive. Flash memory is many times more reliable than hard drives due to the lack of moving parts, etc. However, flash memory has a limited number of write cycles, so extra care has to be taken when running software from Compact Flash cards. Kristian thought about all of this for a while, and then he got to work...

In September, 2004, Kristian created the first version of AstLinux - 0.1.0. As noted in "Switching to VoIP", this early version of AstLinux was based off of a stripped down Gentoo Linux install with a custom init system to better handle running from Compact Flash. It came in just under 256mb, and turned out to be quite useful. It was designed specifically for the PC Engines WRAP board.

After several thousand downloads, many positive reviews, and further corporate sponsorship, AstLinux 0.2.0 was released in February, 2005. AstLinux 0.2.0 included %95 of the functionality of AstLinux 0.1.0. Why less functionality you ask? AstLinux 0.2.0 was rebuilt from scratch, included many new features, and came in at just over 26mb - about %10 the size of 0.1.0. AstLinux 0.2.0 also officially supported the Soekris Net4801, PC Engines WRAP, and generic i586 machines as well. Since releasing 0.2.0, AstLinux has been growing in features and usefullness on an almost daily basis, without growing in size. AstLinux is only 48mb, and is cooler than ever!

Current Status

As AstLinux has grown, so has the need to involve others in its development. AstLinux is now a SourceForge project and there are several branches under active development. At the same time, AstLinux was changed to use ulibc and in the process it shrank and got faster (less is more!).

Anyone with suggestions, skills or time to donate to the project should sign up at SourceForge and jump in!

Handbook Wishlist

There are just too many facets to AstLinux to be able to know what needs to go into the handbook. Please put your Handbook wishlist here so the community can see what documentation needs there are - and hopefully help out by adding some of them.

Everyone is encouraged to edit this Handbook

This Handbook cannot exist without a community effort. If you see places in the handbook that needs editing for clarification or just adding additional information, don't hesitate to add it. This way the Handbook can gain from all of our experience and evolve into a great resource for everyone. This Handbook should be the FIRST thing users read when installing AstLinux instead of searching around the net for bits and pieces of information and how-to's.

Continue: AstLinux Users Guide Chapter 1
This page is modeled on the Asterisk@Home handbook - thanks!
Created by: mikemee, Last modification: Wed 20 of Jan, 2010 (17:33 UTC) by tomchadwin
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