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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Why pay a fortune for a powerful phone system when you can build one yourself with open source Asterisk software, for a fraction of the cost? Asterisk Hacking shows how to do just that.
The authors introduce Asterisk as "a veritable Swiss Army Knife of telephony and VoIP": both a full-featured PBX and a tool for leveraging the Internet to communicate in all sorts of ways. (You get a taste of its power just by looking at the new features in one recent version: Jabber IM integration, Google Talk support, improved Internet faxing...)
Asterisk installation and configuration can take some work. This book walks you through the process, covering several distributions, as well as installing from source. But it also provides instant gratification, via a live CD: just load and run, and you've got a working, full-featured Asterisk system ready to play with.
Next, the authors turn to expanding and customizing Asterisk, which can be done endlessly via a programming interface based on UNIX standards, using virtually any language. You'll learn how to call external programs from within Asterisk, and how to build sophisticated interactions with users -- for instance, for interactive voice response applications. (You needn’t do all this by yourself: The authors introduce third-party libraries that can handle much of the heavy lifting.)
You'll next turn from conventional PBX features to a primer on the VoIP technology and protocols that Asterisk supports. The authors then introduce some intriguing sample applications (for example, using Asterisk together with cameras and motion capture software to call you if there's movement inside your home). Speaking of security, you'll need to do a little work to protect your Asterisk VoIP communications from hackers. Brashars and his coauthors know this area well and explain both the attacks and today's best precautions. Bill Camarda, from the August 2007 Read Only