Asterisk-based VPN in a Flash Mobile Telephony Appliance

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
| VoIP & Gadgets blog - Latest news in VoIP & gadgets, wireless, mobile phones, reviews, & opinions

Asterisk-based VPN in a Flash Mobile Telephony Appliance

Nerd Vittles (Ward Mundy) is the man! He just combined the popular Acer Aspire One NetBook featuring the powerful Intel Atom N270(1.60GHz) processor along with Fedora 10 and his Asterisk-based distro. Nerd just may have cooked up the perfect low-cost, powerful, GUI-rich (low overhead KDE), and portable Asterisk-based appliance! Now you can take your phone system on the road while driving, on the plane, etc. Imagine sticking a 3G/EVDO card in the system while driving and your Asterisk-based PBX is still able to make/receive VoIP over EVDO calls and route them accordingly. He writes about the challenges of building a portable Asterisk-based platform:
aspire1-open.jpg"Until six months ago, the hardware simply wasn't available to provide the GUI performance necessary to create such a portable appliance. But the Intel Atom® processor changed all of that. And now Acer has stepped up with an almost perfect mobile implementation of the Atom motherboard in the Aspire One® Netbook. Weighing in at just over two pounds, it's totally portable but also a powerhouse. And it's quiet."

Specs & Features of the Acer Aspire One NetBook running VPN in a Flash:
  • Intel® Atom™ N270(1.60GHz)
  • Intel 945GSE Chipset
  • 8.9" WSVGA 1024 x 600 CrystralBrite™ Display
  • 1GB RAM, 120GB Hard Drive, 10/100 LAN, 802.11b/g WLAN
  • Integrated digital microphone, stereo speakers, and camera
  • Weight and Dimensions: under 2.5 lbs. <> 9.8" x 6.7" x 1.14"
  • Linux® Platform: Fedora® Remix
  • Graphical User Interface: KDE®
  • PBX in a Flash 1.3 with Asterisk® 1.4 and FreePBX® 2.5
  • Nerd Vittles Orgasmatron II Utilities Collection
  • Hamachi® VPN Client-Server Software
  • Integrated Plug-and-Play Zoiper® Softphone
  • 90-day complimentary Software Update Service (SUSHI™)
Now of course, you could also build your own Asterisk-based system on the Acer Aspire One Netbook. You can most likely get Asterisk "proper" from Digium to work, as well as trixbox CE on the Aspire One. But Nerd Mundy has taken a lot of the complexity out of it by offering it pre-packaged and for sale for just $499. Nerd now selling an Asterisk-based appliance now begs the question will Nerd Mundy continue to offer his free .iso downloads including all his Asterisk "goodies" that adds weather reports, text-to-speech and other features. So I emailed him to ask.

Q: How much do you pay for the Aspire one? That is to say, how much profit are you getting to pre-build and ship these.
A: For the time being, we are buying this at retail. For the 1GB RAM, 120GB drive, that works out to roughly $350.

Q: I figure the Aspire One costs (according to Google) between $300-$400. Not sure exact model you're using, so prices vary. That means you get $100-$200 profit.
A: If we make $100 on each unit, we'll be lucky because of shipping and PayPal costs. We charge a s/h fee but it doesn't come close to covering shipping and PayPal. We really wanted to get some of these in our very patient users' hands so we can make a judgment on how best to proceed next year.

Q: Also is VPN in a Flash basically the same code as PBX in a Flash?
A: VPN in a Flash is an entirely new build. New Linux, new FreePBX, new VPN software, new Mondo backup and restore software, new KDE GUI, new built-in softphone, new WiFi support, and  the list goes on and on. The build certainly had its roots in PBX in a Flash, but the product mix (except for Asterisk 1.4) is almost entirely new open source code.

Q: So can someone simply buy an Aspire One, download PBX in  a Flash .iso, burn it/install it, and be equivalent to your pre-built one?
A: Unfortunately, no. CentOS doesn't currently support the Intel Atom motherboard very well so we had to start from the ground up to get all the pieces to work reliably together.

Q: Since you're not looking to make a lot of money on these, my one follow-up question is do you plan to offer an .iso image for VPN in a Flash for those that pick up a cheap Aspire One on eBay or something.
A:Unfortunately, these builds (much like ones we've done for the WalMart Special aka Everex gPC and Dell SC440) go well beyond what can be put into an ISO. By early next year, we do hope to have a bootable, preconfigured USB flash drive that could be used to install VPN in a Flash on a stock Aspire One.

So do you want a portable, ultra-fast, low-power consuming, GUI-rich (KDE) operating system running PBX in a Flash 1.3? Well head on over here - and order one today and you should have it just in time for Christmas (10 business days to arrive). Asterisk is the perfect Christmas gift to give your wife, I always say...

Related Articles to 'Asterisk-based VPN in a Flash Mobile Telephony Appliance'
Thumbnail image for pika-warp-appliance-1.jpg

Featured Events