The Asterisk Community

One of the compelling strengths of Asterisk is the passionate community that developed and supports it. This community, led by the fine folks at Digium, is keenly aware of the cultural significance of Asterisk and has an optimistic view of the future.

One of the more powerful side effects of the Asterisk community’s energy is the cooperation it has spawned among telecommunications, networking, and information technology professionals who share a love for this phenomenon. While these cadres have traditionally been at odds with each other, in the Asterisk community they delight in each others’ skills. The significance of this cooperation cannot be underestimated.

If the dream of Asterisk is to be realized, the community must continue to grow—yet one of the key challenges that the community currently faces is a rapid influx of new users. The members of the existing community, having birthed this thing called Asterisk, are generally welcoming of new users, but they’ve grown impatient with being asked the kinds of questions whose answers can often be obtained independently, if one is willing to devote some time to research and experimentation.

Obviously, new users do not fit any particular kind of mold. While some will happily spend hours experimenting and reading various blogs describing the trials and tribulations of others, many people who have become enthusiastic about this technology are completely uninterested in such pursuits. They want a simple, straightforward, step-by-step guide that’ll get them up and running, followed by some sensible examples describing the best methods of implementing common functionality (such as voicemail, auto attendants, and the like).

To the members of the expert community, who (correctly) perceive that Asterisk is like a web development language, this approach doesn’t make any sense. To them, it’s clear that you have to immerse yourself in Asterisk to appreciate its subtleties. Would one ask for a step-by-step guide to programming and expect to learn from it all that a language has to offer?

Clearly, there’s no one approach that’s right for everyone. Asterisk is a different animal altogether, and it requires a totally different mind-set. As you explore the community, though, be aware that it includes people with many different skill sets and attitudes. Some of these folks do not display much patience with new users, but that’s often due to their passion for the subject, not because they don’t welcome your participation.

The Asterisk Mailing Lists

As with any community, there are places where members of the Asterisk community meet to discuss matters of mutual interest. Of the mailing lists you will find at, these three are currently the most important:


Anything commercial with respect to Asterisk belongs in this list. If you’re selling something Asterisk-related, sell it here. If you want to buy an Asterisk service or product, post here.


The Asterisk developers hang out here. The purpose of this list is the discussion of the development of the software that is Asterisk, and its participants vigorously defend that purpose. Expect a lot of heat if you post anything to this list not specifically relating to programming or development of the Asterisk code base. General coding questions (such as queries on interfacing with AGI or AMI) should be directed to the Asterisk-Users list.


The Asterisk-Dev list is not second-level support! If you scroll through the mailing list archives, you’ll see this is a strict rule. The Asterisk-Dev mailing list is about discussion of core Asterisk development, and questions about interfacing your external programs via AGI or AMI should be posted on the Asterisk-Users list.


This is where most Asterisk users hang out. This list generates several hundred messages per day and has over ten thousand subscribers. While you can go here for help, you are expected to have done some reading on your own before you post a query.

Asterisk Wiki Sites

The Asterisk Wiki (which exists in large part due to the tireless efforts of James Thompsonthanks James!) is a source of much enlightenment and confusion. Another important resource is the community-maintained repository of VoIP knowledge at, which contains a truly inspiring cornucopia of fascinating, informative, and frequently contradictory information about many subjects, just one of which is Asterisk. Since Asterisk documentation forms by far the bulk of the information on this website,[9] and it probably contains more Asterisk knowledge than all other sources put together (with the exception of the mailing list archives), it is a popular place to go for Asterisk knowledge.

An important new wiki project is the official Asterisk Wiki, found at While not yet as full of content as, this wiki will be more formally supported and is therefore more likely to contain information that is kept current and accurate.

The IRC Channels

The Asterisk community maintains Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels on The two most active channels are #asterisk and #asterisk-dev.[10] To cut down on spam-bot intrusions, both of these channels now require registration to join.[11]

Asterisk User Groups

Over the past decade, in many cites around the world, lonely Asterisk users began to realize that there were other like-minded people in their towns. Asterisk User Groups (AUGs) began to spring up all over the place. While these groups don’t have any official affiliation with each other, they generally link to one anothers’ websites and welcome members from anywhere. Type “Asterisk User Group” into Google to track down one in your area.

The Asterisk Documentation Project

The Asterisk Documentation Project was started by Leif Madsen and Jared Smith, but several people in the community have contributed.

The goal of the documentation project is to provide a structured repository of written work on Asterisk. In contrast with the flexible and ad hoc nature of the Wiki, the Docs project is passionate about building a more focused approach to various Asterisk-related subjects.

As part of the efforts of the Asterisk Docs project to make documentation available online, this book is available at the website, under a Creative Commons license.

[9] More than 30%, at last count.

[10] The #asterisk-dev channel is for the discussion of changes to the underlying code base of Asterisk and is also not second-tier support. Discussions related to programming external applications that interface with Asterisk via AGI or AMI are meant to be in #asterisk.

[11] To register, run /msg nickserv help when you connect to the service via your favorite IRC client.