Hardware/CPU Question

I’m new to FreePBX, and I’m trying to select good hardware, within my budget. My usage will be minimal, 1-2 users. I’d really like something rackmount, but my budget is about $50. I already have an Iomega Rackmount NAS I can use, but the Socket 478 P4 works just as good as a space heater as a CPU. If I can put a low power CPU in this, it would work perfectly for my needs. I’ve done a bit of research, and some say you can use a Mobile CPU in a desktop, although some say you can’t. A Celeron might be lower power, and more likely to work, but will still guzzle the juice.

Has anyone gone down this route? Any experience, or advice?


You can’t beat a Raspberry PI for power used. It will fit in a packet of cigarettes so you can find room for it in your rack.

With a budget of $50 you probably should not be worrying about how much heat your system generates. You will never find a rack mounted system for $50. For 1 or 2 users you could use any old system you have lying around.

Any older rack mount system is going to put out a bunch of noise and heat. Additionally most rack mount servers require a 4 post rack to mount properly.

The Raspberry box sounds like your best choice.

Thanks for the responses. I briefly thought about using a Pi (I have one laying around), but with the ARM processor I assumed I couldn’t put on a ‘Full’ install of FreePBX or plugins, and I was concerned with reliability. Also, I thought storage might be an issue. Then again, I never could figure out how much HD space I’d need for an install and maybe 6 hours of Voice Mails.

I have a 4 post rack. I have a Dell Poweredge 1850 running ESXI free, but I’m not currently using it, and it’d probably use more power than the P4. I have some smaller boxes I used for pfsense backups, but they have no room for a HD, and they use VIA CPU’s, which I hear don’t work well with Asterisk. My ‘Any old machine’ is the old Iomega NAS, just hoping to make it sip the juice less, run cooler, and maybe more reliably.

The trouble with assuming is all that stuff about ass and u and me :wink: try


Writing voicemails to the sd card will be a problem in the long run, add a fast usb stick and mount it on /var/spool/asterisk/voicemail, just suck it and see . . .

For 50 bucks you ask a lot, The fans on your 1850 use more power in a week than the Raspberry does in a year, probably more than you can afford on your budget. To save money turn off the UPS in that rack, you have one right? :wink:

There is some humor here. Trying to imagine why you only have a $50 budget yet have a four post rack? Is this in your bedroom at your Mother’s house (sorry I just could not resist)?

As Dicko pointed out the Pi is exactly what you wanted.

Hope you don’t mind us having a little fun at your expense, you did step right in it.

For a minimalist solution, add freeswith to your pfsense box, for you and your mum, that should be enough.

Sorry, couldn’t resist either!!

Well, I can’t say that it will cost fifty bucks (50 USD) but I deployed an Intel ATOM (5xx series) based rack mounted box (profile: 1 unit) that runs cooler, silently and has, IMHO, enough computing power to support a PBX software system like CentOS + Asterisk + FreePBX (or FreePBX Distro, if you care) for a SMB company (consider too I needed a PCI Slot to install ISDN Card, if you want a Fully-IP system - SIP Trunking to PSTN - your requirements may vary and options could be very different from mine).

Just my two cents.

There are many different Atom’s. We use the Supermicro 1U Atom. Latest version uses Intel D525, however the older 330’s still would support 50+ phones, some call recording and an IAX or T1 trunk.

Thanks again for the comments. I realize it might sound humorous, but I’m actually serious. I’m living on savings, trying to start a business. Despite my financial limitations, I’m trying to make everything reliable and suitable for a business environment. My ‘Kid in his bedroom’ days ended with a Commodore 64 :). Most things have been scrounged from Ebay. I’d really like one of those Supermicro Atom rackmounts (Wanted them for pfsense as well), but can’t find anything cheaper than $300. Just an empty case is $100 on ebay. Considering I can get a used Netbook for $50, I can’t justify the cost. Maybe I could for $100, used obviously.

RasPi looks tempting, but still seems too experimental, and Most SD or USB flash isn’t meant for a lot of writes.

Can one of you tell me how much HD space is needed in real life? Again, looking for a ‘Full’ install, with maybe space for 5-10 hours of voicemails. Would rather use an SSD for reliability. I’m guessing 16-32GB would be plenty, but would rather know before deciding on any hardware.

Thanks again!

depending on the format, .WAV files are about 100k a minute .wav about 1M a minute. .wav’s take a little more processing

Despite the apocryphal stories modern USB sticks and modern sd cards have a write cycle expectation of tens if not hundreds of thousands, format them as ext2 to save the journalling. (buy two, they are cheap)

Seeing as you have already a Raspberry, why not just “suck it and see?”, you will be surprised.

Here is a 1U Supermicro server on eBay that you could run a medium size call center with. I would be surprised if the bidding goes over $100.00 It needs some RAM:


I just wanted to say Thanks for all the help. I decided on an Itona Atom computer for $70, and I’ll put an 8GB SSD in instead of the hard drive (I heard a full install is about 2GB, hopefully that hasn’t changed)