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I'll outline a walk-through of installing asterisk from a base ClearOS 5.2 system.
# yum groupinstall "Development Tools"
# yum install libxml2-devel
# yum install ncurses-devel

# yum install kernel-PAE-devel

Before v1.8, you'd do
Then pull down dahdi, asterisk, and addons sources.  (and they need build/install in that order)
read the README in dahdi's directory.  There is no ./configure, but just a make all,  make install (and optional make config)

for asterisk and addons, it's a standard ./configure, make, make install, and make samples if you want sample config files.

Now with v1.8, it gets easier: addons are now built in, and I'm not sure about dahdi yet.  So picking back up from above, we now have to continue resolving dependencies.
# wget
# wget
# rpm -i libical-0.43-4.el5.i386.rpm
# rpm -i libical-devel-0.43-4.el5.i386.rpm
# yum install gtk2-devel
# yum install libxml2 libxml2-devel
# yum install neon neon-devel
# yum install newt newt-devel

Now you do a ./configure, then a make menuconfig then a make && make install

As I step up to 1.8, I want to build a GUI and utilize asterisk realtime.  But it took me a while to get the database working.  This post was critical, and took me 2 irritating days to find: