We’ve sung the praises of VirtualBox for many years because it provides a wonderful platform for experimentation as well as production-ready systems using almost any hardware and any operating system. Versions of VirtualBox are available for Windows PCs, Macs, Linux desktops, and even Solaris machines. And, once you have VirtualBox in place, you can load gigabyte-sized turnkey virtual machines in under a minute. It literally transforms complex computer setups into child’s play.

We’ve received dozens of emails about XiVO, and most of them go something like this:

I’d love to experiment with XiVO as an Asterisk® platform, but I worry that the environment is just too different and the learning curve too steep. I just wish there were a simple way to get started so that I could learn the basics.

Today, your prayers have been answered. You don’t have to buy any hardware. You can use the desktop computer you already have. We’ve taken the Incredible PBX for XiVO tutorial and turned it into a turnkey virtual machine for VirtualBox. You can load it in under a minute and be ready to go. It’s got all of the Incredible PBX bells and whistles, and an extension is already configured so that you can hit the ground running. Just install VirtualBox. Next, install Incredible PBX for XiVO. Install your favorite SIP phone. Plug in the SIP credentials provided. And you’re done in a few minutes. To make outgoing calls, you can add a SIP trunk using one of the numerous SIP provider tutorials we’ve provided. Or, if you live in the United States, you can add a Google Voice trunk in a couple minutes and make free calls in the U.S. and Canada. Let’s get started!

Installing Oracle VM VirtualBox

Oracle’s virtual machine platform inherited from Sun is amazing. It’s not only free, but it’s pure GPL2 code. VirtualBox gives you a virtual machine platform that runs on top of any desktop operating system. In terms of limitations, we haven’t found any. We even tested this on an Atom-based Windows 7 machine with 2GB of RAM, and it worked without a hiccup. So step #1 today is to download one or more of the VirtualBox installers from VirtualBox.org or Oracle.com. Our recommendation is to put all of the 100MB installers on a 4GB thumb drive.1 Then you’ll have everything in one place whenever and wherever you happen to need it. Once you’ve downloaded the software, simply install it onto your favorite desktop machine. Accept all of the default settings, and you’ll be good to go. For more details, here’s a link to the Oracle VM VirtualBox User Manual.

Downloading & Installing Incredible PBX for XiVO Virtual Machine

To begin, download Incredible PBX for XiVO .ova image (1.0 GB) to the computer on which you installed VirtualBox.

When the download completes, double-click on the .ova file you downloaded to load it into VirtualBox. When prompted, be sure to check the Reinitialize the Mac address of all network cards box, agree to the license agreement, and then click the Import button. Once the import is finished, you’ll see a new (1) Incredible PBX for XiVO virtual machine in the VM List of the VirtualBox Manager Window. We need to make a couple of one-time adjustments to the Incredible PBX for XiVO configuration to account for differences in sound and network cards on different host machines.

(1) Click once on the Incredible PBX for XiVO virtual machine in the VM List. Then (2) click the Settings button. In the Audio tab, check the Enable Audio option and choose your sound card. In the Network tab for Adapter 1, check the Enable Network Adapter option. From the Attached to pull-down menu, choose Bridged Adapter. Then select your network card from the Name list. Then click OK. That’s all the configuration that is necessary for your Incredible PBX for XiVO.

Running Incredible PBX for XiVO in VirtualBox

Once you’ve imported and configured the Incredible PBX for XiVO Virtual Machine, you’re ready to go. Highlight Incredible PBX for XiVO virtual machine in the VM List on the VirtualBox Manager Window and click the Start button. The standard XiVO boot procedure will begin and, within a short time, you’ll get the familiar Linux login prompt. During the bootstrap procedure, you’ll see a couple of dialogue boxes pop up that explain the keystrokes to move back and forth between your host operating system desktop and your virtual machine. Remember, you still have full access to your desktop computer. Incredible PBX for XiVO is merely running as a task in a VirtualBox window. Always gracefully halt Incredible PBX just as you would on a dedicated computer.

Here’s what you need to know. To work in the Incredible PBX for XiVO virtual machine, just left-click your mouse while it is positioned inside the VM window. To return to your host operating system desktop, press the right Option key on Windows machines or the left Command key on any Mac. For other operating systems, read the dialogue boxes for instructions on moving around. To access the Linux CLI, login as root with the default password: password.

Once you log into your virtual machine, a startup script will briefly configure a few things and then advise you that it’s time to reboot. Write down the IP address provided because for Phase 2 of the setup, we need to use SSH or Putty on the desktop that you will actually be using to manage your server. The reason for this is that Incredible PBX automatically creates a whitelist of IP addresses that the firewall will allow to access your server. If the IP address isn’t in your whitelist, you may lock yourself out except from the VirtualBox console window.

Once the VirtualBox console window shows that your server has rebooted by displaying the Linux login prompt, switch to SHH or Putty and login as root using the IP address you wrote down. You’ll then be prompted to change your root password for Linux as well as your root password for XiVO GUI access using a web browser. You’ll also need to set a PIN that will be used to authorize access to extension 123 to schedule Telephone Reminders on your server. This completes the configuration. You’ll get a final screen showing the credentials for the preconfigured extension 701 as well as a reminder that your PortKnocker credentials are stored in /root/knock.FAQ in the event you ever lock yourself out of your machine. It’s a good idea to leave this screen displayed while you install and configure a softphone since you can cut-and-paste your extension 701 credentials without having to type anything.

Once you complete the SIP softphone setup below, you can return to the SSH window and press ENTER to finish the install. The Incredible PBX Automatic Update Utility will run, and then you will be presented with the pbxstatus display. You can access the Asterisk CLI by typing: asterisk -rvvvvvvvvvv. Exit from the CLI by typing quit. As mentioned previously, always shut down your server gracefully by typing halt. When prompted for the hostname, type xivo. Once the shutdown procedure finishes, it’s save to turn off your virtual machine.

Choosing a SIP Softphone for Incredible PBX for XiVO

Softphones tend to be a matter of taste for most folks so we’ll keep our suggestions to a minimum. On the Windows platform, it’s hard to go wrong with X-Lite. It works out of the box by simply plugging in the IP address of your server and your SIP username and password. It also happens to be free. The only downside is that X-Lite has a nasty habit of embedding time bombs in their free software so you may have to reinstall it from time to time. If you know what you’re doing Zoiper is another alternative but be advised that it doesn’t work out of the box on servers behind NAT-based routers.

On the Mac platform, our favorite free softphone is Telephone. It’s a barebones SIP client that just works. As with X-Lite, you plug in your server’s IP address and SIP credentials, and you’re in business.

On the Linux or Solaris platforms, we assume that you know what you’re doing and that you are perfectly capable of choosing and installing a SIP phone that meets your requirements.

Incredible PBX Application Quick Start Guide

We’ve finished the basic Incredible PBX for XiVO setup. You now have a functioning PBX with dozens of applications for Asterisk that work out of the box. It’s probably a good idea to spend a little time getting acquainted with Incredible PBX for XiVO before you add trunks to communicate with the outside world.

Here’s a handy cheat sheet for some of the Incredible PBX applications that have been installed or are available as add-ons. There’s also a link for more information. This remains a work-in-progress so expect more applications in coming weeks.

Configuring Trunks and Routes with Incredible PBX for XiVO

The next step in your XiVO adventure is connecting your PBX to the outside world so that you can make and receive phone calls from anywhere in the world. For this you’ll need one or more trunks. Unlike the Ma Bell world, there’s no reason to put all your eggs in one basket. You can use one or more trunk providers for incoming calls with separate phone numbers for each. And you can use one or more trunk providers for outgoing calls and save money on calls to certain countries by choosing the best provider for where you want to call. And, of course, if you live in the United States, you can set up one or more Google Voice trunks and make calls to the U.S. and Canada for free. We’ve written a number of tutorials to make it easy to set up these trunks.

To get started, point a web browser to the IP address of your PBX. Login as root with the XiVO GUI password you set up above. If you ever forget your password, you can run /root/admin-pw-change to reconfigure it.

XIVO Trunk Implementation Tutorials

Once you’ve added one or more trunks, you’ll need to tell XiVO how to route outgoing and incoming calls. Here are our step-by-step tutorials on setting up Outbound Calling Routes and Incoming Call Routes:

XIVO Call Routing Tutorials

Now you’re ready to explore. We recommend you pick up here in our Incredible PBX for XiVO tutorial. And be sure to check out the Last Minute Fixes that didn’t make it into the current build. Enjoy the ride!

Originally published: Monday, August 22, 2016





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