As you may know, the Raspberry Pi Foundation introduced the $35 Raspberry Pi 4 last week. In addition to jaw-dropping hardware enhancements, the introduction also included the new Raspbian 10 (Buster) platform which was surprising since Debian 10 isn’t scheduled for official release until the end of this week. As with prior releases, Raspbian 10 brought with it some major headaches for the VoIP community not the least of which is FreePBX® cannot (yet) be installed. But sometimes there’s a silver lining accompanying bad news.

Several Debian 10 issues caused us to rethink what a VoIP platform for the Raspberry Pi actually should look like. After all, most Raspberry Pi hobbyists aren’t interested in mastering the intricacies of Asterisk® and FreePBX. They’re more concerned with a stable, fast VoIP communications platform that’s easy to deploy and will operate without hiccups in a home or small office environment. Thus was born Incredible PBX LITE, a new turnkey VoIP platform that requires zero configuration out of the box and supports five SIP telephones and up to four trunk providers for low-cost worldwide calling. Simply sign up with one of these VoIP service providers, acquire a telephone number (DID), enter the IP address of your PBX, and you can instantly make and receive calls using up to five SIP telephones or softphones.

UPDATE: If you’d prefer the full-featured Incredible PBX 16-15 for the Raspberry Pi, it’s now available here as well.

What’s Included? Despite its name, Incredible PBX LITE still serves up a VoIP powerhouse featuring Asterisk 13, an Apache web server, the latest MariaDB SQL server (formerly MySQL), SendMail, and most of the Incredible PBX feature set including SIP, SMS, Opus, voice recognition, FLITE Text-to-Speech VoIP applications plus fax support, Click-to-Dial, News, Weather, Reminders, and hundreds of features that typically are found in commercial PBXs: Conferencing, IVRs and AutoAttendants, Email Delivery of Voicemail, Voicemail Blasting…

What’s Missing? We’ve removed the entire FreePBX GUI platform while retaining most of its feature set. We’ve also eliminated the need to run a web server or database server although they’re still there. And gone are the days of having to configure extensions and trunks as well as inbound and outbound routes before you can actually use your PBX to make your first call. The tradeoff is a noticeable performance improvement. While a Raspberry Pi 4 isn’t required to run Incredible PBX LITE, doing so provides another three-fold performance boost compared to a Raspberry Pi 3B+. Simply stated, Incredible PBX LITE performance now rivals what you would expect on a powerful cloud-based platform such as Digital Ocean or Vultr.

Choosing a SIP Provider. As we mentioned, Incredible PBX LITE comes preconfigured to support four of the major SIP providers: Skyetel, VoIP.ms, V1VoIP, and Anveo Direct. We obviously hope you’ll choose Skyetel not only because they financially support Nerd Vittles and our open source projects, but also because it is a clearly superior platform offering crystal-clear communications and triple-redundancy so you never miss a call. Skyetel also sets itself apart from the other providers in the support department. They actually respond to issues, and there’s never a charge. As the old saying goes, they may not be the cheapest, but you get what you pay for. Even without taking advantage of Nerd Vittles half-price offer on up to $500 of Skyetel services, they’re still dirt cheap compared to the Bell Sisters and cable companies. Traditional DIDs are $1 per month. Outbound conversational calls are $0.012 per minute. Incoming conversational calls are a penny a minute, and CallerID lookups are $0.004. With all four providers, you only pay for minutes you use. Using more than one is a good idea.


Assembling the Required Raspberry Pi Components

Before you can deploy Incredible PBX LITE, you’ll first need the necessary Raspberry Pi hardware. Here’s the short list and, if you’re in a hurry, the $35 Raspberry Pi 3B+ will cost you less than $3 extra to get it quickly from Amazon using our referral link. If you prefer to wait for a Raspberry Pi 4, read on. Either way, the RasPi remains one of the world’s best bargains! Assuming you already own an HDMI-compatible monitor and a USB keyboard

  • Raspberry Pi 4B from a Raspberry Pi reseller
  • $8 15.3W USB-C RasPi 4 (only) Power Supply
  • $8 32GB microSDHC Class 10 card (strongly recommended!)
  • $5 Official RasPi 4 Case
  • Getting Started with Incredible PBX LITE

    Here’s everything to know about installation and setup. "Automatic" means just watch. Steps #1 and #2 are self-explanatory. For the remaining steps, we’ll further document the procedures in the sections below.

    1. Download and unzip Incredible PBX LITE image from SourceForge
    2. Transfer Incredible PBX LITE image to microSD card
    3. Boot Raspberry Pi from new microSD card (16GB minimum)
    4. Login to RasPi console as root:password to initialize your server (Automatic)
    5. In raspi-config Advanced Options, Expand FileSystem to fill your SD card
    6. In Localization Options, set Locale, TimeZone, Keyboard, & WiFi Country
    7. Reboot after writing down your server IP address (Automatic)
    8. Login via SSH or Putty as root:password to set passwords & setup firewall (Automatic)
    9. Register for and configure at least one trunk provider for Incredible PBX LITE
    10. Install Incredible Fax: /root/incrediblefax13_raspi3.sh (Credentials: admin:password)

    First Boot of Incredible PBX LITE with Wi-Fi

    Incredible PBX LITE requires Internet connectivity to complete its automated install. If you’re using a wired network connection, you can skip to the next section. With the Raspberry Pi 3B and 4B, WiFi is built into the hardware. But you still have to insert your SSID name and SSID password to make a connection to your WiFi network. To do so, follow these next steps carefully. Insert the Incredible PBX LITE microSD card into your Raspberry Pi 3 or 4 and apply power to the hardware. When the bootup procedure finishes, login as root with the default password: password. At the first prompt, DO NOT PRESS THE ENTER KEY! Instead, press Ctrl-C to break out of the setup script. At the command prompt, issue the following commands to bring up the WiFi config file:

    cd /etc/wpa_supplicant
    nano -w wpa_supplicant.conf
    

    If your WiFi network does not require a password, then uncomment the four lines below and save the file: Ctrl-X, Y, then Enter. Now restart your server: reboot. When the reboot finishes, you now should have network connectivity.

    network={
     key_mgmt=NONE
     priority=1
    }
    

    If your WiFi network requires a password, scroll down to the SSID entry and replace YourSSID with the actual SSID of your WiFi network. Make sure you preserve the entry with the quotes as shown. Next, replace YourSSIDpassword with the SSID password of your WiFi network. Save the file: Ctrl-X, Y, then Enter. Now restart your server: reboot. When the reboot finishes, you now should have network connectivity.

    Once the reboot process finishes, you should see an entry on about the middle line displayed on your monitor which reads: "My IP address is…". Write down the IP address shown. You’ll need it in a minute. Skip the next section since you are using a WiFi connection.

    If you don’t see an IP address assigned to your server, then correct the network deficiency (invalid WiFi credentials, DHCP not working, Internet down), and reboot until you see an IP address assigned to your server. DO NOT PROCEED WITHOUT AN ASSIGNED IP ADDRESS.

    First Boot of Incredible PBX Using Wired Connection

    Incredible PBX LITE requires Internet connectivity to complete its automated install. After connecting your server to your local network with a network cable, insert the Incredible PBX LITE microSD card into your Raspberry Pi and apply power to the hardware. When the bootup procedure finishes, you should see an entry on about the middle line displayed on your monitor which reads: "My IP address is…". Write down the IP address shown. You’ll need it in the next step.

    If you don’t see an IP address assigned to your server, then correct the network deficiency (cable not connected, DHCP not working, Internet down), and reboot until you see an IP address assigned to your server. DO NOT PROCEED WITHOUT AN ASSIGNED IP ADDRESS.

    Completing the Incredible PBX Initialization Procedure

    Unless your desktop PC and RasPi are both on the same private LAN, the remainder of the install procedure should be completed from a desktop PC using SSH or Putty. This will assure that your desktop PC is also whitelisted in the Incredible PBX firewall. Using the console to complete the install is NOT recommended as your desktop PC will not be whitelisted in the firewall. This may result in your not being able to log in to your server. Once you have network connectivity, log in to your server as root from a desktop PC using the default password: password. Accept the license agreement by pressing ENTER. You then will be redirected to raspi-config. This is the utility used to expand your Incredible PBX LITE image to use your entire microSD card. If you fail to complete this step, your microSD card will be restricted to 16GB. In the raspi-config utility, choose Localization Options and set Locale, TimeZone, Keyboard, & WiFi Country. Then choose Advanced Options. All of the defaults should be satisfactory with the exception of the first item: Expand Filesystem. Choose this option and activate the resizing directive. Review the other items and then exit and reboot.

    Once your server reboots and you log back in as root, all of your passwords will be randomly assigned with the exception of the root user Linux password. You can set it by issuing the command: passwd. With the exception of your root user password, the remaining passwords can be displayed using the command: /root/show-passwords.

    Finally, if your PBX is sitting behind a NAT-based router, you’ll need to redirect incoming UDP 5060 and UDP 10000-20000 traffic to the private IP address of your PBX. This is required for all of the SIP providers included in the Incredible PBX LITE build. Otherwise, all inbound calls will fail.

    SECURITY ALERT: There was a configuration error in the initial setup which leaves the firewall deactivated. This gets corrected by the Incredible PBX Automatic Update Utility the next time you login to your server as root. Please do so immediately.

    Configuring Skyetel for Incredible PBX LITE

    If you’ve decided to go with Skyetel, here’s the drill. Sign up for Skyetel service and take advantage of the Nerd Vittles BOGO special. First, complete the Prequalification Form here. You then will be provided a link to the Skyetel site to complete your registration. Once you have registered on the Skyetel site and your account has been activated, open a support ticket and request the BOGO credit for your account by referencing the Nerd Vittles special offer. Skyetel will match your deposit of up to $250 which gets you up to $500 of helf-price calling. Credit is limited to one per person/company/address/location.

    Skyetel does not use SIP registrations to make connections to your PBX. Instead, Skyetel utilizes Endpoint Groups to identify which servers can communicate with the Skyetel service. An Endpoint Group consists of a Name, an IP address, a UDP or TCP port for the connection, and a numerical Priority for the group. For incoming calls destined to your PBX, DIDs are associated with an Endpoint Group to route the calls to your PBX. For outgoing calls from your PBX, a matching Endpoint Group is required to authorize outbound calls through the Skyetel network. Thus, the first step in configuring the Skyetel side for use with your PBX is to set up an Endpoint Group. Here’s a typical setup for Incredible PBX LITE:

    • Name: MyPBX
    • Priority: 1
    • IP Address: PBX-Public-IP-Address
    • Port: 5060
    • Protocol: UDP
    • Description: lite1.incrediblepbx.com

    To receive incoming PSTN calls, you’ll need at least one DID. On the Skyetel site, you acquire DIDs under the Phone Numbers tab. You have the option of Porting in Existing Numbers (free for the first 60 days after you sign up for service) or purchasing new ones under the Buy Phone Numbers menu option.

    Once you have acquired one or more DIDs, navigate to the Local Numbers or Toll Free Numbers tab and specify the desired SIP Format and Endpoint Group for each DID. Add SMS/MMS and E911 support, if desired. Call Forwarding and Failover are also supported. That completes the VoIP setup on the Skyetel side. System Status is always available here.

    Configuring VoIP.ms for Incredible PBX LITE

    To sign up for VoIP.ms service, may we suggest you use our signup link so that Nerd Vittles gets a referral credit for your signup. Once your account is set up, you’ll need to set up a SIP SubAccount and, for Authentication Type, choose Static IP Authentication and enter your Incredible PBX LITE server’s public IP address. For Transport, choose UDP. For Device Type, choose Asterisk, IP PBX, Gateway or VoIP Switch. Order a DID in their web panel, and then point the DID to the SubAccount you just created. Be sure to specify atlanta1.voip.ms as the POP from which to receive incoming calls.

    Configuring V1VoIP for Incredible PBX LITE

    To sign up for V1VoIP service, sign up on their web site. Then login to your account and order a DID under the DIDs tab. Once the DID has been assigned, choose View DIDs and click on the Forwarding button beside your DID. For Option #1, choose Forward to IP Address/PBX. For the Fowarding Address, enter the public IP address of your server. For the T/O (timeout) value, set it to 2o seconds. Then click the Update button. Under the Termination tab, create a new Endpoint with the public IP address of your server so that you can place outbound calls through V1VoIP.

    Configuring Anveo Direct for Incredible PBX LITE

    To sign up for Anveo Direct service, sign up on their web site and then login. After adding funds to your account, purchase a DID under Inbound Service -> Order DID. Next, choose Configure Destination SIP Trunk. Give the Trunk a name. For the Primary SIP URI, enter $[E164]$@server-IP-address. For Call Options, select your new DID from the list. You also must whitelist your public IP address under Outbound Service -> Configure. Create a new Call Termination Trunk and name it to match your server. For Dialing Prefix, choose six alphanumeric characters beginning with a zero. In Authorized IP Addresses, enter the public IP address of your server. Set an appropriate rate cap. We like $0.01 per minute to be safe. Set a concurrent calls limit. We like 2. For the Call Routing Method, choose Least Cost unless you’re feeling extravagant. For Routes/Carriers, choose Standard Routes. Write down your Dialing Prefix and then click the Save button.

    Before you can make outbound calls through Anveo Direct from your PBX, you first must configure the Dialing Prefix that you wrote down in the previous step. Login to your server as root and use nano to edit extensions_additional.conf in the /etc/asterisk directory. Search (Ctl-W) for anveo-pin and replace anveo-pin with the 6-digit alphanumeric PIN for your account. Press Ctrl-X, Y, then Enter to save your settings. Reload your dialplan with the command: asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

    Audio Issues with Incredible PBX LITE

    Only if you experience one-way or no audio on some calls, add your external IP address and LAN subnet in /etc/asterisk/sip_general_custom.conf like the following example:

    nat=yes
    externip=xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
    localnet=192.168.0.0/255.255.0.0
    

    Then restart Asterisk: systemctl restart asterisk

    Configuring a Softphone for Incredible PBX LITE

    We’re in the home stretch now. You can connect virtually any kind of telephone to your new PBX. Plain Old Phones require an analog telephone adapter (ATA) which can be a separate board in your computer from a company such as Digium. Or it can be a standalone SIP device such as ObiHai’s OBi100 or OBi110 (if you have a phone line from Ma Bell to hook up as well). SIP phones can be connected directly so long as they have an IP address. These could be hardware devices or software devices such as the YateClient softphone. We’ll start with a free one today so you can begin making calls. You can find dozens of recommendations for hardware-based SIP phones both on Nerd Vittles and the PIAF Forum when you’re ready to get serious about VoIP telephony.

    We recommend YateClient which is free. Download it from here. Run YateClient once you’ve installed it and enter the credentials for the 701 extension on Incredible PBX. You can find them by running /root/show-passwords. You’ll need the IP address of your server plus your extension 701 password. In the YateClient, fill in the blanks using the IP address of your Server, 701 for your Username, and whatever Password was assigned to the extension when you installed Incredible PBX. Click OK to save your entries.

    Once you are registered to extension 701, close the Account window. Then click on YATE’s Telephony Tab and place some test calls to the numerous apps that are preconfigured on Incredible PBX. Dial a few of these to get started:

    DEMO - Apps Demo
    123 - Reminders
    947 - Weather by ZIP Code
    951 - Yahoo News
    TODAY - Today in History
    LENNY - The Telemarketer's Worst Nightmare
    

    If you are a Mac user, another great no-frills softphone is Telephone. Just download and install it from the Mac App Store.

    Incredible PBX LITE Administration

    We’ve eased the pain of administering your new PBX with a collection of scripts which you will find in the /root folder after logging in with SSH or Putty. Here’s a quick summary of what each of the scripts does.

    add-fqdn is used to whitelist a fully-qualified domain name in the firewall. Because Incredible PBX LITE blocks all traffic from IP addresses that are not whitelisted, this is what you use to authorize an external user for your PBX. The advantage of an FQDN is that you can use a dynamic DNS service to automatically update the IP address associated with an FQDN so that you never lose connectivity.

    add-ip is used to whitelist a public IP address in the firewall. See the add-fqdn explanation as to why this matters.

    del-acct is used to remove an IP address or FQDN from the firewall’s whitelist.

    proximity is a script used in conjunction with bluetooth to decipher whether your smartphone is within range of your server. If not, the script forwards calls to extension 701 to an extension or external smartphone of your choice. Edit the proximity script to add your preferences. Then uncomment the proximity line in /etc/crontab. Complete setup details on setup are available in our previous tutorial.

    reset-conference-pins is a script that automatically and randomly resets the user and admin pins for access to the preconfigured conferencing application. Dial C-O-N-F from any registered SIP phone to connect to the conference.

    reset-extension-passwords is a script that automatically and randomly resets ALL of the SIP passwords for extensions 701-705. Be careful using this one, or you may disable existing registered phones and cause Fail2Ban to blacklist the IP addresses of those users. HINT: You can place a call to the Ring Group associated with all five extensions by dialing 777.

    reset-reminders-pin is a script that automatically and randomly resets the pin required to access the Telephone Reminders application by dialing 123. It’s important to protect this application because a nefarious user could set up a reminder to call a number anywhere in the world assuming your SIP provider’s account was configured to allow such calls.

    show-feature-codes is a cheat sheet for all of the feature codes which can be dialed from any registered SIP phone. It documents how powerful a platform Incredible PBX LITE actually is.

    show-passwords is a script that displays ALL of the passwords associated with Incredible PBX LITE. This includes SIP extension passwords, voicemail pins, conference pins, telephone reminders pin, and your Anveo Direct outbound calling pin (if configured). Note that voicemail pins are configured by the user of a SIP extension the first time the user accesses the voicemail system by dialing *97.

    update-IncrediblePBX is the Automatic Update Utility which checks for server updates from incrediblepbx.com every time you log into your server as root using SSH or Putty. Do NOT disable it as it is used to load important fixes and security updates when necessary. We recommend logging into your server at least once a week.

    pbxstatus (shown above) displays status of all major components of Incredible PBX LITE.

    Call Detail Records available in spreadsheet format at /var/log/asterisk/cdr-csv/Master.csv.

    Originally published: Monday, July 1, 2019



    Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.


     

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    FULL DISCLOSURE: ClearlyIP, Amazon, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, Digium, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

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    VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously provided a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX tailored for use with all Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Follow this link for a free test drive!
     

    Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.
     



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    This article has 7 comments

    1. Is it better to get the 4 GB version of Pi 4 for running the PBX?

      [WM: You can’t ever have too much RAM. 🙂 ]

    2. Hi, can I connect SIM cards to the PBX lite? I am using Pi 2 with a pre-Stretch release for over 4 years now, without any issue and this seems to be good time to upgrade to 4, but I have 2 dongles with SIM cards configured as trunks, which I want to keep connected and online.

      [WM: The easiest way to do this would be to bring up a RasPi 3 for the time being and set up the trunks. Then look in sip_additional.conf for the proper settings to copy over to the LITE platform.]

      Is there any plan for building a non-lite PBX for Pi 4, when the Buster issues are resolved?

      [WM: Absolutely. Stay tuned.]

    3. Would it be possible add the manual setup to access the Obi200 as a trunk to GV along with the pay trunk providers? The online documentation is for using the GUI. I know it will take a few files to be updated manually which is just fine. It makes it easy to test any new releases from you all.
      Please keep up the GREAT work!

      [WM: Great idea.]

    4. Anybody get this to work with only an Anveo Direct trunk? After installing and successfully connecting with a soft client (yate per the recommendation), all calls immediately end with a hang up.

      I don’t know where I could have gone wrong, it’s pretty simple… install, update, replace anveo-pin in the above file location (two instances of anveo-pin) with your anveo 6 character prefix, add IP to anveo white list, connect via softphone and then dial.

      Running aserisk -rvvvv on the command line doesn’t contain the word anveo, sbc.anveo.com, which makes me think asterisk never gets to the anveo trunk… Nothing in AnveoDirect’s CDR either.

      [WM: If the incoming call never shows up in the Asterisk CLI and it isn’t in AnveoDirect’s CDR, then something is amiss on the Anveo side. Start there. Then head to the PIAF Forum if you need more.]

    5. User Control Panel
      /ucp
      Will not load – Is this a known issue?

      [WM: The LITE version has no FreePBX GUI or UCP web component. The 16-15 version includes the FreePBX GUI and all GPL modules.]

    6. How do you add a trunk without the GUI?

      [WM: Clone one of the trunk setups in sip_additional.conf and restart Asterisk.]

    7. How many simultaneous calls can be made on a Raspberry PI 4, and how many connected Devices can I have?

      [WM: Depends upon many factors including your Internet bandwidth and codec choice. Should never be a problem for a home or small business. We’ve had over 10 simultaneous calls using a Raspberry Pi 2 without transcoding, i.e. ULAW or ALAW. So… without transcoding, probably 2 to 4 times as many with a 4B depending upon available bandwidth.]

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