As much as we loved the moniker, the Orgasmatron build was in desperate need of a name change to more accurately describe its true heritage. We didn't look too far for just the right name. Meet The Incredible PBX!
Thanks to the Zero Internet Footprint™ design, it's the most secure Asterisk®-based PBX around. What this means is Incredible PBX™ has been engineered to sit safely behind a NAT-based, hardware firewall with no port exposure to your actual server.1 And you won't find a more full-featured Personal Branch Exchange™.
NEWS FLASH: Incredible PBX is now available for Asterisk 1.8! Go here.
Coming January 19: Incredible PBX 11 & Incredible Fax for Asterisk 11 and FreePBX 2.11
The Incredible PBX is much more than just a name change. In addition to all of the Orgasmatron magic including free calling in the U.S. and Canada courtesy of Google Voice, you now get some terrific new features tailored to meet the needs of the individual: randomly generated passwords for all of your extensions, free Skype support and a new backup module both of which we'll introduce over the next few weeks. And CallerID Superfecta now is preconfigured to work out of the box with support from dozens of providers worldwide.
The Incredible PBX Inventory. For those wondering what's included with The Incredible PBX, here's a feature list of components you get in addition to the base install of PBX in a Flash with CentOS 5.4, Asterisk 1.4, FreePBX 2.6, and Apache, SendMail, MySQL, PHP, phpMyAdmin, IPtables Linux firewall, Fail2Ban, and WebMin. Please note that A2Billing, Cepstral TTS, Hamachi VPN, and Mondo Backups are optional and may be installed using provided scripts.
- A2Billing (/root/nv/install-a2billing)
- Amazon S3 Cloud Computing
- CallerID Superfecta (FreePBX Module adds Names to CID Numbers)
- CallWho for Asterisk
- Cepstral TTS for 32-bit, Asterisk 1.42 (/root/nv/install-cepstral.sh)
- Preconfigured Email That Works with SendMail
- Extensions (16 preconfigured with random passwords)
- FAX Module using nvfax
- FreePBX Backups
- Gizmo5 (Free Calls to Gizmo5 users worldwide: 1747xxxxxxx*1089)
- Google Voice (preconfigured)
- Hamachi VPN (/root/nv/install-hamachi.x)
- Hotel-Style Wakeup Calls (FreePBX Module)
- ISN: FreeNum SIP Calling from Any Phone
- MeetMe Conference Bridge (just dial C-O-N-F)
- Mondo Full System Backups (/root/nv/install-diskbackup.x)
- NewsClips from Yahoo
- ODBC Database Support
- PogoPlug Cloud Computing
- Reminders by Phone and Web
- SIP URI Outbound Calling (call any SIP URI worldwide for free)
- Skype Inbound & Outbound Calling (Available 4/26)
- Tide Reports with xTide
- Trunk Lister Script (/root/nv/trunks.sh)
- Trunks (Vitelity, Fonica, SIPgate, IPkall, and ENUM)
- Twitter Interface (Make Free Calls and Send SMS Messages)
- Weather by Airport Code
- Weather by ZIP Code
- Worldwide Weather
- Zaptel Updater (/root/nv/zaptel-update.sh)
Prerequisites. Here's what you'll need to get started:
- Broadband Internet connection
- $200 PC3 on which to run The Incredible PBX or a Proxmox VM
- dLink Router/Firewall. Low Cost: $35 WBR-2310 Best: DGL-4500
- Free Google Voice account (Available in U.S. without an invite at this link)
- Free SIPgateOne residential account (U.S. cell to get SMS invite) OR
- Free IPkall IAX account (recommended for international users)
Installing The Incredible PBX. The installation process is simple and straight-forward. Just don't skip any steps. Here are the 5 Steps to Free Calling, and The Incredible PBX will be ready to receive and make free U.S./Canada calls:
1. Install the latest version of PBX in a Flash
2. Download & run The Incredible PBX installer
3. Set up your two provider accounts
4. Configure a softphone or SIP telephone
5. Run the configure-gv credentials installer
Installing PBX in a Flash. Here's a quick tutorial to get PBX in a Flash installed. We recommend you install the latest 32-bit version of PBX in a Flash. This new build works much better with newer hardware including Atom-based computers and newer network cards. Unlike other Asterisk aggregations, PBX in a Flash utilizes a two-step install process. The ISO only installs the CentOS 5.5 operating system. Once installed, the server reboots and downloads a payload file that includes Asterisk, FreePBX, and many other VoIP and Linux utilities. We use virtually identical payloads for all versions of PBX in a Flash.
Download the 32-bit, PIAF 1.6 version from Google, SourceForge, Vitelity, Cybernetic Networks, or AdHoc Electronics. The MD5 checksum for the file is e8a3fc96702d8aa9ecbd2a8afb934d36. Or, if you are feeling really adventurous or if you have new, bleeding edge hardware, try our new 32-bit, PIAF 1.7 build which features CentOS 5.5. This new release is available from SourceForge or Google Docs. The MD5 checksum for the PIAF 1.7 build is 184cdb00142ccdd814b11de23fb00082.
WARNING: This install will completely erase, repartition, and reformat EVERY DISK (including USB flash drives) connected to your system so disable any disk you wish to preserve! Press Ctrl-C to cancel the install.
On some systems you may get a notice that CentOS can't find the kickstart file. Just tab to OK and press Enter. Don't change the name or location of the kickstart file! This will get you going. Think of it as a CentOS 'feature'. 🙂
At the keyboard prompt, tab to OK and press Enter. At the time zone prompt, tab once, highlight your time zone, tab to OK and press Enter. At the password prompt, make up a VERY secure root password. Type it twice. Tab to OK, press Enter. Get a cup of coffee. Come back in about 5 minutes. When the system has installed CentOS, it will reboot. Remove the CD promptly. After the reboot,
choose A choose PIAF-Silver option. Have a 10-minute cup of coffee. After installation is complete, the machine will reboot a second time. Log in as root with your new password and execute the following commands:
When prompted, change the ARI password to something really obscure. You're never going to use it! You now have a PBX in a Flash base install. On a stand-alone machine, it takes about 30 minutes. On a virtual machine, it takes about half that time. Write down the dynamic IP address assigned to your server after running the status command. You'll need it shortly.
NOTE: So long as your system is safely sitting behind a hardware-based firewall, we do NOT recommend running update-source with The Incredible PBX. The version of Asterisk installed from our payload file is very stable.
Running The Incredible PBX Installer. Log into your server as root and issue the following commands to download and run The Incredible PBX installer:
chmod +x incrediblepbx.x
Have another 15-minute cup of coffee. It's a great time to consider a modest donation to the Nerd Vittles project. You'll find a link at the top of the page. When the installer finishes, READ THE SCREEN!
Here's a short video demonstration of the Incredible PBX installer process:
Either a free SIPgate One residential phone number or an IPkall number is a key component in today’s project. If you are eligible, we strongly recommend a SIPgate One residential account for The Incredible PBX. However, you may elect to use an IPkall account as an alternative. Both are free; however, you cannot register The Incredible PBX to IPkall's servers so you'll need to punch a hole in your firewall to receive incoming calls from Google Voice and IPkall. This step is not necessary with SIPgate accounts since there is a permanent registered connection between The Incredible PBX and SIPgate's servers!
One final word of caution is in order regardless of your choice of providers: Do NOT use special characters in any provider passwords, or nothing will work! Continue reading whichever section below applies to you.
Configuring SIPgate. If you live in the U.S. and have a cellphone, we'd recommend the SIPgate option since no adjustment of your hardware-based firewall is required. Otherwise, skip to the IPkall setup below. Step #1 is to request a SIPgate invite at this link. You'll need to enter your U.S. cellphone number to receive the SMS message with your invitation code. Don't worry. You can erase your cellphone number from your account once it is set up and working properly. Once you receive the invite code, enter it and choose the option to set up a residential account. Next, choose a phone number and write it down. The area code really doesn't matter because Google Voice is the only one that will be calling this number after we get things set up. For now, leave your cellphone number in place so that you can receive your confirmation call from Google Voice in the next step. After that, you'll want to revisit SIPgate and remove all parallel calling numbers. Finally, click on the Settings link and write down your SIP ID and SIP Password. You'll need these in a few minutes to complete the configuration of The Incredible PBX. Now place a call to your new SIPgate number and make certain that your cellphone rings before proceeding.
Configuring IPkall. If you're using IPkall as your intermediate provider, first log in to your hardware-based firewall/router and map UDP port 45694 to the private IP address that you just wrote down. This tells your firewall to pass all IAX2 traffic from the Internet directly to your new server. Don't worry. We have severely restricted which IP addresses can actually send IAX data through the PBX in a Flash IPtables firewall which is an integral part of this build. And, remember, no hardware firewall adjustments are necessary if you're using SIPgate instead of IPkall.
After your firewall is properly configured, you'll need to register for a free IPkall number. This is actually a two-step process. Set it up as a SIP connection when you first register. Then we'll change it to IAX once your new phone number is provided. So your initial IPkall request should look like this:
We recommend area code 425 for your requested number because IPkall appears to have lots of them. If they don't have an available number, your request apparently goes in the bit bucket. You'll know because IPkall typically turns these requests around in a few minutes. Don't worry about the mothership entry. We'll change it shortly. The other issue here is your public IP address. If you have a dedicated IP address, no worries. Just plug in the IP address for SIP Proxy. If it's dynamic, then you'll need to set up a fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) with a provider such as dyndns.com. Once you've got it set up, enter your credentials in the Dynamic DNS tab of your hardware-based firewall to assure that your dynamic IP address is always synchronized with your FQDN. Then enter the FQDN for your SIP Proxy address in the IPkall form. Be sure to make up a VERY secure password. Now send it off and wait for the return email with your new phone number.
When you receive your new phone number, you'll need to revisit the IPkall site and log in with your phone number and the password you chose above. Make the changes shown below using your actual IPkall phone number instead of 4259876543:
It's worth stressing that these settings are extremely important so check your work carefully. Be sure the IAX option is selected. Be sure there are no typos in your two phone number entries. And be sure your FQDN or public IP address is correct. Then save your new settings.
TIP: Be aware that IPkall cancels an assigned phone number after 30 consecutive days of inactivity. If you will be using your number infrequently, it's a good idea to schedule a Weekly Reminder to call the number with a prerecorded message. This will assure that your number stays functional.
Configuring Google Voice. Google Voice no longer is by invitation only so, if you're in the U.S. or have a friend that is, head over to the Google Voice site and register. After you've chosen a telephone number, plug in your new SIPgate or IPkall number as the destination for your Google Voice calls and choose Office as the Phone Type.
Google places a test call to your number so you'll have to delay it a bit for IPkall. If you're using SIPgate, go ahead and tell Google to place the test call which will be forwarded to your cellphone. Enter the two-digit code that's displayed when you're prompted to do so. With IPkall, wait until we finish running the credentials configurator below.
While you're still in Google Voice Settings, click on the Calls tab. Make sure your settings match these:
- Call Screening - OFF
- Call Presentation - OFF
- Caller ID (In) - Display Caller's Number
- Caller ID (Out) - Don't Change Anything
- Do Not Disturb - OFF
Click Save Changes once you adjust your settings. Under the Voicemail tab, plug in your email address so you get notified of new voicemails. Down the road, receipt of a Google Voice voicemail will be a big hint that something has come unglued on your PBX.
If you're using SIPgate and you've confirmed your number, revisit SIPgate and remove all parallel calling numbers including your cell number.
Adding Your Credentials to The Incredible PBX. We're ready to insert your credentials and SIPgate/IPkall information into The Incredible PBX. You'll need several pieces of information: your 10-digit Google Voice phone number, your Google Voice account name (which is the email address you used to set up your GV account), your GV password (no spaces!), and your 10-digit SIPgate or IPkall RingBack DID. You'll also need to reenter your passwd-master password which is used to configure CallerID Superfecta. Finally, you'll need to tell the configurator whether you're using a SIPgate or IPkall account. In the case of SIPgate, you'll also be prompted to enter your SIP ID and SIP password. These are NOT the same as your account credentials!!
Log back into your server as root and issue the following command to kick off the configurator: ./configure-gv.x. Check your entries carefully. If you make a typo in entering any of your data, press Ctrl-C to cancel the script and then run it again!! Once you've checked and double-checked your entries, press Enter and The Incredible PBX setup will be completed. You'll need to press Enter again when the script finishes to reboot your PBX. After the reboot, your system will have randomly-generated passwords for every extension and voicemail box that is preconfigured on your system. The DISA password also has been changed. We generate five-digit passwords. If you will sleep better with longer passwords, be our guest. They are easily reset using the FreePBX web interface described elsewhere in this article.
Finally, log back into your server as root and issue the following command to obtain the password for extension 701 which we'll need to configure your softphone in the next step:
mysql -uroot -ppassw0rd -e"select id,data from asterisk.sip where id='701' and keyword='secret'"
The result will look something like the following where 701 is the extension and 18016 is the randomly-generated extension password exclusively for your Incredible PBX:
Configuring a SIP Phone. There are hundreds of terrific SIP telephones and softphones for Asterisk-based systems. Once you get things humming along, you'll want a real SIP telephone, and you'll find lots of recommendations on Nerd Vittles. For today, let's download a terrific (free) softphone to get you started. We recommend X-Lite because there are versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux. So download your favorite from this link. Install and run X-Lite on your Desktop. At the top of the phone, click on the Down Arrow and choose SIP Account Settings, Add. Enter the following information using your actual password for extension 701 and the actual IP address of your Incredible PBX server instead of 192.168.0.251. Click OK when finished. Your softphone should now show: Available.
If you're using SIPgate as your provider with Google Voice, you're ready to place a test call. If you're using IPkall, we still need to verify your IPkall number with Google Voice. Return to Google Voice and tell it to place the test call to your IPkall number which you've already entered as your destination number. Your softphone will ring momentarily. Enter the two-digit code provided by Google Voice, and you're all set.
Incredible PBX Test Flight. The proof is in the pudding as they say. So let's try two simple tests. First, from another phone, call your Google Voice number. Your softphone should begin ringing shortly. Answer the call and make sure you can send and receive voice on both phones. Hang up. Now let's place an outbound call. Using the softphone, dial your cellphone number. Google Voice should transparently connect you. Answer the call and make sure you can send and receive voice on both phones. If everything is working, congratulations!
Here's a brief video demonstration showing how to set up a softphone to use with your Incredible PBX, and it also walks you through several of the dozens of Asterisk applications included in your system.
Solving One-Way Audio Problems. If you experience one-way audio on some of your phone calls, you may need to adjust the settings in /etc/asterisk/sip_custom.conf. Just uncomment the first two lines by removing the semicolons. Then replace 184.108.40.206 with your public IP address, and replace 192.168.0.0 with the subnet address of your private network. Save the file and restart Asterisk with the command: amportal restart.
Learn First. Explore Second. Even though the installation process has been completed, we strongly recommend you do some reading before you begin your VoIP adventure. VoIP PBX systems have become a favorite target of the hackers and crackers around the world and, unless you have an unlimited bank account, you need to take some time learning where the minefields are in today's VoIP world. Start by reading our Primer on Asterisk Security. We've secured all of your passwords except your root password and your passwd-master password, and we're assuming you've put very secure passwords on those accounts as if your phone bill depended upon it. It does! Also read our PBX in a Flash and VPN in a Flash knols. If you're still not asleep, there's loads of additional documentation on the PBX in a Flash documentation web site.
Choosing a VoIP Provider. For this week, we'll point you to some things to play with on your new server. Then, in the subsequent articles below, we'll cover in detail how to customize every application that's been loaded. Nothing beats free when it comes to long distance calls. But nothing lasts forever. So we'd recommend you set up another account with Vitelity using our special link below. This gives your PBX a secondary way to communicate with every telephone in the world, and it also gets you a second real phone number for your new system... so that people can call you. Here's how it works. You pay Vitelity a deposit for phone service. They then will bill you $3.99 a month for your new phone number. This $3.99 also covers the cost of unlimited inbound calls (two at a time) delivered to your PBX for the month. For outbound calls, you pay by the minute and the cost is determined by where you're calling. If you're in the U.S., outbound calls to anywhere in the U.S. are a little over a penny a minute. If you change your mind about Vitelity and want a refund of the balance in your account, all you have to do is ask.
The VoIP world is new territory for some of you. Unlike the Ma Bell days, there's really no reason not to have multiple VoIP providers especially for outbound calls. Depending upon where you are calling, calls may be cheaper using different providers for calls to different locations. So we recommend having at least two providers. Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum to get some ideas on choosing alternative providers.
A Word About Security. Security matters to us, and it should matter to you. Not only is the safety of your system at stake but also your wallet and the safety of other folks' systems. Our only means of contacting you with security updates is through the RSS Feed that we maintain for the PBX in a Flash project. This feed is prominently displayed in the web GUI which you can access with any browser pointed to the IP address of your server. Check It Daily! Or add our RSS Feed to your favorite RSS Reader. Be safe!
Kicking the Tires. OK. That's enough tutorial for today. Let's play. Using your new softphone, begin your adventure by dialing these extensions:
- D-E-M-O - Incredible PBX Demo (running on your PBX)
- 1234*1061 - Nerd Vittles Demo via ISN FreeNum connection to NV
- 17476009082*1089 - Nerd Vittles Demo via ISN to Google/Gizmo5
- Z-I-P - Enter a five digit zip code for any U.S. weather report
- 6-1-1 - Enter a 3-character airport code for any U.S. weather report
- 5-1-1 - Get the latest news and sports headlines from Yahoo News
- T-I-D-E - Get today's tides and lunar schedule for any U.S. port
- F-A-X - Send a fax to an email address of your choice
- 4-1-2 - 3-character phonebook lookup/dialer with AsteriDex
- M-A-I-L - Record a message and deliver it to any email address
- C-O-N-F - Set up a MeetMe Conference on the fly
- 1-2-3 - Schedule regular/recurring reminder (PW: 12345678)
- 2-2-2 - ODBC/Timeclock Lookup Demo (Empl No: 12345)
- 2-2-3 - ODBC/AsteriDex Lookup Demo (Code: AME)
- Dial *68 - Schedule a hotel-style wakeup call from any extension
- 1061*1061 - PBX in a Flash Support Conference Bridge
- 882*1061 - VoIP Users Conference every Friday at Noon (EST)
Homework. Your homework for this week is to do some exploring. FreePBX is a treasure trove of functionality, and The Incredible PBX adds a bunch of additional options. See if you can find all of them. Also check out Tweet2Dial which uses Twitter to make Google Voice calls, send free SMS messages, and manage your Incredible PBX.
Be sure to log into your server as root and look through the scripts added in the /root/nv folder. You'll find all sorts of goodies to keep you busy. s3cmd.faq tells you how to quickly activate the Amazon S3 Cloud Computing service. And, if you've heeded our advice and purchased a PogoPlug, you can link to your home-grown cloud as well. Just add your credentials to /root/pogo-start.sh. Then run the script to enable the PogoPlug Cloud on your server. All of your cloud resources are instantly accessible in /mnt/pogoplug. It's perfect for off-site backups which we'll cover in a few weeks.
Don't forget to List Yourself in Directory Assistance so everyone can find you by dialing 411. And add your new number to the Do Not Call Registry to block telemarketing calls. Or just call 888-382-1222 from your new number. Finally, try out the included Stealth AutoAttendant by dialing your own number and pressing 0 while the greeting is played. This will reroute your call to the demo applications option in the IVR.
Originally published: Monday, April 19, 2010
Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as this one, you're bound to have questions. Blog comments are a terrible place to handle support issues although we welcome general comments about our articles and software. If you have particular support issues, we encourage you to get actively involved in the PBX in a Flash Forums. It's the best Asterisk tech support site in the business, and it's all free! We maintain a thread with the latest Patches and Bug Fixes for Incredible PBX. Please have a look. Unlike some forums, ours is extremely friendly and is supported by literally hundreds of Asterisk gurus and thousands of ordinary users just like you. So you won't have to wait long for an answer to your questions.
Coming Soon. We haven't forgotten. We'll cover setting up multiple Google Voice accounts for simultaneous calling on multiple channels very soon. And the new (free) Skype Gateway to Asterisk for The Incredible PBX is now available. The FreePBX components already are in place to support inbound and outbound calling via Skype. You can even try a test call to our Aspire One Revo today by dialing nerdvittles from your favorite Skype client. Beginning today, this article will be available on http://IncrediblePBX.com. Then Nerd Vittles will return to our (almost) weekly schedule of new articles. Enjoy!
Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.
Or Try the New, Free PBX in a Flash Conference Bridge.
whos.amung.us If you're wondering what your fellow man is reading on Nerd Vittles these days, wonder no more. Visit our new whos.amung.us statistical web site and check out what's happening. It's a terrific resource both for us and for you.
Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors
Awesome Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a terrific discount for Nerd Vittles readers. You now can get an almost half-price DID from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you're seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. When you use our special link to sign up, Nerd Vittles gets a few shekels down the road to support our open source development efforts while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity's DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For our users, here's a deal you can't (and shouldn't) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls and four simultaneous channels for just $3.99 a month. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. NOTE: You can only use the Nerd Vittles sign-up link to order your DIDs, or you won't get the special pricing! Vitelity's rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage. Any balance is refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest...
- Requires a SIPgate One account. [↩]
- For Asterisk 1.6 or for 64-bit systems with Asterisk 1.4 or 1.6, use the Cepstral install procedures outlined in this Nerd Vittles article. [↩]
- If you use the recommended Acer Aspire Revo, be advised that it does NOT include a CD/DVD drive. You will need an external USB drive to load the software. Some of these work with CentOS, and some don't. Most HP and Sony drives work; however, we strongly recommend you purchase an external DVD drive from a merchant that will accept returns, e.g. Best Buy, WalMart, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples. [↩]
- Mapping a port on your firewall to a private IP address unblocks certain Internet packets and allows them to pass through your firewall directly to an IP device "inside" your firewall for further processing. [↩]