It’s been 18 months since a new version of PBX in a Flash was officially released. And we’ll explain the reasons why it’s quite unnecessary with our product in a few minutes. But, today, we’re proud to introduce the latest and greatest version 1.7.5.5 of PBX in a Flash featuring your choice of Asterisk® 1.4 or 1.6.2 with Zaptel or DAHDI support and FreePBX 2.6. It’s lean, mean, and incredibly flexible.

You don’t get the kitchen sink with the base PBX in a Flash ISO installs. Instead you get a rock-solid CentOS 5.5 operating system with the latest CentOS kernel on which to build an Internet telephony server that meets your specific needs. If we had to sum up this new release in a word, it would be refined. Newer hardware devices now are supported, and Mondo backups and other scripts have been tweaked to work with these new devices including Atom-based machines which are proving to be the ideal telephony platform for SOHO and small business deployments. As usual, documentation was not an afterthought. There’s a new installation tutorial and our award-winning knol has been updated to cover everything you’ll ever want to know about PBX in a Flash. And there’s loads of additional documentation on the PBX in a Flash web site. For the reading impaired, there’s even a 7-minute YouTube video to walk you through the installation process.

The installation procedure has been simplified. For most users, downloading the ISO, burning the ISO to a CD, booting from the CD, and pressing the Enter key is all the complexity you’ll face with a new PBX in a Flash install. For experts and resellers, there are the familiar options to perform network installs or to select different disk architectures including software RAID. Newer device drivers can be loaded as part of the installation process as well. And TM1000’s EndPoint Manager automatically configures almost any telephone on the planet for use with PBX in a Flash. All it takes is a quick download from SourceForge. For those with a physical handicap, you now can install the complete system with no user intervention by typing ksauto at the first prompt.

Overview. For those that prefer quick checklists to long articles, here’s the 30-minute, annotated, Baker’s Dozen PBX in a Flash 1.7.5.5 installation drill:

1. Download PBX in a Flash ISO
2. Burn ISO to a CD-ROM
3. Install system behind secure firewall
4. Boot target machine to be reformatted from CD
5. Press Enter key at first prompt
6. Choose keyboard for your country
7. Choose timezone for your location
8. Create a secure root password
9. Choose GOLD, SILVER, or BRONZE edition
10. Login as root & run update-scripts
11. Run update-fixes
12. Run passwd-master
13. Load FreePBX Modules OR Install Incredible PBX

A Better Mousetrap. Asterisk-based LAMP aggregations thankfully are more plentiful today, but we think we have a better mousetrap. Here are a few reasons why? First, PBX in a Flash is the only distribution that is totally source-based with Asterisk compiled from source as part of the install. What that means is when you purchase add-on hardware and it has a problem for some reason, all of the tools are already in place for you to contact the manufacturer or reseller and have them reconfigure or recompile whatever is necessary on your system to get you back in business quickly. It also means that most of our applications are compiled from source on your specific hardware which assures a more reliable and stable software platform on which to build your telephony system.

Second, we don’t release PBX in a Flash ISOs every other week. We don’t have to. Every time a new security patch is released for Asterisk, the "other guys" have to create a new RPM or ISO to support it. That means your system is vulnerable for weeks or months while that process is underway. In some cases, it means installing a new ISO and starting over. I wish I had a nickel for every time I reinstalled and basically started over with Asterisk@Home or trixbox. With PBX in a Flash, you simply type update-source and then update-fixes at the command prompt, and your system is brought current without missing a beat. The total server downtime is typically under 15 minutes!

Third, PBX in a Flash uses a two-step install process that all but eliminates the ISO obsolescence issues that have plagued other distributions. The PBX in a Flash ISO is used to install either the 32-bit or the 64-bit CentOS 5.5 operating system and kernel. When that process completes and after performing a yum update on CentOS 5.5, the installer then searches multiple sites on the Internet for our "payload files" which contain the latest, greatest versions of Asterisk to meet your specific requirements. The payload script also installs FreePBX and many of the customized features that make PBX in a Flash unique. If you need additional functionality, we have an entire web site, pbxinaflash.org, dedicated to add-on scripts. Most of these add-on scripts are available by typing help-pbx at the command prompt. All of them install without user intervention in a minute or two. Using this design, most bugs are eliminated as well without your having to do much of anything. Translation: More time to enjoy your production-quality VoIP PBX… and less all-nighters! Finally, if you’re new to Asterisk or just want to take advantage of a decade of expertise from the PIAF developers, just load the Incredible PBX over the top of your new PBX in a Flash install. In just 15 minutes, you’ll have an incredibly secure, turnkey PBX with dozens of add-on apps that can make and receive unlimited free calls in the U.S. and Canada thanks to Google Voice.

And, speaking of security, PBX in a Flash is the only distribution that brings you multiple layers of security out of the box. There’s the preconfigured Linux IPtables firewall. And, in addition, there’s the latest and greatest version of Fail2Ban which blocks malicious intruders attempting to guess your passwords and break into your system. We also strongly recommend adding a hardware-based firewall/router to block all access to your system unless you really know what you’re doing. Does all of this matter? Well, it’s your phone bill. Here’s a link to our article about a company that recently received an unexpected $120,000 phone bill in the mail. So you decide. If you read nothing else before embarking on your VoIP adventure, read our Primer on Asterisk Security!

So today we’re proud to introduce the 1.7.5.5 release of PBX in a Flash. It’s still the Lean, Mean Asterisk Machine designed to meet the needs of hobbyists as well as business users. And FreePBX 2.6 provides a rock-solid, graphical user interface to Asterisk that competes with any commercial PBX on the planet.

Getting Started with PBX in a Flash 1.7.5.5. Begin by downloading either the 32-bit or 64-bit ISO image for PBX in a Flash from SourceForge, Google, or from one of our download mirrors. Torrents are also available. And don’t worry. If you try to run the 64-bit install on a system that doesn’t support it, it’ll just sit there so you’ve got nothing to lose by trying the Ferrari first. Once you’ve got the ISO image in hand, use your favorite tool to burn it to a bootable CD. This next step is the most important. Do some reading!! There also are loads of helpful tutorials that are free for the downloading from our support site. Before you begin the install process, be aware that all drives (including USB devices) on your target system will be erased as part of the install process. So be sure to use a dedicated server for PBX in a Flash.

Update: A new PBX in a Flash installer is now available for USB Flash Drives.

What About Hardware? If you’re new to all of this, let us recommend you try either one of Dell’s entry-level PowerEdge servers or one of the newer Intel Atom-based small-footprint PCs or netbooks such as the Acer Aspire One or Acer Aspire Revo. On sale pricing is typically in the $200-$300 range. You can save an additional 2% plus $5 by using our coupon link in the right margin. Any of these systems is just about perfect for a home or small business server.

Basic Install. Once you have your new system, just insert the CD containing the ISO and then reboot the machine you wish to dedicate to PBX in a Flash. After reading this tutorial and the initial prompts and warnings, choose an option and press the <Enter key> to begin the installation. Choose your default keyboard and then choose your time zone and leave the UTC system clock option unchecked. Next choose a root password for your new system. Make it secure, and write it down (not on your shoe). IMPORTANT: Your server must have its system clock set correctly and be connected to the Internet before the install process begins! In about 15 minutes depending upon the speed of your PC, the machine will reboot when the installation of CentOS 5.5 is complete. Be sure to eject the CD at this point, or your system will boot again from the CD and start over.

After the reboot, the system will boot CentOS 5.5 and then prompt you to choose the version of Asterisk you’d like to install. Here are the three choices:

A – GOLD with Asterisk 1.4.21.2 and Zaptel
B – SILVER with latest Asterisk 1.4 version and DAHDI
C – BRONZE with latest Asterisk 1.6.2 version and DAHDI

If you plan to expose your server to the Internet in any way, we recommend you choose the SILVER version which is the most secure. And just to repeat, if you don’t have Internet connectivity, then the installation cannot complete. When the installation finishes, reboot your system and log in as root. The IP address of your PBX in a Flash system will be displayed once you log in. If it’s blank, type service network restart after assuring that you have Internet connectivity and access to a DHCP server that hands out IP addresses. Typing ifconfig should display your IP address on the eth0 port. Write it down. We’ll need it in a minute.

Now that you’ve logged in as root, you should see the IP address displayed with the following command prompt: root@pbx:~/. If instead you see bash displayed as the command prompt and it’s not green, then the installation has not completed successfully. This is probably due to network problems but also could be caused by the time being set incorrectly on your server. You can’t compile Asterisk if the time on your computer is a date in the past! For this glitch you basically have to start over. If it’s a network issue, fix it and then reboot and watch for the eth0 connection to complete. Assuming it doesn’t fail the second time around, the installation will continue. Likewise, if you do not have DHCP on your network, the installation will fail because the PBX will not be given an IP address.

Three Steps to Complete the Install. There are three important things to do to complete the installation. First, run the following commands after logging into your new server as root with your root password:

update-scripts (gets the latest PIAF scripts)
update-fixes (applies PIAF security patches and bug-fixes)
passwd-master (sets your FreePBX maint password)

Second, from the command prompt, run genzaptelconf or gendahdiconf if you have ZAP/DAHDI hardware. This sets up your hardware as well as a timing source for conferencing. If you’re using additional hardware for your Asterisk system, we recommend removing any modem before you install the cards. This will help avoid interrupt conflicts.

Third, decide how to handle the IP address for your PBX in a Flash server. The default is DHCP, but you don’t want the IP address of your PBX changing. Phones and phone calls need to know how to find your PBX, and if your internal IP address changes because of DHCP, that’s a problem. You have two choices. Either set your router to always hand out the same DHCP address to your PBX in a Flash server by specifying its MAC address in the reserved IP address table of your router, or run netconfig at the command prompt and assign a permanent IP address to your server. Be aware that netconfig no longer is a part of CentOS 5.5. Run install-netconfig to reinstall it. If you experience problems with the process, see this message thread on the forum.

If you’ve used one of the dLink firewall/routers we recommend and you plan to install the Incredible PBX, you can skip the rest of this article. We’ve done all of the work for you!

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 5.5, Asterisk, 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.

If you’ve decided to roll your own and skip The Incredible PBX, then let’s continue…

Getting Rid of One-Way Audio. There are some settings you’ll need to add to /etc/asterisk/sip_custom.conf if you want to have reliable, two-way communications with Asterisk: nano -w /etc/asterisk/sip_custom.conf. The entries depend upon whether your Internet connection has a fixed IP address or a DHCP address issued by your provider. In the latter case, you also need to configure your router to support Dynamic DNS (DDNS) using a service such as dyndns.org. If you have a fixed IP address, then enter settings like the following using your actual public IP address and your private IP subnet:

externip=180.12.12.12
localnet=192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0     

If you have a public address that changes and you’re using DDNS, then the settings would look something like the following:

externhost=myserver.dyndns.org
localnet=192.168.0.0/255.255.255.0     

(NOTE: The first 3 octets in the above localnet entries need to match your private IP addresses!)

Once you’ve made your entries, save the file: Ctrl-X, Y, then Enter. Reload Asterisk: amportal restart. If you assigned a permanent IP address, reboot your server: shutdown -r now.

Be aware that some people experience problems with the externhost approach outlined above. If your provider only gives you a dynamic IP address, you still can use the externip approach above so long as you have a method to frequently verify your IP address. The approach we actually use on our home network is to run a little script every 5 minutes. If it finds that your outside IP address has changed, it will automatically update your sip_custom.conf file with the new address. To use our approach, create a file in /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin names ip.sh. Here’s the code:2

#!/bin/bash
# File to log the IP Address
IPFILE='/var/log/asterisk/externip'
# Your local lan ip block
localnet=192.168.1.0
# Nothing else needs to be changed.
if [ ! -f "$IPFILE" ]; then
echo "creating $IPFILE"
echo first_time_usage > $IPFILE
fi
lastip=`cat $IPFILE`
externip=$(curl -s -S --user-agent "PIAF 1.4"↩
http://myip.pbxinaflash.com | awk 'NR==2')
if [ $externip != $lastip ]; then
# Writes new IP address (if it has changed) to file.
echo "$externip" > $IPFILE
echo "externip=$externip" > /etc/asterisk/sip_custom.conf
echo "localnet=$localnet/255.255.255.0" >>↩
/etc/asterisk/sip_custom.conf
echo "srvlookup=yes" >> /etc/asterisk/sip_custom.conf
echo "nat=yes" >> /etc/asterisk/sip_custom.conf
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload" ;
else
exit 0;
fi
exit;

On line 5, enter the internal subnet for your server as the localnet entry. This is usually 192.168.0.0 or 192.168.1.0. YMMV!

Save the file and give it execute permissions: chmod +x /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/ip.sh. Then make asterisk the file owner: chown asterisk:asterisk /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/ip.sh.

Finally, add the following entry to the bottom of /etc/crontab:

*/5 * * * * asterisk /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/ip.sh > /dev/null

Activating Email Delivery of Voicemail Messages. We’ve previously shown how to configure systems to reliably deliver email messages whenever a voicemail arrives unless your ISP happens to block downstream SMTP mail servers. Here’s the link in case you need it. As it happens, you really don’t have to use a real fully-qualified domain name to get this working. So long as the entry (such as pbx.dyndns.org) is inserted in both the /etc/hosts file and /etc/asterisk/vm_general.inc with a matching servermail entry of vm@pbx.dyndns.org (as explained in the link above), your system will reliably send emails to you whenever you get a voicemail if you configure your extensions in FreePBX to support this capability. You can, of course, put in real host entries if you prefer. For 90% of the systems around the world, if you just want your server to reliably e-mail you your voicemail messages, make line 3 of /etc/hosts look like this with a tab after 127.0.0.1 and spaces between the domain names:

127.0.0.1     pbx.dyndns.org pbx.local pbx localhost.localdomain localhost

And then make line 6 of /etc/asterisk/vm_general.inc look like the following:

serveremail=voicemail@pbx.dyndns.org

Now issue the following two commands to make the changes take effect:

service network restart
amportal restart

The command "setup-mail" can be used from the Linux prompt to set the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) of the mail that is sent out from your server. This may help mail to be delivered from the PBX. One of things mail servers do to reduce spam is to do a reverse lookup on where the mail has come from, checking that there is actually a mailserver at the other end. You can only do this if you have set up dynamic DNS or if you have pointed a hostname at your fixed IP address. Once you have done this, and assuming your ISP is cooperative, then you will receive your voicemails via email if you wish (this is set within FreePBX),and your PBX will email you when FreePBX needs an update. You set this feature in FreePBX General Settings.

If your hosting provider blocks downstream SMTP servers to reduce spam, here’s a simple way to use your Gmail account (free!) as your SMTP Relay Host. Then you never have to worry about this again!

Setting Passwords and Other Stuff. Be aware that major security issues are reported from time to time with FreePBX. We strongly recommend that you not use FreePBX admin security alone to protect your system from a web attack. It may compromise root access to your entire server. For this reason, we recommend that you log in as root and immediately run passwd-master after completing the update-scripts and update-fixes scenario. This establishes Apache htaccess security on your FreePBX web interface. After running this conversion utility, you can only log into the FreePBX admin interface with the username maint (not admin) and the password which you establish when you run the utility.

Other passwords can be set in your system with these commands:

passwd... reset your root user password
passwd-maint... reset your FreePBX maint password
passwd-wwwadmin... for users needing FOP and MeetMe access
passwd-meetme... for users needing only MeetMe access
passwd-webmin... for users needing WebMin access to your server (very dangerous!)

There’s also an Administration password that you can set in the KennonSoft UI that displays when you point your browser to the IP address of your server. Do NOT use the same password here that you use elsewhere as it is not overly secure.

Configuring WebMin. WebMin is the Swiss Army Knife of Linux. It provides TOTAL access to your system through a web interface. Search Nerd Vittles for webmin if you want more information. Be very careful if you decide to enable it on the public Internet. You do this by opening port 9001 on your router and pointing it to the private IP address of your PBX in a Flash server. Before using WebMin, you need to set up a username and password for access. From the Linux prompt while logged in as root, type the following command where admin is the username you wish to set up and foo is the password you’ve chosen for the admininstrator account. HINT: Don’t use admin and foo as your username and password for WebMin unless you want your server trashed!

/usr/libexec/webmin/changepass.pl /etc/webmin root password

To access WebMin on your private network, go to http://192.168.0.123:9001 where 192.168.0.123 is the private IP address of your PBX in a Flash server. Then type the username and password you assigned above to gain entry. To stop WebMin: /etc/webmin/stop. To start WebMin: /etc/webmin/start. For complete documentation, go here.

Updating and Configuring FreePBX. FreePBX 2.6 is installed as part of the PBX in a Flash 1.7.5.5 implementation. This incredible, web-based tool provides a complete menu-driven user interface to Asterisk. The entire FreePBX project is a model of how open source development projects ought to work. And having Philippe Lindheimer’s as the Captain of the Ship is just icing on the cake. All it takes to get started with FreePBX is a few minutes of configuration, and you’ll have a functioning Asterisk PBX complete with voicemail, music on hold, call forwarding, and a powerful interactive voice response (IVR) system. There is excellent documentation for FreePBX which you should read at your earliest convenience. It will answer 99% of your questions about how to use and configure FreePBX. For the one percent that is not covered in the Guide, visit the FreePBX Forums which are frequented regularly by the FreePBX developers. Kindly post FreePBX questions on their forum rather than the PBX in a Flash Forum. This helps everybody. Now let’s get started.

Now move to a PC or Mac and, using your favorite web browser, go to the IP address you deciphered above for your new server. Be aware that FreePBX has a difficult time displaying properly with IE6 and IE7 and regularly blows up with older versions of Safari. Be safe. Use Firefox. From the PBX in a Flash Main Menu in your web browser, click on the Administration link and then click the FreePBX button. Once FreePBX loads, click the Module Administration option in the left frame. Now click Check for Updates online in the upper right panel. Next, click Download All which will select all but two modules for download and install. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Process, then Confirm, then Return. Now repeat the process once more, then Process, Confirm, Return, Apply Config Changes, and Continue with Reload. Finally, scroll down the Modules listing until you get to the Maintenance section. Click on each of the following and choose Install: ConfigEdit, Sys Info, and phpMyAdmin. Then click Process, then Confirm, then Return once the apps are downloaded and installed, then Apply, then Continue with Reload. All three of these tools now are installed in the Maintenance section of the Tools tab of FreePBX. You now have an up-to-date version of FreePBX. You’ll need to repeat the drill every few weeks as new updates are released. This will assure that you have all of the latest and greatest software. To change your Admin password, click on the Setup tab in the left frame, then click Administrators, then Admin in the far right column, enter a new password, and click Submit Changes, Apply Configuration Changes, and Continue with reload. We’re going to be repeating this process a number of times in the next section so… when instructed to Save Your Changes, that means "click Submit Changes, Apply Configuration Changes, and Continue with reload." Finally, don’t worry about the warnings alerting you that you’re using default passwords. Your system is behind a secure firewall, and these passwords are only accessible to someone that has access to your system and has your root password.

Choosing Internet Telephony Hosting Providers for Your System. Before you can place calls to users outside your system or to receive incoming calls, you’ll need at least one provider (each) for your incoming phone number (DID) and incoming calls as well as a provider for your outbound calls (terminations). We have a list of some of our favorites here, and there are many, many others. You basically have two choices with most providers. You can either pay as you go or sign up for an all-you-can-eat plan. Most of the latter plans also have caps on minutes so it’s more akin to all-they-care-for-you-to-eat, and there are none of the latter plans for business service. In the U.S. market, the going rate for pay as you go service is about 1.5¢ per minute rounded to the tenth of a minute. The best deal on DIDs is from Vitelity. They charge $3.99 a month for a DID with unlimited, free incoming calls. There’s a link to the Nerd Vittles discount on this service for PBX in a Flash users below.

Before you sign up for any all-you-can-eat plan, do some reading about the service providers. Some of them are real scam artists with backbilling and all sorts of unconscionable restrictions. You need to be careful. Our cardinal rule in the VoIP Wild West is never, ever entrust your entire PBX to a single hosting provider. As Forrest Gump would say, "Stuff happens!" And life’s too short to have dead telephones, even if it’s a rarity.

Setting Up FreePBX to Make Your First Call. There are four components in FreePBX that need to be configured before you can place a call or receive one from outside your PBX in a Flash system. So here’s FreePBX for Dummies in less than 50 words. You need to configure Trunks, Extensions, Outbound Routes, and Inbound Routes. Trunks are hosting provider specifications that get calls delivered to and transported from your PBX to the rest of the world. Extensions are internal numbers on your PBX that connect your PBX to telephone hardware or softphones. Inbound Routes specify what should be done with calls coming in on a Trunk. Outbound Routes specify what should be done with calls going out to a Trunk. Everything else is bells and whistles.

Trunks. When you sign up with most of the better ITHP’s that support Asterisk, they will provide documentation on how to connect their service with your Asterisk system. If they have a trixbox tutorial, use that since it also uses FreePBX as the web front end to Asterisk. Here’s an example from les.net. And here’s the Vitelity support page although you will need to set up an account before you can access it. We also have covered the setups for a number of providers in previous articles. Just search the Nerd Vittles site for the name of the provider you wish to use. You’ll also find many Trunk setups in the trixbox Trunk Forum. Once you find the setup for your provider, add it in FreePBX by going to Setup, Trunks, Add SIP Trunk. Our AxVoice setup (which is all entered in the Outgoing section with a label of axvoice) looks like this with a Registration String of yourusername:yourpassword@sip.axvoice.com:

allow=ulaw
authname=yourusername
canreinvite=no
context=all-incoming
defaultip=sip.axvoice.com
disallow=all
dtmfmode=inband
fromdomain=sip.axvoice.com
fromuser=yourusername
host=sip.axvoice.com
insecure=very
nat=yes
secret=yourpassword
type=friend
user=phone
username=yourusername

And our Vitelity Outbound Trunk looks like the following (labeled vitel-outbound) with no registration string:

allow=ulaw&gsm
canreinvite=no
context=from-pstn
disallow=all
fromuser=yourusername
host=outbound1.vitelity.net
secret=yourpassword
sendrpid=yes
trustrpid=yes
type=friend
username=yourusername

Extensions. Now let’s set up a couple of Extensions to get you started. A good rule of thumb for systems with less than 50 extensions is to reserve the IP addresses from 192.x.x.201 to 192.x.x.250 for your phones. Then you can create extension numbers in FreePBX to match those IP addresses. This makes it easy to identify which phone on your system goes with which IP address and makes it easy for end-users to access the phone’s GUI to add bells and whistles. To create extension 201 (don’t start with 200), click Setup, Extensions, Generic SIP Device, Submit. Then fill in the following blanks USING VERY SECURE PASSWORDS and leaving the defaults in the other fields for the time being.

User Extension … 201
Display Name … Home
Outbound CID … [your 10-digit phone number if you have one; otherwise, leave blank]
Emergency CID … [your 10-digit phone number for 911 ID if you have one; otherwise, leave blank]
Device Options
secret … 1299864 < -- make this unique AND secure!
dtmfmode … rfc2833
Voicemail & Directory … Enabled
voicemail password … 1299864 <-- make this unique AND secure!
email address … yourname@yourdomain.com [if you want voicemail messages emailed to you]
pager email address … yourname@yourdomain.com [if you want to be paged when voicemail messages arrive]
email attachment … yes [if you want the voicemail message included in the email message]
play CID … yes [if you want the CallerID played when you retrieve a message]
play envelope … yes [if you want the date/time of the message played before the message is read to you]
delete Vmail … yes [if you want the voicemail message deleted after it’s emailed to you]
vm options … callback=from-internal [to enable automatic callbacks by pressing 3,2 after playing a voicemail message]
vm context … default

Now create several more extensions using the template above: 202, 203, 204, and 205 would be a good start. Keep the passwords simple. You’ll need them whenever you configure your phone instruments.

Extension Security. We cannot overstress the need to make your extension passwords secure. All the firewalls in the world won’t protect you from malicious phone calls on your nickel if you use your extension number or something like 1234 for your extension password because the SIP and IAX ports typically are exposed to allow connections to your providers. In addition to making up secure passwords, the latest version of FreePBX also lets you define the IP address or subnet that can access each of your extensions. Use it!!! Once the extensions are created, edit each one and modify the permit field to specify the actual IP address or subnet of each phone on your system. A specific IP address entry should look like this: 192.168.1.142/255.255.255.255. If most of your phones are on a private LAN, you may prefer to use a subnet entry like this: 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0 using your actual subnet, of course.

Outbound Routes. The idea behind multiple outbound routes is to save money. Some providers are cheaper to some places than others. We’re going to skip that tutorial today. You can search the site for lots of information on choosing providers. Assuming you have only one or two for starters, let’s just set up a default outbound route for all your calls. Using your web browser, access FreePBX on your server and click Setup, Outbound Routes. Enter a route name of Everything. Enter the dial patterns for your outbound calls. In the U.S., you’d enter something like the following:

1NXXNXXXXXX
NXXNXXXXXX

Click on the Trunk Sequence pull-down and choose your providers in the order you’d like them to be used for outbound calls.Click Submit Changes and then save your changes. Note that a second choice in trunk sequence only gets used if the calls fail to go through using your first choice. You’ll notice there’s already a 9_outside route which we don’t need. Click on it and then choose Delete Route 9_outside. Save your changes.

Inbound Routes. We’re also going to abbreviate the inbound routes tutorial just to get you going quickly today. The idea here is that you can have multiple DIDs (phone numbers) that get routed to different extensions or ring groups or departments. For today, we recommend you first build a Ring Group with all of the extension numbers you have created. Once you’ve done that, choose Inbound Routes, leave all of the settings at their default values and move to the Set Destination section and choose your Ring Group as the destination. Now click Submit and save your changes. That will set up a default incoming route for your calls. As you add bells and whistles to your system, you can move the Default Route down the list of priorities so that it only catches calls that aren’t processed with other inbound routing rules.

General Settings. Last, but not least, we need to enter an email address for you so that you are notified when new FreePBX updates are released. Scroll to the bottom of the General Settings screen after selecting it from the left panel. Plug in your email address, click Submit, and save your changes. Done!

Adding Plain Old Phones. Before your new PBX will be of much use, you’re going to need something to make and receive calls, i.e. a telephone. For today, you’ve got several choices: a POTS phone, a softphone, or a SIP phone. Option #1 and the best home solution is to use a Plain Old Telephone or your favorite cordless phone set (with 8-10 extensions) if you purchase a little device known as a Sipura SPA-3102. It’s under $70. Be sure you specify that you want an unlocked device, meaning it doesn’t force you to use a particular service provider. This device also supports connection of your PBX to a standard office or home phone line as well as a telephone.

Downloading a Free Softphone. Unless you already have an IP phone, the easiest way to get started and make sure everything is working is to install an IP softphone. You can download a softphone for Windows, Mac, or Linux from CounterPath. Or download the pulver.Communicator or the snom 360 Softphone which is a replica of perhaps the best IP phone on the planet. Here’s another great SIP/IAX softphone for all platforms that’s great, too, and it requires no installation: Zoiper 2.0 (formerly IDEfisk). All are free! Just install and then configure with the IP address of your PBX in a Flash server. For username and password, use one of the extension numbers and passwords which you set up with freePBX. Once you make a few test calls, don’t waste any more time. Buy a decent SIP telephone. Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum for lots of suggestions on telephones. Our personal favorite and the phone that PBX in a Flash officially supports is the Aastra 57i or 57iCT which also includes cordless DECT phone. Do some reading before you buy.

Where To Go From Here. The PBX in a Flash script repository at pbxinaflash.org also has gotten a facelift. That should be your next stop because it is the home of all the goodies that make PBX in a Flash shine. Tom King, the ultimate scripting guru, manages that site. So check it often. You’ll also find all of our Nerd Vittles Goodies work with this new release. Most of our original collection work flawlessly with Asterisk 1.4 including AsteriDex, Yahoo News Headlines, Weather by Airport Code, Weather by Zip Code, Worldwide Weather Forecasts, Telephone Reminders, MailCall for Asterisk, and TeleYapper. We have not yet completed testing with Asterisk 1.6, but most should work. Complete documentation for each application also is provided at the link above. And, if you still have a DBT-120 Bluetooth adapter, you’ll be happy to learn that it works out-of-the-box with PBX in a Flash. Dust off our recent article on Proximity Detection, and you should be in business in under 10 minutes. Enjoy!


 

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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.


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This article has 11 comments

  1. I love the concept and idea behind the Incredible PBX but I have a complaint. From the beginning, you have said that you don’t have to install from a .ISO everytime you have a new version come out. But, whenever a new version comes out, you post up an article with all of the steps (download and burn .iso, scrap old file system, configure extensions and trunks, etc.) If I already have an Incredible PBX system, can I just run update-source and update-fixes and be on the latest version? If not, then I think you are operating under false advertising and you should mention that in the articles.

    [WM: Absolutely. You can run update-source and update-fixes to bring your existing system current. That’s the hidden beauty of PBX in a Flash. But… not everyone has been reading Nerd Vittles as long as you have so we have to cover the basics every time, or new readers would be completely lost.]

  2. Thanks, Ward. From the video, it looks like you’re running a Proxmox console on a Mac. How are you achieving that – are you running Proxmox inside of VMWare?

    [WM: Actually Proxmox is running on a stand-alone server. We just use a Mac to SSH into the Proxmox server. Not fancy at all.]

  3. I’m wondering how to choose between Gold & Silver. Gold implies better than Silver, but in the article you mentioned Silver is more secure than Gold. I’m currently using Zaptel with my OpenVox T1 card.
    Is it time to switch to DAHDI?
    Why is Silver more secure?

    [WM: Gold has an obscure SIP vulnerability, but Silver has DAHDI. So you get to choose your own poison. 🙂 If you’re going to expose SIP to the Internet, you’re probably safer with Silver. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s as reliable as the Gold version. Time will tell.]

  4. Clarifying that I am using PIAF now and before was using Trixbox. The backup did not work right on Trixbox. I tried to do a recover and the backup could not see the recent backups. So I switched to PIAF. Now there is a new version 1.7.5.5 and is there an upgrade path from the previous PIAF?

    [WM: update-source brings previous versions of PIAF current with CentOS. update-fixes handles any patches and security issues. Very different than the trixbox methodology.]

  5. I ran, update-source, update-scripts & update-fixes and still have FreePBX version 2.5.2.3.

    [WM: No reason to run update-source on a new install of PIAF 1.7.5.5. And none of these scripts update FreePBX which can only be upgraded within the FreePBX GUI… also not recommended. Our rule of thumb: "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" unless you really, really need some special feature.]

  6. Just wondering if I choose the Bronze option, will your Incredible PBX installation procedure for Google Voice will still work?

    [WM: Works fine as long as you indicate that it is running Asterisk 1.6.2 so that the extensions_custom.conf setup can be adjusted appropriately.]

  7. Ward:
    Thanks. It works fine on 1.6.2. I have another question about the bridge feature on Asterisk 1.6. I read that it can be used instead of Park. Could you let me know, or point me to some references, if there are any advantage using bridge instead of Park and how to do it? Thanks.

  8. You’re right. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I made the update to FreePBX 2.6 an no problems. Then I saw a version 2.7 in the modules and no problem with that update. Then saw a version 2.8 and upgraded to that. The reload would not finish on this one. I gave it 15-minutes, reset the computer and now can’t get the database started. Webmin could not start the database. Before doing a new install, I moved the latest backup and custom audio files to the second drive. During the install, it told me that the second drive was not readable. Good thing I have more weekly backups on the original hard drive. When I was using Trixbox, one version of a backup was not compatible to do a restore with. One version of Trixbox v2.8 would not see any of the test backups I made. That is when I switched to PIAF.

  9. Hi, Ward:
    I noticed that Incredible PBX now supports Asterisk 1.8. Is there a description to show how to use it for g-talk? It seems now the talk of the town.

    [WM: With a little luck, we’ll have an article out shortly, and you can read all about it. 🙂 ]

  10. > Every time a new security patch is released for Asterisk, the “other guys” have to create a new RPM or ISO to support it. That means your system is vulnerable for weeks or months while that process is underway.

    You know how RPMs work, don’t you? Making one by hand for a security update takes like, an hour or two, tops. You can even automate the process so that a new RPM is generated as soon as the source is recompiled. This is just hyperbole. Weeks or months? Heck, pretty much every security patch pushed by CentOS (the Linux distro PBX in a Flash is based on) is distributed via RPM.

    [WM: Yes, James. I understand the theory. You might want to do a little research into how often the other distros actually have released new RPMs. We’ll stand by the "weeks or months." For some distros, it’s more like 4-6 months.]

  11. May I use arris router wtm652g instead of the dlink router/firewall?