Posts tagged: bootable flash

PBX in a Flash 2: One Incredible VoIP Platform

We’ve got lots of great news for you this week. So it’s hard to know where to start. Let’s begin on the hardware front. For frequent readers of Nerd Vittles, you know that we’ve been a fan of the Acer Aspire Revo since it was released almost two years ago. At that time, the market price was about $200. Today, NewEgg sells one for $350. What’s changed besides the price almost doubling? Well, not much if you’re looking for a home or SOHO VoIP server to handle your communications needs. You get a better version of Windows for the garbage can and a dual-core Atom processor. Neither one is really necessary for our purposes.

We try to stay away from do-it-yourself hardware projects, but this one was just too good to pass up. NewEgg has been featuring a couple of Foxconn barebones kits in the $100 range that require zero talent to build. Basically, you add a stick of RAM and a hard disk and Voilà, you’re done. We’ve been late to the solid-state drive (SSD) party so here was a golden opportunity to experiment. For about $100, you can purchase a 60 to 128 GB Type III SSD depending on the sale of the week. SSDs (not to be confused with STDs) provide an incredibly fast storage device. No moving parts, little heat, no noise. In short, a perfect VoIP platform for those needing a PBX with less than 50 extensions. Add $20 for a 4GB stick of notebook RAM, and you’ve got yourself an awesome little VoIP server with the footprint of about 3 packs of cigarettes (if you remember what those are). Buy a second one if you want redundancy. And, yes, a PIAF2™ app is coming soon to keep the units in sync. For now, check out this thread on the PIAF Forums for ordering details. You’ll also find detailed tips for getting WiFi functioning AND secure on the third page of the thread.

PIAF2: One Incredible Platform. So now that you’ve got VoIP hardware, what’s next? Here’s how we build up our systems today. Start by downloading the 32-bit PIAF2 ISO. Then make yourself a bootable thumb drive using a 1GB or larger flash drive. Our tutorial will show you how. Boot up your new server with the thumb and install PIAF2 with Asterisk® 1.8 and FreePBX® 2.9. Once you answer a few prompts, head out to lunch. Your server will be ready when you get back. Log into your server as root and install Incredible PBX™: install-incredpbx3. Want a fax server, too? Just run: install-incredfax2. And, if this is for personal use, then there’s now an easy option to add Skype as well: install-skype2. Want backups to a thumb drive? It’s finally ready!

Sounds simple? It is. But what about documentation? Well, we’ve got you covered there, too. For PBX in a Flash™ installation, it’s here. For Incredible PBX and Incredible Fax™, it’s here. For Skype, it’s here. And, for Incredible Backup™ and Restore (30-day beta), it’s here.

There are lots of choices in the VoIP space today. But Nobody Beats FREE.™ And the ease with which you can add every VoIP bell and whistle on the planet leaves PIAF2 with no rivals, period. The thanks, of course, goes to our compatriot, Tom King, who has worked tirelessly to make this simple enough for any Fifth Grader. Why not make a little contribution to the project once you’re up and running. You’ll be rewarded tenfold. :wink:

Originally published: Monday, March 5, 2012




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.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes 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. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road 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 PBX in a Flash 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 for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, 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 and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

Thumbs Up: A New Flash Drive Installer for PIAF2 + CentOS6

Original photo courtesy of Green House Co. Ltd.

With the advent of netbooks and the gradual disappearance of optical drives, it’s just a matter of time until USB thumb drives will be the only remaining physical installation method still available for most software. Look no further than Apple’s Lion OS if you don’t believe it. Of course, if Microsoft has its way, no installation of Linux will be available with some Windows 8 hardware… for your own safety, of course. We’ll leave that for the courts to sort out.

Since inception, one of the key goals of the PBX in a Flash™ project has been to provide an install option that works reliably with USB thumb drives. Thanks to the great work of bmore on the PIAF Forums, a USB Flash Drive installer was developed for PBX in a Flash 1.7.5.6.2. And today, we’re pleased to deliver a more flexible thumb drive installation method for 32-bit PIAF2™ installs running under CentOS™ 6.2. With this new thumb drive installer comes support for every current version of Asterisk® and FreePBX®.

With PIAF2, you get your choice of Asterisk 1.8.8.0 or 10.0.0 as well as FreePBX 2.8, 2.9, or 2.10. And, with the standard PIAF2 ISO installer, you also have the option of exiting to the Linux command prompt to compile a network driver or to select from a broad selection of newer Asterisk releases. If you choose this option, you’ll be prompted to log into your server as root with the root password you chose initially. Once logged in, you can execute any series of Linux commands or issue one of the following commands to choose a specific release of Asterisk:

  • piafdl -p beta_1881_purple (loads Asterisk 1.8.8.1)
  • piafdl -p beta_1882_purple (loads Asterisk 1.8.8.2)
  • piafdl -p beta_1890_purple (loads Asterisk 1.8.9.0)
  • piafdl -p beta_1891_purple (loads Asterisk 1.8.9.1)
  • piafdl -p beta_1892_purple (loads Asterisk 1.8.9.2)
  • piafdl -p beta_1893_purple (loads Asterisk 1.8.9.3)
  • piafdl -p beta_1001_red (loads Asterisk 10.0.1)
  • piafdl -p beta_1010_red (loads Asterisk 10.1.0)
  • piafdl -p beta_1011_red (loads Asterisk 10.1.1)
  • piafdl -p beta_1012_red (loads Asterisk 10.1.2)
  • piafdl -p beta_1013_red (loads Asterisk 10.1.3)

WARNING: Asterisk 10.1.x releases reportedly break Google Voice! The good news is that the new PIAF deployment policy for Asterisk releases is working. We no longer incorporate the latest Asterisk releases as the default PIAF install before independent testing. You, of course, are free to load and test any of the releases you wish using the commands outlined above.

If you compiled a network driver and wish to resume the installation process, just reboot the server. If you chose a specific flavor of Asterisk, simply accept the license agreement and the customized PIAF2 install will continue. Here’s a quick overview of what happens next.

The PIAF2 installer then syncs the time on your server to NTP, installs the latest yum updates for CentOS 6.2, installs the versions of Asterisk and FreePBX you selected (HINT: Incredible PBX requires FreePBX 2.9) and some other utilities including WebMin, Festival and Flite text-to-speech support for Asterisk, and, of course, the Google Voice GUI which lets you configure PIAF2 to make free calls in the U.S. and Canada in a matter of seconds. Finally the PIAF2 installer patches your system to activate the IPtables firewall for both IPv4 and IPv6 as well as adding Fail2Ban monitoring for Asterisk, SSH, and your Apache web server.

As part of the install procedure, you also will be prompted to choose a version and master password for FreePBX and the other VoIP web utilities. Once your server reboots, you can log into the Linux CLI using your root password to obtain the IP address of your server. Then you can access the PIAF2 web GUI with a browser pointed to the same IP address. To access the FreePBX GUI, choose that icon from the Admin menu. Just click on the User button to get there. When prompted for your username and password, the username is maint. The password will be the FreePBX master password you chose during the PIAF2 install. We’ll walk you through the install steps once we get your USB thumb drive set up.

PBX on a Flash

Here’s the 5-minute drill to get a USB thumb drive loaded with the latest and greatest 32-bit PIAF2 ISO. Once you get that far, follow the PIAF2 install steps outlined below to get your system up and running. In less than an hour, you’ll have a fully functioning, rock-solid reliable PBX that can meet all of your telephony requirements. And, remember, it’s free and always will be™.

Prerequisites. To get everything installed on your USB Flash Drive, you’ll obviously need at least a 1GB Flash Drive. HINT: 2GB flash drives may be cheaper! Next, you’ll need a Windows XP/Vista/7 computer on which to set up the thumb drive. On the Windows PC, you’ll need to download and install the latest, greatest version of ISO2USB from SourceForge. We recommend you also download and install the HP Formatting Utility for flash drives. Finally, you’ll need to download the 32-bit PIAF 2.0.6.2.1 ISO from SourceForge.

Creating USB Flash Drive. Step #1 is to partition and format your USB flash drive as a FAT32 device. Some flash drives are temperamental about the formatting step. We can’t recommend strongly enough using the HP Formatting Utility to make certain you get a reliable, properly formatted thumb drive! Also be careful that you are, in fact, formatting your thumb drive and not your Windows hard disk!

Step #2, once the device is properly formatted, run ISO2USB. You’ll get a screen that looks like what is shown above. Click on the … button to the right of DiskImage ISO and choose the PIAF2 ISO that you downloaded to your Desktop. Make certain that the destination device shown on the bottom line of the display is your USB flash drive. You do not want to accidentally trash your primary drive!

Here’s the tricky part to this. You need to know the drive names of the devices on the target machine where you ultimately will be using this thumb drive. Try these commands on your target machine using a Linux LIVE CD if you’re unsure: dmesg | grep logical AND dmesg | grep sectors. For most modern machines with IDE drives, the names will be sda, sdb, etc. For older machines, they may be hda, hdb. You’ll know if it doesn’t work. :-)

The gotcha with CentOS 6.x is that, whenever you boot a machine using a USB flash drive with CentOS 6.x, the device names get switched for that boot only. The USB boot device becomes sda even if your hard disk on the system shows up as sda when it is running without a thumb drive. So… in the ISO2USB setup, change the Hard Disk Name to sdb, and change the USB Device Name to sda. For Foxconn hardware and AMD BIOS machines, use sdc instead of sdb. A few other systems use sdd. In all cases, use sda for the USB Device Name. And, as we noted, you’ll know quickly if you made the wrong choice. Just recreate the thumb drive using the next letter in the alphabet. :wink:

Once you’ve double-checked your USB destination drive (HINT: the drive size is quite different), choose OK to begin. When the ISO install completes, don’t forget to Eject your USB flash drive before removing it from the Windows PC!

Using the USB Flash Installer. When using the new flash installer, remember that we need to boot your new machine from the thumb drive. On most newer Atom-based computers, you accomplish this by inserting the USB device, turning the machine on, and then pressing F12 during the boot sequence to choose the boot device. You’ll just have to watch the screen of your new computer to see if some other key is used to pull up the boot selection screen. If all else fails, you can adjust the boot sequence in the BIOS settings to boot first from the USB device. If you change your BIOS boot sequence, just remember to remove the device when the initial install of CentOS completes and the PIAF2 reboot sequence begins. If instead you again see the initial PIAF2 install screen warning you that your disk is about to be erased, then remove the thumb drive and reboot the machine once again.

PIAF Installation. Once you’ve booted with your PIAF2 thumb drive, you’ll be prompted to choose an installation method. For most users, simply pressing the Enter key will get things started. Choose a time zone when prompted and then enter a very secure root password for your new server. The installer then will load CentOS 6.2 onto your server. When complete, your server will reboot. Remove the thumb drive at this point, and you’ll be prompted to choose the version of Asterisk to install. See the discussion above for making a selection. If you see a Linux login prompt instead, it means sdb was the wrong device name for your server’s hard disk. Log in as root using the password you set up previously and issue the following commands to decipher the correct device name. Then rebuild your thumb drive using the correct device name and start again.

ls /dev/sd*
ls /dev/dd*

If all went well, after choosing the version of Asterisk to install, you’ll be prompted for a version of FreePBX and a master password for FreePBX. Make it very secure! We recommend FreePBX 2.9 if you plan to use Incredible PBX. Once you’ve made your choices, the PIAF2 installer will load Asterisk, FreePBX, and all the other PBX in a Flash components including Google Voice.

Once your server reboots, log into the Linux CLI using your root password and write down the IP address of your server from the status display.

Security Warning: Always, always, always run PBX in a Flash behind a secure, hardware-based firewall with no PBX in a Flash ports exposed to the Internet! After all, it’s your phone bill.

FreePBX Setup. Most of your life with PBX in a Flash will be spent using the FreePBX web GUI and your favorite browser. Just click on the image below to enlarge. To access the FreePBX GUI, point your browser at the IP address you wrote down. Read the RSS Feed in the PIAF GUI for late-breaking security alerts. Then click on the Users button which will toggle to the Admin menu. Click the FreePBX icon. When prompted for your username and password, the username is maint. The password will be the FreePBX master password you chose in completing the PIAF2 install.

To get a minimal system functioning, here’s the 5-minute drill. You’ll need to set up at least one extension with voicemail, configure a free Google Voice account for free calls in the U.S. and Canada, configure inbound and outbound routes to manage incoming and outgoing calls, and plug your maint password into CallerID Superfecta so that names arrive with your incoming calls. Once you add a phone with your extension credentials, you’re done.

Extension Setup. Now let’s set up an extension 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 … 1299864Xyz [make this unique AND secure!]
dtmfmode … rfc2833
Voicemail & Directory … Enabled
voicemail password … 14332 [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

Write down the passwords. You’ll need them to configure your SIP phone.

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 if your SIP or IAX ports happen to be exposed to the Internet. Incredible PBX automatically randomizes all of the extension passwords for you.

In addition to making up secure passwords, the latest versions of FreePBX also let 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 in the permit field like this: 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0 using your actual subnet.

Courtesy of wordle.net

Adding a Google Voice Trunk. There are lots of trunk providers, and one of the real beauties of having your own PBX is that you don’t have to put all of your eggs in the same basket… unlike the AT&T days. We would encourage you to take advantage of this flexibility. With most providers, you don’t pay anything except when you actually use their service so you have nothing to lose.

For today, we’re going to take advantage of Google’s current offer of free calling in the U.S. and Canada through the end of this year. You also get a free phone number in your choice of area codes. PBX in a Flash now installs a Google Voice module for FreePBX that lets you set up your Google Voice account with PBX in a Flash in just a few seconds once you have your credentials.

Signing Up for Google Voice. You’ll need a dedicated Google Voice account to support PBX in a Flash. The more obscure the username (with some embedded numbers), the better off you will be. This will keep folks from bombarding you with unsolicited Gtalk chat messages, and who knows what nefarious scheme will be discovered using Google messaging six months from now. So keep this account a secret!

We’ve tested this extensively using an existing Gmail account rather than creating a separate account. Take our word for it. Inbound calling is just not reliable. The reason seems to be that Google always chooses Gmail chat as the inbound call destination if there are multiple registrations from the same IP address. So… set up a dedicated Gmail and Google Voice account, and use it exclusively with PBX in a Flash. Google Voice no longer is by invitation only. If you’re in the U.S. or have a friend that is, head over to the Google Voice site and register. If you’re living on another continent, see MisterQ’s posting for some tips on getting set up.

You must choose a telephone number (aka DID) for your new account, or Google Voice calling will not work… in either direction. You also have to tie your Google Voice account to at least one working phone number as part of the initial setup process. Your cellphone number will work just fine. Don’t skip this step either. Just enter the provided confirmation code when you tell Google to place the test call to the phone number you entered. Once the number is registered, you can disable it if you’d like in Settings, Voice Setting, Phones. But…

IMPORTANT: Be sure to enable the Google Chat option as one of your phone destinations in Settings, Voice Setting, Phones. That’s the destination we need for PBX in a Flash to function with Google Voice! Otherwise, inbound and/or outbound calls will fail. If you don’t see this option, you may need to call up Gmail and enable Google Chat there first. Then go back to the Google Voice Settings and enable it. Be sure to try one call each way from Google Chat in Gmail. Then disable Google Chat in GMail for this account. Otherwise, it won’t work with PIAF.

While you’re still in Google Voice Settings, click on the Calls tab. Make sure your settings match these:

  • Call ScreeningOFF
  • Call PresentationOFF
  • Caller ID (In)Display Caller’s Number
  • Caller ID (Out)Don’t Change Anything
  • Do Not DisturbOFF
  • Call Options (Enable Recording)OFF
  • Global Spam FilteringON

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.

Configuring Google Voice Trunk in FreePBX. All trunk configurations now are managed within FreePBX, including Google Voice. This makes it easy to customize PBX in a Flash to meet your specific needs. Click the Setup tab and choose Google Voice in the Third Party Addons. To Add a new Google Voice account, just fill out the form:

Phone number is your 10-digit Google Voice number. Username is your Google Voice account name without @gmail.com. NOTE: You must use a Gmail.com address in the current version of this module! Password is your Google Voice password. NOTE: Don’t use 2-stage password protection in this Google Voice account! Be sure to check all three boxes: Add trunk, Add routes, and Agree to TOS. Then click Submit Changes and reload FreePBX. Down the road, you can add additional Google Voice numbers by clicking Add GoogleVoice Account option in the right margin and repeating the drill. For Google Apps support, see this post on the PIAF Forum.

Outbound Routes. The idea behind multiple outbound routes is to save money. Some providers are cheaper to some places than others. It also provides redundancy which costs you nothing if you don’t use the backup providers. The Google Voice module actually configures an Outbound Route for 10-digit Google Voice calling as part of the automatic setup. If this meets your requirements, then you can skip this step for today.

Inbound Routes. An Inbound Route tells PBX in a Flash how to route incoming calls. 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’ll build a simple route that directs your Google Voice calls to extension 201. Choose Inbound Routes, leave all of the settings at their default values except enter your 10-digit Google Voice number in the DID Number field. Enable CallerID lookups by choosing CallerID Superfecta in the CID Lookup Source pulldown. Then move to the Set Destination section and choose Extensions in the left pull-down and 201 in the extension pull-down. Now click Submit and save your changes. That will assure that incoming Google Voice calls are routed to extension 201.

IMPORTANT: Before Google Voice calling will actually work, you must restart Asterisk from the Linux command line interface. Log into your server as root and issue this command: amportal restart.

CallerID Superfecta Setup. CallerID Superfecta needs to know your maint password in order to access the necessary modules to retrieve CallerID information for inbound calls. Just click Setup, CID Superfecta, and click on Default in the Scheme listings in the right column. Scroll down to the General Options section and insert your maint password in the Password field. You may also want to enable some of the other providers and adjust the order of the lookups to meet your local needs. Click Agree and Save once you have the settings adjusted.

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.

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 such as the $50 Nortel color videophone we’ve recommended previously. You’ll also find lots of additional recommendations on Nerd Vittles and in the PBX in a Flash Forum. If you’re like us, we want to make damn sure this stuff works before you shell out any money. So, 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 201 for your extension and your actual password for extension 201. Then plug in the actual IP address of your PBX in a Flash server instead of 192.168.0.251. Click OK when finished. Your softphone should now show: Available.

Enabling Google Voicemail. Some have requested a way to retain Google’s voicemail system for unanswered calls in lieu of using Asterisk voicemail. The advantage is that Google offers a free transcription service for voicemail messages. To activate this, you’ll need to edit the [googlein] context in extensions_custom.conf in /etc/asterisk. Just modify the last four lines in the context so that they look like this and then restart Asterisk: amportal restart

;exten => s,n(regcall),Answer
;exten => s,n,SendDTMF(1)
exten => s,n(regcall),Set(DIAL_OPTIONS=${DIAL_OPTIONS}aD(:1))
exten => s,n,Goto(from-trunk,gv-incoming,1)

But I Don’t Want to Use Google Voice. If you’d prefer not to use Google Voice at all with PBX in a Flash, that’s okay, too. Here’s how to disable it and avoid the chatter in the Asterisk CLI. Log into your server as root and edit /etc/asterisk/modules.conf. Change the first three lines in the [modules] context so that they look like this. Then restart Asterisk: amportal restart.

autoload=yes
noload => res_jabber.so
noload => chan_gtalk.so

There’s now a patch that automatically adjusts Asterisk to accommodate Google Voice whenever you have added Google Voice extensions to your system. To download and install the patch, visit the PIAF Forum.

Where To Go From Here. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what you can do with your new PBX in a Flash system. If you’re new to all of this, then your next step probably should be the Nerd Vittles’ Incredible PBX 3.0 and Incredible Fax 2.0 tutorial. It’s a 5-minute addition. And, of course, all 50 Asterisk applications in Incredible PBX are free and always will be. Enjoy!

PBX on a Flash

Getting Your Own PIAF Thumb Drive. Some of you have asked about how to obtain your very own PIAF thumb drive. Well, it’s easy. Just make a contribution of $50 or more to the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects by clicking the PayPal Donate button at the top of this page, and we’ll get one off to you pronto. And, thanks in advance for your support of freeware and open source projects!

Originally published: Monday, February 20, 2012




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.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes 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. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road 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 PBX in a Flash 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 for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, 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 and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

Thumbs Up: The Ultimate Flash Drive Installer for Asterisk

Original photo courtesy of Green House Co. Ltd.

With the advent of netbooks and the gradual disappearance of optical drives, it’s just a matter of time until USB thumb drives will be the only remaining physical installation method still available for most software. Look no further than Apple’s Lion OS if you don’t believe it. As our friends at FreePBX® are discovering, however, downloading an entire VoIP distribution via the Internet can be a painful process. But the choice is yours. :wink:

Since inception, one of the key goals of the PBX in a Flash project has been to provide an install option that works reliably with USB thumb drives. Thanks to the great work of bmore on the PIAF Forums, a USB Flash Drive installer was introduced with PBX in a Flash 1.7.5.6.2. And today, we’re pleased to deliver the third generation installer for PIAF 1.7.5.7.1. With it comes support for every current version of Asterisk® including the latest Asterisk 1.8.7.0 and 10-beta.

As with the standard PIAF ISO install, you can choose from any of the following flavors of Asterisk with just one keystroke using the new USB flash installer:

  • Gold – Asterisk 1.4.21.2
  • Silver – Asterisk 1.4.42
  • Bronze – Asterisk 1.6.2.20
  • Purple – Asterisk 1.8.6.0
  • Red – Asterisk 10.0.0-beta1

It doesn’t end there, of course. You also have the option of exiting to the Linux command prompt to compile a network driver or to select a different version of Asterisk 1.8 to install. If you choose this option, you’ll be prompted to log into your server as root with the root password you chose initially. Then you can execute any series of Linux commands or issue one of the following commands to choose a specific release of Asterisk 1.8:

  • piafdl -p beta_1870 (loads Asterisk 1.8.7.0)
  • piafdl -p beta_1860 (loads Asterisk 1.8.6.0)
  • piafdl -p beta_1850 (loads Asterisk 1.8.5.0)
  • piafdl -p beta_1844 (loads Asterisk 1.8.4.4)
  • piafdl -p beta_1843 (loads Asterisk 1.8.4.3)
  • piafdl -p beta_1842 (loads Asterisk 1.8.4.2)
  • piafdl -p beta_1841 (loads Asterisk 1.8.4.1)
  • piafdl -p 184 (loads Asterisk 1.8.4)
  • piafdl -p 1833 (loads Asterisk 1.8.3.3)
  • piafdl -p 1832 (loads Asterisk 1.8.3.2)

If you compiled a network driver and wish to resume the installation process, just reboot the server. If you chose a specific flavor of Asterisk 1.8, simply accept the license agreement and the customized PIAF-Purple install will continue. Here’s a quick overview of what happens next.

The PBX in a Flash installer then syncs the time on your server to NTP, installs the latest yum updates for CentOS 5.7, installs the version of Asterisk you chose as well as FreePBX 2.8 and some other utilities including WebMin, Festival and Flite text-to-speech support for Asterisk, and, of course, the Google Voice GUI which configures your PBX to make free calls in the U.S. and Canada in a matter of seconds. Finally the PIAF installer patches your system to activate the IPtables firewall for both IPv4 and IPv6 as well as adding Fail2Ban monitoring for Asterisk, SSH, and your Apache web server. You then will be prompted to choose a master password for FreePBX and the other VoIP web utilities. Once your server reboots, you can log into the Linux CLI using your root password to obtain the IP address of your server. Then you can access the PIAF web GUI with a browser pointed to the same IP address. To access the FreePBX GUI, choose that icon from the Admin menu. Just click on the User button to get there. When prompted for your username and password, the username is maint. The password will be the FreePBX master password you chose in completing the PIAF install. We’ll walk you through the detailed install steps once we get your USB thumb drive set up.

PBX on a Flash

Here’s the 5-minute drill to get your bootable USB flash drive loaded with the new PIAF Thumb Drive Installer. Once you get that far, follow the PIAF install steps outlined below to get your system up and running. In less than an hour, you’ll have a fully functioning, rock-solid reliable PBX that can meet all of your telephony requirements. And, remember, it’s free and always will be™.

Prerequisites. To get everything installed on your USB Flash Drive, you’ll obviously need at least a 1GB Flash Drive. HINT: 2GB flash drives may actually be cheaper! And we can tell you that Kingston DataTraveler models may be problematic. Reportedly, the Corsair GT and Kingston 102 models work fine. YMMV! Please report your results in a comment below. Next you’ll need to download the latest, greatest version of UNetbootin from SourceForge. There are versions for Windows and a number of flavors of Linux. Finally, you’ll need to download the FlashDrive ISO of PIAF 1.7.5.7.1 from SourceForge.

Creating USB Flash Drive. Step #1 is to partition and format your USB flash drive as a FAT32 device. Some flash drives are temperamental about the formatting step. We can’t recommend strongly enough using the HP Formatting Utility to make certain you get a reliable, properly formatted thumb drive!

Once the device is properly formatted, run UNetbootin and select the Disk Image option. Then, with this downloaded ISO on your Desktop, choose the pbxinaflash-17571-flashonly.iso from the pull-down menu. Make certain that the destination device is your USB flash drive. You do not want to accidentally format your primary drive! Once you’re sure (HINT: the drive size is quite different), choose OK to begin. Do NOT reboot your machine when prompted to do so. You don’t really want to install PIAF on this same computer! Don’t forget to Eject your USB flash drive on Windows machines before removing it.

Using the USB Flash Installer. When using the new flash installer, remember that we need to boot your new machine from the thumb drive. On most newer Atom-based computers, you accomplish this by inserting the USB device, turning the machine on, and then pressing F12 during the boot sequence to choose the boot device. You’ll just have to watch the screen of your new computer to see if some other key is used to pull up the boot selection screen. If all else fails, you can adjust the boot sequence in the BIOS settings to boot first from the USB device. If you change your BIOS boot sequence, just remember to remove the device when the initial install of CentOS completes and the PIAF reboot sequence begins. If instead you again see the initial PIAF install screen warning you that your disk is about to be erased, then remove the thumb drive and reboot the machine once again.

PIAF Installation. Once you’ve booted with your PIAF thumb drive, you’ll be prompted to choose an installation method. For most users, simply pressing the Enter key will get things started. Choose a keyboard and time zone when prompted and then enter a very secure root password for your new server. The installer then will load CentOS 5.7 onto your server. When complete, your server will reboot. Remove the thumb drive at this point, and you’ll be prompted to choose the version of Asterisk to install. See the discussion above for making a selection. Then the PIAF installer will load Asterisk, FreePBX, and all the other PBX in a Flash components including Google Voice.

During the final phase of the install, you will be prompted to choose a master password for FreePBX and the other VoIP web utilities. Once your server reboots, log into the Linux CLI using your root password and write down the IP address of your server from the status display.

Security Warning: Always, always, always run PBX in a Flash behind a secure, hardware-based firewall with no PBX in a Flash ports exposed to the Internet! After all, it’s your phone bill.

FreePBX Setup. Most of your life with PBX in a Flash will be spent using the FreePBX web GUI and your favorite browser. Just click on the image below to enlarge. To access the FreePBX GUI, point your browser at the IP address you wrote down. Read the RSS Feed in the PIAF GUI for late-breaking security alerts. Then click on the Users button which will toggle to the Admin menu. Click the FreePBX icon. When prompted for your username and password, the username is maint. The password will be the FreePBX master password you chose in completing the PIAF install.

To get a minimal system functioning, here’s the 5-minute drill. You’ll need to set up at least one extension with voicemail, configure a free Google Voice account for free calls in the U.S. and Canada, configure inbound and outbound routes to manage incoming and outgoing calls, and plug your maint password into CallerID Superfecta so that names arrive with your incoming calls. Once you add a phone with your extension credentials, you’re done.

Extension Setup. Now let’s set up an extension 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 … 1299864Xyz [make this unique AND secure!]
dtmfmode … rfc2833
Voicemail & Directory … Enabled
voicemail password … 14332 [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

Write down the passwords. You’ll need them to configure your SIP phone.

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 if your SIP or IAX ports happen to be exposed to the Internet. Incredible PBX automatically randomizes all of the extension passwords for you.

In addition to making up secure passwords, the latest versions of FreePBX also let 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 in the permit field like this: 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0 using your actual subnet.

Courtesy of wordle.net

Adding a Google Voice Trunk. There are lots of trunk providers, and one of the real beauties of having your own PBX is that you don’t have to put all of your eggs in the same basket… unlike the AT&T days. We would encourage you to take advantage of this flexibility. With most providers, you don’t pay anything except when you actually use their service so you have nothing to lose.

For today, we’re going to take advantage of Google’s current offer of free calling in the U.S. and Canada through the end of this year. You also get a free phone number in your choice of area codes. PBX in a Flash now installs a Google Voice module for FreePBX that lets you set up your Google Voice account with PBX in a Flash in just a few seconds once you have your credentials.

Signing Up for Google Voice. You’ll need a dedicated Google Voice account to support PBX in a Flash. The more obscure the username (with some embedded numbers), the better off you will be. This will keep folks from bombarding you with unsolicited Gtalk chat messages, and who knows what nefarious scheme will be discovered using Google messaging six months from now. So keep this account a secret!

We’ve tested this extensively using an existing Gmail account rather than creating a separate account. Take our word for it. Inbound calling is just not reliable. The reason seems to be that Google always chooses Gmail chat as the inbound call destination if there are multiple registrations from the same IP address. So… set up a dedicated Gmail and Google Voice account, and use it exclusively with PBX in a Flash. Google Voice no longer is by invitation only. If you’re in the U.S. or have a friend that is, head over to the Google Voice site and register. If you’re living on another continent, see MisterQ’s posting for some tips on getting set up.

You must choose a telephone number (aka DID) for your new account, or Google Voice calling will not work… in either direction. You also have to tie your Google Voice account to at least one working phone number as part of the initial setup process. Your cellphone number will work just fine. Don’t skip this step either. Just enter the provided confirmation code when you tell Google to place the test call to the phone number you entered. Once the number is registered, you can disable it if you’d like in Settings, Voice Setting, Phones. But…

IMPORTANT: Be sure to enable the Google Chat option as one of your phone destinations in Settings, Voice Setting, Phones. That’s the destination we need for PBX in a Flash to function with Google Voice! Otherwise, inbound and/or outbound calls will fail. If you don’t see this option, you may need to call up Gmail and enable Google Chat there first. Then go back to the Google Voice Settings and enable it. Be sure to try one call each way from Google Chat in Gmail. Then disable Google Chat in GMail for this account. Otherwise, it won’t work with PIAF.

While you’re still in Google Voice Settings, click on the Calls tab. Make sure your settings match these:

  • Call ScreeningOFF
  • Call PresentationOFF
  • Caller ID (In)Display Caller’s Number
  • Caller ID (Out)Don’t Change Anything
  • Do Not DisturbOFF
  • Call Options (Enable Recording)OFF
  • Global Spam FilteringON

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.

Configuring Google Voice Trunk in FreePBX. All trunk configurations now are managed within FreePBX, including Google Voice. This makes it easy to customize PBX in a Flash to meet your specific needs. Click the Setup tab and choose Google Voice in the Third Party Addons. To Add a new Google Voice account, just fill out the form:

Phone number is your 10-digit Google Voice number. Username is your Google Voice account name without @gmail.com. NOTE: You must use a Gmail.com address in the current version of this module! Password is your Google Voice password. NOTE: Don’t use 2-stage password protection in this Google Voice account! Be sure to check all three boxes: Add trunk, Add routes, and Agree to TOS. Then click Submit Changes and reload FreePBX. Down the road, you can add additional Google Voice numbers by clicking Add GoogleVoice Account option in the right margin and repeating the drill. For Google Apps support, see this post on the PIAF Forum.

Outbound Routes. The idea behind multiple outbound routes is to save money. Some providers are cheaper to some places than others. It also provides redundancy which costs you nothing if you don’t use the backup providers. The Google Voice module actually configures an Outbound Route for 10-digit Google Voice calling as part of the automatic setup. If this meets your requirements, then you can skip this step for today.

Inbound Routes. An Inbound Route tells PBX in a Flash how to route incoming calls. 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’ll build a simple route that directs your Google Voice calls to extension 201. Choose Inbound Routes, leave all of the settings at their default values except enter your 10-digit Google Voice number in the DID Number field. Enable CallerID lookups by choosing CallerID Superfecta in the CID Lookup Source pulldown. Then move to the Set Destination section and choose Extensions in the left pull-down and 201 in the extension pull-down. Now click Submit and save your changes. That will assure that incoming Google Voice calls are routed to extension 201.

IMPORTANT: Before Google Voice calling will actually work, you must restart Asterisk from the Linux command line interface. Log into your server as root and issue this command: amportal restart.

CallerID Superfecta Setup. CallerID Superfecta needs to know your maint password in order to access the necessary modules to retrieve CallerID information for inbound calls. Just click Setup, CID Superfecta, and click on Default in the Scheme listings in the right column. Scroll down to the General Options section and insert your maint password in the Password field. You may also want to enable some of the other providers and adjust the order of the lookups to meet your local needs. Click Agree and Save once you have the settings adjusted.

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.

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 such as the $50 Nortel color videophone we’ve recommended previously. You’ll also find lots of additional recommendations on Nerd Vittles and in the PBX in a Flash Forum. If you’re like us, we want to make damn sure this stuff works before you shell out any money. So, 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 201 for your extension and your actual password for extension 201. Then plug in the actual IP address of your PBX in a Flash server instead of 192.168.0.251. Click OK when finished. Your softphone should now show: Available.

Enabling Google Voicemail. Some have requested a way to retain Google’s voicemail system for unanswered calls in lieu of using Asterisk voicemail. The advantage is that Google offers a free transcription service for voicemail messages. To activate this, you’ll need to edit the [googlein] context in extensions_custom.conf in /etc/asterisk. Just modify the last four lines in the context so that they look like this and then restart Asterisk: amportal restart

;exten => s,n(regcall),Answer
;exten => s,n,SendDTMF(1)
exten => s,n(regcall),Set(DIAL_OPTIONS=${DIAL_OPTIONS}aD(:1))
exten => s,n,Goto(from-trunk,gv-incoming,1)

But I Don’t Want to Use Google Voice. If you’d prefer not to use Google Voice at all with PBX in a Flash, that’s okay, too. Here’s how to disable it and avoid the chatter in the Asterisk CLI. Log into your server as root and edit /etc/asterisk/modules.conf. Change the first three lines in the [modules] context so that they look like this. Then restart Asterisk: amportal restart.

autoload=yes
noload => res_jabber.so
noload => chan_gtalk.so

Where To Go From Here. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what you can do with your new PBX in a Flash system. If you’re new to all of this, then your next step probably should be the Nerd Vittles’ Incredible PBX 2.0 tutorial. It’s a 5-minute addition. And, of course, all 50 Asterisk applications in Incredible PBX are free and always will be. Enjoy!

Last Chance for Astricon 2011. Astricon 2011 will be in the Denver area beginning Tuesday, October 25, through Thursday, October 27. Nerd Vittles readers can save 15% on your registration by using this coupon code.

PBX on a Flash

Getting Your Own PIAF Thumb Drive. Some of you have asked about how to obtain your very own PIAF thumb drive. Well, it’s easy. Just make a contribution of $50 or more to the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects by clicking the PayPal Donate button at the top of this page, and we’ll get one off to you pronto. And, thanks in advance for your support of freeware and open source projects!

Originally published: Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, September 27, 2011




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.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes 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. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road 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 PBX in a Flash 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 for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, 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 and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

Introducing: New PBX in a Flash Installer for USB Flash Drives

Since inception, one of the goals of the PBX in a Flash project has been to provide an install option that works reliably with thumb drives. This has become even more important as many of the newer netbooks have dropped CD/DVD drive support to conserve space and reduce cost. Just in time for summer break, we’re pleased to announce that, thanks to the great work of bmore on the PIAF Forums, a new USB Flash Drive installer is now available for PBX in a Flash 1.7.5.6.2. As with the standard ISO install, you get your choice of Asterisk® and FreePBX® payloads with this new installer:

  • Gold – Asterisk 1.4.21.2 with FreePBX 2.8
  • Silver – Latest Asterisk 1.4 Release with FreePBX 2.8
  • Bronze – Latest Asterisk 1.6 Release with FreePBX 2.8
  • Purple – Latest Asterisk 1.8 Releases with FreePBX 2.8

Here’s the 5-minute drill to get your bootable USB flash drive loaded with the PIAF installer. Once you get that far, follow the PIAF install steps outlined below or read The Incredible PBX installation tutorial for details on the install process.

UPDATE: We recently have released a new thumb drive installer for PBX in a Flash 2 featuring CentOS 6.2. For details, see this article.

Prerequisites. To get everything installed on your USB Flash Drive, you’ll obviously need at least a 1GB Flash Drive. HINT: 2GB flash drives may actually be cheaper! And we can tell you that Kingston DataTraveler models may be problematic. Reportedly, the Corsair GT and Kingston 102 models work fine. YMMV! Please report your results in a comment below. Next you’ll need to download the latest, greatest version of UNetbootin from SourceForge. There are versions for Windows and a number of flavors of Linux. Finally, you’ll need to download the FlashDrive ISO of PIAF 1.7.5.6.2 from SourceForge.

Creating USB Flash Drive. Step #1 is to partition and format your USB flash drive as a FAT32 device. On Windows 7 and Vista machines, you can format the drive as a DOS device, and it will automatically format it as FAT32. Once the device is properly formatted, run UNetbootin and select the Disk Image option. Then, with the ISO on your Desktop, choose the pbxinaflash-17562-flashonly.iso from the pull-down menu. Make certain that the destination device is your USB flash drive. Then choose OK to begin. Do NOT reboot your machine when prompted to do so. You don’t really want to install PIAF on this same computer! Remember to Eject the flash drive on Windows machines before removing it.

If your Windows machine happens to crash at the end of the USB Flash install process (ask us how we know :-) ), all may not be lost. Restart your Windows PC, insert the flash drive again, go through the Windows error fixup procedure when prompted, and then open the drive with Windows explorer. If the only file missing from the root folder is syslinux.cfg, you’re in luck. Just download the file from here and copy the file into the top directory of your flash drive. Done!

Astricon 2011. Astricon 2011 will be in the Denver area beginning Tuesday, October 25, through Thursday, October 27. We hope to see many of you there. Be sure to mention you’d like a free PIAF thumb drive. We hope to have a bunch of them to pass out to our loyal supporters. Nerd Vittles readers also can save 15% on your registration by using this coupon code.

PBX on a Flash

Using the USB Flash Installer. When using the new flash installer, remember that we need to boot your new machine from the thumb drive. On most newer Atom-based computers, you accomplish this by inserting the USB device, turning the machine on, and then pressing F12 during the boot sequence to choose the boot device. You’ll just have to watch the screen of your new computer to see if some other key is used to pull up the boot selection screen. If all else fails, you can adjust the boot sequence in the BIOS settings to boot first from the USB device. If you change your BIOS boot sequence, just remember to remove the device when the initial install of CentOS completes and the reboot sequence is initiated. If instead you again see the initial PIAF install screen warning you that your disk is about to be erased, then remove the thumb drive and reboot the machine once again. Then choose the PIAF payload you’d like to install. Enjoy!

Originally published: Monday, June 6, 2011



Changes in PBX in a Flash Distribution. In light of the events outlined in our recent Nerd Vittles article and the issues with Asterisk 1.8.4, the PIAF Dev Team has made some changes in our distribution methodology. As many of you know, PBX in a Flash is the only distribution that compiles Asterisk from source code during the install. This has provided us enormous flexibility to distribute new releases with the latest Asterisk code. Unfortunately, Asterisk 1.8 is still a work in progress to put it charitably. We also feel some responsibility to insulate our users from show-stopping Asterisk releases. Going forward, the plan is to reserve the PIAF-Purple default install for the most stable version of Asterisk 1.8. Currently, we think the title belongs to Asterisk 1.8.4.1. Other versions of Asterisk 1.8 (newer and older) will be available through a new configuration utility which now is incorporated into the PIAF 1.7.5.6.2 ISO.

Here’s how it works. Begin the install of a new PIAF system in the usual way by booting from your USB flash drive and pressing Enter to load the most current version of CentOS 5.6. When the CentOS install finishes, your system will reboot. Accept the license agreement, and choose the PIAF-Purple option to load the latest stable version of Asterisk 1.8. Or exit to the Linux CLI if you want a different version. Log into CentOS as root. Then issue a command like this: piafdl -p beta_1842 (loads Asterisk 1.8.4.2), piafdl -p beta_1841 (loads Asterisk 1.8.4.1), piafdl -p 184 (loads Asterisk 1.8.4), piafdl -p 1833 (loads Asterisk 1.8.3.3), or piafdl -p 1832 (loads Asterisk 1.8.3.2). If there should ever be an outage on one of the PBX in a Flash mirrors, you can optionally choose a different mirror for the payload download by adding piafdl -c for the .com site, piafdl -d for the .org site, or piafdl -e for the .net site. Then add the payload switch, e.g. piafdl -c -p beta_1842.

Bottom Line: If you use the piafdl utility to choose a particular version of Asterisk 1.8, you are making a conscious decision to accept the consequences of your particular choice. We would have preferred implementation of a testing methodology at Digium® before distribution of new Asterisk releases; however, that doesn’t appear to be in the cards. So, as new Asterisk 1.8 releases hit the street, they will be made available through the piafdl utility until such time as our PIAF Pioneers independently establish their reliability.




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.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes 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. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road 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 PBX in a Flash 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 for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, 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 and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

Introducing: New PBX in a Flash Installer for USB Flash Drives

Since inception, one of the goals of the PBX in a Flash project has been to provide an install option that works reliably from a USB Flash Drive. This has become even more important as many of the newer netbooks have dropped CD/DVD drive support to conserve space and reduce cost. Just in time for Santa, we’re pleased to announce that, thanks to the Herculean efforts of bmore on the PIAF Forums, a USB Flash Drive installer is now available. This new build obviously is E-X-P-E-R-I-M-E-N-T-A-L. As with all PIAF 1.7.5.5 installs, you get your choice of Asterisk® and FreePBX® payloads with this new installer:

  • Gold – Asterisk 1.4.21.2 with FreePBX 2.6
  • Silver – Latest Asterisk 1.4 Release with FreePBX 2.6
  • Bronze – Latest Asterisk 1.6 Release with FreePBX 2.6
  • Purple – Latest Asterisk 1.8 Release with FreePBX 2.8

Here’s the 5-minute drill to get your bootable USB flash drive loaded with the PIAF installer. Once you get that far, hop over to the Nerd Vittles Installation Tutorial for PIAF 1.7.5.5 or The Incredible PBX for details on the install process.

Prerequisites. To get everything installed on your USB Flash Drive, you’ll obviously need at least a 1GB Flash Drive. HINT: 2GB flash drives may actually be cheaper! And we can tell you that Kingston DataTraveler models may be problematic. Reportedly, the Corsair GT and Kingston 102 models work fine. YMMV! Please report your results in a comment below. Next you’ll need to download the latest, greatest version of UNetbootin from SourceForge. There are versions for Windows and a number of flavors of Linux. Finally, you’ll need to download the Flash-Only ISO of PIAF 1.7.5.5.5 from SourceForge.

Creating USB Flash Drive. Step #1 is to partition and format your USB flash drive as a FAT32 device. On Windows 7 and Vista machines, you can format the drive as a DOS device, and it will automatically format it as FAT32. Once the device is properly formatted, run UNetbootin and select the Disk Image option. Then, with the ISO on your Desktop, choose the PIAF-17555-flashonly.iso from the pull-down menu. Make certain that the destination device is your USB flash drive. Then choose OK to begin. Do NOT reboot your machine when prompted to do so. You don’t really want to install PIAF on this same computer! Remember to Eject the flash drive on Windows machines before removing it.

If your Windows machine happens to crash at the end of the USB Flash install process (ask us how we know :-) ), all may not be lost. Restart your Windows PC, insert the flash drive again, go through the Windows error fixup procedure when prompted, and then open the drive with Windows explorer. If the only file missing from the root folder is syslinux.cfg, you’re in luck. Just download the file from here and copy the file into the top directory of your flash drive. Done!

Using the USB Flash Installer. When using the new flash installer, remember that we need to boot your new machine from the flash drive. On most newer Atom-based computers, you accomplish this by inserting the flash drive, turning the machine on, and then pressing F12 during the boot sequence to choose the boot device. You’ll just have to watch the screen of your new computer to see if some other key is used to pull up the boot selection screen. If all else fails, you can adjust the boot sequence in the BIOS settings to boot first from the USB device. If you change your BIOS boot sequence, just remember to remove the device when the initial install of CentOS completes and the reboot sequence is initiated. If instead you again see the initial PIAF install screen warning you that your disk is about to be erased, then remove the flash drive and reboot the machine once again. Then choose the PIAF payload you’d like to install. Enjoy!

And Merry Christmas!

Originally published: Tuesday, December 21, 2010




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.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes 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. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road 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 PBX in a Flash 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 for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, 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 and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

Introducing Atomic Flash: 15-Minute Turnkey Asterisk Installs

PBX in a Flash offers a number of Asterisk- compatible PBX solutions to meet virtually every need. These range from base installs of Asterisk 1.4 and 1.6 in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors. In addition, the Orgasmatron builds provide turnkey installs for Everex gPC systems and Dell PowerEdge SC440 and T100 servers. And our recent VPN in a Flash build for the Acer Aspire One NetBook introduced the ultimate portable, secure traveling communications server including the Hamachi VPN.

For 2009 we round out our offerings with the ultimate development tool, a bootable USB flash drive which can create turnkey, full-featured Asterisk PBX systems in 15 minutes or less. As its name suggests, this build was specially engineered for the new Atom-based motherboards found in most netbooks although it works just fine with Dell’s PowerEdge T100 servers as well. Many of the newer netbooks lack a CD/DVD drive so a bootable flash installer is ideal. In addition to a current generation computer, you’ll also need an 80GB or larger SATA disk drive which can be configured as sda1, sda2, and sda3. RAID setups are not yet supported unless you’re very familiar with reconfiguring Mondo Restores. With your new computer in hand, just plug in the Atomic Flash, and boot the computer from the flash drive. Type nuke and have a cup of coffee. When you return in 15 minutes and type a couple commands, your system will be ready for deployment. Add your trunk providers, match phones to the preconfigured extensions, secure passwords, and you’re all set. It’s that easy!

Make no mistake. This is a Bleeding Edge installer featuring a Fedora 10 Remix1 that’s less than a week old. It supports the latest and greatest motherboards, wired and WiFi networks, and it includes the KDE graphical user interface for those that love GUIs. Out of the box, it provides a functioning softphone as well as your own private Hamachi VPN connecting up to 15 additional systems so the entire setup can be deployed as a mobile communications hub in less time and for less money than most folks spend on their breakfast.

For those that demo systems for a living, no one will touch this presentation. Just show up at a customer site with a $300 Acer Aspire One NetBook and an Aastra 57i business phone. While the customer watches the Atomic Flash build a new PBX in a Flash server from the ruins of a Windows XP clunker, you can connect and configure the 57i and explain how simple VoIP networks can be.

When you finish your 10-minute slide show, your system will be operational. Dial any 800 number from your Aastra phone, and presto… instant, flawless communications! Now explain to the customer what the world of penny-a-minute communications is all about with every call between PBX in a Flash systems and other SIP phones absolutely free… worldwide.

Friends of PIAF. So how do you get one? If you don’t mind a preproduction version, which means we have to custom-build every flash drive, here’s how to get yours. First, this offer is for a limited time (until we get sick of cloning flash drives). And don’t expect to receive your unit overnight. In fact, it may be several weeks or more depending upon how busy we get with other Honey-Do’s. But we won’t forget you!

Now what? Just make a contribution of $50 or more to the PBX in a Flash project through PayPal, and we’ll give you one (as in gift for free), and we’ll even pay the shipping. Limit of one per contributor please! Keep in mind that $50 barely covers the cost of the 8GB flash drive, the shipping, the PayPal commission, and the labor (at 5¢ an hour) so your generosity is most appreciated. And when we get tired of working for 5¢ an hour, we’ll holler. :-)

Once your Atomic Flash device arrives, please visit http://atomicflash.org or http://pbxonaflash.com for complete installation instructions.



The Perfect Complement. The stars have all lined up to provide a perfect opportunity for you to purchase a state-of-the-art NetBook. Click or hover on the image above for details. If you’d prefer a server, you now can grab a Dell Poweredge T100 server with dual 160GB SATA drives and 2GB of RAM saving $397 off the list price. Either hardware works great with Atomic Flash.

Are You Crazy? Why Are You Doing This? Well, yes and because it’s the First Anniversary of PBX in a Flash! We want everyone to experience PBX in a Flash in all its greatness now that we’ve got it down to a 15-minute walk in the park. These are tough economic times for many businesses around the world, and we want you to help us spread the word about the savings that can be realized through Voice Over IP. We also want to encourage those of you on the fence about a career to enter the Asterisk® reseller community, and we’re doing our part by providing the perfect sales and development tool.

So now’s your chance. We hope you’ll tell every business acquaintance and friend you have about PBX in a Flash. And you have our heartfelt thanks for your continuing support. It’s been a blast!


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

  1. Fedora and the Infinity design logo are trademarks of Red Hat, Inc. Asterisk is a registered trademark of Digium, Inc. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are property of their respective owners. This software aggregation is neither provided nor supported by the Fedora Project and contains non-Fedora and modified Fedora content. Official Fedora software is available through the Fedora Project website []

Ringbinder theme by Themocracy