Posts tagged: gvoice

Why Reinvent the Wheel: Incredible PBX GUI Application User’s Guide

We’ve spent the last two months introducing a half dozen new flavors of Incredible PBX™ featuring the new GPL-compliant Incredible PBX GUI. We hope you’re enjoying the new builds. But it’s Back-to-School Time in the United States so today we’re shifting gears and providing a refresher course on the three dozen or so applications for Asterisk® that accompany every Incredible PBX install.

For those just beginning your Incredible PBX adventure, start here and choose your favorite platform. There are plenty of choices featuring Asterisk 11 or 13, FreePBX® GPL-compatible modules for versions 2.11 and 12, plus your favorite operating system: CentOS 6.7 and 7.0, Ubuntu 14, and Raspbian for the Raspberry Pi 2. There’s even an installer for the AsteriskNOW and FreePBX Distro proprietary platforms.

Once your system is up and running, you’ll be ready to kick the tires and discover all of the hidden goodies that await. Today we’ll cover all of the applications for Asterisk® that are included in the new Incredible PBX GUI platforms. After reading this tutorial, if you have specific questions, by all means post them on the PIAF Forum for some quick and friendly help.

Table of Contents to the Incredible PBX Applications

  1. Checking System Status
  2. Enabling Speech Recognition
  3. Wolfram Alpha for Siri-like queries by phone*
  4. Automatic Update Utility
  5. Asterisk Upgrade Utility
  6. Apache Authentication for Apps
  7. IPtables Firewall WhiteList
  8. PortKnocker Remote Access
  9. Travelin’ Man 4 Remote Access by Phone
  10. Conference Bridge
  11. CallerID Name (CNAM) Lookups
  12. Faxing with Incredible PBX
  13. Voicemail 101 with Incredible PBX
  14. Email Delivery of MP3 Voicemails
  15. Reconfiguring SendMail for SmartHosts
  16. SMS Blasting with Google Voice
  17. SMS Voice Messaging with Google Voice*
  18. SMS Messaging with VoIP.ms
  19. SIP URI Calling with Speed Dials
  20. IVR Demo of Incredible PBX Applications*
  21. Backup and Restore Options
  22. AsteriDex – The Poor Man’s Rolodex®
  23. Voice Dialing with AsteriDex*
  24. Speed Dialing with AsteriDex
  25. Scheduling Reminders by Phone or Web
  26. DISA Access with Incredible PBX
  27. Yahoo! News Headlines
  28. Weather Forecasts with Incredible PBX*
  29. ODBC Application Support
  30. Today in History
  31. Time of Day
  32. WebMin: The Linux Swiss Army Knife
  33. phpMyAdmin: The MySQL Swiss Army Knife
  34. SIP Gateways for Secure (and Free) Google Voice Calling
  35. User Control Panel for Extension Management

* Requires Voice Recognition implementation. See #2 above.

1. Checking Current Status of Incredible PBX

There are several ways to check the status of your server. First, log into your server as root and type: status

The second option is to use a browser to access your server. Choose the Admin menu. Then click Incredible PBX Administration. Log in as admin with the password you set in the Linux CLI: /root/admin-pw-change. Once you log in with your Incredible GUI admin password, the System Status menu will be displayed.

Once you roam through the GUI options, you can redisplay the System Status screen by clicking Reports -> System Status.

2. Adding Speech Recognition to Incredible PBX

Google changed the licensing of their speech recognition engine last year and now restricts use to “personal and development use.” Assuming you qualify, the very first order of business is to enable speech recognition for your new PBX. Once enabled, the Incredible PBX feature set grows exponentially. You’ll have access to the Voice Dialer for AsteriDex, Worldwide Weather Reports where you can say the name of a city and state or province to get a weather forecast for almost anywhere, Wolfram Alpha for a Siri-like encyclopedia for your PBX, and Lefteris Zafiris’ speech recognition software to build additional Asterisk apps limited only by your imagination.

Here’s how to activate speech recognition on Incredible PBX. Don’t skip any steps!

1. Using an existing Google/Gmail account, you first must join the Chrome-Dev Group.

2. Using the same account, create a new Speech Recognition Project.

3. Click on your newly created project and choose APIs & auth.

4. Turn ON the Speech API by clicking on its Status button in the far right margin. HINT: If you forgot to complete Step #1, the Speech API option will be missing!

5. Click on Credentials in APIs & auth and choose Create New Key -> Server key. Leave the IP address restriction blank!

6. Write down your new API key or copy it to the clipboard.

7. Log into your server as root and issue the following command:

nano -w /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/speech-recog.agi

8. When the nano editor opens, go to line 70 or so of speech-recog.agi: my $key = "". Insert your API key from Step #6 above between the quotation marks and save the file: Ctrl-X, Y, then Enter.

Congratulations! Speech recognition is now available with Incredible PBX applications.

3. Using Wolfram Alpha with Incredible PBX

Ever wished your Asterisk server could harness the power of a 10,000 CPU Supercomputer to answer virtually any question you can dream up about the world we live in? Well, so long as it’s for non-commercial use, today’s your lucky day. Apple demonstrated with Siri™ just how amazing this technology can be by coupling Wolfram Alpha® to a speech-to-text engine on the iPhone. Now you can do much the same thing using voice recognition with Incredible PBX.

Before using Wolfram Alpha from any phone connected to your PBX, you first must configure it by obtaining and adding a Wolfram Alpha application ID to Incredible PBX. Here are the simple steps:

1. Obtain your free Wolfram Alpha APP-ID here.

2. Log into your server as root and issue the following command:

nano -w /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/4747

3. When the nano editor opens, the top line of the file will look like this:

APPID="Your-Wolfram-Alpha-App-ID-Goes-Here"

4. Replace the text between the quotes with your APP_ID key from Step #1 above. Then save the file: Ctrl-X, Y, then Enter.

To use Wolfram Alpha, dial 4747 (that’s S-I-R-I backwards) from any extension.

Here are some sample queries to get you started:

Weather in Charleston South Carolina
Weather forecast for Washington D.C.
Next solar eclipse
Otis Redding
Define politician
Who won the 1969 Superbowl? (Broadway Joe)
What planes are overhead? (flying over your server’s location)
Ham and cheese sandwich (nutritional information)
Holidays 2015 (summary of all holidays for 2015 with dates and DOW)
Medical University of South Carolina (history of MUSC)
Star Trek (show history, air dates, number of episodes, and more)
Apollo 11 (everything you ever wanted to know)
Cheapest Toaster (brand and price)
Battle of Gettysburg (sad day :-) )
Daylight Savings Time 2015 (date ranges and how to set your clocks)
Tablets by Samsung (pricing, models, and specs)
Doughnut (you don’t wanna know)
Snickers bar (ditto)
Weather (local weather at your server’s location)

4. Automatic Update Utility for Incredible PBX

A key security component of Incredible PBX is its Automatic Update Utility. Each time you log into your server as root, the Automatic Update Utility is run. It installs the latest fixes and security patches for your server. Don’t disable it! In fact, don’t delete anything from the /root folder. You’ll need all of it sooner or later.

We recommend you log into your server as root at least once a week to keep your server current. Ditto for the web interface to Incredible PBX. Insofar as security is concerned, we make a best effort to keep the components of Incredible PBX up to date. The Linux operating system was installed by you before the Incredible PBX install began. That’s a nice way of saying Linux security is primarily your responsibility. When an egregious Linux vulnerability comes along that we know about, we will try to notify you of the issue on the PIAF Forum and on the RSS Feed that is part of the Incredible PBX Main Menu shown at the top of this article. Check the RSS Feed with a browser at least once a week. As a condition of use of the free Incredible PBX, you accepted ultimate responsibility for the security and reliability of your server. None of this discussion changes any of that.

5. Asterisk Upgrade Utility for Incredible PBX

We’ve developed a script to upgrade Asterisk to the latest version whenever you feel the urge. This brings you current in your existing release, e.g. Asterisk 11 or 13. It does NOT upgrade Asterisk 11 to 13! Before beginning the upgrade, log into your server as root using SSH and maximize the window. Otherwise, Asterisk may not compile properly. Then execute these commands:
cd /root
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/upgrade-asterisk-to-current.tar.gz
tar zxvf upgrade-asterisk-to-current.tar.gz
rm -f upgrade-asterisk-to-current.tar.gz
./upgrade-asterisk-to-current

6. Implementing Apache Authentication with Incredible PBX

With the exception of the Incredible GUI and WebMin, all web-based applications included in Incredible PBX require successful authentication with the Apache admin password to gain access. When you installed Incredible PBX, you should have created an Apache admin account. If not, issue the following command using a secure password after logging in as root:

htpasswd -b /etc/pbx/wwwpasswd admin newpassword

With the exception of AsteriDex and Reminders, you gain access to other Incredible PBX applications with the Apache admin account. For the remaining apps, you may wish to (but don’t have to) assign different account names and passwords to various departments in your organization. To set up these accounts, use the syntax above substituting the name of the department for “admin” and the department password for “newpassword.”

7. Managing the IPtables Linux Firewall and WhiteList

As installed, Incredible PBX includes a preconfigured, locked-down Linux firewall that restricts incoming IPv6 traffic to localhost and, via a WhiteList, limits incoming IPv4 traffic to your server’s public and private IP addresses, your desktop computer’s IP address (that was used for the install), private LAN and NeoRouter VPN traffic, and a collection of our favorite SIP providers. You can WhiteList additional IP addresses for additional providers or for SIP and IAX phones located outside your firewall. The following firewall management scripts are mostly installed in the /root directory:

  • ./add-ip — WhiteList an additional IP address or IP address range (CIDR)
  • ./add-fqdn — WhiteList a site using a fully-qualified domain name (FQDN)
  • ./del-acct — Remove previously designated entry from the WhiteList
  • ./ipchecker — Check whether specified FQDNs have changed & update IPtables
  • iptables-restart — Used exclusively to restart IPtables and test for failed FQDNs
  • iptables -nL — Check the current status of your IPtables firewall

IPtables can be manually configured (if you know what you’re doing) by editing iptables and ip6tables in /etc/sysconfig (CentOS) or rules.v4 and rules.v6 in /etc/iptables (Ubuntu/Debian/Raspbian). NEVER use traditional iptables commands such as service iptables save to update your IPtables configuration, or you will permanently delete all of your FQDN entries! Instead, edit the files directly and then restart IPtables using iptables-restart. This protects the FQDN entries in your setup while also checking for invalid FQDN entries and removing them temporarily so that IPtables will successfully restart. If you use service iptables restart to restart IPtables and there happens to be an FQDN entry for a host that is either down or has disappeared, IPtables will fail to restart and your server will be left with NO firewall protection! The reason for this is the IPtables design which converts all FQDN entries to fixed IP addresses when it starts up. It’s also the reason we have to periodically check for changed FQDN entries using the ipchecker script with cron. For this to work properly, you will need to manually add your FQDN setups to the top of /root/ipchecker by inserting the filenames of any add-fqdn entries you have created. For additional details, read our Travelin’ Man 3 tutorial.

8. PortKnocker Remote Access to Incredible PBX

IPtables is a powerful firewall that keeps the bad guys out. It also will keep legitimate users (including you) from gaining remote access to your server unless you had the forethought to WhiteList your remote IP address before you left on that family vacation. Unfortunately, you don’t always know your IP address in advance. And dynamic IP addresses assigned with hotel WiFi frequently change. To address this problem, Incredible PBX includes a preconfigured PortKnocker utility. This lets you send three secret “knocks” on random TCP ports to your server to tell it to let you in temporarily (until IPtables is again restarted or the access window time expires).

For PortKnocker to work, you obviously need to know the secret knocks. You’ll find them in /root/knock.FAQ. Record them in your wallet or inside your suitcase for that rainy day! There are PortKnocker apps for almost all smartphones as well as for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. Install your favorite AND test access before you leave town.

Finally, be aware that PortKnocker does not need any special access to your server to work; however, if your server is behind a hardware-based firewall, then you must map the three PortKnocker TCP ports to the private IP address of your server, or the knocks obviously will never get delivered to your server.

Review our PortKnocker tutorial for additional configuration tips.

9. Travelin’ Man 4 Remote Access to Incredible PBX (Dial TM4)

In addition to PortKnocker, Incredible PBX also includes a telephone-based solution to temporarily gain remote access to your server. This does require a bit of preplanning since you must create account credentials for the person to whom you wish to give remote access via a phone call. The complete tutorial for Travelin’ Man 4 is available on the PIAF Forum. All of the pieces already are in place on your server so skip down to the Configuration & Operation sections for details on implementation. The tutorial also covers the Administrator Utilities in /root/tm4 which let you set up remote user accounts.

10. Using the Conference Bridge in Incredible PBX (Dial C-O-N-F)


A new turnkey Asterisk Conference Bridge has been added to Incredible PBX. A conference bridge allows a group of people to participate in a joint phone call. Typically, participants dial into a virtual meeting room from their own phone. This virtual meeting room supports dozens or even hundreds of participants depending upon server capacity.

You do not need a timing source for conferencing with Incredible PBX! Old-style Asterisk MeetMe Conference Rooms which required a timing source are disabled.

To access the Conference Bridge, dial C-O-N-F (2663) from any phone connected to your server. Remote users can be added to a conference by providing a DID that points to an IVR which includes Conference Bridge access. Once connected to the conference bridge, a caller is prompted for the Conference Bridge PIN and his or her name.

To display Conference Bridge PINs, open Incredible GUI with a browser. Choose Applications -> Conferences -> 2663 and your Conference Bridge PINs will be shown. Reset them as desired.

11. CallerID Name (CNAM) Lookups with Incredible PBX

By default, Incredible PBX is configured to automatically provide CallerID Name lookups using CallerID Superfecta, an application initially developed on Nerd Vittles almost a decade ago. You also have the option of using free OpenCNAM CallerID name lookups for the first ten calls received each hour. These lookups are only from cached entries in the OpenCNAM database; however, you can enable the commercial lookup service if desired. The cost is four tenths of a cent per successful query.

12. Free Faxing with Incredible PBX

If you added Incredible Fax to your server by running incrediblefax script in the /root folder, then you’re in for a treat. As part of the install, you provided an email address for delivery of incoming faxes. That’s all the setup that is required to have incoming faxes delivered via email in PDF format. The best way to figure out whether a particular provider supports fax technology on their DIDs is to send a test fax to yourself. FaxZERO lets you send 5 free faxes of up to 3 pages every day. Give it a whirl.

You also can send faxes using standard document types with the AvantFax web application. Log into AvantFax from the main Incredible PBX page by clicking on the AvantFax icon. Choose the Send a Fax option from the main menu, fill in the blanks, and attach your document. AvantFax uses the default dialplan so use the prefix desired to send the fax using your preferred provider. HINT: Google Voice does an excellent job with both incoming and outgoing faxes, and the calls are free in the U.S. and Canada.

Copies of all incoming faxes also are available for retrieval within AvantFax.

13. Voicemail 101 for Incredible PBX

Voicemail functionality is enabled on an extension-by-extension basis as part of the Extension setup under the Applications tab in the GUI. Once enabled, you can set up your mailbox and retrieve your messages by dialing *98. You can leave a message for any extension without actually calling the extension. Just prepend * to any extension number before dialing, e.g. *701. A number of the system settings for voicemail can be tweaked under the Voicemail Admin option under the Settings tab.

14. Email Delivery of MP3 Voicemails with Incredible PBX

Speaking of email delivery, your voicemails also can be delivered to any email address of your choosing. For every Extension, simply add an Email Address in the Voicemail section of the form. With Incredible PBX, the voicemail message will be attached to the email in MP3 format so it’s suitable for playback with most email clients on desktop PCs, Macs, and smartphones. Be advised that some Internet service providers (such as Comcast) block downstream SMTP servers. You can check whether your outbound email is flowing by accessing WebMin (below) and choosing Servers -> SendMail Mail Server -> Mail Queue. If you find outbound mail is accumulating, then you’ll need to add your ISP’s SMTP server address as a SmartHost for SendMail as documented in the next section.

15. Reconfiguring SendMail for SmartHost SMTP Delivery Of Outgoing Emails

Many residential Internet service providers block downstream SMTP servers such as the SendMail server running with Incredible PBX. If you’re sending emails but they never arrive and you’ve checked your SPAM folder, then chances are your ISP is the culprit. The simple solution is to add your ISP’s SMTP server as a SmartHost for SendMail. This means outbound emails will be forwarded to your ISP for actual email transmission over the Internet. Here’s how. Edit /etc/mail/sendmail.cf and search for DS. Immediately after DS, add the FQDN of your ISP’s SMTP server, e.g. DSsmtp.comcrap.net (no spaces!). Save the file and then restart SendMail: service sendmail restart. Your email and voicemail messages with attachments should begin flowing without further delay.

Email from: Asterisk PBX asterisk@pbx.local...
"Nerd Vittles" at 8001234567 left a new voicemail message 1 for extension 6002 on Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 01:42:33 PM.

You can test email delivery by sending yourself a message from the Linux CLI:

echo "test" | mail -s testmessage yourname@somedomain.com

16. SMS Blasting with Google Voice and Incredible PBX

Out of the box, Incredible PBX supports SMS Message Blasting if you have a functioning Google Voice account set up. Before first use, you must add your credentials, address list, and text message to the SMS Blaster scripts in the /root folder.

In smsblast, insert your credentials:

GVACCT="yourname@gmail.com"
GVPASS="yourpassword"
MSGSUBJECT="Little League Alert"

In smslist.txt, insert one or more recipients for your message. These can be a combination of SMS addresses and email addresses and will be delivered accordingly.

NOTE: For most cellphone providers, you also can send an email message for SMS delivery by the provider. The complete list of providers is available here. Email messaging for SMS requires that you know the cellphone provider for your recipient while standard SMS messaging does not.

# In lieu of SMS number, email is also OK
8431234567 Doe John
mary@doe.com Doe Mary
8435551212@txt.att.net Mr T

In smsmsg.txt, enter the text message to be sent.

Once you have all three files configured, run the script: /root/smsblast.

17. Voice-Activated SMS Messaging with Incredible PBX (Dial S-M-S)

In addition to message blasting, you also can dial 767 from any extension and dictate an SMS message to send through your Google Voice account. When prompted for the destination, simply enter the 10-digit SMS number of the recipient.

18. SMS Messaging with VoIP.ms and Incredible PBX

Incredible PBX also supports SMS messaging through VoIP.ms if you have an account and an SMS-enabled DID. See the VoIP.ms wiki for setup info on the VoIP.ms side.

To install the VoIP.ms SMS scripts, follow these steps:

cd /root
mkdir sms-voip.ms
cd sms-voip.ms
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/voipms-SMS.tar.gz
tar zxvf voipms-SMS.tar.gz

Edit voipms-sms.php and insert your VoIP.ms number that supports SMS messaging (no spoofing allowed!):

$SMSsender="8005551212";

Edit class.voipms.php and insert your VoIP.ms API credentials:

    /*******************************************
     *  VoIPms - API Credentials
    *******************************************/
    var $api_username   = 'yourname@youremail.com';
    var $api_password   = 'yourpassword';

Send an SMS message through VoIP.ms with the following command where smsnumber is the 10-digit number of the SMS recipient and “sms message” is the text message surrounded by quotes:

/root/sms-voip.ms/voipms-sms.php smsnumber "sms message"

NOTE: VoIP.ms has indicated that sooner or later there will be a penny per message charge for SMS messages; however, they’re still free as of now.

19. SIP URI Calling with Incredible PBX (Demo: Dial L-E-N-N-Y)

With one line of dialplan code, you can add Speed Dials for free SIP URI calling worldwide. Just create an Other (Custom) Device Extension. Provide an extension number for the SIP URI and enter the SIP URI in the following format in the dial field: SIP/2233435945@sip2sip.info

20. IVR Demo of Incredible PBX Applications (Dial 7001)

The easiest way to try out a number of the Incredible PBX applications is to take the IVR Demo for a spin. Just pick up any phone and dial D-E-M-O (3366). The sample code for the IVR is available for review and modification in extensions_custom.conf. Just search for 3366. You can create your own IVRs and AutoAttendants using the IVR option under the Applications tab in the GUI.

21. Incredible Backup & Restore with Incredible PBX

Incredible Backup and Restore scripts are included in the /root folder. These scripts make and restore snapshots of the settings on your server and should be used in conjunction with a full system backup solution. The GUI includes its own backup snapshots by choosing Backup & Restore under the Admin tab.

22. AsteriDex – The Poor Man’s Rolodex

AsteriDex is a web-based phonebook application for Incredible PBX. You can access it from the main web menu. Scripts are also available to import your contacts from Outlook and Google Contacts.

23. Voice Dialing with AsteriDex (Dial 411)

If you have voice recognition enabled on your server, you can call anyone in your AsteriDex database by dialing 411.

24. Speed Dialing with AsteriDex (Dial 412 or 000+)

For those without voice recognition, Incredible PBX includes two speed dialing utilities. The first is accessed by dialing 412. Then enter any 3-digit dialcode from your AsteriDex database to complete the call.

For a complete listing of your AsteriDex dial codes, execute this query:

mysql -u root -ppassw0rd asteridex -e "select name,dialcode from user1 order by name"

25. Telephone Reminders (Dial 123)

Incredible PBX includes a sophisticated reminders system that lets you schedule individual or recurring reminders using your phone by dialing 123 or a web browser. A complete tutorial is available here. For phone reminders, a password is required to access the reminder system. You’ll find or can set your Reminders password by searching for 123 in extensions_custom.conf. Typically, these reminders set up a return call at a scheduled time that then plays back either a recorded message or a TTS message generated from the text you entered in the browser application. Incredible PBX also includes a new addition that lets you schedule web reminders that are delivered by email or SMS message. Links to the web-based reminders applications are in the main Incredible PBX web menu.

26. DISA Access with Incredible PBX

Direct Inward System Access (aka DISA) is one of the great PBX inventions of the last 50 years. It’s also one of the most dangerous. It lets someone connect to your PBX and obtain dial tone to place an outbound call using your trunks… on your nickel. Typically, it is offered as an option with an IVR or AutoAttendant. DISA extensions can be added using the DISA option under the Applications tab. Make sure you assign a very secure password. It’s your phone bill.

27. Yahoo! News (Dial 951)

Yahoo! news headlines are available by dialing 951. The news option also is included in the sample IVR application.

28. Weather Forecasts by Phone (Dial 949 or Z-I-P)

If you have voice recognition enabled on your server, you can retrieve a weather report for most cities in the world by dialing 949 and saying the name of the city plus the state, province, or country. For PBXs without voice recognition, you can obtain a weather forecast for most zip codes by dialing 947 (Z-I-P) and entering the 5-digit zip code.

29. ODBC Application Support for Asterisk

ODBC/MySQL application support for Asterisk is included in Incredible PBX. You can try out a few sample applications that are included to get you started. Dial 222 and enter 12345 for the employee number. This retrieves an employee name from the MySQL timeclock database using Asterisk. Dial 223 to retrieve an AsteriDex name and phone number by entering the 3-character dialcode. You then have the option of placing the call by pressing 1. Once you have created accounts for Travelin’ Man 4, you can dial 864 (T-M-4) to WhiteList an IP address for that account after entering the account number and matching PIN. Use the * key for periods in the IP address. The code for all of the samples is in the following files in /etc/asterisk: odbc.conf and func_odbc.conf. If you create new MySQL databases, remember to add corresponding entries in res_odbc.conf and /etc/odbc.ini. Then restart Asterisk: amportal restart.

30. Today in History (Dial T-O-D-A-Y)

It’s always interesting to find out what happened Today in History. And Incredible PBX now delivers it by phone. Just dial 86329 (T-O-D-A-Y) for a walk down memory lane.

31. Time of Day

Speaking of yesteryear, if you grew up dialing TI-4-1212 for the time of day, Ma Bell may have discontinued the service, but we haven’t. Now you can do it on your very own PBX. Just dial into the DEMO IVR and choose option 4.

But suppose you want your users to be able to dial in for the time. Just dial *61 for a time update.

32. WebMin: The Linux Swiss Army Knife

There is no finer Linux application than WebMin. There is no more dangerous Linux application than WebMin. You’ve been warned. We heartily recommend WebMin as a tool to LOOK at your server’s settings. We strongly discourage changing anything in WebMin unless you totally know what you are doing. This is especially true with management of Linux applications that make up the core of Incredible PBX: the Linux kernel, SendMail, IPtables, Apache, MySQL, PHP, and…

To access WebMin, click on the WebMin link in the main Incredible PBX web menu. The username is root. The password is your root password. WebMin has root privileges to your server. Reread paragraph 1 and act accordingly.

For an exhaustive tutorial on WebMin, download The Book of WebMin by Joe Cooper. For a more recent commercial offering, take a look at Michal Karzyński’s WebMin Administrator’s Cookbook.

33. phpMyAdmin: The MySQL Swiss Army Knife

The same caveats we expressed regarding WebMin apply to phpMyAdmin. It is a powerful tool for managing MySQL databases in the right hands. It is a dangerous tool in the wrong hands. There should be little need to use phpMyAdmin unless you are developing a customized database solution for your business. We’ve included phpMyAdmin just in case.

To access phpMyAdmin, click on the phpMyAdmin link in the main Incredible PBX web menu. For tutorials on phpMyAdmin, see the phpMyAdmin wiki. For an excellent commercial offering focused on the version of phpMyAdmin installed on your server, consider Mastering phpMyAdmin 3.4 for Effective MySQL Management by Marc Delisle.

34. SIP Gateways for Secure (and Free) Google Voice Calling

If you have difficulty finding the Google Chat option after setting up a new Google Voice account, follow this tutorial. If you’d prefer a secure, pain-free method of accessing Google Voice via SIP for a modest one-time fee, there are some other options:

35. User Control Panel for Extension Management

For those that have clamored for a safe way to permit end-users to manage their extensions and voicemails, your ship has arrived. Meet the User Control Panel (UCP) which now is part of the Incredible PBX GUI. First, set up accounts for your users with the User Management option under the Admin tab. Specify account names, passwords, and extensions to be managed. Other entries for email addresses are optional. Then choose the UCP option in the GUI, login with one of the accounts you’ve created, and follow your nose.

Originally published: Wednesday, August 26, 2015



Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as this one, you’re bound to have questions. Blog comments are a terrible place to handle support issues although we welcome general comments about our articles and software. If you have particular support issues, we encourage you to get actively involved in the PBX in a Flash Forums. It’s the best Asterisk tech support site in the business, and it’s all free! Please have a look and post your support questions there. Unlike some forums, ours is extremely friendly and is supported by literally hundreds of Asterisk gurus and thousands of users just like you. You won’t have to wait long for an answer to your question.



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


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for Incredible PBX users. 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. 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 Incredible PBX 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. 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! 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 Incredible PBX GUI for AsteriskNOW and the FreePBX Distro


Before we get started today, let’s clear the air on a few things that have been brought to our attention. We’re not opposed to any organization making money. That includes Digium® and Sangoma®. And we fully appreciate that both of these companies need to make money to continue to deliver first rate products like Asterisk® and FreePBX®. Our fundamental disagreement with SchmoozeCom and now Sangoma stems from their sales methodology. In a nutshell, they’ve taken what purports to be an open source GPL product and turned it into a marketing tool for a whole host of commercial, closed source, time-restricted add-ons. If this were done in keeping with the GPL requirement for clear separation between the GPL components and the commercial ones, we would have no objection at all. As it stands, the Sangoma commercial bundling approach is functionally identical to distributing commercial components tied to the Linux GPL kernel, a practice that is specifically prohibited by the GPL. The prohibition stems from hooking commercial components to any GPL component, not merely the Linux kernel. Hence, hooking commercial FreePBX components to the open source GPL FreePBX and Linux ISO platforms is just as problematic as hooking a commercial driver to the Linux kernel. You’re profiting off the free work of others while confusing consumers on what’s free software and what’s not.

Sangoma’s decision to commingle and intertwine the GPL and commercial components in such a way that end-users have no choice but to install the entire bundle including the NagWare and CrippleWare hooks is problematic in another way as well. It also means users cannot legally redistribute the SHMZ ISO (even though it includes the functionally identical components found in the RedHat Enterprise Linux GPL ISO) because consumers also would be redistributing non-GPL software without a license to do so.

If you really want to have some fun (on a non-production machine, of course), try setting the clock up about 26 years and experience time bomb software in all its glory. And we thought this disappeared in the shareware days. Heh.

Last, but not least, Sangoma has shrouded the essential Cloud components of the FreePBX distribution in secrecy with encrypted signatures to prevent others from adding to the GPL-advertised project without encountering nasty error messages suggesting that your server has been compromised. Issuing keys while keeping exclusive control over issuance and rescission of those keys doesn’t help. That is a textbook example of PROPRIETARY software.

Until these issues are addressed, we believe everyone is better served by converting your GUI platform to the Incredible PBX GUI which offers GPL-compatible modules and an open source, GPL-based Cloud platform for all to see. That’s what FREEDOM really means, Sangoma. And that’s our objective for today, no more and no less.



Installing the SHMZ Base Operating System

If you’ve installed Incredible PBX on another operating system platform, today’s exercise isn’t that different. You’ll start by downloading and installing a fresh copy of AsteriskNOW or FreePBX Distro 6.12. You need a fresh install because all of your setup will be modified as part of the Incredible PBX install anyway. Both the 32-bit and 64-bit platforms are supported. Once the install begins, we recommend choosing the NO RAID setup because upgrading to FreePBX 13 down the road reportedly leaves you with a kernel that does not support RAID.

Begin by installing the 32-bit or 64-bit version of your choice on your favorite hardware or Desktop. Or you may prefer to use a Cloud provider1 that already offers a preconfigured image. In the latter case, you can skip this section.

For those using a dedicated hardware platform or wishing to install as a virtual machine, the drill is the same. Start by downloading the ISO. Then burn the ISO to a DVD unless you’ll be booting from the ISO on a virtual machine platform such as VirtualBox. On virtual platforms, we recommend at least 1GB RAM and a 20GB dedicated drive. For VirtualBox, here are the settings:

Type: Linux
Version: RedHat 64-bit or 32-bit
RAM: 1024MB
Default Drive Options with 20GB+ space
Create
Settings->System: Enable IO APIC and Disable HW Clock (leave rest alone)
Settings->Audio: Enable
Settings->Network: Enable, Bridged
Settings->Storage: Far right CD icon (choose your ISO)
Start

Boot your server with the ISO, and start the install. Here are the simplest installation steps:

Choose NO-RAID install and Click Continue
Choose Whether to Enable IPv6 Support
Choose Time Zone and Uncheck System Clock Uses UTC
Create Root Password: somepassword, somepassword, Click Done
Wait for Install and Setup to finish (about 30 minutes)

Installing Incredible PBX for SHMZ 6.5

Unlike other Linux operating systems, today’s ISOs will leave you with a functioning Asterisk platform with the FreePBX GUI. Both are built from RPMs rather than being compiled on the fly from source. We’ve chosen to leave the Asterisk platform in place for those that prefer the ease of use of an RPM solution. Be advised that this means adjustments to Asterisk modules are extremely difficult should you ever decide you need some functionality that is not provided in the default build. The FreePBX GUI platform will be replaced with the Incredible PBX GUI using GPL-compatible modules from version 12.

To begin, log in to your server as root and issue the following commands:

cd /root
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblepbx11-12.1.shmz.tar.gz
tar zxvf incrediblepbx*
./IncrediblePBX*

Once you have agreed to the license agreement and terms of use, press Enter and go have a long cup of coffee. The Incredible PBX installer runs unattended so find something to do for the next 30-60 minutes unless you just like watching code compile. When the installation is complete, run /root/admin-pw-change to set the admin password for GUI access using a browser. Log out and back into your server. After the Automatic Update Utility runs, you’ll be greeted by the status display:

Press ENTER and perform at least the first 5 steps below:

Make your root password very secure: passwd
Set an admin GUI password: ./admin-pw-change
Create admin password for web apps: htpasswd /etc/pbx/wwwpasswd admin
Set your correct time zone: ./timezone-setup
Restart Asterisk: amportal restart
Reload the GUI: amportal a r
Clean Up GUI Module Signature Mess: gui-fix
Make a copy of your Knock codes: cat knock.FAQ
Decipher IP address and other info about your server: status

Incredible PBX includes an Automatic Update Utility which downloads important updates whenever you log into your server as root. We recommend you log in once a week to keep your server current. If you haven’t done so already, now would be a good time to log out and back into your server at the Linux command line to bring your server up to current specs.

You can access the Incredible PBX GUI using your favorite web browser to configure your server. Just enter the IP address shown in the status display.

Choose Incredible GUI Administration from the Admin menu of the Kennonsoft GUI (shown above). The default username is admin and the password is what you set above. Now edit extension 701 so you can figure out (or change) the randomized passwords that were set up for your 701 extension and voicemail account: Applications -> Extensions -> 701. If you’re behind a hardware-based firewall, change the NAT setting to: YES. NOTE: The fax option will not appear until you’ve run the Incredible FAX installation script in /root.

Setting Up a Soft Phone to Use with Incredible PBX

Now you’re ready to set up a telephone so that you can play with Incredible PBX. We recommend YateClient which is free. Download it from here. Run YateClient once you’ve installed it and enter the credentials for the 701 extension on Incredible PBX. You’ll need the IP address of your server plus your extension 701 password. Choose Settings -> Accounts and click the New button. Fill in the blanks using the IP address of your server, 701 for your account name, and whatever password you created for the extension. Click OK.

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


947 - Weather by ZIP Code
951 - Yahoo News
*61 - Time of Day
*68 - Wakeup Call
TODAY - Today in History

Now you’re ready to connect to the telephones in the rest of the world. If you live in the U.S., the easiest way (at least for now) is to set up a free Google Voice account. Google has threatened to shut this down but as this is written, it still works. The more desirable long-term solution is to choose several SIP providers and set up redundant trunks for your incoming and outbound calls. The PIAF Forum includes dozens of recommendations to get you started.

Configuring Google Voice

If you want to use Google Voice, you’ll need a dedicated Google Voice account to support Incredible PBX. If you want to use the inbound fax capabilities of Incredible Fax 11, then you’ll need an additional Google Voice line that can be routed to the FAX custom destination using the GUI. 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, and 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, be reasonable. Do it our way! Set up a dedicated Gmail and Google Voice account, and use it exclusively with Incredible PBX. It’s free at least through 2013. Google Voice no longer is by invitation only so, if you’re in the U.S. or have a friend that is, head over to the Google Voice site and register.

You must choose a telephone number (aka DID) for your new account, or Google Voice calling will not work… in either direction. Google used to permit outbound Gtalk calls using a fake CallerID, but that obviously led to abuse so it’s over! 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 2-digit 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 The Incredible PBX to work its magic! Otherwise, all inbound and 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.

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.

One final word of caution is in order regardless of your choice of providers: Do NOT use special characters in any provider passwords, or nothing will work!

Now you’re ready to set up your Google Voice trunk in the GUI. After logging in with your browser, click the Connectivity tab and choose Google Voice/Motif. To Add a new Google Voice account, just fill out the form. Do NOT check the third box or incoming calls will never ring!

IMPORTANT LAST STEP: Google Voice will not work unless you restart Asterisk from the Linux command line at this juncture. Using SSH, log into your server as root and issue the following command: amportal restart.

If you have trouble getting Google Voice to work (especially if you have previously used your Google Voice account from a different IP address), try this Google Voice Reset Procedure. It usually fixes connectivity problems. If it still doesn’t work, enable Less Secure Apps using this Google tool.

Troubleshooting Audio and DTMF Problems

You can avoid one-way audio on calls and touchtones that don’t work with these simple settings in the GUI: Settings -> Asterisk SIP Settings. Just plug in your public IP address and your private IP subnet. Then set ULAW as the only Audio Codec.

A Few Words about the Incredible PBX Security Model

Today’s Incredible PBX install joins our previous builds as our most secure turnkey PBX implementation, ever. As configured, it is protected by both Fail2Ban and a hardened configuration of the IPtables Linux firewall. The latest release also includes Port Knocker for simple, secure access from any remote computer or smartphone. You can get up to speed on how the technology works by reading the Nerd Vittles tutorial. Your Port Knocker credentials are stored in /root/knock.FAQ together with activation instructions for your server and mobile devices. The NeoRouter VPN client also is included for rock-solid, secure connectivity to remote users. Read our previous tutorial for setup instructions. As configured, nobody can access your PBX without your credentials AND an IP address that is either on your private network or that matches the IP address of your server or the PC from which you installed Incredible PBX. You can whitelist additional IP addresses by running the command-line utility /root/add-ip. You can remove whitelisted IP addresses by running /root/del-acct. Incredible PBX is preconfigured to let you connect to many of the leading SIP hosting providers without additional firewall tweaking. We always recommend you also add an extra layer of protection by running your server behind a hardware-based firewall with no Internet port exposure, but that’s your call. And it’s your phone bill. 😉

The IPtables firewall is a complex piece of software. If you need assistance with configuring it, visit the PIAF Forum for some friendly assistance.

Incredible Backup and Restore

We’re pleased to introduce our latest backup and restore utilities for Incredible PBX. Running /root/incrediblebackup will create a backup image of your server in /tmp. This backup image then can be copied to any other medium desired for storage. To restore it to another Incredible PBX server on the same platform, simply copy the image to a server running Asterisk 11 and the same version of the Incredible PBX GUI. Then run /root/incrediblerestore. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Switching Major Versions of Asterisk

One of the unique features of this aggregation is the ability to quickly switch from one major version of Asterisk to another, e.g. from Asterisk 11 to 13 or from Asterisk 13 back to 11. It will also bring your particular Asterisk version up to the current release. This functionality has been retained in the Incredible PBX implementation.

WARNING: You will lose your free faxing capability with HylaFax/AvantFax if you deployed it before switching Asterisk versions! You may be able to restore the fax functionality by running the incrediblefax installer again. No guarantees.

To switch versions, issue the following commands after logging into your server as root:

sed -i 's|enabled=0|enabled=1|' /etc/yum.repos.d/FreePBX.repo
asterisk-version-switch
sed -i 's|enabled=1|enabled=0|' /etc/yum.repos.d/FreePBX.repo

Incredible PBX Automatic Update Utility

Every time you log into your server as root, Incredible PBX will ping the IncrediblePBX.com web site to determine whether one or more updates are available to bring your server up to current specs. We recommend you log in at least once a week just in case some new security vulnerability should come along.

A Word to the Wise: yum update can be a very dangerous tool. We have disabled the FreePBX repositories as part of the Incredible PBX install. We recommend you keep it that way. Security updates, if necessary, are distributed through the Automatic Update Utility. This puts an additional layer of protection between your server and yum repos. Keep it that way!

In the meantime, we encourage you to sign up for an account on the PIAF Forum and join the discussion. In addition to providing first-class, free support, we think you’ll enjoy the camaraderie.

Originally published: Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as this one, you’re bound to have questions. Blog comments are a terrible place to handle support issues although we welcome general comments about our articles and software. If you have particular support issues, we encourage you to get actively involved in the PBX in a Flash Forums. It’s the best Asterisk tech support site in the business, and it’s all free! Please have a look and post your support questions there. Unlike some forums, ours is extremely friendly and is supported by literally hundreds of Asterisk gurus and thousands of users just like you. You won’t have to wait long for an answer to your question.

NEWS FLASH: There’s a message thread to handle Bugs & Fixes for this new release. If you have issues with your install, start there.



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


 
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 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. 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! 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…

  1. Some of our links refer users to Amazon or other service providers when we find their prices are competitive for the recommended products. Nerd Vittles receives a small referral fee from these providers to help cover the costs of our blog. We never recommend particular products solely to generate commissions. However, when pricing is comparable or availability is favorable, we support these providers because they support us. []

Decisions, Decisions: Choosing the SOHO Asterisk Platform That’s Best For You

Each year we like to revisit the topic of choosing the best Asterisk® platform for deployment in the home and small business environment. No solution is obviously right for everybody. But we think it’s important to sketch out the relevant factors that need careful evaluation before you begin the installation process.

Our focus today is open source, GPL platforms with Asterisk for home or SOHO deployments. That excludes a broad swath of equally capable commercial or proprietary alternatives including ThirdLane, Switchvox, and FreePBX® Distro as well as many unified communications solutions that do not rely upon the Asterisk telephony engine including FreeSWITCH, ShoreTel, Cisco, 3CX, and many others. If your requirements exceed telephony support for more than a few dozen employees, our recommendation is to hire a consultant that can assist you in that decision-making process.

When It Comes to Hardware, Size Matters!

Even in the telephony world, it’s true. Size Matters! Choosing an Asterisk platform for your home and choosing a telephony platform for a call center are very different beasts. Our traditional recommendation for home and SOHO deployments was to go with dedicated hardware with an appropriately sized Atom processor, RAM, and hard drive. In the words of Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A Changin’.” With the nosedive in Cloud processing costs and the emergence of powerful desktop virtual machine platforms, that may no longer be the smartest solution. First, it puts you in the hardware business which means you’ll have to deal with hardware failures and backups and redundancy. Second, depending upon where you live, it may not be cost-effective to maintain your own server. Electricity and Internet connectivity cost real money above and beyond hardware costs.

For home or SOHO deployments, it also depends upon what other computers already are in use around your house or office. For example, if you have a $2,000 iMac with a $100 backup drive running Carbon Copy Cloner each night, then you’ve already got a fully redundant server platform in place. You really don’t need a dedicated server for telephony to support a handful of telephones. VirtualBox® running any of the Incredible PBX™ solutions is free, and it’s fully capable of meeting your telephony requirements with no additional hardware investment.1 If your iMac’s main drive crashes, you can reboot from the attached USB backup drive with a single keystroke and never miss a beat. For those dead set on running dedicated hardware for your home or SOHO telephone system, there’s really no reason to spend more than $35 for a Raspberry Pi® 2. With its new quadcore processor and gig of RAM, it can meet or exceed any requirements you may have. Buy a second microSD card for redundancy and call it day as far as hardware is concerned.

If you’d prefer to separate your telephone system from your house or small office, a Cloud-based setup may be a better fit. Our Platinum sponsor, RentPBX,2 offers a worldwide collection of servers and will host your Asterisk-based PBX for $15 a month (Coupon Code: NOGOTCHAS) on a platform that rarely, if ever, goes down. If you like to tinker but also prefer a Cloud solution, consider Digital Ocean ($5 a month for a virtual machine) or Wable ($8 a month for up to 5 VMs).

NEWS FLASH: Effective today, RentPBX now offers all of the new Incredible PBX builds with the Incredible PBX GUI. Tutorials available here: CentOS platform or Ubuntu platform. Use the NOGOTCHAS coupon code for $15/mo. pricing.

That’s our latest take on SOHO hardware. If you have additional questions or concerns, come join the PIAF Forum and take advantage of our hundreds of gurus who will give you all of the free advice you could ever want.

I’ve Got My Hardware Platform. Now What?

The next step is choosing an Asterisk telephony platform. That used to be easy. There was Plain Ol’ Asterisk if you were a guru or there was Asterisk@Home if you wanted a GUI to guide you through the telephony maze. Now it’s more complicated. There are a number of different Linux platforms. There are a number of different Asterisk versions. And there are a number of different GUIs that support Asterisk. So let’s work our way down the list starting with the Linux platform.

Choosing the Linux Platform That’s Best for Asterisk

The gold standard for Asterisk servers has always been CentOS, a GPL clone of RedHat Enterprise Linux. It, too, is now owned by Red Hat. The old adage was that nobody ever got fired for recommending IBM. In the Asterisk community, that remains true with CentOS. Unfortunately, CentOS now comes in several flavors. There’s CentOS 6.5 which morphs into 6.6 once the latest updates are applied. Or there’s CentOS 7 which is a very different beast. For Asterisk deployments, you can’t go wrong with CentOS 6.5. It works well on the latest dedicated hardware and is supported on all virtual machine platforms.

As with choosing a language, you now have a choice of Linux platforms. There’s RedHat/CentOS, or Debian, or Ubuntu, or even Raspbian for the Raspberry Pi hardware. Unfortunately, the RedHat-CentOS and Debian-Ubuntu-Raspbian platforms have completely different languages, much like French and Spanish. The Linux packages that are included in the platforms also have different names. If you’re a Linux aficionado and you already have a favorite, stick with what you love. If you’re planning to deploy a Raspberry Pi 2, stick with Raspbian. For everyone else, CentOS 6.5 is your best bet for now.

Choosing the Asterisk Platform That’s Right for You

Believe it or not, there are many organizations still running their telephone systems using Asterisk 1.4 or 1.8 even though Digium support for those platforms ended years ago. In the commercial world, it is not uncommon to see telephone systems that are more than a decade old. With Asterisk, things are quite different. There’s a new version every year. Fortunately, Digium has adopted a new support philosophy and every other release now is anointed with the LTS (Long Term Support) moniker. An LTS release gets four years of bug fixes and five years of security updates as opposed to the other releases that come with one year of bug fixes and two years of security updates. It’s still not 10 years, but it’s certainly better than wrestling with Asterisk updates annually.

We think there remains a need to reconsider these timetables. New updates have become so complex that the releases typically are almost two years into their life cycle before there is anyone that treats the releases as anything more than experimental. This was especially true of Asterisk 12 which was a terrific new product that provided dramatic improvements particularly in the SIP area. Unfortunately, it will reach end-of-life status before the end of this year and before most folks have even had an opportunity to use it. Now we’re on to Asterisk 13 which almost no one has deployed, and it will be a year old this fall.

Choosing an Asterisk release has been further complicated by Sangoma’s FreePBX® 12 design, the only GUI platform that currently supports both Asterisk 12 and 13. If you want to deploy a commercial FreePBX module not sold by Sangoma, you’re out of luck with FreePBX 12 despite the clear language of the GPL license. If you want to deploy any GPL open source module for FreePBX 12 other than those distributed by Sangoma, you’re bombarded with nasty security alerts suggesting that your server has been compromised. We won’t beat the dead horse. There are plenty of Nerd Vittles articles to fill in the details if you are interested in the background. Suffice it to say, it is having an impact on the decision many users and companies make concerning their Asterisk platform. If you want to avoid the CrippleWare, you need to stick with FreePBX 2.11 which means that Asterisk 11 is the last supported LTS version for this platform. We continue to be an optimist, believing that Sangoma will come to their senses and figure all of this out sooner or later. But for now, that’s a snapshot of the current landscape.

Choosing a GPL-Compliant GUI That Meets Your Needs

All of the GUIs for Asterisk have one primary purpose. They are code generators for the Asterisk telephony engine, nothing more. With each of them, you can turn off your web server after using the graphical user interface, and your phone system will continue to work as designed. Imagine our surprise to learn that an Asterisk GUI developer was actually threatened by lawyers of another provider of GPL GUI software for Asterisk because both GUIs used similar GPL-generated Asterisk code.

The claim was that, while the GUI platform itself was GPL-licensed code, the actual dialplan code generated by the GUI was not GPL-licensed and hence was copyright-protected as a derivative work. In other words, you can use our GUI for free but not the code that it generates. Since the sole purpose of the GUI is to generate code, guess what your GPL license actually got you… absolutely nothing of value. Try finding that in the fine print or the GPL license much less in any published decision on copyright law. Under this interpretation, every time you click that Apply Config button, you’re downloading and using copyrighted dialplan code without a license. Just think. Lawyers get paid to spew out this bull with a straight face! Imagine getting a toaster for your birthday and then learning that you can use it for anything except making toast. Makes you want to go to law school, doesn’t it? Can you guess who the players are? Thought so.

For the rest of the story…

That, my friends, is the type of players we’re dealing with in the Asterisk “community” and it’s all about money. Lucky for all of you and us, the threats were ignored, and we now have the Elastix MT GUI that respects its GPL license. We, of course, have released our own free Incredible PBX GUI for CentOS, Ubuntu, and Raspbian without the proprietary signature checking mechanism and trademark minefields. It also employs the same GPL-licensed modules as FreePBX including a publicly-accessible Cloud component that meets the source code disclosure requirements of the GPL. The choice is all yours!

Introducing the 3-Click Platform Decision Tree for Asterisk

Now that you have the background, we want to provide a simple Decision Tree tool that will guide you through choosing the Asterisk GPL aggregation that best meets your needs. After you’ve made your selections, the utility will point you to the tutorials that will walk you through downloading, installing, and using the platform of your choice. Our fully-documented Asterisk Aggregation Guide also is available. Enjoy!

Originally published: Monday, June 22, 2015  Updated: Sunday, July 19, 2015



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


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for Incredible PBX users. 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. 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 Incredible PBX 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. 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! 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…

  1. We will introduce the all-new Incredible PBX GUI platform for VirtualBox next week on Nerd Vittles. If you’re in a hurry, the Pioneer’s Edition now is available with a tutorial to get you started on the PIAF Forum. []
  2. Some of our links refer users to service providers when we find their prices are competitive for the recommended products. Nerd Vittles receives a small referral fee from some of these providers to help cover the costs of our blog. We never recommend particular products solely to generate commissions. However, when pricing is comparable or availability is favorable, we support these providers because they support us. []

Introducing Incredible PBX GUI for Asterisk 13 and CentOS/Scientific Linux

If you’re looking for the latest and greatest pure GPL, open source Asterisk® 13 aggregation with a pure GPL, open source graphical user interface, then today’s another lucky day for you. Last week, we introduced the Ubuntu 14 edition of Incredible PBX™ for Asterisk 13, and this week we have the CentOS/Scientific Linux flavor to share. This is an independent aggregation based solely upon GPL code. Unlike the competition, the operating system and cloud repository to support the product also are pure GPL open source code. And the Incredible PBX installers themselves are pure GPL open source code. You are more than welcome (encouraged!) to examine, improve, and share your discoveries.

Incredible PBX for CentOS 6.5 and 7 follows our standard install procedure which means it’s up to you to first create a CentOS 6.5 or 7 platform. If you prefer Scientific Linux or Oracle Linux, feel free to start there. All work equally well as a base platform and are supported by a worldwide group of developers. Once your OS platform is in place, simply run the Incredible PBX installer. After 30-60 minutes of whirring, you’ll end up with an awesome (free) state-of-the-art Asterisk-based VoIP server with the very latest LTS version of Asterisk 13 as well as dozens of turnkey Incredible PBX applications. So enjoy a nice lunch while the Incredible PBX installer works its magic. No user intervention is required during the installation procedure. All text-to-speech (TTS) applications work out of the box. You can add Google’s Speech Recognition to many Incredible PBX applications by following our 5-minute tutorial. And a GPL installation script for free faxing with HylaFax and AvantFax is also included. Whew!

Installing a Base CentOS Operating System

CAUTION: Installing Incredible PBX on the CentOS 7 platform is still a work in progress that is suitable for pioneers only. For production systems, stick with 6.5/6.6.

Let’s begin by installing 64-bit CentOS 6.5 or 7 on your favorite hardware or Desktop. Or you may prefer to use a Cloud provider1 that already offers a preconfigured CentOS image. In the latter case, you can skip this section.

For those using a dedicated hardware platform or wishing to install CentOS as a virtual machine, the drill is the same. Start by downloading the 64-bit CentOS 6.5 minimal ISO or the CentOS 7 minimal ISO or . Burn the ISO to a DVD unless you’ll be booting from the ISO on a virtual machine platform such as VirtualBox. On virtual platforms, we recommend at least 1GB RAM and a 20GB dedicated drive. For VirtualBox, here are the settings:

Type: Linux
Version: RedHat 64-bit
RAM: 1024MB
Default Drive Options with 20GB+ space
Create
Settings->System: Enable IO APIC and Disable HW Clock (leave rest alone)
Settings->Audio: Enable
Settings->Network: Enable, Bridged
Settings->Storage: Far right CD icon (choose your ISO)
Start

Boot your server with the ISO, and start the CentOS install. Here are the simplest installation steps:

Choose Language and Click Continue
Click: Install Destination (do not change anything!)
Click: Done
Click: Network & Hostname
Click: ON
Click: Done
Click: Begin Installation
Click: Root Password: password, password, Click Done twice
Wait for Minimal Software Install and Setup to finish
Click: Reboot

Configuring CentOS 6.5 or 7 for Incredible PBX Installation

Now log into your server as root and issue the following commands to put the basic pieces in place and to reconfigure your Ethernet port as eth0. Make a note of your IP address so you can log in with SSH.

setenforce 0
yum -y upgrade --skip-broken
yum -y install net-tools nano wget
# decipher your server's IP address
ifconfig
# patch grub and ignore any errors if your server doesn't use it
sed -i 's|quiet|quiet net.ifnames=0 biosdevdame=0|' /etc/default/grub
grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg
# for CentOS/Scientific Linux 6.5/6.6 platforms, perform these additional steps:
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/update-kernel-devel
chmod +x update-kernel-devel
./update-kernel-devel
reboot

If you’re on a virtual machine platform, now would be a good time to make an export or backup of your CentOS image. The minimal install is about 500MB. Don’t forget to first remove your hardware address (HWADDR) and network UUID from /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-enp0s3 or whatever file name was assigned to your hardware. The saved image will be bootable with DHCP network support anywhere down the road.

NEWS FLASH: For those wanting to test things out using VirtualBox, a Scientific Linux 7.1 Remix image (2GB) is now available on SourceForge. It gets you to right here in the install process.


Installing Incredible PBX for CentOS 6.5 or 7

Adding Incredible PBX to a running CentOS 6.5 or 7 server is a walk in the park. To restate the obvious, your server needs a reliable Internet connection to proceed. Be sure to use SSH (or Putty on a Windows machine) to begin because the installer locks the firewall down to your local network and the IP address of the machine from which you perform the install. Log into your new server as root at the IP address you deciphered in the ifconfig step in the CentOS installation procedure above.

WARNING: If you’re using a 512MB droplet at Digital Ocean, be advised that their setups do NOT include a swap file. This may cause serious problems when you run out of RAM. Uncomment ./create-swapfile-DO line below to create a 1GB swap file which will be activated whenever you exceed 90% RAM usage on Digital Ocean.

Now let’s begin the Incredible PBX install.

NOTE: To more clearly identify packaging as we move forward, there has been a change in the Incredible PBX naming and numbering scheme. Henceforth, the file name and version reflects the Asterisk version, the GUI version, the Incredible PBX release number, and the OS platform. For example, incrediblepbx13-12.0-centos tells you the product includes Asterisk 13, the version 12 GUI, .0 release number, and the CentOS platform.

cd /root
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblepbx13-12.2-centos.tar.gz
tar zxvf incrediblepbx*
#./create-swapfile-DO
./IncrediblePBX*

Once you have agreed to the license agreement and terms of use, press Enter and go have a long cup of coffee. The Incredible PBX installer runs unattended so find something to do for the next 30-60 minutes unless you just like watching code compile. When the installation is complete, reboot your server and log back in as root. You should be greeted by something like this showing the status of the major apps as well as your free RAM and DISK space:

Perform the following steps:

Make your root password very secure: passwd
Create admin password for GUI access: /root/admin-pw-change
Set your correct time zone: /root/timezone-setup
Create admin password for web apps: htpasswd /etc/pbx/wwwpasswd admin
Make a copy of your Knock codes: cat /root/knock.FAQ
Decipher IP address and other info about your server: status

Incredible PBX includes an automatic update utility which downloads important updates whenever you log into your server as root. We recommend you log in once a week to keep your server current.

You can access the Incredible PBX GUI using your favorite web browser to configure your server. Just enter the IP address shown in the status display.

Choose Incredible GUI Administration from the Admin menu of the Kennonsoft GUI (shown above) by clicking on User to switch. The default username is admin and the password is what you set when the install completed. Now edit extension 701 so you can figure out (or change) the randomized passwords that were set up for your 701 extension and voicemail account: Applications -> Extensions -> 701. If you’re behind a hardware-based firewall, verify the NAT setting: YES.

Setting Up a Soft Phone to Use with Incredible PBX

Now you’re ready to set up a telephone so that you can play with Incredible PBX. We recommend YateClient which is free. Download it from here. Run YateClient once you’ve installed it and enter the credentials for the 701 extension on Incredible PBX. You’ll need the IP address of your server plus your extension
701 password. Choose Settings -> Accounts and click the New button. Fill in the blanks using the IP address of your server, 701 for your account name, and whatever password you created for the extension. Click OK.

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


DEMO - Allison's IVR Demo
947 - Weather by ZIP Code
951 - Yahoo News
*61 - Time of Day
*68 - Wakeup Call
TODAY - Today in History

Now you’re ready to connect to the telephones in the rest of the world. If you live in the U.S., the easiest way (at least for now) is to set up a free Google Voice account. Google has threatened to shut this down but as this is written, it still works. We will have an update for OAUTH authentication support soon. The safer long-term solution is to choose several SIP providers and set up redundant trunks for your incoming and outbound calls. The PIAF Forum includes dozens of recommendations to get you started.

Configuring Google Voice

If you want to use Google Voice, you’ll need a dedicated Google Voice account to support Incredible PBX. If you want to use the inbound fax capabilities of Incredible Fax, then you’ll need an additional Google Voice line that can be routed to the FAX custom destination using the GUI. 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, and 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, be reasonable. Do it our way! Set up a dedicated Gmail and Google Voice account, and use it exclusively with Incredible PBX. It’s free at least through 2013. Google Voice no longer is by invitation only so, if you’re in the U.S. or have a friend that is, head over to the Google Voice site and register.

You must choose a telephone number (aka DID) for your new account, or Google Voice calling will not work… in either direction. Google used to permit outbound Gtalk calls using a fake CallerID, but that obviously led to abuse so it’s over! 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 2-digit 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 The Incredible PBX to work its magic! Otherwise, all inbound and 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.

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.

One final word of caution is in order regardless of your choice of providers: Do NOT use special characters in any provider passwords, or nothing will work!

Now you’re ready to set up your Google Voice trunk in the GUI. After logging in with your browser, click the Connectivity tab and choose Google Voice/Motif. To Add a new Google Voice account, just fill out the form. Do NOT check the third box or incoming calls will never ring!

IMPORTANT LAST STEP: Google Voice will not work unless you restart Asterisk from the Linux command line at this juncture. Using SSH, log into your server as root and issue the following command: amportal restart.

If you have trouble getting Google Voice to work (especially if you have previously used your Google Voice account from a different IP address), try this Google Voice Reset Procedure. It usually fixes connectivity problems. If it still doesn’t work, enable Less Secure Apps using this Google tool.

Troubleshooting Audio and DTMF Problems

You can avoid one-way audio on calls and touchtones that don’t work with these simple settings in the GUI: Settings -> Asterisk SIP Settings. Just plug in your public IP address and your private IP subnet. Then set ULAW as the only Audio Codec.

A Few Words about the Incredible PBX Security Model for CentOS

Incredible PBX for CentOS joins our previous Ubuntu build as our most secure turnkey PBX implementation. As configured, it is protected by both Fail2Ban and a hardened configuration of the IPtables Linux firewall. The latest release also includes Port Knocker for simple, secure access from any remote computer or smartphone. You can get up to speed on how the technology works by reading the Nerd Vittles tutorial. Your Port Knocker credentials are stored in /root/knock.FAQ together with activation instructions for your server and mobile devices. The NeoRouter VPN client also is included for rock-solid, secure connectivity to remote users. Read our previous tutorial for setup instructions. As configured, nobody can access your PBX without your credentials AND an IP address that is either on your private network or that matches the IP address of your server or the PC from which you installed Incredible PBX. You can whitelist additional IP addresses by running the command-line utility /root/add-ip. You can remove whitelisted IP addresses by running /root/del-acct. Incredible PBX is preconfigured to let you connect to many of the leading SIP hosting providers without additional firewall tweaking. We always recommend you also add an extra layer of protection by running your server behind a hardware-based firewall with no Internet port exposure, but that’s your call. And it’s your phone bill. 😉

The IPtables firewall is a complex piece of software. If you need assistance with configuring it, visit the PIAF Forum for some friendly assistance.

Incredible Backup and Restore

We’re pleased to introduce our latest backup and restore utilities for Incredible PBX. Running /root/incrediblebackup will create a backup image of your server in /tmp. This backup image then can be copied to any other medium desired for storage. To restore it to another Incredible PBX server, simply copy the image to a server running Asterisk 13 and the same version of the Incredible PBX GUI. Then run /root/incrediblerestore. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Incredible PBX Automatic Update Utility

Every time you log into your server as root, Incredible PBX will ping the IncrediblePBX.com web site to determine whether one or more updates are available to bring your server up to current specs. We recommend you log in at least once a week just in case some new security vulnerability should come along.

In the meantime, we encourage you to sign up for an account on the PIAF Forum and join the discussion. In addition to providing first-class, free support, we think you’ll enjoy the camaraderie.

Originally published: Monday, July 13, 2015


Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as this one, you’re bound to have questions. Blog comments are a terrible place to handle support issues although we welcome general comments about our articles and software. If you have particular support issues, we encourage you to get actively involved in the PBX in a Flash Forums. It’s the best Asterisk tech support site in the business, and it’s all free! Please have a look and post your support questions there. Unlike some forums, ours is extremely friendly and is supported by literally hundreds of Asterisk gurus and thousands of users just like you. You won’t have to wait long for an answer to your question.



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


 
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 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. 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! 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…

  1. Some of our links refer users to Amazon or other service providers when we find their prices are competitive for the recommended products. Nerd Vittles receives a small referral fee from these providers to help cover the costs of our blog. We never recommend particular products solely to generate commissions. However, when pricing is comparable or availability is favorable, we support these providers because they support us. []

Introducing Incredible PBX 13-12 with Incredible GUI for the Ubuntu 14 Platform

Two months ago we turned the page on Asterisk® GUIs by introducing a new GUI that hopefully provides the best of both worlds. It preserves the GPL components of the FreePBX® product that many of us have nurtured for almost a decade while removing the commercial pieces that have introduced some friction into the equation for users and companies that simply wished to deploy or redistribute a graphical user interface for Asterisk in accordance with the free GPL licenses under which the product and its components were licensed. We followed up by opening up the cloud component which serves as the lynchpin for GPL module administration within the GUI itself. We remain hopeful that these two tweaks will encourage Sangoma, the new owner of the FreePBX project, to do the right thing and get the non-commercial pieces of the project back on the right track moving forward. As we’ve stressed all along, we do not want to tarnish the incredibly hard work that dozens of developers in the open source community have poured into both of these projects over the past decade. We continue to be amazed at what they’ve been able to achieve, and we salute their accomplishments. The Asterisk 12 and 13 revolution never would have happened without the contributions of the FreePBX development team. We think the new Incredible PBX GUI stands as a testament to what can be accomplished while preserving the true spirit of open source development and the terms of the GPL licenses under which this product and its numerous modules are licensed.

Today we take the next step in the journey with release of a production-ready version of Asterisk 13 LTS for the Ubuntu 14 platform. It has all the bells and whistles to which you have become accustomed including Incredible Fax featuring HylaFax and AvantFax. It also includes literally dozens of turnkey applications that show off the very best features of Asterisk. In addition to Incredible PBX, you also gain unfettered access to our new GPL repository to maintain release 12 of the GUI. No strings, no gotchas, and no murky licenses. Pure GPL in Plain View!

Why Not Use FreePBX 13? Glad you asked. Despite the freepbx.org facelift1 and the eternal message that “The ‘Free’ Stands for Freedom,” it turns out the business practices haven’t changed much since the Sangoma takeover. If your idea of “freedom” is a closed source VoIP platform with no way to emulate the repository used to manage and upgrade the “GPL” components in FreePBX 13 and no way to install the FreePBX 13 GUI or its “GPL” components other than switching to the proprietary FreePBX Distro, then FreePBX 13 may be just the ticket. If you’d prefer a RealGPL platform that lets you choose which components you’d like on your server, then keep reading. And drop the Sangoma and Digium honchos a note and let them know how you feel about FREEDOM.

William J. Wignall, President and CEO
Sangoma Technologies
100 Renfrew Drive, Suite 100
Markham ON L3R 9R6 CANADA

Danny Windham, CEO
Digium, Inc.
445 Jan Davis Drive Northwest
Huntsville, AL 35806 USA

Mark Spencer, Founder and CTO
Digium, Inc.
445 Jan Davis Drive Northwest
Huntsville, AL 35806 USA

Update: A GPL release of FreePBX 13 beta miraculously appeared shortly after publication of this article. Still no GPL repository is available that is compatible with the integrated Admin Module component of the product.

Building an Ubuntu 14.04 Platform for Incredible PBX

As a result of the trademark and copyright morass, we’ve steered away from the bundled operating system in favor of a methodology that relies upon you to put in place the operating system platform on which to run PBX in a Flash or Incredible PBX. The good news is it’s easy! With many cloud-based providers2, you can simply click a button to choose your favorite OS flavor and within minutes, you’re ready to go. With many virtual machine platforms such as VirtualBox, it’s equally simple to find a pre-built Ubuntu 14.04 image or roll your own.

If you’re new to VoIP or to Nerd Vittles, here’s our best piece of advice. Don’t take our word for anything! Try it for yourself in the Cloud! You can build an Ubuntu 14.04 image on Digital Ocean in under one minute and install today’s Incredible PBX for Ubuntu 14.04 in about 15 minutes. Then try it out for two full months. It won’t cost you a dime. Use our referral link to sign up for an account. Enter a valid credit card to verify you’re who you say you are. Create an Ubuntu 14.04 (not 14.10!) 512MB droplet of the cheapest flavor ($5/mo.). Go to the Billing section of the site, and enter the following promo code: UBUNTUDROPLET. That’s all there is to it. A $10 credit will be added to your account, and you can play to your heart’s content. Delete droplets, add droplets, and enjoy the free ride!

For today, we’ll walk you through building your own stand-alone server using the Ubuntu 14.04 mini.iso. If you’re using Digital Ocean in the Cloud, skip down to Installing Incredible PBX 13-12 (HINT: 13 tells you the Asterisk release and 12 tells you the GUI release). If you’re using your own hardware, to get started, download the 64-bit Ubuntu 14.04 “Trusty Tahr” Minimal ISO from here. Yes, the 32-bit platform is also supported. Now burn the ISO to a CD/DVD or thumb drive and boot your dedicated server from the image. Remember, you’ll be reformatting the drive in your server so pick a machine you don’t need for other purposes.

For those that would prefer to build your Ubuntu 14.04 Wonder Machine using VirtualBox on any Windows, Mac, or existing Linux Desktop, here are the simple steps. Create a new virtual machine specifying the 64-bit version of Ubuntu. Allocate 1024MB of RAM (512MB also works fine with a swap file) and at least 20GB of disk space using the default hard drive setup in all three steps. In Settings, click System and check Enable I/O APIC and uncheck Hardware Clock in UTC Time. Click Audio and Specify then Enable your sound card. Click Network and Enable Network Adapter for Adapter 1 and choose Bridged Adapter. Finally, in Storage, add the Ubuntu 14.04 mini.iso to your VirtualBox Storage Tree as shown below. Then click OK and start up your new virtual machine. Simple!

Here are the steps to get Ubuntu 14.04 humming on your new server or virtual machine once you’ve booted up. If you can bake cookies from a recipe, you can do this:

UBUNTU mini.iso install:
Choose language
Choose timezone
Detect keyboard
Hostname: incrediblepbx < continue >
Choose mirror for downloads
Confirm archive mirror
Leave proxy blank unless you need it
< continue >
** couple minutes of whirring as initial components are loaded **
New user name: incredible
< continue >
Account username: incredible
< continue >
Account password: makeitsecure
< continue >
Encrypt home directory < no >
Confirm time zone < yes >
Partition disks: Guided - use entire disk and set up LVM
Confirm disk to partition
Write changes to disks and configure LVM
Whole volume? < continue>
Write changes to disks < yes> < -- last chance to preserve your disk drive!
** about 15 minutes of whirring during base system install ** < no touchy anything>
** another 5 minutes of whirring during base software install ** < no touchy anything>
Upgrades? Install security updates automatically
** another 5 minutes of whirring during more software installs ** < no touchy anything>
Software selection: *Basic Ubuntu server (only!)
** another couple minutes of whirring during software installs ** < no touchy anything>
Grub boot loader: < yes>
UTC for system clock: < no>
Installation complete: < continue> after removing installation media
** on VirtualBox, PowerOff after reboot and remove [-] mini.iso from Storage Tree & restart VM
login as user: incredible
** enter user incredible's password **
sudo passwd
** enter incredible password again and then create secure root user password **
su root
** enter root password **
apt-get update
apt-get install ssh -y
sed -i 's|without-password|yes|' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sed -i 's|yes"|without-password"|' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sed -i 's|"quiet"|"quiet text"|' /etc/default/grub
update-grub
ifconfig
** write down the IP address of your server from ifconfig results
reboot
** login via SSH to continue **

Installing Incredible PBX 13-12 on Your Ubuntu 14.04 Server

Adding Incredible PBX 13-12 to a running Ubuntu 14.04 server is a walk in the park. To restate the obvious, your server needs a reliable Internet connection to proceed. Using SSH (or Putty on a Windows machine), log into your new server as root at the IP address you deciphered in the ifconfig step at the end of the Ubuntu install procedure above. First, make sure to run the update step for Ubuntu below before you begin the install. This is especially important if you’re using a cloud-based Ubuntu 14 server. If errors appear during the update, just run it again.

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade -y && reboot

WARNING: If you’re using a 512MB droplet at Digital Ocean, be advised that the DO Ubuntu setup does NOT include a swap file. This may cause serious problems when you run out of RAM. Uncomment ./create-swapfile-DO line below to create a 1GB swap file which will be activated whenever you exceed 90% RAM usage on Digital Ocean.

Now let’s begin the Incredible PBX 13-12 install. Log back in as root and issue the following commands:

cd /root
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblepbx13-12.1-ubuntu14.tar.gz
tar zxvf incrediblepbx*
#./create-swapfile-DO
./Incredible*

Once you have agreed to the license agreement and terms of use, press Enter and go have a 30-minute cup of coffee. The Incredible PBX installer runs unattended so find something to do for a bit unless you just like watching code compile. When you see “Have a nice day”, your installation is complete. Hit the Enter key to reboot the server unless you need to add additional entries to your firewall whitelist.

Once the server restarts, log back in as root and you should be greeted with a status display that looks something like this after the Automatic Update Utility runs:

Assuming you’ve already created a very secure root password (update it by running passwd), perform the following 5 Steps to get everything locked down:

  1. Create an admin password for GUI access: /root/admin-pw-change
  2. Create an admin password for Apache web access: htpasswd /etc/pbx/wwwpasswd admin
  3. Configure the correct timezone for your server: /root/timezone-setup
  4. Retrieve your PortKnocker setup like this: cat /root/knock.FAQ
  5. Add IPtables WhiteList entries for remote access: /root/add-ip or /root/add-fqdn

Incredible PBX includes an automatic update utility which downloads important updates whenever you log into your server as root. We recommend you log in once a week to keep your server current. Now would be a good time to log out and back into your server at the Linux command line to bring your server up to current specs.

You can access the Incredible PBX GUI using your favorite web browser to configure your server. Just enter the IP address shown in the status display.

When the Kennonsoft menu (shown above) appears, click on the User tab to open the Admin menu. Then click on Incredible GUI Administration to access the Incredible PBX GUI. The default username is admin with the password you created above. Now edit extension 701 so you can figure out (or change) the randomized passwords that were set up for default 701 extension and voicemail: Applications -> Extensions -> 701.

Setting Up a Soft Phone to Use with Incredible PBX

Now you’re ready to set up a telephone so that you can play with Incredible PBX. We recommend YateClient which is free. Download it from here. Run YateClient once you’ve installed it and enter the credentials for the 701 extension on Incredible PBX. You’ll need the IP address of your server plus your extension 701 password. Choose Settings -> Accounts and click the New button. Fill in the blanks using the IP address of your server, 701 for your account name, and whatever password you created for the extension. Click OK.

Once you are registered to extension 701, close the Account window. Then click on YATE’s Telephony Tab and place some test calls to the numerous apps that are preconfigured on Incredible PBX. You can dial a few of these to get started or, better yet, take Allison’s Incredible PBX IVR for a spin by dialing D-E-M-O (3366). NOTE: The Voice Recognition options will not work until you first enter your credentials (covered below).

123 - Reminders
222 - ODBC Demo (use acct: 12345)
947 - Weather by ZIP Code
951 - Yahoo News
*61 - Time of Day
*68 - Wakeup Call
TODAY - Today in History

The next step is establishing an interface on your PBX to connect to the telephones in the rest of the world. If you live in the U.S., the easiest way (at least for now) is to use an existing (free) Google Voice account. Google has threatened to shut this down but as this is written, it still works with previously set up Google Voice accounts. The more desirable long-term solution is to choose several SIP providers and set up redundant trunks for your incoming and outbound calls. The PIAF Forum includes dozens of recommendations to get you started.

Configuring Google Voice

If you want to use Google Voice, you’ll need a dedicated Google Voice account to support Incredible PBX. If you want to use the inbound fax capabilities of Incredible Fax 11, then you’ll need an additional Google Voice line that can be routed to the FAX custom destination using the GUI. 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 Google Voice account, and 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, be reasonable. Do it our way! Use a previously configured and dedicated Gmail and Google Voice account, and use it exclusively with Incredible PBX 11.

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 The Incredible PBX to work its magic! Otherwise, all inbound and outbound calls will fail. If you don’t see this option, you’re probably out of luck. Google has disabled the option in newly created accounts as well as some old ones that had Google Chat disabled. Now go back to the Google Voice Settings.

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.

One final word of caution is in order regardless of your choice of providers: Do NOT use special characters in any provider passwords, or nothing will work!

Now you’re ready to set up your Google Voice trunk in the GUI. After logging in with your browser, click the Connectivity tab and choose Google Voice/Motif. To Add a new Google Voice account, just fill out the form. Do NOT check the third box or incoming calls will never ring!

IMPORTANT LAST STEP: Google Voice will not work unless you restart Asterisk from the Linux command line at this juncture. Using SSH, log into your server as root and issue the following command: amportal restart.

If you have trouble getting Google Voice to work (especially if you have previously used your Google Voice account from a different IP address), try this Google Voice Reset Procedure. It usually fixes connectivity problems. If it still doesn’t work, enable Less Secure Apps using this Google tool.

And here’s another way to access Google Voice securely using an inexpensive commercial SIP gateway:

Troubleshooting Audio and DTMF Problems

You can avoid one-way audio on calls and touchtones that don’t work by entering these simple settings in the GUI: Settings -> Asterisk SIP Settings. Just plug in your public IP address and your private IP subnet. Then set ULAW as the only Audio Codec.

Adding Voice Recognition to Incredible PBX

To support many of our applications, Incredible PBX has included Google’s speech recognition service for years. These applications include Weather Reports by City (949), AsteriDex Voice Dialing by Name (411), and Wolfram Alpha for Asterisk (4747), all of which use Lefteris Zafiris’ terrific speech-recog AGI script. Unfortunately (for some), Google now has tightened up the terms of use for their free speech recognition service. Now you can only use it for “personal and development use.” If you meet those criteria, keep reading. Here’s how to activate speech recognition on Incredible PBX. Don’t skip any steps!

1. Using an existing Google/Gmail account to join the Chrome-Dev Group.

2. Using the same account, create a new Speech Recognition Project.

3. Click on your newly created project and choose APIs & auth.

4. Turn ON Speech API by clicking on its Status button in the far right margin.

5. Click on Credentials in APIs & auth and choose Create New Key -> Server key. Leave the IP address restriction blank!

6. Write down your new API key or copy it to the clipboard.

7. Log in as root and issue the following command: nano -w speech-recog.agi

8. When the nano editor opens, go to line 72 of speech-recog.agi: my $key = "". Insert your API key from Step #6 above between the quotation marks and save the file: Ctrl-X, Y, then Enter.

Now you’re ready to try out the speech recognition apps. Dial 949 and say the name of a city and state/province/country to get a current weather forecast from Yahoo. Dial 411 and say “American Airlines” to be connected to American.

To use Wolfram Alpha by phone, you first must install it. Obtain your free Wolfram Alpha APP-ID here. Then run the one-click installer: /root/wolfram/wolframalpha-oneclick.sh. Insert your APP-ID when prompted. Now dial 4747 to access Wolfram Alpha by phone and enter your query, e.g. “What planes are overhead.” Read the Nerd Vittles tutorial for additional examples and tips.

A Few Words about the Incredible PBX Security Model for Ubuntu

Incredible PBX for Ubuntu 14 is a very secure, turnkey PBX implementation. As configured, your server is protected by both Fail2Ban and a hardened configuration of the IPtables Linux firewall. Nobody can access your PBX without your credentials AND an IP address that is either on your private network or that matches the IP address of your server or the PC from which you installed Incredible PBX. Incredible PBX is preconfigured to let you connect to many of the leading SIP hosting providers without additional firewall tweaking.

You can whitelist additional IP addresses for remote access in several ways. First, you can use the command-line utilities: /root/add-ip and /root/add-fqdn. You can also remove whitelisted IP addresses by running /root/del-acct. Second, you can dial into extension 864 (or use a DID pointed to extension 864 aka TM4) and enter an IP address to whitelist. Before Travelin’ Man 4 will work, you’ll need to add credentials for each caller using the tools in /root/tm4. You must add at least one account before dial-in whitelisting will be enabled. Third, you can temporarily whitelist an IP address by successfully executing the PortKnocker 3-knock code established for your server. You’ll find the details and the codes in /root/knock.FAQ. Be advised that IP addresses whitelisted with PortKnocker (only!) go away whenever your server is rebooted or the IPtables firewall is restarted. For further information on the PortKnocker technology and available clients for iOS and Android devices, review the Nerd Vittles tutorial.

HINT: The reason that storing your PortKnocker codes in a safe place is essential is because it may be your only available way to gain access to your server if your IP address changes. You obviously can’t use the command-line tools to whitelist a new IP address if you cannot gain access to your server at the new IP address.

We always recommend you also add an extra layer of protection by running your server behind a hardware-based firewall with no Internet port exposure, but that’s your call. If you use a hardware-based firewall, be sure to map the three PortKnocker ports to the internal IP address of your server!

The NeoRouter VPN client also is included for rock-solid, secure connectivity for remote users. Read our previous tutorial for setup instructions.

As one would expect, the IPtables firewall is a complex piece of software. If you need assistance configuring it, visit the PIAF Forum for some friendly assistance.

Adding Incredible Fax 11 to Your Server

Once you’ve completed the Incredible PBX install, log out and log back in to load the latest automatic updates. Then reboot. Now you’re ready to continue your adventure by installing Incredible Fax 11 for Ubuntu. Special thanks to Josh North for all his hard work on this! The latest download includes the Incredible Fax 11 installer. So just run the script:

cd /root
./incrediblefax11_ubuntu14.sh

Accept all of the defaults during the installation process. IMPORTANT: Once you complete the install, reboot your server. After rebooting, log into the GUI and choose Module Admin and enable the AvantFax module. When you log out of the GUI, there now will be an option for AvantFax on the GUI’s main login screen. Choose it and enter admin:password to login and change your default password. You also can set your AvantFax admin password by logging into the Linux CLI and… /root/avantfax-pw-change.

Incredible Backup and Restore

We’re pleased to introduce our latest backup and restore utilities for Incredible PBX. Running /root/incrediblebackup will create a backup image of your server in /tmp. This backup image then can be copied to any other medium desired for storage. To restore it to another Incredible PBX server, simply copy the image to a server running Asterisk 13 and the Incredible PBX 13-12 GUI. Then run /root/incrediblerestore. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Incredible PBX Automatic Update Utility

Every time you log into your server as root, Incredible PBX will ping the IncrediblePBX.com web site to determine whether one or more updates are available to bring your server up to current specs. We recommend you log in at least once a week just in case some new security vulnerability should come along. Also be sure to check the PBX in a Flash RSS Feed inside the GUI for the latest security alerts.

Mastering the Incredible PBX Applications

Your next stop should be a quick read of the Application User’s Guide for Incredible PBX. Even though the target audience was Raspberry Pi users, the feature set is identical, and this guide will tell you everything you need to know about the dozens of applications for Asterisk that have been installed on your new server.

We also want to encourage you to sign up for an account on the PIAF Forum and join the discussion. In addition to providing first-class, free support, we think you’ll enjoy the camaraderie. Come join us!

Originally published: Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as this one, you’re bound to have questions. Blog comments are a terrible place to handle support issues although we welcome general comments about our articles and software. If you have particular support issues, we encourage you to get actively involved in the PBX in a Flash Forums. It’s the best Asterisk tech support site in the business, and it’s all free! Please have a look and post your support questions there. Unlike some forums, ours is extremely friendly and is supported by literally hundreds of Asterisk gurus and thousands of users just like you. You won’t have to wait long for an answer to your question.



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


 
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 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. 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! 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…

  1. Ironically, the word “GPL” only appears once on the FreePBX web site, and that’s to remind you that Sangoma’s commercial “modules are not Open Source GPL and are only designed to work with CentOS or RHEL systems.” []
  2. With some providers including ones linked in this article, Nerd Vittles receives referral fees which assist in keeping the Nerd Vittles lights burning brightly. []

60 Seconds to Real Independence: Incredible PBX GUI Comes to VirtualBox

As we continue the march toward a truly free, RealGPL, open source VoIP platform for Asterisk®, we couldn’t think of a better time of the year for this announcement. Today we’re pleased to introduce our first virtual machine platform with an Incredible PBX™ GUI image that you can install in less than 60 seconds on virtually any desktop computer in the world. When the install is finished you’ll have the latest Asterisk 11 running atop Scientific Linux™ 6.6 with version 12 of the new Incredible PBX GUI. You’ll also have the very first Asterisk aggregation with native support for OAUTH authentication and secure communications using Google Voice. And it’s all FREE. No Gotchas!

Think of Incredible PBX as the glue stick that assembles all the necessary VoIP components into a state of the art Linux platform and holds them together seamlessly. As with all Incredible PBX builds, you also get the full complement of goodies including dozens of text-to-speech apps, voice dialing, SMS messaging, free fax support, reminders and wakeup calls, and SECURITY! The difference with the VirtualBox® platform is you get a turnkey install of everything on any desktop computer in less than one minute! That includes Windows PCs, Macs, Linux desktops, and even Solaris machines.

Is VirtualBox merely a sandbox for experimentation? Absolutely not. With any of the beefier desktop computers today, running Incredible PBX as a 24/7 VirtualBox image is every bit as feature rich with stellar performance, and it’s equivalent to using dedicated hardware. And there are some added advantages. Obviously, deploying a turnkey VoIP platform in under a minute is a major plus. But, unlike using a dedicated Linux platform, you also get the ability to take snapshots of your system and do full backups in minutes instead of the hours required to bring down dedicated hardware, load a different backup application using a different operating system, perform a backup, and then reboot your VoIP server. And your backups won’t just run on the one server on which the backup was performed. You can restore the backup to any other computer that can run VirtualBox. For any of you that came from a network management background, you know what a big deal that really is. And there’s one more bonus. With Incredible Backup and Restore, you can move to dedicated hardware running the same operating system with Asterisk 11 and the same version of the Incredible PBX GUI in minutes.

Need to deploy VoIP servers at dozens of sites around the globe? Not a problem with VirtualBox. Just send a preconfigured VirtualBox image to each site and install VirtualBox on a local desktop computer. In 60 seconds, you’ll have a functional VoIP server including interconnectivity to all of your other VoIP servers with a virtual private network already in place to provide secure VoIP connectivity between all of your sites.

Are there security compromises using the VirtualBox platform? Not at all. Incredible PBX comes preconfigured with the Linux IPtables firewall that is locked down to a whitelist of local area networks, preferred providers, and your own IP addresses. You can expand the whitelist using the add-ip and add-fqdn scripts or use PortKnocker and Travelin’ Man 4 tools to let remote users gain instant access.

So What’s All the GPL Fuss About? It’s about FREEDOM, the freedom to use or not use the GPL modules you wish to use without enduring false alerts that your system has been compromised and without being blocked from removing components that produce revenue for Sangoma®… as the GPL requires. It’s about FREEDOM to redistribute or resell the product AS IS… as the GPL requires. It’s about FREEDOM to examine and modify ALL of the source code using ALL of the tools and components necessary, not just ones Sangoma has chosen to provide… as the GPL requires. It’s about FREEDOM to add GUI components to your server with No Gotchas whether or not the individual modules were produced by Sangoma… as the GPL requires.


If you support the GPL and use open source projects, then you owe it to yourself and to the GPL community to get up to speed and get involved! Can’t we all just get along? You bet… when everyone does what they’ve agreed to do. Spend an hour or two of your Independence Day reading some of the Nerd Vittles commentary on FreePBX® and the GPL.

BUY 3 STAMPS and let Sangoma and Digium hear from you. Don’t be shy. It’s about your FREEDOM.

William J. Wignall, President and CEO
Sangoma Technologies
100 Renfrew Drive, Suite 100
Markham ON L3R 9R6 CANADA

Danny Windham, CEO
Digium, Inc.
445 Jan Davis Drive Northwest
Huntsville, AL 35806 USA

Mark Spencer, Founder and CTO
Digium, Inc.
445 Jan Davis Drive Northwest
Huntsville, AL 35806 USA

Getting Started. For today, we’ll provide a refresher course on loading VirtualBox and the Incredible PBX virtual image. Then we want to spend a little time explaining the secret sauce that goes into building these images so that you can do it yourself either to migrate to a different network or to deploy at multiple sites. It’s called open source for a reason! When we’re finished, you’ll know everything we’ve learned about deploying VirtualBox machines and, unlike Grandma and some GUI platforms, we won’t leave an important ingredient out of the recipe just to be sure you never forget how good Grandma’s cookies really were. So let’s get started.

Installing Oracle VM VirtualBox

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

Downloading the Incredible PBX GUI Virtual Machine

A word of warning on the front end. Today’s Incredible PBX image featuring Asterisk 11 for VirtualBox is huge! The Scientific Linux 6.6 image with version 12 of Incredible PBX GUI is nearly 3GB. Be patient. You only have to download it once. Just click on the 11-12.3 .OVA image in this SourceForge link and start the download to your desktop. Then go have a nice lunch.

Importing & Configuring Incredible PBX Virtual Machines in VirtualBox

You only perform the import step one time. Once imported into VirtualBox, Incredible PBX is ready to use. There’s no further installation required, just like an OpenVZ template… only better. Double-click on the .ova file you downloaded to begin the procedure and load it into VirtualBox. When prompted, be sure to check the Reinitialize the Mac address of all network cards box and then click the Import button. Once the import is finished, you’ll see a new Incredible PBX virtual machine in your VM List on the VirtualBox Manager Window. We need to make a couple of one-time adjustments to the Incredible PBX VM configuration to account for differences in sound and network cards on different host machines.

Click on the Incredible PBX Virtual Machine in the VM List. Then click Settings -> Audio and check the Enable Audio option and choose your sound card. Save your setup by clicking the OK button. Next click Settings -> Network. For Adapter 1, check the Enable Network Adapter option. From the Attached to pull-down menu, choose Bridged Adapter. Then select your network card from the Name list. Then click OK. Finally, click Settings -> System, uncheck Hardware clock in UTC time, and click OK. That’s all the configuration that is necessary for your Incredible PBX Virtual Machine. The rest is automagic.

Running Incredible PBX Virtual Machines in VirtualBox

Once you’ve imported and configured the Incredible PBX Virtual Machine, you’re ready to go. Highlight IncrediblePBX Virtual Machine in the VM List on the VirtualBox Manager Window and click the Start button. The boot procedure with your chosen operating system will begin just as if you had installed Incredible PBX on a standalone machine. You’ll see a couple of dialogue boxes pop up that explain the keystrokes to move back and forth between your host operating system desktop and your virtual machine. Remember, you still have full access to your desktop computer. Incredible PBX is merely running as a task in a VirtualBox window. Always gracefully halt Incredible PBX just as you would on a dedicated computer.

Here’s what you need to know. To work in the Incredible PBX Virtual Machine, just left-click your mouse while it is positioned inside the VM window. To return to your host operating system desktop, press the right Option key on Windows machines or the left Command key on any Mac. For other operating systems, read the dialogue boxes for instructions on moving around. To access the Linux CLI, login as root with the default password: password. To access Incredible PBX GUI with a browser, point to the IP address of your virtual machine. Then, in the Administrator window, click on Incredible GUI Administration. Login as admin with the admin password you set below. For the security of your server, we recommend that you log in to the Linux CLI at least once a week so that Incredible PBX updates get applied to your server regularly. This is critically important if you care about your phone bill.

When logging in for the first time, Incredible PBX will go through some setup steps and then reboot. Login again to complete the setup. status will always provide a snapshot of your system. To shut down Incredible PBX gracefully, click in the VM window with your mouse, log in as root, and type: halt. Be sure to complete the following setup steps from the Linux CLI:

  • Change your root password: passwd
  • Set your Incredible GUI admin password: /root/admin-pw-change
  • Set the admin password for web apps: htpasswd /etc/pbx/wwwpasswd admin
  • Set your correct time zone: /root/timezone-setup
  • Add WhiteList entries to firewall if needed: /root/add-ip or /root/add-fqdn
  • Store PortKnocker credentials in a safe place: cat /root/knock.FAQ
  • Enable Incredible Fax support if desired: /root/incrediblefax11.sh
  • Login to your NeoRouter VPN server if desired: /root/neorouter-login

Upgrading Modules with Module Admin in the GUI. The GUI includes a Module Administration component in the Admin tab which will let you check online for new modules and upgrade to newer releases. Once you have added or updated any modules, you will get some nasty error messages in the System Status display because we allow installation of all GPL-compatible modules, not just those of Sangoma. It’s one of the proprietary gotchas that we have been writing about. Simply click on the X option in the upper right corner of each window to remove the warnings. Log out of the GUI. Then login to your Linux CLI as root and issue the following command to permanently clear the error messages: gui-fix. Now you can log back in and the warning messages will be gone… until you add or update modules again. Sangoma calls it a feature. :roll:

Command Line Management of Incredible PBX with VirtualBox

One of the real beauties of VirtualBox is you don’t have to use the VirtualBox GUI at all. The entire process can be driven from the command line. Other than on a Mac, here is the procedure to import, configure, and run Incredible PBX:
 
VBoxManage import IncrediblePBX-11-12.3-SL66.ova
VBoxManage modifyvm "IncrediblePBX-11-12.3-SL66" --nic1 nat
VBoxManage modifyvm "IncrediblePBX-11-12.3-SL66" --acpi on --nic1 bridged
VBoxHeadless --startvm "IncrediblePBX-11-12.3-SL66" &
# Wait 1 minute for Incredible PBX to load. Then decipher IP address like this:
VBoxManage guestproperty get "IncrediblePBX-11-12.3-SL66" /VirtualBox/GuestInfo/Net/0/V4/IP
# Now you can use SSH to login to Incredible PBX at the displayed IP address
# Shutdown the Incredible PBX Virtual Machine with the following command:
VBoxManage controlvm "IncrediblePBX-11-12.3-SL66" acpipowerbutton

On a Mac, everything works the same way except for deciphering the IP address. Download our findip script for that. Be sure to plug in the correct name of your virtual machine: ./findip IncrediblePBX-11-12.3-SL66

Deploying Google Voice Secure Communications with Incredible PBX

As with all prior releases of Incredible PBX, free calling in the U.S. and Canada with Google Voice is an integral component of this GPL platform. You still add Google Voice trunks using the GUI in exactly the same way: Connectivity -> Google Voice (Motif). What has changed under the covers with this release is what happens behind the scenes. Google has warned (for years) that they plan to phase out plain text passwords using your actual Google Voice credentials. This is for your protection! Unfortunately, until today, the only way to take advantage of the new OAUTH authentication method with Asterisk was to use one of the external SIP gateways to Google Voice. Now you no longer have to. The new 11-12.3 release of Incredible PBX adds native OAUTH authentication support to Asterisk and the Incredible PBX GUI. When prompted for the password in setting up your Google Voice accounts in the GUI, now you’ll enter your OAUTH token instead of your plain text password. It’s that easy. Obviously, you first need to obtain a free OAUTH token for each of your Google Voice accounts that you wish to activate. This tutorial on the PIAF Forum will walk you through the simple, one-time procedure.

IMPORTANT: Once you have added one or more Google Voice trunks in the GUI, you must restart Asterisk to activate the trunks: amportal restart

We want to take a moment and express our heartfelt thanks to Ryan Tilton of GVsip.com for setting up and maintaining the free platform to support OAUTH tokens for Google Voice. And a special shoutout to Martin Dindos (a.k.a. @dziny on the PIAF Forum) for his truly Herculean efforts in getting this to work properly with Asterisk 11, no small feat. This is yet another amazing testament to how the open source community should really function. Thank you!

Preparing Incredible PBX Virtual Machine for Backups & Migration

To us, the most compelling feature of the virtual machine platform is the ease with which you can make a perfect backup of your server in minutes! From that backup, you can restore a working platform in the same 60 seconds it took to build today’s platform on your desktop. One of the drawbacks as the Linux operating systems have become more turnkey is the shortcut that was implemented on both the RedHat and Debian/Ubuntu platforms to store your network setup so that the server reboots more quickly. While that’s fine for rebooting on the same server, it’s a real problem if you attempt to move your setup to different hardware or a new network because your network configuration will not load properly on the new platform. That means no IP address! Here’s the easy way to assure that things will actually work after the move. It assumes you will have a DHCP server at the new location just as you did at your existing site.

The Easy Way. If you have console access after the VM image is restored on the new platform (which means you don’t need a network IP address for the server in order to log in as root), then the easy way to prepare any of the Incredible PBX machines for relocation is to issue the following commands before you halt the system and make a VirtualBox backup:

touch /etc/update_hostconfig
touch /etc/update_serverconfig
rm -f /etc/ssh/ssh_host*
rpm -e openssh-server openssh-xinetd
yum -y install openssh-server openssh-xinetd
rm /etc/ssh/*.rpmsave

Once you have halted the server, edit both the sound card and network card settings and disable both of them in VirtualBox Manager. Then choose File -> Export Appliance from the VirtualBox title bar and create an .ova backup image on your desktop. You now have an image that is similar to the Incredible PBX image that you originally downloaded, except it has all of your data and settings. All you have to do is repeat the install drill above at the new location using the .ova image you created and log in with whatever your current root password happens to be. You’ll get a two-pass automatic setup just as you did when you began today’s adventure.

The only drawback to this procedure is the fact that the extension 701 and default DISA passwords as well as your firewall configuration will be initialized when you first boot from your .ova image at the other location. Aside from that, you’ll have a clean platform with new SSH and DUNDI credentials as well as mostly sanitized log files.

What’s Next. Now that you have a functioning server, it’s time to learn all about the Incredible PBX applications that are ready for use. Jump over to the latest Nerd Vittles application tutorial for a quick look at what’s available. Even though it was written for the Asterisk-GUI, everything will work exactly the same way. That’s the beauty of the Incredible PBX platform. Enjoy!

Originally published: Monday, June 29, 2015


Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as this one, you’re bound to have questions. Blog comments are a terrible place to handle support issues although we welcome general comments about our articles and software. If you have particular support issues, we encourage you to get actively involved in the PBX in a Flash Forums. It’s the best Asterisk tech support site in the business, and it’s all free! Please have a look and post your support questions there. Our forum is extremely friendly and is supported by literally hundreds of Asterisk gurus.



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


 
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 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. 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! 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…

  1. Many of our purchase links refer users to Amazon when we find their prices are competitive for the recommended products. Nerd Vittles receives a small referral fee from Amazon to help cover the costs of our blog. We never recommend particular products solely to generate Amazon commissions. However, when pricing is comparable or availability is favorable, we support Amazon because Amazon supports us. []

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