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A New Day: Introducing Incredible PBX 2021 Beta for Debian

Shifting gears is never easy, and sometimes it takes an ill-advised corporate blunder to move the needle. But IBM’s decimation of the CentOS project last week was just the motivation we needed to begin exploring alternatives for the Incredible PBX project. We are delighted to introduce the beta release of Incredible PBX 2021 for Debian 10 for those with a pioneering spirit that would like to participate in development of this promising new platform.

Before we get started, a few cautionary notes. This is not production-ready software. It’s been in development for less than a week by a single individual. As much as we believe in miracles, this probably is not one of them. Having said that, many talented individuals on the VoIP-Info.org Forum have taken this for a spin and offered numerous suggestions. You, too, can follow our progress and participate. With a little luck, we’ll have a production-ready release before the end of 2020. We’ve successfully built a fully-functional version of Incredible PBX 2021 with on-premise hardware using VirtualBox and VMware ESXi. And we’ve deployed virtual machines at Vultr and Digital Ocean without a hiccup.

For those that would like to roll up your sleeves and contribute to this open source project, here’s how to get started. If you’re using on-premise hardware, begin by downloading the netinst ISO image of Debian 10.7 for amd64. Follow our previous tutorials for tips on installation with VirtualBox or VMware ESXi. If you’d prefer to experiment in the cloud for about a penny an hour, open an account at Vultr or Digital Ocean using our referral links that support the Nerd Vittles project. You’ll also get some free credit to try out the service. Then create a new $5/month Debian 10, 64-bit instance in your favorite city.

Once your Debian 10 platform is up and running, login as root using SSH or Putty and issue the following commands:

wget http://incrediblepbx.com/IncrediblePBX2021.sh
chmod +x IncrediblePBX2021.sh

At about 5 minutes into the install procedure, you’ll be prompted for your telephone country code. It’s 1 for Canada and the United States. Just before the install completes, you’ll be prompted to save your default IPtables setup. Once the installation completes, reboot and you should be good to go. For tips on next steps, review the Incredible PBX 2020 CentOS 7 tutorial.

After you log back in following a reboot, check the version of Debian 10 in the pbxstatus display. If it’s less than 10.7, issue the following commands to bring your server up to Debian 10.7. Do NOT do this before the base install is finished, or Asterisk may fail to install properly.

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade -y

Next Steps with Incredible PBX 2021

Before you can manage your PBX through a web browser, you first will need to set the admin passwords for FreePBX, Apache web apps such as Reminders and AsteriDex, and AvantFax (if you are using Incredible Fax). These all can be set by logging into your server as root and issuing the following commands: admin-pw-change, apache-pw-change, and avantfax-pw-change. The AvantFax password can also be reset with a browser by first logging in as admin with a password of password.

Outbound mail functionality needs to be working so that you can receive voicemail messages and faxes by email. To prevent SPAM, most ISPs and ITSPs block messages from downstream mail servers. That would be you. The easiest way to resolve this is to configure SendMail using Gmail as an SMTP Smarthost. You obviously need a Gmail account to implement this and, if you have turned on two-factor authentication for your Gmail account, you also will need to obtain an App password for your Gmail account, and use that in lieu of your regular Gmail password when configuring SendMail. With your Gmail username and password in hand, log into your server as root and run: /root/enable-gmail-smarthost-for-sendmail.

If your Incredible PBX 2021 is hosted with a cloud provider, be advised that many providers do not include a swap file as part of their offering. FreePBX requires a swap file. To add one, issue this command after logging into your server as root: /root/create-swapfile-DO.

To correctly set the time on your PBX, run: /root/timezone-setup.

By default, the voicemail password for each of the configured extensions (701-705) is set to the extension number. This means the user will be prompted to set a voicemail password on the first login to voicemail for each extension. A phone must be registered to the actual extension to access its voicemail account. For example, once a phone is registered to extension 701, the voicemail setup can be accessed by dialing *98701.

If you want to send and receive faxes with Incredible PBX 2021, run the following script while logged into your server as root: /root/incrediblefax2020-debian10.sh. When prompted, accept all the defaults. Once the HylaFax and AvantFax components are installed, reboot your server. To send faxes, click on the AvantFax tab in the FreePBX GUI and enter your login credentials (default: admin/password). To receive incoming faxes once you have configured a trunk and DID for your PBX, login to the FreePBX GUI as admin. Navigate to Connectivity -> Inbound Routes. For each of your DIDs on which you wish to receive faxes, select the inbound route and click the Fax tab. Review the Default Inbound Route Fax settings for proper setup.

NOTE: If you get a database error when you attempt to access AvantFax from a web browser, log into your server as root and reinstall the AvantFax database: ./avantfax-db-replace.

Audio Issues with Incredible PBX 2021

If you experience one-way or no audio on some calls, add your external IP address and LAN subnet in the GUI by navigating to Settings -> Asterisk SIP Settings. In the NAT Settings section, click Detect Network Settings. Click Submit and Apply Settings to save your changes.

Adding Incredible PBX 2021 to an OpenVPN Network

We previously have documented the procedure for creating an OpenVPN server as well as OpenVPN client templates (.ovpn). If you need a refresher, the tutorial is here. To add your Incredible PBX 2021 server to an existing OpenVPN network, begin by creating an incrediblepbx2021.ovpn template on your OpenVPN server. Be sure to comment out or delete the setenv line in the template. Then copy this template to /etc on your Incredible PBX 2021 server. Next, issue the following commands to put the remaining pieces in place:

cp -p /root/openvpn-start /etc/.
echo "[Unit]
ExecStart=/etc/openvpn-start /etc/incrediblepbx2021.ovpn
WantedBy=multi-user.target" > /etc/systemd/system/openvpn2021.service

Finally, enable the new openvpn2021.service and reboot your server. The OpenVPN IP address should now appear on the LAN line in pbxstatus:

systemctl enable openvpn2021.service

Incredible PBX 2021 Administration

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

add-fqdn is used to whitelist a fully-qualified domain name in the firewall. Because Incredible PBX 2021 blocks all traffic from IP addresses that are not whitelisted, this is what you use to authorize an external user for your PBX. The advantage of an FQDN is that you can use a dynamic DNS service to automatically update the IP address associated with an FQDN so that you never lose connectivity.

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

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

admin-pw-change is used to set the admin password for access to the FreePBX/Incredible PBX web GUI using a browser pointed to the local IP address of your server.

apache-pw-change is used to set the admin password for access to Apache/Incredible PBX apps including AsteriDex and Reminders. This provides a password layer of protection for access to these applications.

avantfax-email-change is used to change the destination email address for incoming faxes.

avantfax-pw-change is used to change your admin password for the AvantFax web console.

iaxmodem-restart is used to restart the modems used to send and deliver faxes. The pbxstatus display will tell you whether the IAXmodems are down.

incrediblebackup2021 makes a backup of critical components on your PBX to a tarball saved in /backup. This should be copied to safe location off-site for a rainy day.

incrediblerestore2021 restores a backup file which has been copied to the /backup folder.

ipchecker is a script which deciphers the public IP addresses associated with whitelisted FQDNs created with add-fqdn on your server. If any of the addresses have changed, the firewall is restarted after updating the IP addresses. By default, it is executed every 10 minutes by /etc/crontab.

licenses.sh displays the license associated with each of the FreePBX modules on your server.

logos-b-gone removes proprietary artwork from your PBX and is no longer necessary with the included IncrediblePBX FreePBX module.

mime-construct is a command-line utility to send emails with attachments.

neorouter-login is a script to add your PBX to a NeoRouter VPN. Tutorial here.

odbc-gen.sh is a script that was run to generate the ODBC settings for Asterisk. Do NOT use it.

openvpn-start is a script to add your PBX to an existing OpenVPN network using an .ovpn config file. Tutorial here.

pbxstatus displays status of all major components of Incredible PBX 2021.

pptp-install is a script to create a PPTP network connection for your PBX. Tutorial here.

purge-cdr-cel-records removes all CDR and CEL records from the MySQL database.

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

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

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

show-feature-codes is a cheat sheet for all of the feature codes which can be dialed from any registered SIP phone. It documents how powerful a platform Incredible PBX 2021 actually is. A similar listing is available in the GUI at Admin -> Feature Codes.

show-passwords is a script that displays most of the passwords associated with Incredible PBX 2021. This includes SIP extension passwords, voicemail pins, conference pins, telephone reminders pin, and your Anveo Direct outbound calling pin (if configured). Note that voicemail pins are configured by the user of a SIP extension the first time the user accesses the voicemail system by dialing *97.

sig-fix disables Module Signature Checking in the FreePBX GUI. This should not be necessary unless you have added or edited FreePBX Modules with missing module signatures.

sms-skyetel is a script to send SMS messages using a Skyetel trunk.

sms-voip.ms is a script to send SMS messages using a VoIP.ms trunk.

sms-blast, sms-blaster, and sms-dictator are scripts for message blasting. Tutorial here.

switch-to-php5.6 is a script to disable PHP 7.3 and set PHP 5.6 as the default version for your PBX. PHP 5.6 is required to use AvantFax. It is the default configuration for Incredible PBX 2021. The current default PHP version is displayed in the Apache listing of pbxstatus.

switch-to-php7.3 is a script to disable PHP 5.6 and set PHP 7.3 as the default version for your PBX. You cannot use AvantFax when PHP 7.3 is the default.

timezone-setup is a script to set the timezone for your PBX.

update-IncrediblePBX is a script that runs the Automatic Update Utility whenever you login to your server as root. These updates typically resolve bugs and security issues with your PBX. Do NOT remove it.

wolfram is a script to deploy Wolfram Alpha on your PBX. Tutorial here.

Forwarding Calls to Your Cellphone. Keep in mind that inbound calls to your DIDs automatically ring all five SIP extensions, 701-705. The easiest way to also ring your cellphone is to set one of these five extensions to forward incoming calls to your cellphone. After logging into your PBX as root, issue the following command to forward calls from extension 705 to your cellphone: asterisk -rx "database put CF 705 6781234567"

To remove call forwarding: asterisk -rx "database del CF 705"

Keeping FreePBX 15 Modules Current

We strongly recommend that you periodically update all of your FreePBX modules to eliminate bugs and to reduce security vulnerabilities. From the Linux CLI, log into your server as root and issue the following commands:

rm -f /tmp/*
fwconsole ma upgradeall
fwconsole reload
systemctl restart apache2


Originally published: Monday, December 14, 2020

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