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Coming to a Cloud Near You: Incredible PBX in the Cloud

Cloud Computing is all the rage today. And we’ve scoured the Earth looking for the best deal over or under the rainbow to host Incredible PBX in the Cloud. Here it is! For $14.99 a month with RentPBX.com, say goodbye to dedicated hardware, expensive Internet service, and a hefty electricity bill each month just to host your own Asterisk®-based VoIP server. After signing up for a free Google Voice account, just run the Incredible PBX installer on your custom configured PBX in a Flash virtual machine at RentPBX, and you’re ready to go with a free local phone number in your choice of U.S. area codes plus free long distance calling in the U.S. and Canada. Now plug in a SIP phone or softphone of your choice and start making calls. We insisted that all of the cloud savings be passed on directly to you. There’s no middleman and no commission. In fact, we don’t make a nickel, just the satisfaction of knowing you’ll be using our baby. Now that’s incredible! For those outside the U.S., it’s an ideal way to take advantage of free Google Voice calling. Here’s the $14.99 coupon code: PIAF2011.

News Flash: Be sure to read our latest article introducing Travelin’ Man 3, a completely new security methodology based upon FQDN Whitelists and DDNS. In a nutshell, you get set-it-and-forget-it convenience and rock-solid VoIP security for your Cloud-based PBX or any PBX in a Flash server that’s lacking a hardware-based firewall and you get both transparent connectivity and security for your mobile or remote workforce.

Of course, price is only part of the story. RentPBX also assures you the lowest possible latency for your VoIP calls. The RentPBX cloud gives you a choice of server locations including New Jersey, Baltimore, Atlanta, Tampa, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Seattle. So you can set up your Incredible PBX within milliseconds of your favorite VoIP provider. For example, the Tampa cloud is less than a millisecond away from VoIP.ms. Under 10 millisecond connectivity is available to numerous hosts from almost all RentPBX cloud locations. You’ll also get the best support in the industry. And RentPBX also happens to be one of the very finest contributors on the PIAF Forum! There are no long-term contracts so check out this incredible offer before it’s gone. RentPBX does most of the heavy lifting for you by setting up your PBX in a Flash virtual machine with Asterisk 1.8 so it’s ready to go. Your part takes less than 10 minutes, and you’ll be making your first call. In the VoIP World, it doesn’t get any easier than that.

The Incredible PBX Inventory. For those that have never heard of The Incredible PBX, here’s a feature list of components you get in addition to the base install of PBX in a Flash the latest CentOS 5.x, Asterisk 1.8, FreePBX 2.8, and Apache, SendMail, MySQL, PHP, phpMyAdmin, IPtables Linux firewall, Fail2Ban, and WebMin. Cepstral TTS, Fax, Hamachi VPN, and Mondo Backups are just one command away and may be installed using some of the PBX in a Flash-provided scripts.

Installing Incredible PBX in the Cloud. To get everything working today, there are only three quick steps:

1. Set Up Your Google Voice Account
2. Create Your New Account on RentPBX.com
3. Run the Incredible PBX in the Cloud Installer

Then you’ll be ready to configure a softphone or SIP phone and start making free calls.

Google Voice Setup. You’ll need a dedicated Google Voice account to support The Incredible PBX. 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 why take the chance. Keep this account a secret!

We’ve also attempted setting this up using an existing Gmail account, and what we found was that inbound calls never ring through to Asterisk unless you sign out of Google Chat inside Gmail and leave it that way. The reason is because Google always delivers inbound calls exclusively to your Gmail Chat client 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 The Incredible PBX. 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. If you’re living on another continent, see MisterQ’s posting for some tips on getting set up.

You must choose a telephone number (aka DID) for your new account, or Google Voice calling will not work… in either direction. 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

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.

RentPBX Setup. Once you have your Google Voice credentials, you’re ready to get your virtual machine at RentPBX set up. First, you’ll need an account. So visit RentPBX.com and sign up for an account using the coupon code above to get your discount. Pick a cloud server to host your new system, choose the PIAF-Purple install option, set up a username and very secure password, and you’re done. Once your account is established and you receive your credentials, here’s the 5-minute procedure to install the special RentPBX-edition of Incredible PBX to begin making free calls in the U.S. and Canada through Google Voice.

Log into your RentPBX account using SSH and the port assigned to your account. For Windows users, download Putty from here. The SSH command will look something like this:

ssh -p 21422 root@

Running The Incredible PBX in the Cloud Installer. While logged into your virtual machine as root, issue the following commands to set up Incredible PBX in the Cloud:

cd /root
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblepbx18-rentpbx.x
chmod +x incredible*

When the install begins, accept the license agreement and you’ll be prompted for the following:

Google Voice Account Name
Google Voice Password
Google Voice 10-digit Phone Number
Gmail Notification Address
FreePBX maint Password

The Google Voice Account Name is the Gmail address for your new dedicated account, e.g. joeschmo@gmail.com. Don’t forget @gmail.com! The Google Voice Password is the password for this dedicated account. The Google Voice Phone Number is the 10-digit DID for this dedicated account. We need this if we ever need to go back to the return call methodology for outbound calling. For now, it’s not necessary. But who knows what the future holds. 🙄 The Gmail Notification Address is the email address where you wish to receive alerts when incoming and outgoing Google Voice calls are placed using The Incredible PBX. And your FreePBX maint Password is the very secure password you want to use to access FreePBX using a web browser. We need this password to properly configure the CallerID Superfecta for you. By the way, none of this confidential information ever leaves your machine… just in case you were wondering.

Now have another 5-minute cup of coffee, and consider a modest donation to Nerd Vittles… for all of our hard work. 😉 You’ll find a link at the top of the page. When the installer finishes, READ THE SCREEN just for grins.

Remember that Incredible PBX in the Cloud is sitting directly on the Internet! So choose very strong passwords for everything including your extensions and trunks. Incredible PBX automatically randomizes extension passwords and locks access to the extensions down to the subnet of your cloud server. You’ll have to adjust this IP address to make connections from any external phone.

Here’s a short 4-minute video demonstration of the Incredible PBX installer process. Yes, even a monkey could do it…

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!

Securing Your RentPBX Server. The WhiteList application is not yet supported in the cloud. So you’ll need to secure your system to avoid endless hack attempts on your SIP resources. Here’s how. First, write down the IP addresses of your RentPBX server and your home network. Second, print out your existing IPtables configuration. The file to print is /etc/sysconfig/iptables. Third, make a backup copy of the file. While logged into your server with SSH, the easiest way is like this:

cd /etc/sysconfig
cp iptables iptables.bak

Now we need to edit the iptables file itself: nano -w iptables. Then search for the line that contains 5060: Ctrl-W, 5060, Enter. At the beginning of this line, add # to comment out the line. With the cursor still on this line, press Ctrl-K then Ctrl-U twice. This will duplicate the line. Move to the second commented line and remove #. Use the right cursor to move across the line to –dport. Then insert the following using the IP address of your RentPBX server, e.g.


Be sure there’s at least one space before and after the new text. Now duplicate that line with Ctrl-K and Ctrl-U twice. Change the IP address on the second line to the public IP address of your home or office network. Repeat this process for every IP address where you intend to use a SIP phone connected to your RentPBX server. Make additional entries for your SIP providers as well. If you want to sleep better, you can make similar changes to the SSH port entry to restrict it to your home/office IP address. It’s the line immediately above the 5060 entry. Ditto for port 80 which is web access. Be very careful here. A typo will lock you out of your own server! When you’re finished, save the changes: Ctrl-X, Y, Enter. Then restart IPtables: service iptables restart.

As always, we strongly recommend that you not put all of your VoIP eggs in one basket. Google Voice does go down from time to time. Vitelity is a perfect complement because the costs are low and you only pay for the service you use. A discount sign up link is below. And Vitelity has contributed generously to both the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects. So please support them.

Logging in to FreePBX. Using a web browser, you access the FreePBX GUI by pointing your browser to the IP address of Incredible PBX in the Cloud. Click on the Admin tab and choose FreePBX. When prompted for a username, it’s maint. When prompted for the password, it’s whatever you set up as your maint password when you installed Incredible PBX in the Cloud. If you forget it, you can always reset it by logging into your server as root and running passwd-master.

Extension Security Setup. For each remote phone you wish to set up, there are two preliminary steps before you can connect to your virtual machine from the remote phone. First, you must authorize the remote IP address of your phone in IPtables as we outlined above. Second, you must authorize the same remote IP address in FreePBX for the extension to which you will connect. Once you access the FreePBX GUI with your browser, choose Setup, Extensions, and click on the extension number you plan to use with the phone. Make a note of the secret which is the password for this extension. Also write down the Voicemail Password which you’ll need to retrieve your voicemail. Finally, move down to the permit field and change the entry to the public IP address of your remote phone followed by / Submit your changes and reload FreePBX when promoted. A typical entry would look like this:

permit: 123.456.123.456/

Configuring a SIP Phone. There are hundreds of terrific SIP telephones and softphones for Asterisk-based systems. Once you get things humming along, you’ll want a real SIP telephone such as the $50 Nortel color videophone we’ve recommended previously. You’ll also find lots of additional recommendations on Nerd Vittles and in the PBX in a Flash Forum. If you’re like us, we want to make damn sure this stuff works before you shell out any more money. So, for today, let’s download a terrific (free) softphone to get you started. We recommend X-Lite because there are versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux. So download your favorite from this link. Install and run X-Lite on your Desktop. At the top of the phone, click on the Down Arrow and choose SIP Account Settings, Add. Enter the following information using your actual password for extension 701 (or whatever extension you plan to use) and the actual IP address of your Incredible PBX in the Cloud server instead of Click OK when finished. Your softphone should now show: Available.

PBX on a Flash

Astricon 2011. Astricon 2011 will be in the Denver area beginning Tuesday, October 25, through Thursday, October 27. We hope to see many of you there. Be sure to mention you’d like a free PIAF thumb drive. We hope to have a bunch of them to pass out to our loyal supporters. Nerd Vittles readers also can save 15% on your registration by using this coupon code. Register by July 10 to save an additional $170.

Originally published: Monday, June 27, 2011

Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.
Or Try the New, Free PBX in a Flash Conference Bridge.

whos.amung.us If you’re wondering what your fellow man is reading on Nerd Vittles these days, wonder no more. Visit our new whos.amung.us statistical web site and check out what’s happening. It’s a terrific resource both for us and for you.


Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors

FULL DISCLOSURE: ClearlyIP, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, VoIP.ms, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. As an Amazon Associate and Best Buy Affiliate, we also earn from qualifying purchases. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

BOGO Bonaza: Enjoy state-of-the-art VoIP service with a $10 credit and half-price SIP service on up to $500 of Skyetel trunking with free number porting when you fund your Skyetel account. No limits on number of simultaneous calls. Quadruple data center redundancy. $25 monthly minimum spend required. Tutorial and sign up details are here.

The lynchpin of Incredible PBX 2020 and beyond is ClearlyIP components which bring management of FreePBX modules and SIP phone integration to a level never before available with any other Asterisk distribution. And now you can configure and reconfigure your new Incredible PBX phones from the convenience of the Incredible PBX GUI.

VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously provided a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX tailored for use with all Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Follow this link for a free test drive!

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.

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  1. Do you plan on setting something up in Europe. I am a big fan of PIAF and i would like to get rid of my setup at home if possible.

    [WM: You’ll need to talk to the RentPBX folks about that. We’re just the messenger.]

  2. Found out what’s so special about Incredible script for RentPBX:


    "Bad idea to use the standard Incredible PBX 1.8 install. For openers, the Kennonsoft web GUI as delivered is not secure in a hosted environment with open exposure to the Internet. Second, the iptables setup at RentPBX is very, very different. Still testing that part so the customized installer leaves their stuff in place."

  3. It would be useful to include IPTABLES instructions for people with dynamic public IP addresses. That probably includes most residential users.

    Or maybe create a Travelin’ Man app for computers and smart phones to detect an address change and auto-update the ip address when needed.

    [WM: It’s on our list. 🙂 ]

  4. Any ‘best practices’ advice for connecting from a VPN (PPTP) client device not capable of running hamachi software?

    read as: dalvik

  5. Is there a spiffy walk through for RentPBX using "PBX in a Flash Incredible_1.4″ and providers other than GV? les.net perhaps 😀

  6. Can we use rentpbx with vitelity instead / in tandem with google voice?

    [WM: Absolutely. Just plug in your Vitelity credentials in the existing Vitelity trunks and modify the outbound route to move Vitelity to the top of your list.]

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