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Deploying Incredible PBX with Microsoft Windows 11

Miracles happen every so often, but we never expected our Linux-based Incredible PBX platform to be running natively on the Microsoft Windows 11 desktop. Some have asked why you’d even want to do this when VirtualBox is available for Windows, and Incredible PBX VirtualBox images are available for Debian 10 and Rocky 8. The short answer is we got kernel crashes on our cheapo Windows 11 hardware. The longer answer is the VirtualBox days are numbered as it won’t run on any of the new ARM-based platforms including Apple’s new Macs. That sent us searching for an alternative. We finally solved kernel crashes in VirtualBox by adding a second CPU core and maxing out the display graphics to 128MB in each VM.

Lo and behold, Microsoft was offering their Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI (WSLg) on GitHub. But, before we could explore the Ubuntu offering, we discovered that they also supported many other distros including Debian. Who’da thunk you could even run LibreOffice from your Windows desktop? So we set out to build not one but two WSLg VMs, one for Ubuntu to run a free office suite and a second for Debian to run Incredible PBX. The icing on the cake is the length to which Microsoft has gone to integrate WSLg into Windows 11. You can read all about it here.

Today, our focus is on showing you how to deploy Incredible PBX on a tiny, $207 Windows 11 powerhouse. If you’re interested in running the LibreOffice suite with Ubuntu, just follow the instructions documented in the GitHub posting. To get started, you’ll need Windows 11 (build 22000.*) or Windows 11 Insider Preview (builds 21362+). To begin, from the Windows 11 Start Menu, search for powershell and then right click on app and choose Run As Administrator.

Here are some wsl commands you’ll want to keep handy:

List Available Linux Offerings  : wsl --list --online
Show Installed Linux Platforms  : wsl -l -v
Install a Linux Virtual Machine : wsl --install -d {distro}
Startup a Linux Virtual Machine : wsl -d {distro}
Shutdown Running Virtual Machine: wsl --terminate {distro}
Remove any Linux Virtual Machine: wsl --unregister {distro}
Backup any Linux Virtual Machine: wsl --export {distro} {filename.tar}
Restore a Linux Virtual Machine : wsl --import {distro} {filename.tar}

Let’s begin by installing a Debian Virtual Machine: wsl --install -d Debian. You’ll be prompted to create a user account and password, e.g. nerd and password. If you’re not prompted to create a user account, reboot your Windows machine and reopen the Debian app which will straighten things out. Once the Debian CLI window appears, enter the following commands to set up the root user account and begin your Incredible PBX install:

sudo passwd root
su root
# enter password you created for root
cd ~
apt install wget -y
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/IncrediblePBX2021-win11.sh
chmod +x IncrediblePBX2021-win11.sh

Stick around long enough to answer a couple of initial prompts, and then go have a very long cup of coffee. The install typically takes 30-45 minutes depending upon your computer’s horsepower. While you’re waiting, notice that the Windows Start Menu now includes a new Debian app which you will use to launch the Incredible PBX virtual machine down the road.

When the install finishes, run the following commands from the Debian CLI:

cd ~
service sendmail start

Keep in mind that Incredible PBX will be running in a Debian virtual machine under Windows 11. So it’s important to know how to start things up and shut things down. As with any operating system, you don’t want to simply pull the plug and risk damaging both the file system and the MySQL databases.

To start the Debian virtual machine, you can do it in either of two ways. From the Windows Start Menu, double-click on the Debian app. Or from the PowerShell running as Administrator, type: wsl -d Debian. You can verify it’s running like this: wsl -l -v

Once the Debian CLI appears, issue the following commands to activate all of the Linux components upon which Incredible PBX depends:

su root
# enter root password
cd ~

The LAN IP address is only accessible from your Windows machine. To run the Automatic Update Utility, you’ll need to SSH into this LAN address from the PowerShell running as Administrator where is the LAN address shown in pbxstatus:

ssh root@

To shutdown the Debian virtual machine, first open the Debian app and switch to the root user. Issue the halt command. This gracefully shuts down Asterisk, MySQL, and Apache. When the script completes, return to the PowerShell and issue this command to halt the virtual machine: wsl --terminate Debian

Deploying OpenVPN with Incredible PBX. We strongly recommend deploying an OpenVPN client as part of your WSLg install and also on the Windows 11 desktop. It will simplify access to the server both from within Windows and also from any external source without having to wrestle with your firewall settings. This Incredible PBX Wiki article will walk you through creation of an OpenVPN Server platform, and this Incredible PBX Wiki article will walk you through the OpenVPN Client setup process. Simply name your Debian .ovpn config file incrediblepbx.ovpn and save it in the /etc directory for automatic startup.

CAUTION: Be sure to create and use a separate .ovpn configuration file for your Windows desktop including these additional settings documented in the Wiki:

pull-filter ignore redirect-gateway

Originally published: Monday, July 11, 2022

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