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The Most Versatile VoIP Provider: FREE PORTING

Meet the New Kid on the Block: Introducing (free) VitalPBX




If you liked Ombutel, you’re going to love VitalPBX. If you’ve never heard of Ombutel but you live and breathe Asterisk®, you’re still going to love VitalPBX. For everyone else, you’re going to love VitalPBX. In addition to an impressive collection of commercial modules, this month’s release of the VitalPBX 2.0 Unified Communications Platform provides the slickest user interface in the VoIP universe. It includes new support for PJsip, DPMA and Digium phones, XMPP chat, video conferencing, WebRTC, and our favorite, Custom Contexts. What began several years ago as a joint development project between Telesoft and Xorcom is now an independent venture of Telesoft. If you love Features, VitalPBX has no equal:


VitalPBX has many open source and GPL components including Asterisk 13.19.0, however, VitalPBX is a freeware product much like FreePBX® which blends commercial modules and proprietary components into its distribution. It’s not our favorite business model, but we certainly understand the rationale given the disappointing GPL history in the VoIP space. For our testing purposes, Telesoft has generously provided free licenses to commercial modules. We would hasten to add that no features requiring payment were used in this article or in the demo applications accompanying it. We will cover the commercial applications requiring payment at a later date.

Incidentally, when you get around to exploring the commercial offerings, keep in mind that all of them come with a free tier to let you try things out:

  • Custom Contexts – 1 free context
  • IVR Stats – 1 free IVR
  • Sonata Switchboard – 1 free layout for 15 extensions
  • Sonata Billing – free for 8 extensions
  • Sonata Recordings – free for 8 extensions
  • Domotic – completely free
  • Phone Books – completely free
  • Bulk Extensions – completely free

Today we want to walk you through getting a VitalPBX server set up so that you can kick the tires for yourself. Down the road, we’ll demonstrate the ease with which you can add your own components including Incredible PBX® to the mix. If you are accustomed to setting up FreePBX-based Asterisk servers, then installation and configuration of VitalPBX will be a walk in the park. Currently, you install VitalPBX from an ISO so you have a choice of platforms: dedicated hardware, VMware ESXi, VirtualBox, or a limited number of cloud platforms such as Vultr that support custom ISO installs. Be sure to read our security warnings below before choosing a cloud-based platform without a hardware-based firewall.

A Word About Security. VitalPBX includes both an IPtables firewall configurator for firewalld and a Fail2Ban intrusion detection setup that is impressive. Having said that, the IPtables firewall is activated but allows unrestricted SIP and web access with no rules to thwart SipVicious-style attacks. Unless you’re an expert in firewall design, we strongly recommend deployment of VitalPBX on a private LAN behind a hardware-based firewall or home router with no port forwarding. That will block intrusion attempts without encountering NAT problems which VitalPBX and Asterisk 13 now handle with ease.

Getting Started. Begin by downloading the VitalPBX 2.0 ISO to your desktop. The ISO installation process is a traditional CentOS® 7 procedure so you can follow one of our existing VoIP tutorials to get things set up on the platform of your choice. Once the install finishes, use a web browser to access the IP address of your VitalPBX server. You’ll be prompted to set up an admin password for GUI access and then you register your server with Telesoft. Should you ever forget your admin password, here’s how to force a reset on your next login from a browser:

mysql ombutel -e 'update ombu_settings set value = "yes" where name = "reset_pwd"'

After logging in, you’ll be presented with the VitalPBX Dashboard:





Navigation Tips. The GUI is incredibly intuitive, but there’s always a learning curve with something new. We’ll save you a little stumbling around looking for things or wondering why your settings in the UI didn’t take. Here’s a quick cheat sheet. All of the UI features are housed under menus in the left column. When you choose an option, it opens a submenu. And, when you click + beside an item on the submenu, it exposes additional choices. For example, to work on Outbound Routes, you’d choose PBX, External +, Outbound Routes:


Two other important icons are housed in the upper right corner of the GUI. Whenever you add or make changes to settings in the GUI, you need to reload the Asterisk dialplan by clicking on (1) the flashing icon. Otherwise, your settings will not be available. Ask us how we know. 🙂

After you add a new extension, trunk, or route, you’ll see (2) the four-bar icon which you click to access existing settings which you’ve already entered. Otherwise, you’ll be staring at a blank screen without your new entries. There’s nothing more disconcerting than adding a few extensions only to have them disappear the next time you navigate to PBX:Extensions. 🙂



Finally, at the top of the center panel of the GUI, VitalPBX (literally) keeps tabs on items you’ve recently worked on. It makes it extremely convenient to return to the item without having to once again drill down through the menus:



Initial Setup. As with most PBXs, the initial setup involves creating some Extensions, connecting some Trunks, and setting up Outbound and Inbound Routes to process calls to and from your PBX. The other hundreds of features are pure gravy which you can explore at your leisure. If we covered them all, you’d be reading a book instead of an article.

Extension Setup looks like this using VitalPBX to generate the extension password:



Trunk Setup. You can use Google Voice with the Simonics GV/SIP Gateway for free calling in the U.S. and Canada. There is a one-time setup charge of $4.99 if you follow this Nerd Vittles link. We recommend using Google Voice for outbound calls where possible. Then, for inbound calls and redundancy, add a separate trunk with a customized DID from a provider such as our platinum sponsor, Vitelity. See the end of this article for a deal you can’t refuse. The VitalPBX Trunk setup in PBX:External:Trunks:SIP would look like the following for the Simonics GV/SIP gateway:



Outbound Route Setup is virtually identical to the FreePBX format. Here’s a typical Google Voice route to let users dial 10-digit numbers while letting Google discard expensive NANPA calls to problematic area codes in the Caribbean and elsewhere. We actually recommend adding a second Dial Pattern for 1NXXNXXXXXX so that calls dialed with both 10 and 11-digits are supported. This will also facilitate implementation of some of the Incredible PBX add-ons down the road.



Inbound Route Setup also is similar to FreePBX. A default route can be configured by simply defining the Route Description as Default and specifying a Destination for all incoming calls that don’t otherwise have a matching inbound route.

Email Configuration. One of the other things you’ll want to get working is email delivery for Voicemails. The VitalPBX solution is the best in the business. It supports Gmail as a RelayHost out of the box. For residential users where your ISP blocks downstream SMTP mail servers, this is a godsend. Setup couldn’t be easier. Navigate to Admin:System Settings:Email Settings. For Server, click Use External Mail Server. For Provider, click Gmail and enter your full Gmail account name and password. Click Save and Reload your Dialplan. Then send yourself a test message by entering an email address and clicking the Envelope icon.

Updating Time Zone. If the date command incorrectly displays the time on your server, you can change it with the following commands using your correct zone in the second command:

timedatectl list-timezones
timedatectl set-timezone America/New_York

What’s Next? You now have a perfectly functioning PBX. Connect one or more softphones or SIP phones, and you’re ready to go. As we mentioned at the outset, the next step is to explore all of the menu options and review the VitalPBX Reference Guide. It really is a book!

The Fun Stuff. The icing on the VitalPBX cake is the add-on applications. Some are free, some are limited in some way, and some are commercial. You can review what’s available here. Then load the currently available listing into the GUI by choosing Admin:Add-ons:Add-ons:Check Online. To get started, install Bulk Extensions (free), Custom Contexts (one free context or $50 for unlimited), and Phone Books (free). Once you’ve installed all three, refresh your browser and go to PBX:Applications:Custom Contexts.

Step #1. Set up a Custom Context like this. Then click Save/Update and Reload Dialplan.



Step #2. Adjust Destination of Inbound Route to point to Incredible PBX Custom Context.

Step #3. From the Linux CLI while logged in as root, use nano to create the following file: /etc/asterisk/ombutel/extensions__80-1-incrediblepbx.conf:

[incrediblepbx]
exten => s,1,Answer
exten => s,n,NoOp(My custom context)
exten => s,n,Dial(SIP/701,30)
exten => s,n,return()

Step #4. Reload your Asterisk dialplan: asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

Step #5. Place a call to an incoming trunk on your PBX while watching the Asterisk CLI. The tail of the incoming call should look something like the following which shows the incoming call directed to the Custom Context and from there to extension 701.



Now that you understand the VitalPBX theory behind Custom Contexts, you’ll be ready to dive into Incredible PBX applications which will be coming soon to a VitalPBX platform near you.

NOV. 1 UPDATE: IBM has moved the goal posts effective December 1, 2018:

Homework. Yes. Everyone needs a little homework once in a while. Before our next chapter in the VitalPBX saga, you’re going to need an IBM Cloud account with access to Watson TTS and Watson STT. It’s free. These services will be used for the Incredible PBX TTS and Voice Recognition apps for Asterisk including News and Weather reports as well as Voice Dialing with AsteriDex. This Nerd Vittles tutorial will walk you through getting your IBM account set up. Don’t install any of the scripts in that tutorial. We’ll have fresh ones in coming weeks customized for VitalPBX. For home and SOHO use, both IBM access and our scripts are FREE.

Coming Attractions. We’ve set up a VitalPBX demo server with VMware ESXi running on our private LAN. Most of the Incredible PBX demo applications already are operational, and you’re more than welcome to try them out by calling the IVR at 1-843-606-0555. Many of these apps make use of the IBM Cloud services for voice recognition and text-to-speech content rendering so you can preview what you’ll be getting in our next VitalPBX chapter.

  • 0. Chat with Operator — connects to extension 701
  • 1. AsteriDex Voice Dialer – say "Delta Airlines" or "American Airlines" to connect
  • 2. Conferencing – log in using 1234 as the conference PIN
  • 3. Wolfram Alpha Almanac – say "What planes are flying overhead"
  • 4. Lenny – The Telemarketer’s Worst Nightmare
  • 5. Today’s News Headlines — courtesy of Yahoo! News
  • 6. Weather by ZIP Code – enter any 5-digit ZIP code for today’s weather
  • 7. Today in History — courtesy of OnThisDay.com
  • 8. Chat with Nerd Uno — courtesy of SIP URI connection to 3CX iPhone Client
  • 9. DISA Voice Dialer — say any 10-digit number to be connected
  • *. Current Date and Time — courtesy of VitalPBX

Continue Reading:

Introducing the Incredible PBX Custom Context for VitalPBX
VitalPBX in the Cloud: Two $6/month Providers with Backups
VitalPBX Security: Firewall, PortKnocker, & NeoRouter VPN
VitalPBX on the Desktop: Introducing VitalPBX for VirtualBox

Originally published: Monday, March 19, 2018





Need help with VitalPBX? Visit the VitalPBX Forum.


 

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.
 



Beginner’s Navigation Guide to VoIP PBXs and Nerd Vittles

Here at Nerd Vittles, we cover a lot of VoIP territory over the course of a year. To kick off the new year, we thought it might be helpful for those just beginning their VoIP adventure to sketch out the VoIP lay of the land for you. We’re assuming that you came to our site because you wanted a VoIP solution that gives you something to play with and to learn from. That’s not for everybody, and there are less flexible, turnkey VoIP solutions that function pretty much like a toaster. At the top of that short list would be the Ooma Telo and OBi200. Both offer (almost) free calling in the U.S. and Canada.

Keep in mind that all of us started as beginners so there’s no reason to be intimidated if you choose to deploy your own PBX. We’ve gotten a dozen years of enjoyment out of our adventures with VoIP telephony, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same. Let’s begin.

Choosing a Hardware Platform for Your VoIP PBX

First, you’ll need to choose a platform for your VoIP-based PBX: dedicated hardware, virtual machine, or cloud-based PBX. In no small part, this choice depends upon the target audience for your PBX. If it’s for home use or a SOHO business, a $35 Raspberry Pi may suffice. On the other hand, if your PBX will be supporting more than a dozen users or more than a handful of simultaneous calls, we’d look elsewhere. Many of Intel’s Atom-based PCs work very well. And a VirtualBox virtual PBX running atop an iMac or beefy Dell PC can support dozens of users if you have the necessary Internet bandwidth to handle your call volume. Cloud-based servers come in all shapes and sizes as well. As prices have plummeted, cloud solutions have become our favorite. For $3 to $6 a month, you now can host your PBX in the cloud with automatic image backups of your entire server every week. If you’re willing to forfeit backups, here is a cloud solution that will only set you back about a dollar a month. If your server is primarily for business use, we strongly recommend our Platinum Sponsor, RentPBX, that offers dozens of VoIP choices for $14.99 a month with coupon code: NOGOTCHAS.

Choosing the Best PBX to Meet Your Requirements

Once you’ve nailed down your hardware platform, the next step is choosing an operating system and PBX to support your individual requirements. As you might have guessed, there are dozens from which to choose. In both the open source and commercial PBX world, most systems require a specific version of Linux so your operating system choice typically is dependent upon the PBX you choose. In the open source world, the PBX learning curve is often related to the feature set being offered. More sophisticated feature sets typically have a steeper learning curve. If you’re just getting started with VoIP and you want a platform for learning, experimenting, or home use, you can’t beat Incredible PBX 13-13 Whole Enchilada. It was designed by us to be a turnkey PBX for first-time users with rock-solid security and all of the features you will ever need. It includes 31 applications for Asterisk® that cover every imaginable function that can be performed with a telephone including faxing, voice dialing, SMS messaging, wakeup calls and telephone reminders, free calling, conferencing, text-to-speech applications such as News Headlines and Weather Forecasts, Wolfram Alpha for Siri-like queries, plus all the usual PBX features: blacklists, call forwarding, call waiting, call transfer, call parking, call recording, intercom, voicemail including voicemail transcription with email delivery, IVRs, paging, AutoAttendants, DISA, and many more.

If you’re an experienced Asterisk developer that just wants a lean PBX where you can customize it to meet individual customer’s requirements, then Incredible PBX 13-13 Lean should be just the ticket. All of its components are configurable including Asterisk which can be recompiled from the included source code.

At the sophisticated end of the spectrum is Incredible PBX for Wazo which is based upon the Wazo PBX, an Asterisk 15 realtime implementation with full support for High Availability redundancy, multi-party videoconferencing, WebRTC, and automatic nightly backups. It includes API libraries from which you literally can build your own customized PBX from the ground up. The Incredible PBX feature set provides a platform with virtually identical applications to those found in Incredible PBX 13-13.

Sandwiched in between Incredible PBX 13-13 and Incredible PBX for Wazo is Incredible PBX 13 for Issabel. Issabel is an enhanced fork of the previous Elastix 4.0 PBX. The 2018 release includes Asterisk 13, the LTS version of the Asterisk platform. With the new Incredible PBX 13 add-on, you get the best of all worlds with Google Voice support and dozens of applications for Asterisk. Issabel provides a Unified Communications platform that is second to none in the open source world.

Thus far, all of our recommendations have been to open source, GPL-licensed PBX platforms. But you’d be making a mistake to limit your search for business telephony platforms to open source offerings. Our corporate sponsor, 3CX, offers a full year of their commercial PBX running in the Google Cloud at no cost. It’s incredibly simple to install and configure. And the beauty of the 3CX commercial platform is it can scale to any size as your business grows. And the 3CX feature set can be expanded geometrically as your business requirements mature. We added free text-to-speech applications for News and Weather reports just last week. Our favorite open source deployment strategy is to install a 3CX PBX alongside Incredible PBX which yields literally the best of both worlds. The 3CX clients for Windows and Macs, Android, and iOS make VoIP telephony available from anywhere with a couple of button clicks, and 3CX users experience none of the traditional communications problems that invariably crop up on platforms deployed by novice VoIP users running Asterisk.

Getting Started with Extensions, Trunks, and Routes

The Big 3 when it comes to PBX configuration are extensions, trunks, and routes. Extensions carry calls between phones on the PBX and other phones either inside or outside your home or office. Trunks actually provide the links between your PBX and the outside telephony world. Inbound routes tell your PBX where to send incoming calls while Outbound routes tell your PBX which trunk to use when calls are made to numbers outside your PBX. We’ve covered this in more detail including dozens of trunk setups in this Nerd Vittles tutorial.

Making Free U.S./Canada Calls within the United States

There are three ways to make free calls using your PBX. If you’re in the United States, you can use Google Voice to make free calls to the U.S. and Canada if your PBX supports Google Voice trunks, e.g. Incredible PBX 13-13 Whole Enchilada and Incredible PBX for Issabel. An alternative, if your PBX does not directly support Google Voice trunks, e.g. Incredible PBX for Wazo and 3CX, is to use the Simonics SIP to Google Voice Gateway service. For Nerd Vittles users, there is a one-time $4.99 signup fee with no additional charges ever. Whether you live in the U.S or not, all the PBXs we’ve covered today can make free SIP calls to anyone in the world that has a SIP URI address and a SIP phone. Most SIP softphones are free.

Mastering the Incredible PBX Feature Set

Incredible PBX 13-13 Application User’s Guide

Configuring the Travelin’ Man 3 Firewall

All Incredible PBX servers include a firewall that is configured automatically as part of the installation process. On the 3CX platform, you’ll need to add the Travelin’ Man 3 firewall after installing your 3CX PBX. Here’s how:

3CX in the Cloud: 8 Great Ways to Secure Your Server

Configuring a Firewall WhiteList:

WhiteListing Users with Travelin’ Man 3 and IPtables Firewall

Learning to Build Effective IVRs

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems and AutoAttendants are the bread-and-butter applications for businesses. If you’ve ever called a business and actually spoken to a live person without encountering an IVR, lucky you! But, believe it or not, IVRs can actually be a useful tool including our Stealth AutoAttendant which lets you intercept incoming calls with a greeting which provides a slight delay to allow the caller (or you) to reroute the call to a specific destination before the default destination kicks in. Nerd Vittles and the Incredible PBX offerings provide all of the tools you’ll need to build any type of IVR imaginable. Mastering Allison Smith’s Top 15 is an excellent starting point.

Harnessing Nerd Vittles Resources

Google is your friend when it comes to finding tutorials of interest in the VoIP world. To narrow searches to just Nerd Vittles, use the following syntax:

stealth autoattendant site:nerdvittles.com

And the Nerd Vittles site itself provides several powerful ways to drill down into topics of interest. In the upper right column of any article, you’ll find a search function which will return a list of matching articles to peruse. At the bottom of every article, check out the all-new Articles of Interest section of Nerd Vittles arranged by topic. Also in the right column of Nerd Vittles, you’ll find a listing of Categories with Nerd Vittles articles conveniently grouped by topic. And, finally, you can quickly jump to the lead article on every major Incredible PBX implementation in the color-coded tabs labeled: GPL VOIP SOLUTIONS FOR ALL.

Happy New Year!

Originally published: Monday, January 1, 2018


Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as a VoIP PBX, 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 and 3CX gurus and thousands of users just like you. You won’t have to wait long for an answer to your question.



NEW YEAR’S TREAT: If you could use one or more free DIDs in the U.S. with unlimited inbound calls and unlimited simultaneous channels, then today’s your lucky day. TelecomsXChange and Bluebird Communications have a few hundred thousand DIDs to give away so you better hurry. You have your choice of DID locations including New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, and Iowa. The DIDs support Voice, Fax, Video, and even Text Messaging (by request). The only requirement at your end is a dedicated IP address for your VoIP server. Once you receive your welcome email with your number, be sure to whitelist the provider’s IP address in your firewall. For Incredible PBX servers, use add-ip to whitelist the UDP SIP port, 5060, using the IP address provided in your welcoming email.

Here’s the link to order your DIDs.

Your DID Trunk Setup in your favorite GUI should look like this:

Trunk Name: IPC
Peer Details:
type=friend
qualify=yes
host={IP address provided in welcome email}
context=from-trunk

Your Inbound Route should specify the 11-digit DID beginning with a 1. Enjoy!



Need help with Asterisk or 3CX? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.


 

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.
 



Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

Incredible PBX 13-13 Application User’s Guide

For those just beginning the Incredible PBX® 13-13 adventure, start here. Once your system is up and running, you’ll be ready to kick the tires. And today we’ll cover the applications for Asterisk® that are included in the latest and greatest Incredible PBX Whole Enchilada. If you have questions, post them on the PIAF Forum for some quick and friendly assistance.

Here’s a Table of Contents to the Incredible PBX 13-13 Applications with hotlinks. Enjoy!

  1. Checking System Status
  2. Enabling Speech Recognition for Asterisk
  3. Wolfram Alpha for Siri-like queries by phone*
  4. Automatic Update Utility
  5. Resetting Incredible PBX Passwords
  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

* 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 or pbxstatus. You can even add the default phone number for your server by inserting it in /etc/pbx/.phone.

The second option is to use a browser to access your server. Choose the Incredible PBX Admin option after pointing a browser to the IP address of your server:

Once you log in with your admin password, the Dashboard of your server will display the status of trunks, users, and active calls on your server. In addition, you can review the latest news and security alerts from the RSS Feeds of Nerd Vittles, Incredible PBX, FreePBX®, and Asterisk. For additional status information, choose Reports:Asterisk Info.

2. Adding Speech Recognition to Asterisk

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. We no longer recommend Google Speech Recognition because of the licensing issues and Google’s propensity to break things regularly. Instead, we recommend IBM’s Speech Recognition and TTS engines. For most users, there will be no cost. And the services are second to none. For a complete installation and setup tutorial, see our original article on Incredible PBX 13-13. Once speech recognition is enabled, the Incredible PBX feature set grows exponentially. You’ll have access to the Voice Dialer for AsteriDex as well as SMS Voice Messaging and Wolfram Alpha for a Siri-like encyclopedia.

NOV. 1 UPDATE: IBM has moved the goal posts effective December 1, 2018:

Here’s how to activate Google speech recognition on Incredible PBX if you choose not to use the IBM solution. 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 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.

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 on the Incredible PBX for Asterisk-GUI.

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/wolfram.sh

3. When the nano editor opens, insert your IBM STT and Wolfram APP-ID credentials in the spaces provided. Then save the file.

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 flying overhead now?
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 GUI. Check the RSS Feeds at least once a week as well. As a condition of use of the free Incredible PBX product, you accepted ultimate responsibility for the security and reliability of your server. None of this discussion changes any of that.

5. Resetting Incredible PBX Passwords

Yes. It happens to all of us. We forget our passwords. Incredible PBX includes a convenient utility that lets you reset many of the passwords associated with Incredible PBX. Just log into your server as root and issue the command: /root/update-passwords

To reset Incredible PBX GUI admin password, issue command: /root/admin-pw-change

To reset the AvantFax admin password which is accessible within the Incredible PBX GUI, issue the following command: /root/avantfax-pw-change

6. Apache Authentication with Incredible PBX

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

htpasswd -cb /etc/pbx/wwwpasswd admin newpassword

With the exception of AsteriDex and Reminders, you gain access to other Incredible PBX applications with the admin Apache 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

As installed, Incredible PBX includes a preconfigured, locked-down Linux firewall that restricts incoming IPv6 traffic to localhost and, via a Travelin’ Man 3 WhiteList application, 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 VoIP 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 accessible from 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. Additional IPtables rules are included and managed in /usr/local/sbin/iptables-custom. NEVER use traditional iptables commands such as iptables save to update your IPtables configuration, or you will permanently delete all of your FQDN entries! Instead, use the provided utilities to whitelist additional sites 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! Using the traditional IPtables mechanisms also will disable Fail2Ban. Incredible PBX periodically checks for changed FQDN entries using the ipchecker script configured in /etc/crontab.

If you elect to integrate Facebook into your Incredible PBX setup, you will need to manually uncomment the last 3 lines in /usr/local/sbin/iptables-custom in order to whitelist the Facebook servers. Then restart the firewall: iptables-restart

WARNING: By default, Incredible PBX whitelists all of the non-routable LAN subnets including 10.0.0.0/8, 172.16.0.0/12, and 192.168.0.0/16. If you elect to install Incredible PBX in the Amazon Cloud, be advised that Amazon treats the 172.16.0.0/12 subnet as routable IP addresses. This means that anyone in the Amazon Cloud (including the bad guys) will have direct access to your server. While they still need a password or vulnerability to gain access, it nevertheless exposes your server to needless hacking attempts. We strongly recommend that you comment out the 172.16.0.0/12 entry in /usr/local/sbin/iptables-custom if you intend to deploy your server in the Amazon Cloud. Then restart the firewall: iptables-restart

8. PortKnocker Remote Access

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 either temporarily (until IPtables is restarted) or permanently.

To reconfigure PortKnocker to permanently whitelist IP addresses from which you issue a successful knock, login as root and issue the command: iptables-knock activate

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. You can change the ports by editing /etc/knockd.conf. Then restart PortKnocker: service knockd restart

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.

If you installed Incredible PBX on a cloud platform, then your server may use a network port other than eth0. Typically, it’s venet0:0 on OpenVZ servers. You can decipher the name of your network port for your public IP address by issuing the command: ifconfig. In this case, the config file needs to be modified and then PortKnocker needs to be restarted. Edit /etc/sysconfig/knockd and insert the following: OPTIONS="-i venet0:0". Restart PortKnocker with the command: service knockd restart

Review our PortKnocker tutorial for additional configuration tips.

9. Travelin’ Man 4 Remote Access (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 (dial CONF)

A new turnkey Asterisk 13 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 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. You can decipher or modify the user and admin passwords to access the Conference Bridge in the Incredible PBX GUI: Applications:Conferences. Then edit 2663 and review the User and Admin PINs.

11. CallerID Name (CNAM) Lookups

By default, Incredible PBX is configured to automatically provide 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.

To enable the OpenCNAM Professional Tier, set up an account at OpenCNAM.com. Once you’ve obtained your credentials, edit the OpenCNAM entry in Admin:CID Superfecta:Default. You may also wish to enable AsteriDex lookups and move the scheme to the top of your list of lookup schemes.

To activate CallerID Superfecta for incoming calls, edit each of your Inbound Routes and Enable Superfecta Lookup with the Default Scheme in the Other tab.

12. Faxing with Incredible PBX

If you can press the ENTER key 25 times, you are fully capable of installing Incredible Fax on your new server. Log into your server as root and run /root/incrediblefax13.sh. Provide an email address for delivery of incoming faxes and press ENTER each time you are prompted to make a selection. Once you reboot your server, you’re all set. 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 sent to most of your DIDs delivered via SendMail 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 GUI by clicking on the AvantFax icon. The default credentials are admin:password. 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.

With the latest release of Incredible PBX 13-13, fax recognition is supported on incoming calls. Edit each of your Inbound Routes and enable Detect Faxes with Detection Type=SIP, Fax Ring=Yes, Fax Detection Time=4, and Fax Destination=Custom Destination:Fax (HylaFax) in the Fax tab.

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 Voicemail tab. Once enabled, you can set up your mailbox and retrieve your messages by dialing *97 from the mailbox extension, or dial *98 to retrieve messages from any extension. Shortcut dialing is also supported, e.g. *98707 would retrieve messages for extension 707. You can leave a message for or forward calls to any extension’s mailbox 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 tab as well. For example, you can automatically delete voicemails once they have been delivered by email. Voicemail Blasting to multiple mailboxes is also supported. Just choose this option under the Applications tab and follow your nose.

14. Email Delivery of MP3 Voicemails

Speaking of email delivery, your voicemails also can be delivered to any email address of your choosing. For every extension under the Voicemail tab for the Extension, simply add an Email Address and enable the Email Attachment. 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. Or you can issue the following command using your destination email address:

echo "test" | mail -s testmessage your-name@your-email-provider.com

If you find outbound mail is accumulating after checking in WebMin, 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 a SmartHost

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.

16. SMS Blasting with Google Voice

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.

NOTE: Google has tightened security for using plain-text Google Voice passwords as this application and the next one require. Before you begin, log into your server as root and issue the following command: gvoice. Try logging in with your Google Voice credentials including @gmail.com in your username. If the login fails, perform the following steps using a web browser after logging into the same Google account: (1) Perform the Google Voice Reset Procedure. (2) Enable Less Secure Apps using this Google tool. Then immediately try logging in to gvoice from the CLI again.

17. Voice-Activated SMS Messaging (dial SMS)

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. This new implementation of SMS Dictator requires both Google Voice and IBM STT credentials. Follow this tutorial to get started with the latest code.

18. SMS Messaging with VoIP.ms

Incredible PBX for Asterisk-GUI 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, as of today, they’re still free.

19. SIP URI Calling with Incredible PBX

With one line of dialplan code, you can add Speed Dials for free SIP URI calling worldwide. The dialplan code is stored in the [CallingRule_SIP_URI] context in extensions_custom.conf. Just clone one of the existing entries, designate an extension to dial to connect to the SIP URI, and enter the SIP URI for the destination. Numerous SIP providers support assignment of SIP URI’s to DIDs for unlimited free calling from anywhere in the world. Here’s a sample using a speed dial code of 53669 that connects you to SIP URI 2233435945@sip2sip.info: exten = 53669,1,Dial(SIP/2233435945@sip2sip.info)

20. IVR Demo of Incredible PBX Apps

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 3366 (D-E-M-O). The sample code for the IVR is available for review and modification in the IVR section of the GUI. There’s also a sample Stealth AutoAttendant. This plays a brief greeting and then rings an extension or ring group. During the greeting, you could configure the application to allow button presses to branch to other applications on your PBX, hence the Stealth name since the codes are not disclosed to callers.

21. Backup & Restore with Incredible PBX

Incredible Backup and Restore scripts are still under development for Incredible PBX 13-13 because of recent changes in Asterisk. If backups are important to you, we strongly recommend you consider a $2.50/month cloud server at Vultr using our referral code. For an additional 50 cents per month, you get weekly image backups of your server that can be restored with a couple of button clicks. It’s the cheapest insurance you can buy for your PBX!

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 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. If you’d prefer to skip the intermediate step, dial 000 + the 3-digit speed dial code desired. The call will be placed immediately using your default outbound routes.

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"

To automatically generate the 3-digit speed dial codes for everyone in your AsteriDex database using the first three letters of each name, run the following script from your web browser: http://your-server-ip/asteridex4/dialcode.php.

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. 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.

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. The DISA extension is not preconfigured with Incredible PBX; however, you can easily set it up in the GUI by choosing Applications:DISA. Make up a very secure PIN before exposing DISA access to the outside world. 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 947)

You can obtain a current 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

If you’ve recently logged into your server as root, Automatic Update #4 added ODBC/MySQL application support for Asterisk. 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.

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.

If you want your users to be able to dial in for the time directly by dialing extension, here’s how. In the GUI, choose Admin:Custom Destinations:Add Destination. Set up a Time of Day description with a target of new-time,s,1 and save your entry. Now Enable an Application:Misc Application:Add Application with a Feature Code of 8463, Time of Day description, and point it to Custom Destination:Time of Day. Save your entry and then dial 8463 (T-I-M-E) for the Time of Day.

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, visit the following link with a web browser using the actual IP address of your server: https://ip-address:9001/. 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.

Enjoy your new Gotcha-Free PBX, and… Happy Cyber Monday! It’s always been one of the happiest days of the year around our office.

Check out the new Incredible PBX 13-13 ISO. Complete tutorial available here.

Originally published: Monday, November 27, 2017


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.



NEW YEAR’S TREAT: If you could use one or more free DIDs in the U.S. with unlimited inbound calls and unlimited simultaneous channels, then today’s your lucky day. TelecomsXChange and Bluebird Communications have a few hundred thousand DIDs to give away so you better hurry. You have your choice of DID locations including New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, and Iowa. The DIDs support Voice, Fax, Video, and even Text Messaging (by request). The only requirement at your end is a dedicated IP address for your VoIP server. Once you receive your welcome email with your number, be sure to whitelist the provider’s IP address in your firewall. For Incredible PBX servers, use add-ip to whitelist the UDP SIP port, 5060, using the IP address provided in your welcoming email.

Here’s the link to order your DIDs.

Your DID Trunk Setup in your favorite GUI should look like this:

Trunk Name: IPC
Peer Details:
type=friend
qualify=yes
host={IP address provided in welcome email}
context=from-trunk

Your Inbound Route should specify the 11-digit DID beginning with a 1. Enjoy!



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


 

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.
 



Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

The Ultimate Voice Dialer for Asterisk and Incredible PBX

Let’s face it. Voice recognition with Google has been hit and miss, and that’s on a good day. So we’re delighted to shift gears and introduce a new platform powered by IBM Watson’s Speech-to-Text (STT) engine. While it’s not free, that’s really theoretical for most of our readers. Your first month on the platform is entirely free. And, after that, you get 1,000 minutes a month of free voice recognition services. If you still want more, it’s 2¢ a minute.

We first introduced IBM’s STT platform back in March when we documented how to use the service to transcribe voicemails and deliver them via email. Today, we’re introducing the Incredible Voice Dialer for Asterisk. It runs on all of the major Incredible PBX platforms: CentOS, Wazo, and Issabel. It’s married to our AsteriDex phonebook application that is deployed with Incredible PBX using MySQL, MariaDB, or SQLite3 depending upon platform.

The way it works is a user picks up an extension on your PBX and dials 411. The caller will be prompted for the name of the person or company to call. Once the caller says the name, the Incredible Voice Dialer will send the recording to IBM’s Watson STT engine for transcription. The result is then passed to AsteriDex where the text will be matched against the phone number saved for that person or company. The number is then passed to your default outbound trunk to place the call. All of the magic happens in less than two seconds, and the call begins ringing at your destination. You can try it out for yourself on our demo server this week. Just dial: , choose option 1 when the IVR answers, and then say "Delta Airlines" or "American Airlines" when prompted for a name. The queries support wildcard matching. If you say "Delta", you’ll still be connected to Delta Airlines.

What About the Quality? Here’s the bottom line. Speech recognition isn’t all that useful if it fails miserably in recognizing everyday speech. The good news is that IBM Watson’s speech recognition engine is now the best in the business. If you want more details, read the article below which will walk you through IBM’s latest speech recognition breakthrough:


Creating an IBM Bluemix Speech to Text Account

NOV. 1 UPDATE: IBM has moved the goal posts effective December 1, 2018:

1. Create Bluemix account here.

2. Confirm your registration by replying to email from IBM.

3. Login to Bluemix using your new credentials.

4. Agree to terms and conditions, name your organization, and name your space (STT).

5. Choose Watson Speech to Text service and click Create.

6. When Speech to Text-kb opens, click Service Credentials tab (on the left).

7. In Actions column, click View Credentials. Write down your username and password.

8. Logout by clicking on image icon in upper right corner of dialog window.

 

Install Voice Dialer with Incredible PBX for Wazo

1. Login to your server as root using SSH/Putty and issue the following commands:

cd /
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/ibmstt-411-wazo.tar.gz
tar zxvf ibmstt-411-wazo.tar.gz
rm -f ibmstt-411-wazo.tar.gz
sed -i '\\:// BEGIN Call by Name:,\\:// END Call by Name:d' /etc/asterisk/extensions_extra.d/xivo-extrafeatures.conf
sed -i '/\\[xivo-extrafeatures\\]/r /tmp/411.txt' /etc/asterisk/extensions_extra.d/xivo-extrafeatures.conf
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

2. Edit /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/getnumber.sh and insert your IBM credentials from step #7 above into these variables:

API_USERNAME="XXXXXXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXXXXXXX"
API_PASSWORD="XXXXXXXXXXXX"

3. Save the file.

 

Install Voice Dialer on Other Incredible PBX Platforms

1. Login to your server as root using SSH/Putty and issue the following commands:

cd /
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/ibmstt-411.tar.gz
tar zxvf ibmstt-411.tar.gz
rm -f ibmstt-411.tar.gz
sed -i '\\:// BEGIN Call by Name:,\\:// END Call by Name:d' /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf
sed -i '/\\[from-internal-custom\\]/r /tmp/411.txt' /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

2. Edit /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/getnumber.sh and insert your IBM credentials from step #7 above into these variables:

API_USERNAME="XXXXXXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXXXXXXX"
API_PASSWORD="XXXXXXXXXXXX"

3. Save the file.

 

Take Incredible Voice Dialer for a Test Drive

1. From an extension connected to your PBX, dial 411. When prompted for the name to call, say "Delta Airlines" or "American Airlines."

2. Quicker than you could actually dial the number, you’ll be connected.

 

Building Voice-Enabled Applications with Asterisk

All of our code is open source, GPL2 code so you’re more than welcome to use it, learn from it, and then build your own voice-enabled applications. Just abide by the terms of the license and share. When you review /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/getnumber.sh, you’ll see that it’s incredibly easy to change the backend database. Here’s the Wazo flavor of the script:

API_USERNAME="XXXXXXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXXXXXXX"
API_PASSWORD="XXXXXXXXXXXX"

thisfile="$1"

# sending the recording to IBM Watson for transcription
curl -k -u $API_USERNAME:$API_PASSWORD -X POST --limit-rate 40000 --header "Content-Type: audio/wav" --data-binary @/tmp/$thisfile.wav "https://stream.watsonplatform.net/speech-to-text/api/v1/recognize?continuous=true&model=en-US_NarrowbandModel" 1>/tmp/$thisfile.txt

# grabbing the text out of the IBM Watson response
msg=`cat /tmp/$thisfile.txt | grep transcript | cut -f 2 -d ":" | cut -f 2 -d '"' | sed 's| *$||' | sed -e "s/\b\(.\)/\u\1/g"`%

# passing text to MySQL (1st line) or SQLite3 (2nd line) for name lookup. answer is num2call.
#num2call=$(mysql -uroot -ppassw0rd asteridex -ss -N -e "SELECT user1.out FROM user1 where name LIKE '$msg'");
num2call=`/usr/bin/sqlite3 /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/asteridex.sqlite "select out from user1 where name LIKE '$msg'"`

# clearing out our temporary files
rm -f /tmp/$thisfile.*

# passing the results to the Asterisk dialplan
echo "SET VARIABLE PTY2CALL "\""$msg"\"""
echo "SET VARIABLE NUM2CALL "\""$num2call"\"""

# we're done with the AGI bash script so let's exit gracefully
exit 0

The Asterisk dialplan code could be modified for any number of applications. Here’s what it looks like on the Incredible PBX 13 platform. It’s slightly different with Wazo to accomodate their dialplan syntax.

;# // BEGIN Call by Name        
exten => 411,1,Answer
exten => 411,n,Playback(custom/411)
exten => 411,n,Set(RANDFILE=${RAND(8000,8599)})
exten => 411,n,Record(/tmp/${RANDFILE}.wav,3,10)
exten => 411,n,Playback(/tmp/${RANDFILE})
exten => 411,n,AGI(getnumber.sh,${RANDFILE})
exten => 411,n,NoOp(Party to call : ${PTY2CALL})
exten => 411,n,NoOp(Number to call: ${NUM2CALL})
exten => 411,n,Goto(outbound-allroutes,${NUM2CALL},1)
exten => 411,n,Hangup()
;# // END Call by Name        

There’s nothing magical about it. (1) It answers the call to 411. (2) It plays back a recording that prompts the user to say the name of the person or company to call. (3) It generates a random number to use for the filenames associated with the STT process. (4) It records the caller’s speech and saves it to the random filename as a .wav file which IBM STT can understand. (5) It passes the call to the AGI bash script to send the recording to IBM Watson and obtain the transcription and to pass the text to MySQL or SQLite3 to lookup the text in the AsteriDex database. (6) We display the called party’s name on the Asterisk CLI. (7) We display the called party’s phone number on the Asterisk CLI. (8) We place the call using the PBX’s default outbound route. (9) We hangup the call when it’s completed.

Published: Monday, October 9, 2017  



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


 

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.
 



Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

IBM’s Speech Recognition Engine Comes to Asterisk



Eight years ago, we introduced transcription for Asterisk® voicemail messages. When the messages were delivered by email, you got both a recording and the transcribed text courtesy of Google. As with most things Google, the licensing terms changed regularly and voicemail transcription became more convoluted until it became next to worthless. Today we begin our new exploration of IBM’s Watson Developer Cloud. It offers a rich collection of services at unbelievably low price points. We’re kicking things off by introducing a better Speech-to-Text (STT) solution with IBM’s Bluemix. The STT API performs better than any speech recognition engine in the world. And you won’t have to worry about Google breaking our middleware every month. On the Lite plan, up to 100 minutes per month are free. Or you can opt for the Standard pay-as-you-go plan for 2¢ per minute and let your customers yack all they like. That works out to $1.20 an hour which still is pretty cheap secretarial help. In coming weeks, we will introduce IBM’s Text-to-Speech (TTS) offering and Lisa. Up to a million characters of TTS service monthly are free. Here’s a sample to give you a taste of the voice quality:

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/312693441″ params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="350″ iframe="true" /]

NOV. 1 UPDATE: IBM has moved the goal posts effective December 1, 2018:

For new deployments, your API Username will be apikey, and your API Password will be your actual APIkey.

Overview. What we’ve done today is integrate the STT Bluemix API directly into existing Asterisk voicemail systems. We started with Nicolas Bernaerts’ terrific sendmailmp3 script. It works on both the Wazo and FreePBX® platforms. If you have deployed Incredible PBX, then the setup takes a couple of minutes. For everyone else, there’s an additional configuration step using your favorite GUI. To get started, you’ll sign up for a Bluemix account and obtain your credentials. Next, you download today’s script for your platform and insert your credentials. Finally, you set up voicemail on the extensions desired and insert an email address for each voicemail account. On generic FreePBX systems, you’ll need to add the name of our script to manage your voicemail recordings.

What About the Quality? Here’s the bottom line. Speech recognition isn’t all that useful if it fails miserably in recognizing everyday speech. The good news is that IBM Watson’s speech recognition engine is now the best in the business. If you want more details, read the article below which will walk you through IBM’s latest speech recognition breakthrough:


Creating an IBM Bluemix Speech to Text Account

Follow this link to set up your IBM account and obtain credentials for both Speech to Text (STT) and Text to Speech (TTS) services. Please note that your STT and TTS API keys will NOT be the same. So don’t accidentally use the wrong one.
 

Installing STT Engine with Incredible PBX for Wazo

1. After logging into your Incredible PBX for Wazo server as root using SSH/Putty:

cd /usr/sbin
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/sendmailibm.tar.gz
tar zxvf sendmailibm.tar.gz
rm -f sendmailibm.tar.gz

2. Edit sendmailibm and insert Bluemix STT credentials on lines 29 and 30. Save the file.

3. Edit bluemix-test and insert Bluemix STT credentials on first two lines. Save the file.

4. Copy the updated sendmailibm file to sendmail:

cd /usr/sbin
cp -p sendmailibm sendmail

5. Test your Bluemix STT setup: bluemix-test

6. Result should be: please record your message after the beep

7. Set up voicemail account for a Wazo extension with your email address.

8. Place a test call to the extension and record a voicemail when prompted.

9. Your message will be transcribed and delivered via email.

 

Installing STT Engine with Incredible PBX for RasPi

1. After logging into your Raspberry Pi server as root using SSH/Putty:

cd /usr/sbin
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/sendmailibm-raspi.tar.gz
tar zxvf sendmailibm-raspi.tar.gz
rm -f sendmailibm-raspi.tar.gz

2. Edit sendmailmp3.ibm and insert Bluemix STT credentials on lines 28 and 29. Save file.

3. Edit bluemix-test and insert Bluemix STT credentials on first two lines. Save the file.

4. Copy the updated sendmailmp3.ibm file to sendmailmp3:

cd /usr/sbin
cp -p sendmailmp3.ibm sendmailmp3

5. Test your Bluemix STT setup: bluemix-test

6. Result should be: your dictation is now being processed and emailed please wait

7. Set up voicemail for a RasPi extension with your email address.

8. Place a test call to the extension and record a voicemail when prompted.

9. Your message will be transcribed and delivered via email.

 

Installing STT Engine with Incredible PBX 13

1. After logging into your Incredible PBX 13 server as root using SSH/Putty:

cd /usr/local/sbin
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/sendmailibm-13.tar.gz
tar zxvf sendmailibm-13.tar.gz
rm -f sendmailibm-13.tar.gz

2. Edit sendmailmp3.ibm and insert Bluemix STT credentials on lines 28 and 29. Save file.

3. Edit bluemix-test and insert Bluemix STT credentials on first two lines. Save the file.

4. Copy the updated sendmailmp3.ibm file to sendmailmp3:

cd /usr/local/sbin
cp -p sendmailmp3.ibm sendmailmp3

5. Test your Bluemix STT setup: bluemix-test

6. Result should be: we are now transferring you out of the company directory…

7. Set up voicemail for an extension and include your email address.

8. Place a test call to the extension and record a voicemail when prompted.

9. Your message will be transcribed and delivered via email.

 

Installing STT Engine with Legacy FreePBX® Servers

1. Follow steps #1 through #7 from the Incredible PBX 13 tutorial above.

2. Choose Settings -> Voicemail Admin -> Settings in the GUI.

3. In the format field, insert: wav|wav49

4. In the mailcmd field, insert: /usr/local/sbin/sendmailmp3

5. Click Submit to save your settings and then Reload the FreePBX Dialplan.

6. Place a test call to the extension and record a voicemail when prompted.

7. Your message will be transcribed and delivered via email.

Update: Matt Darnell reports that, depending upon your existing setup, you may need to add the unix2dos and lame packages with legacy FreePBX servers to get MP3 messages delivered correctly.

 

Originally published: Monday, March 20, 2017





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


 

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.
 



Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…