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Twofer Tuesday: Incredible PBX 13 to the Rescue

With the Digium announcement last week that four and a half year’s worth of Asterisk® servers were vulnerable to the RTP eavesdropping bug, it prompted us to dust off our Incredible PBX® 13 for CentOS build and bring it up to current specs including the Digium patch for RTPbleed. And then along came Hurricane Issabel to remind us that sh*t happens, and it pays to have a backup plan for your telecommunications infrastructure. So today we’re pleased to introduce two new Asterisk solutions: a cloud-based server for $1 a month and a VirtualBox image that will run on any Windows or Mac computer. We would stress that these should be part of a comprehensive backup plan and may not be suitable to implement as your primary communications platform. But, for those impacted by Harvey’s or Issabel’s devastation, either of today’s solutions will get you a very stable PBX platform as soon as you have Internet or cellular connectivity.

Cloud Hosting for $1/month in NYC, Miami or LA

For today’s emergency cloud platform, we’ve chosen WootHosting which provides a rock-solid VPS in your choice of locations starting at $12 a year. That buys you the following:

2 CPU Core Allocations
1024MB Dedicated RAM
1024MB vSwap
50GB Secured Disk Space
3000GB Premium Bandwidth
1 IPv4 Address
100Mbps Port Speed

Choose New York Grand Opening Specials under the left tab. You still get your choice of cities for the $12/year VPS! Just configure the VPS as a CentOS 6, 64-bit platform. Login to the server as root using SSH or Putty and issue these commands:

setenforce 0
yum -y install net-tools nano wget tar
yum -y upgrade --skip-broken
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblepbx13-12.2-centos.tar.gz
tar zxvf incrediblepbx*

On some platforms (not WootHosting’s VPS), your server may automatically reboot midway through the install. On these platforms, log back in as root and run the installer a second time to complete the install:


After restarting the server at the conclusion of the install, log back in as root and perform the following steps to complete your setup:

Make your root password very secure: passwd
Create admin password for GUI access: /root/admin-pw-change
Set your correct time zone: /root/timezone-setup
Create admin password for web apps: htpasswd /etc/pbx/wwwpasswd admin
Make a copy of your Knock codes: cat /root/knock.FAQ
Decipher your Reminders password: cat /root/reminders.FAQ
Insert OPTIONS="-i venet0:0" in /etc/sysconfig/knockd
Decipher IP address and other info about your server: status

Your server will be up and running in about an hour. Remember, we are compiling all of the components including Asterisk from source which means customization and updates are easy. Continue your adventure by following our previous tutorial.

Incredible PBX 13 with VirtualBox in Under 5 Minutes

If you’re in a time crunch or prefer to set up a PBX locally, there is no better solution than VirtualBox. It runs on any desktop PC, Mac, Linux or Solaris machine, and the new Incredible PBX 13 image for VirtualBox can be installed and configured in under 5 minutes. With a single button click, you can backup your entire PBX in a couple of minutes and save it for a rainy day.

Today’s release is built atop the CentOS 6.9 platform and features the latest release of Asterisk 13 and a terrific collection of GPL modules from FreePBX® 12. Think of Incredible PBX as the glue stick that assembles all the necessary VoIP components and holds them together seamlessly. As with all Incredible PBX builds, you also get the full complement of goodies including dozens of text-to-speech apps, voice recognition and dialing, SMS messaging, Google Voice and free fax support, reminders and wakeup calls, and SECURITY!

Is VirtualBox merely a sandbox for experimentation? Absolutely not. With any of the beefier desktop computers available today, running Incredible PBX as a 24/7 VirtualBox image is every bit as feature rich with stellar performance that’s equivalent to using dedicated hardware. And there are some added advantages. Obviously, deploying a turnkey VoIP platform in under 5 minutes is a major plus. But, unlike using a dedicated Linux platform, you also get the ability to take snapshots of your system and do full backups in minutes instead of the hours required to bring down dedicated hardware, load a different backup application using a different operating system, perform a backup, and then reboot your VoIP server. And your backups won’t just run on the one server on which the backup was performed. You can restore the backup to any other computer that can run VirtualBox. For any of you that came from a network management background, you know what a big deal that really is. And there’s one more bonus. With Incredible Backup and Restore, you can move your image to dedicated hardware running the same operating system with Asterisk 13 and the same GUI platform in minutes.

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

Getting Started with VirtualBox. Step #1 today is to download one or more of the 64-bit VirtualBox installers from VirtualBox.org or Oracle.com. Our recommendation is to put all of the 100MB installers on a 4GB thumb drive.1 Then you’ll have everything in one place whenever and wherever you happen to need it. Once you’ve downloaded the software, simply install it onto your favorite desktop machine. Accept all of the default settings, and you’ll be good to go. And here’s a link to the latest Oracle VM VirtualBox User Manual.

Downloading the Incredible PBX 13 Virtual Machine. A word of warning on the front end. The new Incredible PBX image featuring Asterisk 13 for VirtualBox is huge, about 2.3GB! Download the image from SourceForge onto your desktop by clicking here.

Importing Incredible PBX 13 into VirtualBox. Double-click on the .ova file you downloaded to begin the import procedure and load it into VirtualBox. When prompted, be sure to check the Reinitialize the Mac address of all network cards box and then click the Import button. Once the import is finished, you’ll see a new Incredible PBX 13 for CentOS 6.9 virtual machine in your VM List on the VirtualBox Manager Window. We need to make a couple of one-time adjustments to the Incredible PBX VM configuration to account for differences in sound and network cards on different host machines.

Click on the Incredible PBX Virtual Machine in the VM List. Then click Settings -> Audio. Verify that Enable Audio option is checked and choose your sound card. Then click OK. Next click Settings -> Network. For Adapter 1, be sure the Enable Network Adapter option is checked. From the Attached to pull-down menu, choose Bridged Adapter. Then select your network card from the Name list. Then click OK. That’s all the configuration that is necessary for your Incredible PBX Virtual Machine.

Running Incredible PBX 13 on VirtualBox. Once you’ve imported and configured the Incredible PBX Virtual Machine, you’re ready to go. Highlight Incredible PBX 13 for CentOS 6.9 Virtual Machine in the VM List on the VirtualBox Manager Window and click the Start button. The CentOS 6.9 boot procedure will begin just as if you had installed Incredible PBX on a standalone machine. You’ll see a couple of dialogue boxes pop up that explain the keystrokes to move back and forth between your host operating system desktop and your virtual machine. Remember, you still have full access to your desktop computer. Incredible PBX is merely running as a task in a VirtualBox window. Always gracefully halt Incredible PBX just as you would on a dedicated computer.

Here’s what you need to know. To work in the Incredible PBX Virtual Machine, just left-click your mouse while it is positioned inside the VM window. To return to your host operating system desktop, press the right Option key on Windows machines or the left Command key on any Mac. For other operating systems, read the dialogue boxes for instructions on moving around. To access the Linux CLI, login as root with the default password: password.

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

  • Change your root password: passwd
  • Set your FreePBX admin password: /root/admin-pw-change
  • Set your web apps admin password: htpasswd /etc/pbx/wwwpasswd admin
  • Set your correct time zone: /root/timezone-setup
  • Add WhiteList entries to firewall if needed: /root/add-ip or /root/add-fqdn
  • Store PortKnocker credentials in a safe place: cat /root/knock.FAQ
  • Decipher your Reminders password: cat /root/reminders.FAQ
  • Login to your NeoRouter VPN server if desired: /root/nrclientcmd

To access the Incredible PBX GUI with a browser, point to the IP address of your virtual machine and login as admin with admin password set above. We recommend that you log in to the Linux CLI as root at least once a week so that Incredible PBX updates get applied to your server regularly. This is critically important if you care about your phone bill. Enjoy!

Published: Tuesday, September 12, 2017  

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