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Virtual Paradise: It’s Incredible PBX 13-13.10 for VMware

Let’s face it. Virtual Machines are the future of server administration. Whether you prefer your own dedicated hardware or cloud-based resources managed by you or someone else, virtual platforms are the way to go. You get more bang for the buck out of your hardware by pooling resources for multiple tasks. VMware® and VirtualBox® make it easy. Today we’re pleased to introduce our latest build for VMware. It provides the latest Asterisk® 13 and FreePBX® 13 GPL components from source in about 15 minutes.

Just download the VMware .zip image from SourceForge to your desktop and unzip it. Fire up your browser and login to your VMware Web Console. With a few mouse clicks, you’ll have a CentOS 6.10 platform in place with Incredible PBX® just a single keystroke away. It doesn’t get much easier. And, you get the very latest release of Asterisk 13 compiled from source code that you can actually examine, enhance, and share… just like the GPL license says.

Choosing a Virtual Machine Platform

Making the right deployment choice for your virtual machine platform depends upon a number of factors. We initially started out with Proxmox 4 which looked promising. After all, we had used and recommended earlier releases of Proxmox for many years until some security vulnerabilities caused us to look elsewhere. Those kernel issues are now a thing of the past, but Proxmox 4 introduced some new wrinkles. First, to stay current with software fixes and updates, you have to pay the piper by signing up for the annual support license. This turned out to be a deal breaker for a couple of reasons. It was expensive since it’s based upon the number of CPUs in your platform. In the case of the hardware shown below, that turned out to be 4 CPUs (by Proxmox’s calculation) which meant the annual support license would run nearly $400 per year. That buys an enormous number of cloud-based virtual machines without having to babysit hardware at all. So we’ve reluctantly concluded that Proxmox 4 isn’t a particularly good fit for development or production use.

We’ve already sung the praises of VirtualBox so we wont’ repeat it here. VMware also is rock-solid and has been for more than fifteen years. VMware typically runs on dedicated hardware. If you don’t have the funds for a hardware purchase to support your virtualization requirements, then VirtualBox on your desktop machine is a no-brainer. For many, however, some separation of the virtualization environment from your desktop computing environment is desirable. That choice is equally easy. VMware wins, hands down. Better yet, you can make snapshot backups of your virtual machines in seconds with a single button click. If you’ve wrestled with backups on standalone hardware with Linux, you’ll quickly appreciate the difference.

Getting Started with VMware ESXi

Many of you have VMware platforms already in place at work. For you, installing Incredible PBX 13-13.10 is as simple as downloading the image to your desktop and importing it into your existing platform. Better yet, your system administrator can do it for you. If you’re new to VMware, here’s an easy way to get started, and the software won’t cost you a dime. VMware offers a couple of free products that will give you everything you need to run a robust VMware platform on relatively inexpensive hardware. The choice is up to you.

A Free VMware Platform for SOHO Apps

Before you can download the components for the free VMware ESXi platform, you’ll need to sign up for a free account at my.vmware.com. Once you’re signed up, log in and follow these simple steps to sign up for a free ESXi license key and download the ESXi version 6 software:

  1. Write down your assigned License Key
  2. Manually download the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 ISO
  3. Manually download the VMware vSphere Client 6.5

Next, burn the ISO to a CD/DVD and boot your dedicated VM hardware platform with it. Follow the instructions to complete the install. Next install the vSphere Client on a Windows computer. Don’t forget to add your ESXi License Key when you complete the installation. Once the ESXi server is up and running, you can stick the hardware on a shelf somewhere out of the way. You will rarely interact with it. That’s all handled using either the VMware vSphere Client on your Windows Desktop or the VMware Web Console. Don’t forget to apply your License Key once VMware ESXi is up: Virtual Machines -> Licensing -> Apply License.

Deploy VMware Template with vSphere Client

Deploying an Incredible PBX template takes about two minutes, but first you need to download the Incredible PBX 13-13.10 template from SourceForge onto your Windows Desktop and unzip it.

Once the Incredible PBX template components are on your desktop, here are the deployment steps:

1. Login to the vSphere Client on your Windows Desktop using the root account you set up when you installed ESXi. Choose File, Deploy OVF Template.

2. Select the two Incredible PBX components from your desktop PC.

3. Click Next.

4. Give the new Virtual Machine a name.

5. IMPORTANT: Choose Thin Provision option and click Next.

6. Review your entries and click Next to create the new Virtual Machine.

7. It only takes a couple minutes to create the new Virtual Machine.

8. The Main Client window will redisplay and your new VM should now be shown in the left panel. (1) Click on it. (2) Then click the Green start icon. (3) Then click the Console Window icon.

9. When the VM’s Console Window opens, click in the window in the black area. Log into your virtual machine as root using the default password: password.

10. To complete the Incredible PBX setup, you will automatically be walked through the short installation procedure when you start the virtual machine. Following the automatic reboot, just log in a second time as root and the install will complete.

11. To add Incredible Fax support with HylaFax and AvantFax, run: /root/incrediblefax13.sh.

12. Set up the proper time zone for your server: /root/timezone-setup.

13. Next, reset your root password and make it very secure: passwd.

14. Finally reset your admin password for web access to your server: /root/admin-pw-change.

15. Reset Enchilada passwords at any time by running: /root/update-passwords.

Press Ctrl-Alt to get your mouse and keyboard out of the console window.

Installing the vSphere Web Client

If you’re lucky, you may not have a Windows machine. The downside is that the vSphere Client described above only works on the Windows platform. After a good bit of searching, we finally uncovered a simple way to install the latest vSphere Web Client. It is pure HTML5 with no Flash code! While still under development, VMware has made progress, and it shows. Most of the feature set of vSphere Client now is available from the convenience of your browser. Just point it to the IP address of your VMware server like this: https://ip-address/ui/.

Here’s how to install the vSphere Web Client:

1. Log into the console of your ESXi server as root using your root password.

2. Press F2 to Customized System.

3. Choose Troubleshooting Options.

4. Choose Enable SSH.

5. Using a Terminal window on a Mac or Linux machine or using Putty with Windows, log into the IP address of your ESXi server as root.

6. Issue the following commands to install the latest vSphere Web Client vib and disable http firewall blockage:

esxcli software vib install -v http://download3.vmware.com/software/vmw-tools/esxui/esxui-signed-latest.vib
esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient

7. Using a web browser, login to the web client as root at https://ESXi-server-IP-address/ui/

8. Should you ever wish to remove the web client from your server:

esxcli software vib remove -n esx-ui

9. You may wish to disable SSH access when you’re finished. Just repeat steps 1-4 above.

Here’s what a typical Incredible PBX Virtual Machine looks like in the web client once you’ve added the VMware Tools to your virtual machine as documented below. There’s even a Console window.

Under the Virtual Machines tab, you now can manage and add new VMs directly.

Installing VMware Tools in a Virtual Machine

If you plan to manage your virtual machines using the vSphere Web Client and a browser, then you definitely will want to install the VMware Tools in each of your virtual machines.

For ESXi 6.0, your only choice is VMwareTools. Here’s how to install:

1. Start up your VM and login as root.

2. From the Windows vSphere Client, right click on virtual machine you started.

3. Choose Guest:Install VMware Tools.

4. Return to the Linux CLI of your virtual machine and issue the following commands. Accept all of the defaults in the installation script when it is run in the final step below:

mkdir /mnt/cdrom
mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom
ls /mnt/cdrom
cd /tmp
tar -zxvf /mnt/cdrom/VMwareTools*
umount /mnt/cdrom
cd vmware-tools-distrib

For ESXi 6.5, we prefer the new GPL VMware open-vm-tools. Here’s how to install:

1. Start up your VM and login to the VM as root using SSH or Putty.

2. From the Linux CLI, issue the following commands:

yum -y install --enablerepo=epel open-vm-tools

Special thanks to John Borhek (@unsichtbarre on the PIAF Forum) for the VMware lessons. 🙂

That should be enough tutorial for today. Enjoy your new VMware platform.

Continue Reading: Configuring Extensions, Trunks & Routes

Don’t Miss: Incredible PBX Application User’s Guide covering the 31 Whole Enchilada apps

Originally published: Monday, December 18, 2017  Updated: Monday, June 17, 2019

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  1. Do not throw in the towel on Proxmox…..Please.
    You do not need a subscription and there is a non-subscription repository maintained by Proxmox.

    deb http://download.proxmox.com/debian/pve stretch pve-no-subscription

    I am using with HA Cluster and ceph with great results.

    [WM: We confess that we haven’t used Proxmox in a couple of years. The reason was because Proxmox intentionally crippled the non-subscription repository at the time we were testing it. This led to all sorts of issues in maintaining a functioning server so we threw in the towel. Once developers start doing these sorts of things to encourage payment of registration fees, we tend to never look back. So… our apologies if they’ve cleaned up their act, but leopards rarely change their spots.]

  2. I agree with James Young. Proxmox does have "no subscription repository."
    However, proxmox provides support with subscription, but does not limit you in anyway if you use the no-subscription repository. As a moral duty, one must get subscription to support the project. It is one of the most powerful products and very stable. The beuty is, even if you upgraded from proxmox 3.x or 4.x to 5.x, you can restore a openvz image (vzdump file) in 5,x and it will restore the openvz VM in lxc wiuthout any problem.
    Even they need to survive and fund the project, that is helping so many people. With that thought, one must contribute towards to project from time to time.

  3. Ward, have you tried any Qotom hardware? Like this one https://www.aliexpress.com/item/QOTOM-Q355G4-2017-New-fanless-X86-4-LAN-Micro-Computer-I5-5250U-Dual-core-onboard-1080P/32800711474.html
    Pfsense forums are raving about using it as pfsense router but you can easily virtualize and run simultaneously pfsense and PBX. I took a plunge in November and got it from China via aliexpress. The shipping took ages (3 weeks) but the hardware is very well built, completely pasively cooled with metal case whose top serves as a heat sink. I currently use it simultaneously as a TV PC (it’s conveniently located under my TV) running Mac OS, and in vitualbox it serves as a router (4ports are very handy for it) and I’m also testing Asterisk 15+FPBX 14 install on it in a second virtualbox instance.

  4. What’s Going down. I am new to this. I have found it positively helpful and it has aided
    me out loads. I hope to give a contribution & aid different customers like it’s helped me.
    Great job.

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