If you’re new to the VoIP world and want to kick the tires to see what you’re missing, then today’s one minute setup is for you. You’ll get a $10 credit to try out some penny-a-minute calls and to purchase a $1 a month phone number in your choice of area codes. If you decide VoIP is not for you, you don’t have to buy anything ever. And you can use almost any desktop computer you already own to bring up the VirtualBox® edition of Incredible PBX® 16 with VitalPBX 2.3.8.

If you’ve followed Nerd Vittles over the years, you already know that VirtualBox from Oracle® is one of our favorite platforms. Once VirtualBox is installed on your desktop computer, adding Incredible PBX is a snap. Download the latest Incredible PBX .ova image from SourceForge, double-click on the downloaded image, check the initialize MAC address box, and boom. Instant PBX! In less than a minute, your PBX will be ready to use. Just sign up for an account with our Platinum provider, Skyetel, and you can start making free calls. Of course, the Incredible PBX feature set is included and VitalPBX is preconfigured to introduce you to a truly revolutionary communications platform. Speech-to-text, voice recognition, and a Siri-like telephony interface are as close as your SIP phone.

Installing Oracle VM VirtualBox

Oracle’s virtual machine platform inherited from Sun is amazing. It’s not only free, but it’s pure GPL2 code. VirtualBox gives you a virtual machine platform that runs on top of any desktop operating system. In terms of limitations, we haven’t found any. We even tested this on an Atom-based Windows 7 machine with 2GB of RAM, and it worked without a hiccup. So step #1 today is to download one or more of the 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. For more details, here’s a link to the Oracle VM VirtualBox User Manual.

Installing Incredible PBX 16 with VitalPBX 2.3.8

To begin, download the Incredible PBX 16 .ova image (1.1 GB) onto your desktop.

Next, double-click on the Incredible PBX .ova image on your desktop. Be sure to check the box to initialize the MAC address of the image and then click Import. Once the import is finished, you’ll see a new Incredible PBX virtual machine in the VM List of the VirtualBox Manager Window. Let’s make a couple of one-time adjustments to the Incredible PBX configuration to account for possible differences in sound and network cards on different host machines.

(1) Click once on the Incredible PBX virtual machine in the VM List. Then (2) click the Settings button. In the Audio tab, check the Enable Audio option and choose your sound card. In the Network tab for Adapter 1, check the Enable Network Adapter option. 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 Incredible PBX.

Running Incredible PBX 16 with VitalPBX in VirtualBox

Once you’ve imported and configured the Incredible PBX Virtual Machine, you’re ready to go. Highlight the Incredible PBX virtual machine in the VM List on the VirtualBox Manager Window and click the Start button. The standard Linux boot procedure will begin and, within a few seconds, you’ll get the familiar Linux login prompt. During the bootstrap procedure, 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 VM window. Always gracefully halt Incredible PBX just as you would on any 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. Change your root password immediately by typing: passwd. Make note of the IP address of your PBX. Then point your favorite browser to the IP address. Update your admin password for web access when prompted. Register your PBX with the VitalPBX folks, and you’re ready to go. You’ll need this admin password each time you access the web GUI to manage your PBX.

Should you ever forget your admin password, log into your server as root and issue the following command to reset it. The next time you access the GUI with a browser, you’ll be prompted to create a new admin password.

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

Setting the Date and Time with VirtualBox

On some platforms, VirtualBox has a nasty habit of mangling the date and time of your virtual machine. Typing date will tell you whether your VM is affected. If it’s a problem, manually set the date and time and then update the hardware clock. Here’s how assuming 08130709 is the month, day, and correct time of your server:

date 08130709
clock -w

BUG FIXES: Only two bugs to report and that’s an inaccurate display of available disk space in the pbxstatus utility (shown above) and a permissions issue that prevented writing data to AsteriDex. Here are the fixes:

sed -i 's| /"|/centos"|' /usr/local/sbin/pbxstatus
chown asterisk:apache /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin

Configuring Skyetel for Incredible PBX 16

If you’d like to try out the Skyetel service at no charge, here’s the drill. Sign up for Skyetel service to take advantage of the Nerd Vittles specials. First, complete the Prequalification Form here. You then will be provided a link to the Skyetel site to complete your registration. Once you have registered on the Skyetel site and your account has been activated, open a support ticket and request the $10 credit for your account by referencing the Nerd Vittles special offer. Once you are satisfied with the service, fund your account as desired, and Skyetel will match your deposit of up to $250 simply by opening another ticket. That gets you up to $500 of half-price calling. Credit is limited to one per person, company, and address.

Skyetel does not use SIP registrations to make connections to your PBX. Instead, Skyetel utilizes Endpoint Groups to identify which servers can communicate with the Skyetel service. An Endpoint Group consists of a Name, an IP address, a UDP or TCP port for the connection, and a numerical Priority for the group. For incoming calls destined to your PBX, DIDs are associated with an Endpoint Group to route the calls to your PBX. For outgoing calls from your PBX, a matching Endpoint Group is required to authorize outbound calls through the Skyetel network. Thus, the first step in configuring the Skyetel side for use with your PBX is to set up an Endpoint Group. Here’s a typical setup for Incredible PBX 16-15:

  • Name: MyPBX
  • Priority: 1
  • IP Address: PBX-Public-IP-Address
  • Port: 5060
  • Protocol: UDP
  • Description: my.incrediblepbx.com

To receive incoming PSTN calls, you’ll need at least one DID. On the Skyetel site, you acquire DIDs under the Phone Numbers tab. You have the option of Porting in Existing Numbers (free for the first 60 days after you sign up for service) or purchasing new ones under the Buy Phone Numbers menu option.

Once you have acquired one or more DIDs, navigate to the Local Numbers or Toll Free Numbers tab and specify the desired SIP Format and Endpoint Group for each DID. Add SMS/MMS and E911 support, if desired. Call Forwarding and Failover are also supported. That completes the VoIP setup on the Skyetel side.

Incredible PBX already is configured to connect with Skyetel. However, for security, your virtual machine should be running behind a router or firewall. That means you will have to redirect the Skyetel SIP traffic to the private IP address of your PBX. In your router, reserve the assigned DHCP private LAN address of your PBX so that it will not change. Then map incoming SIP and RTP traffic (TCP/UDP 5060-5080 and UDP 10000-20000) to the private LAN address of your PBX.

Configuring Incredible PBX 16 for VirtualBox

There are 10 Quick Steps to Customize Incredible PBX for your environment. Here’s how.

1. In the web GUI, navigate to PBX:Extensions:Extensions. Click the Extensions Options bar and choose 701. Reset your extension 701 Password and enter your Email Address. In the Voicemail tab, you can either leave the default voicemail password as 701 which means you’ll be prompted to set a new one the first time you access 701 voicemail, OR you can set one while you’re here. Click Save and then Reload Dialplan when you’re finished.

2. Before your PBX can receive calls, you’ll need at least one Inbound Route. This tells the PBX how to route calls from one or more phone numbers (DIDs) that you own to a destination on your PBX, e.g. an extension, a ring group, an IVR, or custom context. We’ve preconfigured a Default route which directs all incoming calls to the Demo IVR. To change it, navigate to PBX:External:Inbound Routes and choose the Default route from the Options bar. If you’d prefer that incoming calls be routed to extension 701, simply change the Inbound Destination. Then SAVE and Reload Dialplan.

3. Outbound email functionality is essential on your PBX. The easiest solution is to configure PostFix as an SMTP Relay using a Gmail account. You can do this easily from within the VitalPBX GUI. Navigate to Admin:System Settings:Email Settings and click the External Mail Server tab. Be sure that Gmail is selected and enter your Gmail name and password in the fields provided. Save your settings and send yourself an email using the field provided.

4. In order to take advantage of all the Incredible PBX applications, you’ll need to obtain IBM text-to-speech (TTS) and speech-to-text (STT) credentials. This Nerd Vittles tutorial will walk you through getting your IBM account set up and obtaining both your TTS and STT credentials. Be sure to write down BOTH sets of credentials which you’ll need in a minute. For home and SOHO use, IBM access and services are mostly FREE even though you must provide a credit card when signing up. The IBM signup process explains their pricing plans.

5. If you only wish to receive recorded voicemails by email, you can skip this step. Once you have obtained IBM TTS and STT passwords, here’s how to set up Voicemail Transcription with Email Message Delivery:

  a. After logging into your VitalPBX server as root using SSH/Putty:

cd /tmp
mkdir sendmail
cd sendmail
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/sendmailibm-vitalpbx.tar.gz
tar zxvf sendmailibm-vitalpbx.tar.gz
rm -f sendmailibm-vitalpbx.tar.gz
mv usr/sbin/sendmailibm /usr/sbin
cd /etc/asterisk/ombutel
echo "[general](+)" > voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf
echo "; format=wav|wav49|gsm" >> voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf
echo "mailcmd=/usr/sbin/sendmailibm" >> voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf
chown apache:apache voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf
rm -rf /tmp/sendmail

 
  b. Restart Asterisk core services: asterisk -rx "core reload"

  c. Edit /usr/sbin/sendmailibm and insert your IBM Watson STT APIkey on line 23. Change the language on line 31 if you don’t want en-US. Then save the file.

  d. Log back into the VitalPBX GUI and configure the extensions desired for email delivery of voicemail. For each extension in PBX:Extensions:General, enter an Email Address for delivery of voicemails. In PBX:Extensions:Voicemail, verify the VM settings from step #20.

6. Associating CallerID Names (CNAM) with inbound calls for display on SIP phones and in the CDR logs is an often-requested PBX feature. There are a few ways to do it. First, for less than a penny a call, you can activate the feature with your DIDs in the Skyetel Dashboard. Or, for about half the cost, you can acquire an OpenCNAM account and activate it in VitalPBX by navigating to PBX:Incoming Calls:CID Lookup. Choose OpenCNAM as the Source and enter your credentials. Then SAVE your settings and reload the dialplan. Then, for each of your Inbound Routes, add OpenCNAM as the CID Lookup source and Update your configuration.

7. To use Wolfram Alpha, sign up for a free Wolfram Alpha API account. Just provide your email address and set up a password. It takes less than a minute. Log into your account and click on Get An App ID. Make up a name for your application and write down (and keep secret) your APP-ID code. That’s all there is to getting set up with Wolfram Alpha. If you want to explore costs for commercial use, there are links to let you get more information.

8. In addition to your Wolfram Alpha APPID, there are two sets of IBM credentials to plug into the Asterisk AGI scripts. Keep in mind that there are different usernames and passwords for the IBM Watson TTS and STT services. The TTS credentials will look like the following: $IBM_username and $IBM_password. The STT credentials look like this: $API_USERNAME and $API_PASSWORD. Don’t mix them up. 🙂

All of the scripts requiring credentials are located in /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin so switch to that directory after logging into your server as root. Edit each of the following files and insert your TTS credentials in the variables already provided: nv-today2.php, ibmtts.php, and ibmtts2.php. Edit each of the following files and insert your STT credentials in the variables already provided: getquery.sh, getnumber.sh, and getnumber2.sh. Finally, edit 4747 and insert your Wolfram Alpha APPID.

9. Before you do anything else, navigate to Admin:Admin:Backup & Restore, configure and run a Full Backup, and then download the file and keep it in a safe place. Be advised that Backup/Restore doesn’t restore Add-Ons, /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin, custom contexts (extensions__80*.conf) in /etc/asterisk/ombutel, custom MySQL databases (mysqldump -u root yourDB > yourDB.sql), custom and lenny sound directories in /var/lib/asterisk/sounds, phpMyAdmin, /usr/local/sbin, and /etc/crontab.

10. AsteriDex is a web-based dialer and address book application for Asterisk and Incredible PBX. It lets you store and manage phone numbers of all your friends and business associates in an easy-to-use SQLite3 database. You simply call up the application with your favorite web browser: http://pbx-ip-address/asteridex4/. When you click on a contact that you wish to call, AsteriDex first calls you at extension 701, and then AsteriDex connects you to your contact through another outbound call made using your default outbound trunk that supports numbers in the 1NXXNXXXXXX format.

Configuring a Softphone for Incredible PBX

We’re in the home stretch now. You can connect virtually any kind of telephone to your new PBX. Plain Old Phones require an analog telephone adapter (ATA) which can be a separate board in your computer from a company such as Digium. Or it can be a standalone SIP device such as ObiHai’s OBi100 or OBi110 (if you have a phone line from Ma Bell to hook up as well). SIP phones can be connected directly so long as they have an IP address. These could be hardware devices or software devices. We’ll start with some free ones today so you can begin making calls. You can find dozens of recommendations for hardware-based SIP phones both on Nerd Vittles and the PIAF Forum when you’re ready to get serious about VoIP telephony.

For Windows, iOS, and Android platforms, we recommend the free VitalPBX Communicator.

For the Mac platform, we recommend the free Telephone app available in the App Store.

Managing the AsteriDex SQLite3 Database

We’ve alluded to the AsteriDex database in a couple of VitalPBX articles but never mentioned how to access it. Using a browser, point it to http://server-ip/asteridex4. You can add, edit, display, and delete entries from there. Before you can make changes in the database, issue the following command after logging into your server as root:

chown asterisk:apache /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin

Taking Incredible PBX for a Test Drive

You can take Incredible PBX for VitalPBX on a test drive in two ways. You can call our server, and then you can try things out on your own server and compare the results. Call our IVR by dialing 1-843-606-0555. For our international friends, you can use the following SIP URI for a free call: 10159591015959@atlanta.voip.ms. For tips on setting up your own secure, hybrid SIP URI with VitalPBX, see our original tutorial. The FreePBX® setup is virtually identical except for the location of the custom SIP setting for match_auth_username=yes. On a VitalPBX server, you will enter it here: Settings:Technology Settings:SIP Settings:CUSTOM.

With Allison’s Demo IVR, you can choose from the following options:

  • 0. Chat with Operator — connects to extension 701
  • 1. AsteriDex Voice Dialer (412) – say "Delta Airlines" or "American Airlines" to connect
  • 2. Conferencing (2663) – log in using 1234 as the conference PIN
  • 3. Wolfram Alpha Almanac (4747) – say "What planes are flying overhead now?"
  • 4. Lenny (53669) – The Telemarketer’s Worst Nightmare
  • 5. Today’s News Headlines (951) — courtesy of Yahoo! News
  • 6. Weather by ZIP Code (947) – enter any 5-digit ZIP code for today’s weather
  • 7. Today in History (86329) — courtesy of OnThisDay.com
  • 8. Call Extension 701 — on your local PBX
  • 9. DISA Voice Dialer (3172) — say any 10-digit number to be connected
  • *. Current TIME and Date (8463) — courtesy of VitalPBX

CAUTION: We have intentionally disabled outbound calls using Option #9 and redirected callers to Lenny. The reason is that an unscrupulous caller could easily run up your phone bill by entering a number with expensive destination charges. If you wish to enable the feature, despite the risks, you can edit extensions__80-1-incrediblepbx.conf and make the change.

You can call your own IVR in a few ways. From an internal VitalPBX phone, dial D-E-M-O (2663) to be connected. Or simply dial the number of the DID you routed to the Incredible PBX Custom Context. Local users can also dial the individual feature codes shown in parentheses above. Be sure that you heed AND test the CAUTION documented above.

Originally published: Monday, October 28, 2019



Need help with Asterisk? Join our new MeWe Support Site.


 

Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors

FULL DISCLOSURE: RentPBX, Amazon, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, Digium, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. 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 plus quadruple data center redundancy assures that you’ll never have a failed call. Tutorial and sign up details are here.

VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously offered to provide a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX that is specifically tailored for use with Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Soon!
 

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.
 


​​3CX is a software PBX that’s easy to install & manage. It includes integrated softphones, WebRTC conferencing and essential add-ons out of the box, at no additional cost. Try the free edition at www.3cx.com. Better yet, download the PIAF5 ISO powered by 3CX. Free version includes support for 8 simultaneous calls with a SIP trunk.

  • Run on Premise or in the Cloud, on Windows and now on Linux
  • Softphones for iOS, Android, Win & Mac
  • Easy install, backup & restore, version upgrades
  • Automatically configures IP Phones, SIP Trunks & Gateways

  • RentPBX, a long-time partner and supporter of PIAF project, is offering generous discounts for Nerd Vittles readers. For all of your Incredible PBX hosting needs, sign up at www.RentPBX.com and use code NOGOTCHAS to get the special pricing. The code will lower the price to $14.99/month, originally $24.99/month. It’s less than 50¢/day.


    Print Friendly, PDF & Email

    Be Sociable, Share!

    1. Many of our purchase links refer users to Amazon when we find their prices are competitive for the recommended products. Nerd Vittles receives a small referral fee from Amazon to help cover the costs of our blog. We never recommend particular products solely to generate Amazon commissions. However, when pricing is comparable or availability is favorable, we support Amazon because Amazon supports us. []

    This article has 1 comment

    1. I can’t seem to get any of the VirtualBox builds to work? There is no box to "initialize the MAC address of the image".

      [WM: Newer releases of VirtualBox don’t have the initialize prompt. Sorry.]

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    *