PBX in a Flash for Newbies

Introduction to PBX in a Flash


Introduction to PBX in a Flash

Asterisk PBX is a free open source PC based private branch exchange (PBX) application originally developed by Digium. It runs on Linux platforms and comes in many different distributions. A distribution is a complete software package on CD that includes everything that the originator of the distribution feels is required to install and run an Asterisk PBX server. Examples of distributions are the orginal Asterisk PBX release, SwitchVOX and PBX in a Flash.

The distributions may consist of the Linux operating system, Asterisk PBX, administration tools, databases, web servers, email servers, dhcp servers, etc.. This website concentrates on the PBX in a Flash distribution for several reasons:

  • It is a very complete distribution that contains everything that is needed to install and configure an Asterisk PBX quickly. The flash refers to getting up and running in a flash (not a flash drive)
  • Provides automatic updates of modules
  • Uses the FreePBX web client configuration tool - great GUI configuration tool!
  • You can run it in a VMware window
  • The only distribution that allows you to dual boot with WinXP so that you can test and fool around with Asterisk PBX (must use PiaF 1.2)
  • You can install a bootable version in a 4.0 GB USB flash drive!

The pbx runs on Linux platforms and comes in many different distributions.

Basic Information to get Started

  1. System Summary
    • Want to know more about the architecture of the PBX in a Flash distribution of Asterisk PBX? This is the place.
  2. Installation
    • Tips and procedure on how to install PBX in a Flash on to a PC
  3. Users and Passwords
    • My goal is to clear up the confusion on the multitude of administrators and passwords and consolidate the administrator accounts for the main systems. Basically create order out of chaos!
  4. Logging on to Linux, Asterisk CLI, FreePBX and Webmin
  5. Stopping the System
    • In order to shutdown Asterisk, you must follow a certain order otherwise your configuration will be corrupted (experience talking).
  6. Where to find Help!
    • System Summary
      Want to know more about the Asterisk PBX system? This is the place with links to some very nice pdfs and websites.
    • Server Help!
      There are several help menus available on the server. Here's where to find them and what those commands are that whiz by the screen so fast you can't read them!
    • Visit the PBX in a Flash Forums
      There's many forum members who are more than willing to help you. They've probably already solved the problems that you are trying to fix
    • Visit the FreePBX Forums
      Another group of helpful Asterisk users who will go the extra distance to help
  7. Installing Modules
    • From time to time, you will have to upgrade or install a module. This webpage steps you through installing an example: IVR Module
  8. The beautiful Webmin web based server configuration tool
    • Webmin's job is to provide a web based graphic user interface (GUI) that configures all of the text based configuration files and pretty much everything that you would want to do to configure the Linux portion of PiaF. If you want to configure the hardware, servers, security, time, etc.. it's done here!
  9. Configuration Files
    • Here's the scoop on the configuration files that are used by PBX in a Flash. This webpage will give a brief overview of the configuration files, where they are located, what they do and if you can or cannot modify them.
  10. A word about Extensions and Dial Plans
    • Don't manually edit those dialplans yet! There's some things you should know about FreePBX and .conf files
  11. Setting the Time Straight!
    • Synchronizing the time on the phones, server and voice mail. Easier than it looks and makes everyone happy!
  12. Feature Codes
    • PBX in a Flash comes pre-configured with standard feature codes that are accessible from an extension's dial keypad. For example, these allow you to check your extension number, find out the current time and perform an echo test. Handy troubleshooting tools to determine if your extensions are working correctly.
  13. Testing the Connection
    • Asterisk provides basic testing services to determine if the extension is working correctly.
  14. Zaptel Driver based configurations
    Zaptel is the older telephony drivers used in versions earlier than Asterisk 1.6. Here's information on how to configure and troubleshoot zaptel interfaces.
    • The order of loading of conf files for the Zaptel interface is:
      1. /etc/zaptel.conf
        This file contains the Linux hardware configuration
      2. /etc/asterisk/zapata.conf
        This file holds global configurations and may contain "includes" to the following zapata conf files. There doesn't appear to be a "standard" install for zapata conf files. It seems to change depending on the version of Asterisk that you have.
        • /etc/asterisk/zapata-auto.conf
          This is auto generated by genzapconf and will contain the FXS/FXO channel information.
        • /etc/asterisk/zapata_additional.conf
          This conf contains the FXS extensions information created by FreePBX.
        • /etc/asterisk/zapata_custom.conf
          This is manually created and edited by you for FXO and E1/T1 trunks
    • Setting up a POTS phone extensions
      • You've heard of FXS ports, here's how to configure your FXS port for use with a POTS phone.
    • Setting up a POTS line trunk
      • If you want to connect the Asterisk PBX to the local phone line. The FXO port is what you need to use.
    • Configuring a T1 Line
      • How to configure a T1 line to work with a channel bank using Zaptel
    • Connect two PBXs using a T1 ISDN PRI trunk and Zaptel
    • No Asterisk CLI zap Help?
      • How to troubleshoot your Zaptel configuration when there is no Asterisk CLI zap help options showing.
    • Testing Zaptel Hardware
      • How to verify that your Zaptel hardware is working correctly
    • Performance Testing Zaptel Hardware
      • Now that your zaptel hardware is working, better test it to make sure your getting the best performance possible.

  15. Dahdi is the newer telephony drivers used in versions starting with Asterisk 1.6. Think of Zaptel as version 1 and Dahdi as Version 2. Dahdi is the new improved Zaptel with a name change due to trademark infringement. Here's information on how to configure and troubleshoot Dahdi interfaces.

    • This is a dahdi mind map. It is an interactive flowchart that has dahdi configuration and troubleshooting. I suggest that you zoom all the way out using the horizontal zoom bar in the lower left corner. You can navigate around by clicking and dragging the background. It's not obvious but click on paperclips for text info, the small magnifying glass to view the images full size and the globe to access the hyperlinks. The links you click on are pretty small and I found them hard to click on when fully zoomed out (the preferred viewing size). Use the +/- signs to expand/contract the map. The right hand side is configuration info and the left hand side is troubleshooting info.

      The order of loading of conf files for dahdi are:

      1. /etc/dahdi/system.conf
        This file contains the Linux hardware configuration
      2. /etc/asterisk/chan_dahdi.conf
        This file holds global configurations and may contain "includes" to the following dahdi conf files. Unfortunately, there seems to be a conflicting conf file generated by dahdi_genconf that can cause problems!
        • /etc/asterisk/dahdi_channels.conf
          This is auto generated by dahdi_genconf and will contain FXS/FXO channel information. Depending on the version, it may put arbitrary extension numbers in that do NOT correspond with your dialplan. CHECK this file or delete its include in chan_dahdi.conf.
        • /etc/asterisk/chan_dahdi_additional.conf
          This conf contains the FXS extensions information created by FreePBX.
        • /etc/asterisk/chan_dahdi_custom.conf
          This is manually created and edited by you for FXO and E1/T1 trunks

    • There is a new Webmin - Dahdi HW Module under developement that may aid in configuring Dahdi and Asterisk.

    • Setting up a POTS phone extensions
      • You've heard of FXS ports, here's how to configure your FXS port for use with a POTS phone.
    • Setting up a POTS line trunk
      • If you want to connect the Asterisk PBX to the local phone line. The FXO port is what you need to use.
    • Configuring a T1 Line
      • How to configure a T1 line to work with a channel bank using Dahdi
    • Connect two PBXs using a T1 ISDN PRI trunk and Dahdi
    • No Asterisk CLI Dahdi Help?
      • How to troubleshoot your Dadhi configuration when there is no Asterisk CLI Dahdi help options showing.
    • Testing Dahdi Hardware
      • How to verify that your Dahdi hardware is working correctly
    • Performance Testing Dahdi Hardware
      • Now that your Dahdi hardware is working, better test it to make sure your getting the best performance possible.

  16. Setting up a SIP phone extension
    • How to get a Snom 190 VOIP phone working with Asterisk PBX using FreePBX
  17. Setting up a softphone extension
    • Turn your PC into a VOIP phone using the free X-lite softphone application
  18. No Asterisk CLI SIP Help?
    • How to troubleshoot your configuration when there is no Asterisk CLI SIP help options showing.
  19. Troubleshooting SIP Problems
    • If you hear the dreaded "All circuits are busy now. Please try your call later.", analyzing the SIP messages will give you clues to the problem. Here's more information than you need.
  20. Setting up a POTS to VoIP ATA IAX trunk
    • Here's where you'll find information on configuring and using a Digium IAXy S100I device to convert a POTS phone to a VoIP phone
  21. Setting up a Digital Receptionist
  22. Connecting two Asterisk PBX servers
  23. Setting up Voice Mail
  24. Configuring a firewall to pass external VOIP traffic
    • You have Asterisk configured - how do you allow external VOIP traffic to pass through your firewall to the local network?
  25. PBX in a Flash and VLANs
    • How to configure your network switch and router for VLANs and incorporate PBX in a Flash into the picture

Resources

  • PBX in a Flash
    The distribution of Asterisk PBX that includes CentOS, FreePBX and a host of other vital programs
  • PiaF Without Tears
    Here's a great downloadable resource from Ben Sharif. Kudos to Ben for his excellent effort in documenting how to do the more complicated stuff in PBX in a Flash (PiaF). This book is a necessity!
  • System Summary
    Want to know more about the architecture of the PBX in a Flash distribution of Asterisk PBX? This is the place for more reference sources and a little bit of background on this thing called PBX in a Flash.
  • FreePBX
    The home of the web based configuration client for Asterisk PBX
  • Webmin
    The home of the web based configuration client for all Non Asterisk stuff.
  • Asterisk.org
    Home of the Asterisk PBX - core to PBX in a Flash
  • Digium
    Home of the originators of Asterisk PBX and the manufacturer of systems and hardware for use with Asterisk
  • Asterisk Guru
    Great site for information on configuring, installing and troubleshooting Asterisk
  • Asterisk Tutorials
    Another great site that has online video tutorials on how to do the basics on Asterisk
  • VOIP.org
    Intensive collection of information about VOIP and Asterisk. Pages and pages of information. If it ain't there then you better add it cause its a wiki!

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