Sunday, October 21, 2007

Alternative to Trixbox coming soon

The folks over at have an interesting project in the works -- PBX in a Flash. Apparently they (and others) are getting a bit fed up with the direction that Trixbox is taking; on the nerdvittles site, the authors put it this way: "suffice it to say that it’s just gotten a little too proprietary, too closed, and too commercial for our open source, puritanical tastes."

So they decided to take matters into their own hands, and are working on something called "PBX in a Flash". From the site:

Our up front promise is to keep the project open, participatory, reliable, and fun. After all, that’s what the Asterisk revolution was and is all about. The plan is to provide a free ISO-based offering for home or office use that will run on a dedicated Linux machine. There also will be a VMware image that will run on a Windows desktop. And, for the Mac desktop, we’ll provide both a VMware and a Parallels image.

I'll be interested to see where this goes, and intend to give it a try.

Trixbox and the Linksys SPA922

I got tired of trying to figure out how to wire my office such that we could continue to use the analog phones we have with the Trixbox setup I recently installed. Accordingly, I bit the bullet and ordered some Linksys SPA922 phones as a trial run. These are true IP phones, meaning that all they need hooked up to them is an ethernet cable (and a power adapter, if you are too cheap to purchase the Power over Ethernet adapter).

These are wonderful phones.

Setting it up on the internal network was absolutely trivial. Unpack it, hook up the handset, run an ethernet cable to it, and tell it what extension id and password you want, and you are finished. In fact, it's so easy to set up that I really can't see the point of posting the details here.... the quick start guide that comes with the phone is self explanatory, and so simple my 10 year old daughter could probably figure it out.

As a bonus, the various "star key" combinations are pre-configured to work with Asterisk, so I didn't even have to set those up. Right off the bat the call forward, do-not-disturb, and voice mail keys worked.

Great phone.

Next, I'm going to try to hook one of these up as a remote extension, and have an office phone at home as well. My understanding is that this would be easier with an IAX2 phone, but I don't have one of those, so I'll figure out how to do this with what I have at my disposal.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Using the Vonage SoftPhone with Asterisk

As promised, here are some more details about setting up an Asterisk system for a small office/home office. Last time we got a single hard line up and running, and this time we are going to add true VOIP functionality to our system.

You may have been reading about Vonage in the news a bit lately. Yes, they are under some serious attacks by the established telcos, but they offer a wonderful service -- easily the best quality VOIP I have tried. More to the point for this exercise, Vonage offers a service that interfaces nicely with Aterisk -- the softphone.

Vonage offers a softphone option for existing customers -- in Canada, at least, it's an add on to an existing service, and costs around $15.00/month. I understand it is less expensive elsewhere, but even at $15.00, it's fairly cheap.

I wanted to have my outgoing calls on the office network not be limited to the number of hard lines from our local telco; voip is, of course, a wonderful alternative to this, and (at least around here) Vonage's offering is every bit as good as a telco. At least none of my customer's have noticed the difference...

Here's how to set up the Vonage softpone as a trunk (inbound and outbound) on Asterisk (specifically on Trixbox).

1) Add a trunk. In FreePBX, choose Setup -> Trunks -> Add Trunk. Name the trunk whatever your softphone number is, i.e. 19995551212.
2) Outbound caller id - this appears to no have effect, but I set mine up anyway, i.e. "Caller id Inc" <19995551212>
3) For "Peer Details" I used this:

fromuser=[vonage phone number]
username=[vonage phone number]

Note that "secret" and "username" must be changed to whatever you got from Vonage. Also, the "square brackets" are not part of the peer details.

4) Under User Context, I entered this:

fromuser=[vonage phone number]
secret=[vonage password]
username=[vonage phone number]

5) For register string, I used this:


For example, if your phone number is 1-999-555-1212 and your secret is abcd1234, you would enter:

Save, and your trunk is now active. Next, we need to add outbound routes.

Last time around, we added a context for dialing out by pressing 9. We are going to modify that so that by default, all outbound calls first go out through vonage, and if that fails or is too busy, then use the hard line. This is trival.

Modify your outbound route "0 9_Outside". Scroll down to Trunk Sequence, and use the drop down menus to select the first as being vonage, and the second as your hard line. Save, and you are done.

That was easy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Asterisk, Trixbox, and the Linksys SPA 3102

I have finally completed my Asterisk installation, and have it working. Surprisingly, it was fairly painless. As I had indicated in an earlier post, I intended to get it working using a single incoming analog line, a Linksys Sipura 3000, and a fairly elderly PC. Much to my surprise, I was able to procure a 1.8 GHz Pentium IV machine for less than $200.00, and it works very, very well.

The Linksys Sipura 3000 had been replaced by the SPA 3102 by the time I got around to ordering one, so I bought one from (cheaper shipping, and overnight at that!) It arrived, and here's what I did:

Install Trixbox
This is trival. I downloaded the version 2.2.4 ISO from, burned a CD and inserted it into the drive on the PC I am using as a PBX. I rebooted, answered a few (obvious) questions, and let it do its thing. Two additional automatic reboots later, Trixbox was installed.
By default, the Trixbox install uses DHCP to get an IP address, and that's no good, so I logged in as root and set the IP address to a static one, so I'd know how to get there. Do this by typing "netconfig" at the prompt, as root, and give it an IP address. Now, reboot one final time.

Configure Trixbox
All configuration is done from a web browser. Assuming you chose as the IP address for your Trixbox machine in the previous step, just fire up your favourite web browser and go there ( We need to get to admin mode, so click on the "[ switch ]" link in the upper right hand corner. You will be prompted for a password. The default username/password combination is "maint/password". We'll change that later.

Now, Choose "FreePBX" from the "Asterisk" menu, and we are ready to start. A new browser window (or tab, depending on your browser) will open. Click on "Tools" in the top menu, and then "Modules" from the menu on the left. Click on "Check for updates online." Click on "Download all". Install all modules.

Now, we need to set up some trunks. In my situation, I have one hard line coming in (a physical telco line) and I'm using Vonage's softphone for an addtional, pure VOIP line. We'll do the hard line first. It's connected using the SPA 3102.

SPA 3102
This is fairly easy to set up. Plug it in, and connect to it using a crossover cable and a PC/Mac/whatever. Go to its built in web browser, and give it a static IP address. I chose The web based admin is typical Linksys -- easy to use. Assuming the IP address you chose is the same as mine, go here:

Note that there are no passwords set on the SPA 3102 by default. You'll probably want to change that.

I made the following changes to the SPA 3102's default configuration:

1) Remove all "Vertical Service Activation Codes" under Voice/Regional. They conflict with the codes we will use in Asterisk.
2) Under Line 1, Proxy/Registration, I set the Proxy to (the IP of the trixbox machine)
3) On the same screen, I set DTMF Tx Method to Inband+Info
4) On the same screen, I set up the info for the extension we're going to set up in Asterisk shortly -- Display Name = your name, password to whatever you want for a password, User ID = the extension number you are going to assign to the phone hooked up to the SPA 3102.

All done.

Setting up Trunks
Now, let's set up a trunk for this in Asterisk. Back on the FreePBX window in your browser, click on "Setup" on the top menu, then "Trunks" on the left menu. There is a ZAP trunk there, but we'll ignore it. Add a SIP trunk.

Fill in the values as follows, modifying for your particular information as required:

Outbound caller id: "19995551212"
This is your caller id information.

Maximum channels: 1
Trunk Name: SPA3102
Peer Details:


User Context: SPA3102_In

Now save the info. Okay, we have a trunk. Let's add a method of dialing out to the outside world.

Adding Outbound Routes
Click on "Setup" in the top menu, then Outbound Routes in the left. You probably have a route called "9_Outside", so let's use that. If not, add one and name it 9_Outside.

All we have to do here is specify a dial patter. I want to use "dial 9 for an outside line", so I have this in the dial pattern box:
That was easy. Now pick SIP/SPA3102 as your trunk, and save your changes.

Next, we need to have a method of receiving calls, so let's add an extension.

Adding an Extension
This is trivial. Click "Setup" in the top menu, then "Extensions" in the left menu. Add an extension. Add a SIP extension. All you really need is the extension number, but voice mail is nice, so scroll down and add that info. Be sure to specify a password for voice mail, and for the extension! If you added extension info to the SPA3102 when you set that up, you might as well enter the same information here....

Save, and you are good do go. Now let's add an inbound route, so we can receive calls.

Adding Inbound Routes
This is fairly easy as well. Just click on "Setup" in the top menu, then "Inbound Routes" in the left menu. Add a route. We are just going to have one for now, and it will handle all calls. Just add a route with the DID info (and everything else) set to defaults (empty) and then under "Set Destination" (at the bottom of the screen) choose "Core" and select the extension you set up a few moments ago.

Change the Passwords!
You really should change the passwords for Trixbox. You will notice a couple of rather profound warnings in the web based admin tool, with links to how to go about changing them. I strongly recommend you do so.

Next time, I'll give details on how to hook Vonage's softphone up , as well as the Linksys SPA922 IP Phone. We'll configure it for use within the network, as well as an external (remote) extension.