VoIPowering Your Office: Administering trixbox Pro

Udated: A well designed interface makes setting up the package pretty easy—but there are some odd little hitches.

By Carla Schroder | Posted Sep 10, 2007
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In our previous trixbox Pro installments we looked at its architecture, feature set, and installation. Now it's time to do some actual work with it.

Logging in
Remember, because of trixbox Pro's hybrid-hosted architecture, your server administration is all performed remotely at Fonality's data center. So point your Web browser to https://cp.trixbox.com and log in with the login given to you in your welcome email. (See registering and downloading trixbox Pro.)

Before logging in, take a moment to check out the Welcome screen. There are icons for some useful links loitering inconspicuously at the bottom left of the login screen: View Release Notes, Open a Support Request, a Suggestion Box, and Knowledge Base.

The most important checkbox on the login page is the one with the little padlock. This means "use SSL." Don't send your login in cleartext; always make sure this is checked. Alternatively, just bookmark the HTTPS version of the URL, like https://cp.trixbox.com. Then you won't have to remember.

Setting up your server
I think of those dopey Geico caveman commercials when I'm cruising the trixbox Pro interface ("so easy a caveman can do it"). Though I prefer something a bit less insulting, like "a sanely-designed interface that doesn't require a whole level of knowledge on top of understanding how to run a VoIP server." Good interface design doesn't substitute for knowing what you're doing, but it does make your job a lot easier with a sensible layout and helpful comments that guide you on where to go next.

Your first job is to create user extensions, which of course trixbox Pro helpfully tells you to do. Every configuration choice has an explanatory rollover; just hover the mouse on the question mark. This can be disabled if it bothers you. How? Read the rollover to find out. You should have a master plan for your telephone extensions so that you don't overlap, and a naming convention for user logins, which trixbox Pro calls "Web Username." This is the login your users will need to access the trixbox Pro user control panel, and also the HUD Lite/Pro control panel.

You'll also need to set up your telephones and voicemail prompts. If you use certified phones (Polycom, Aastra, or the trixbox soft phone) it's easy, because during post-installation you had the option to download the firmware for Polycom and Aastra hard phones. Uncertified phones require a few more steps because you'll have to configure them manually. I'm not familiar with Aastra phones yet, but I do use Polycom phones, and they are of good quality.

Setting up softphones
There is a trixbox softphone that you can order, but I wasn't able to figure out how to actually order it. I found instructions that said to go to https://buy.trixbox.com/trixbox/ and click "Order upgrades/support for an existing trixbox Pro server." Well, that gave me an error message that said I had to be logged in first. But I was logged in already. I tried logging in again, to no avail.

I didn't feel like buying a softphone anyway since there are plenty of nice free ones, so I tried both X-Lite and Twinkle. X-Lite is cross-platform and Twinkle runs on Linux only. After some trial and error I figured out that the way to add an uncertified softphone is to go to Extensions --> Devices and add a trixbox softphone. Then follow the instructions on that page to use sXXXXXX.trixbox.fonality.com everywhere you need a server specified in your softphone's configuration. You cannot set the login name on the phone, but have to use the one assigned by trixbox, which is SOFTPHONE00X. It starts at 1 and then counts up sequentially for each softphone you add. Then you run into what I think is a bug: There is no way to set an authentication password on the phone. Supposedly the user's Web login is the correct password, but this doesn't work, and that's not how Asterisk is supposed to work anyway: Phones have their own logins that are separate from user logins.

I took a peek in /etc/asterisk/sip.conf on my local server, and this line tells the tale:

secret=0

So logging in using SOFTPHONE001 for the authentication name and 0 for the password worked. I tried setting a different password in /etc/asterisk/sip.conf, but it got overwritten. Hopefully next week I'll have some information from the nice Fonality folks about these two issues.

Configuring X-Lite and Twinkle softphones
So here is a cheatsheet for configuring X-Lite. Go to System Settings --> SIP Proxy --> Default and configure these items, using your own softphone name and server address:

Enabled =Yes
Display Name=whatever name you want to use
Username=SOFTPHONE00X
Authorization user=SOFTPHONE00X
Password=0
Domain/Realm=sXXXXXX.trixbox.fonality.com (for example, s284421.trixbox.fonality.com. The number is your unique server number, which you'll also see in your server's hostname.)
SIP Proxy=sXXXXXX.trixbox.fonality.com

In Twinkle go to Edit --> User Profile --> User tab:

Your name= whatever name you want
User name=SOFTPHONE00X
Domain=sXXXXXX.trixbox.fonality.com
Authentication name=SOFTPHONE00X
Password=0

Then go to the Edit --> User Profile --> SIP tab:

Registrar=sXXXXXX.trixbox.fonality.com

If you set up two extensions you can have them call each other even if you don't have outbound calling configured yet.

Next week we'll go into more detail on configuring soft and hard phones, troubleshooting, and have fun with DNS, because trixbox Pro wants you to use its own included DNS server rather than your own.

Update -
Here is a follow-up on the two problems I had:

1. The online ordering system works fine now-either it healed itself, or I was doing something wrong.

2. The nice folks at Fonality say this is the correct way to add a non-certified softphone:

"When adding a device that is not supported (such as a 3rd-party softphone), you can use the vendor labeled "Other" and visibly see the SIP password from the Extensions->devices page. Additionally, the SIP password for unsupported device swill not change when assigning extensions to the device."

Resources
VoIPowering Your Office: trixbox Pro Reviewed
VoIPowering Your Office: Fonality Promotes trixbox to the Pro Ranks

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