Should I novice Linux user consider setting up a FreePBX system?

I work for a small company with 8 work station. The previous network admin I took over for had setup a FreePBX system (Details below) on an older system that was lying around. It has been working ok for about a year. We have had issues with some calls being lost and periodically the system will reboot without notice. It has worked well enough to give us time to plan on its replacement.
Current system info
Asterisk (Ver.
FreePBX (
3 Polycom SoundPoint 500 devices
5 Polycom SoundPoint 501 devices
3GB ram
Intel® Pentium® 4 CPU 3.20GHz

My first question I have is trying to figure out if I have the ability to setup a PBX system. I realize this can be a hard question to answer but I will try and give some details. I run a Linux file server at home and at work. I have been making minor changes to the PBX system we currently have like changing extensions to new users. I would consider myself a novice Linux user. I am not afraid of reading and following instructions though.

To make the instillation process easier I planned on getting a FreePBX appliance and I am not against buying new phones if it would help. I found instructions for appliance setup but that is only to get logged into the web interface. It seems to me that would be the easier part of setting up the system. Is there instruction for the rest of the setup? So any feedback would be appreciated.

Please let me know if any other information will help answer my question

Thanks in advance
Henry Robinson

The appliance comes fully loaded. I would also plan on spending a few hours with support to get your. Configuration migrated.

Thank you for the reply.

When you say “configurations migrated” are you suggesting I keep my current phones as well? From trying to work with the current system I get the feeling that my current phones are not ideal. Meaning that if I purchased new phones it would make configuration and changes in the future much easier. Can someone confirm if this is a valid belief or not? I am also concerned about using the old systems settings because some features seem to not work correctly. For example I can’t seem to change hold music. (I can give more details on the problems if it would help)

I have also been digging around a lot trying to find more information on how to configure a PBX system after the web connecting instructions I found before. I am not ruling out the idea of getting support on the contrary having support to fall back on gives me more confidence to try on my own first and if I fail I can get support to help. (would love to hear any opinion on this)

While digging for instructions I found this wiki

Am I correct in thinking this describes the steps I would need to take if I did not migrate my current configurations?

There is nothing wrong with the phones you have. They are not the source of your issues and are high quality/

The 500 is an older model but works fine.

The phones are already setup so you are good with that.

As far as migrating, there is no setting for MOH that could be wrong. Mostly I am thinking of IVR’s, voice mail, custom announcements that can be moved so you don’t have to do it all over again.

Certainly with such a small system you could just have the new and old system web page side by side and copy the settings, then you could simply copy the voice mail and recordings from machine to machine.

The PBX is logically laid out. You should spend some time looking at all the screens. If you don’t understand something you can look up the wiki page for that module. Also “hovering” your mouse over a field brings context sensitive help.

Let us know how you are doing.

You would consider to try (on a new Hardware/on the same Hardware?) the FreePBX Distro which lets you have a fully integrated system (CentOS 6.5 based, with Asterisk 11.7 and latest FreePBX framework and a coherent way of managing module updates and system updates and upgrades).

More than which type of IP Phones you have, IMHO, you should evaluate what type of PCI (Trunk) card you have to connect to your four POTS lines and figure out if it is supported or not (I think it could be supported: if it works now it will works for sure with a new versions of both Asterisk and FreePBX but a check is mandatory).

Migrations are intended as “migration of system/FreePBX modules configurations” so on the new system you will be up and running without re-entering/re-configuring Extensions, Trunk, Inbound/Outbound rules, IVR, Address-book and so on…but, if your actual system is very simple, better to start again from the ground (it’s quite easy and sometime a better way to avoid painful system migrations).

A whole different story if your actual system is very highly customized and has a lot of Extensions (just as example) or very uncommon (unsupported) hardware.

Any well (UPS) protected system and any well engineered system (in terms of the sum of Hardware components and Software system installed on it) shouldn’t reboot itself nor sporadically neither randomly: it should be up and running rock solid and last longer. It should see a reboot IF the IT administrator acts to reboot it (like when a reboot is required after major system - read: Kernel - updates) as a part of normal system maintenance.
A system that hasn’t such rock solid behaviour is clearly unreliable and shouldn’t be used to act as a communication system’s appliance.

"You would consider to try (on a new Hardware/on the same Hardware?)"
Not sure what you mean buy this. If you are asking about using the old system it is just not a good idea.

Because I do not know how long it will take me and if I will succeed I plan on keeping the old phone system running until the new one is working. If I use the old phones I will setup the new system with just one phone that we can spare and then switch the rest after I know they will work. This will however force me to buy a new PCI (Trunk) card. I plan on asking advice on my hardware decisions after getting a better understanding about how well my plan sounds to the professionals.

I am leaning towards not migrating because I think the last network admin did do some custom configurations and our system seems simple enough.

Oh and the current computer I am well aware is far from optimal setup. It has worked though and cost us almost nothing. It is also giving us enough time to plan out a replacement.

I am glad to hear you think my phones will work. That will save some money and make my boss happier. We might need one more phone if we do will it be a problem to mix one with the rest of the older phones? I am assuming this would not be a problem.

I am very concerned about migrating. But I guess I could try to migrate if it works great if not I could always reinstall and start over.

Thank both of you for all your help so far.


can you really not edit after posting?

Using your actual used Hardware is not a good idea (wearing). I agree.

Recently I followed a similar replacement path and I built a new Intel ATOM based low powered system (at time, July 2013, FreePBX Distro 3.211.63 with Asterisk 10 was available, in the meantime the system has been upgraded - step by step - to FreePBX Distro 5.211.65 up to its latest Minor Release revision 4 - I did this just yesterday overnight). The new system run in parallel with the customer legacy system (an ancient 4 units Intel Celeron with Asterisk 1.2 system!).

Oh yes, this mean I purchased a brand new PCI Trunk Card (in my case it was an ISDN BRI Card) but it was so cheap that doing so I was able to set up the new system without any hassle and, once the new system passed basic PSTN connection’s tests, I registered 14 customer’s phones on it flawlessly (those phones are OLD GrandStream GXP2000, still running!).

So If I were you I will concentrate on selecting a good (supported, non necessarily certified) PSTN Trunk PCI Card and about updating Firmware on relevant IP terminals (if that is advisable).