Small Office

I am considering retiring my old analog system and replacing it with a Sangoma system. Sangoma offers a FreePBX unit and also the PBXact phone systems (already installed with additional modules?). I am looking for information on the way to proceed with this. And switching from analog to SIP now we have finally got fast broadband?

Any thoughts and advice welcomed?

We are pleased with your interest in Sangoma’s VoIP offerings. It would likely be better to talk about this over the phone as there is quite a bit to discuss. Call me in the office at 920-215-0279 when you have a few free minutes. My name is Mark Carson and i am pretty easy to get hold of.


The choices you are asking about are pretty straight forward and can (as a start) be handled here…

  • Choice of FreePBX or a Sangoma appliance:

When you choose a Sangoma Appliance (or PBXact), you are getting FreePBX, but you are getting it on hardware that’s tested and works well with the software. You are also getting a “more or less” plug and play solution.

  • If you choose FreePBX, you need to decide where you are going to install it.

There are (once again) only two real choices. Since it’s a small office, the first is to host the software on whatever small leftover hardware you have laying around. The FreePBX system, and Asterisk in general, are pretty low-impact systems and don’t require a lot of resources from a machine. Obviously, the more resources, the better, but the minimum requirements are pretty low. In fact, there have been several reports about “brand new” machines having problems with unsupported network cards because the drivers aren’t new enough. We are not on the leading edge of anything here.

The second option is to go with a “cloud based” hosting company. There are lots and some work better than others. See the forums for lots more information on that.

  • Get commercial support or do it yourself.

You can hire anyone (including Mark, me, dicko, or even gasp Sangoma) to help you install the system. The other option there is you can try it yourself. The advantage of DIY on this is that you will learn how the system works and can make improvements over time. Hiring someone to manage your system for you means you end up writing a check every time you want to get something done.

There are lots of other issues that you are going to learn about and deal with as you move forward, including who to get transfer your phone number to (so people can call you) and how much bandwidth you need dedicated to the phone system (64kbps per external conversation in each direction - up and down - is the benchmark number I use.)

As you find the problems, you can Google them and get a lot of answers - some good and some “less good”, but they will give you a lot of insight into how to set your network and system up. You can also come back here and ask questions, which is nice for the next guy. There’s a search function you can use to see if the problem you are seeing has occurred before (hint - it probably has) and you can usually get pretty reasonable answers to reasonable questions.

Have fun and stay safe.


My choice is to buy an appliance and hire help or to install myself? What sort of hardware would I need? Maybe I will have a quick go at this see how steep the learning curve is and then make a final decision?

For a few SIP phones (say under 10), pretty much any old PC will work. 2G of RAM is a must (4 is better) and 1 reasonably sized hard drive you don’t mind reformatting. I’d stay way from the Raspberry implementation, but only because of the read/write cycle limits on the solid state SD cards they use.

Seriously - walk into the Goodwill and say “I want an old PC”. Asterisk and FreePBX don’t really need a lot in terms or resources, so just about anything will work. You’ll eventually want something reliable (good power supply, hardware that hasn’t overheated, good bearings on the hard disk) but to learn and see what’s what, just about any old POC PC will work.

i am using an old Dell desktop PC with a 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 with 2 GB of RAM and a 80GB hard drive for my home server implementation. Admittedly, my system is only for my home phone network with two analog phones and a handful of SIP softphones and the call volume is very low, but the ancient hardware I am using has been working just fine without putting any kind of serious load on the hardware.

If you do decide to “do it yourself”, I found Crosstalk Solutions’ “FreePBX 101” series on YouTube VERY useful. I think he does a great job of explaining things in a way even a noob like me can understand, and he explains not only how to set things up, but also WHY. Well worth the watch if you are new to things and trying to get a bare bones PBX up and running.
Do however be aware that the videos were made a few years ago and FreePBX has changed a little. The screens may have changed a little, but the methods are the same.

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I will take some time to look at the videos … I have a lot of retired hardware that I use fir spares, I’m not sure I would use this for my office phone system, as generally it was retired for a reason.

As said, I’m not sure I have any hardware I would use for this other than to learn with, but then this a danger as it could then become the long term install. Maybe not a good idea on retired hardware.

If I purchased something the point about network cards concerns me etc … can I boot the install from a USB stick?

You haven’t decided if you want to install yourself or have someone else do it. POS hardware to check out the system makes perfect sense in your case.


I am going to give it a go myself; I already have a couple of basic VOIP phones delivered and I also have some new computer hardware arriving for another project; but I will attempt an install on this at first … having watched the crosstalk videos it looks relatively straight forward … famous last words …

Now I need to review/decide upon a SIP trunk to test with here in the UK?

Only if you want to get “local” calls. For testing, you can use almost any ITSP anywhere - there are lots of them out there that will hook you up for next to nothing for a short time (a month is pretty typical),

I have installed FreePBX 14 … had to do it a couple of times until I realized it was not installing on the boot disk. UI a little different to some of the videos on youtube. I grabbed a couple of sangoma s300 … one of them seems to have configured; shows line extension … pick it up, it has a dial tone … dial a number and it goes silent … second phone does not seem to config … used the same method as the first … created an extension; set the voice mail … did not change anything else other than timezone … then in the end point manager set up the extension … as a novice … not sure how to proceed. Had expected the second phone to come online with ext 201 … any help?

so I did a factory reset on the second phone … and now it has picked up the firmware and set the extension.

when i pick up phone 1/200 i can hear a dial tone; but dial extension 201/send and the line goes quiet
when i pick up phone 2/201 i cannot hear a dial tone; and dial 202/send and still no dial tones

For a first test, try dialing “*65” and see what the system thinks your extension number.

This is commonly caused by RTP errors or the firewall getting in the way.

Is everything local?

Log into the console as ‘root’ and look at the log file (/var/log/asterisk/full). This will tell you everything that the call is trying to do.

Yeah … everything is local … my plan is to get the basics working locally first.

*65 created a lot of log entries … can I copy them onto here??? it looks like a foreign language to me!

But the device is talking with the server … I can see do-not-disturb-activated in new stack … is that because of the length of the call or because of a setting?

You’re not a new user, so posting excerpts from the logs should work fine.

“Do Not Disturb” being activated is odd. That should only happen when you ask for it. Logs around that will also help.

The logs aren’t really hard to read. The ‘threads’ of the “conversation” are identified by PID (in square brackets) so everything that happens in a particular sequence is correlated that way. After that, the only thing that you need to understand is the “If” statement, and the bit with the “?0” or “?1” (which means a variable was not set or set). Post a short excerpt of your log (especially that part about the DND) and we’ll look through it and help you understand it. Once you get that, the logs are “your oyster”.

I am not sure why … but it has sprung into life …I now 2 phones working on the local network … so next week I will look at setting up a sip trunk for testing and see how much my fun my watchguard firewall will be with this.

I did have a reboot … so wonder if that did something!

Just out of curiosity, what PC hardware did you end up utilizing for your test/learning system?

I had a shuttle PC on order for another project; looks like it will become the phone system now:)

Shuttle SH110R4 Mini PC i5, 8gb, 250gb SSD, 1TB HDD, DVD.