Raspberry Pi – the ultimate home Asterisk PBX.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 21-Oct-2012 20:23

Unless you're a tech geek who's been living on another planet for the last six months you would have heard of the Raspberry Pi. If you have been living on another planet and haven't heard of it my advice is to Google it and drool, because it's safe to say the Raspberry Pi is without a doubt one of the coolest gadgets to hit the tech world in the past few years.

Stock of the Raspberry Pi has been hard to come by in recent months with demand far exceeding supply, but a new 512MB model is now out as an upgrade to the older 256MB model and stock is once again available. I ordered mine this week from Element14 in Sydney and received it the very next day. As I type this they still have stock available so if you're wanting one it'll be the best NZ$48 you've ever spent!

As I'm a VoIP guy for my day job and have been playing with Asterisk since 2004, one thing I was keen to do was deploy Asterisk and put what has to be the world's smallest PBX though it's paces. Rather than take the long process of installing Debian and Asterisk manually I thought I'd try the Incredible Pi PBX, an Asterisk / FreePBX distribution put together by Ward Mundy who's also behind PIAF, which is in my opinion the best Asterisk "all in one" distribution around.

raspberry pi


The Incredible Pi can be downloaded from here. As I'm writing this version 3.5 has just been released and I wouldn't recommend installing any older version of the software. Once you've downloaded the software you'll need to burn the image file onto your SDHC card (I recommend Image Writer if using Windows) The image requires a minimum of a 4GB card, if you opt for a bigger card the file system can easily be expanded after installation.

Once the image has been copied to the SHDC card you're ready to go. Pop the card into your Raspberry Pi and power it on. After a few seconds you'll see the boot screen and then be presented with a Debian login. To access the PBX from your console login or SSH the login is 'root' and password is 'raspberry'. To access the FreePBX web interface use the login 'admin' and password 'admin'. Congratulations. You've now got the world's coolest, smallest PBX!

I'm not doing to bore you all with a step by step guide on configuring Asterisk, but there is one catch to be aware of for anybody else in New Zealand. A FreePBX module called Astridex is installed by default and will intercept any calls routed out that start with 00. Manually edit extensions_custom.conf and remove the custom context that exists for this or any international calls starting with 00 will not work correctly.


Other related posts:
Obihai OBi 200 Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA) Review
G.722 HD Audio. What’s the big deal?
Linksys SPA New Zealand Configuration

Comment by Linuxluver, on 21-Oct-2012 22:42

I still can't get my Raspberry PI to boot. I;ve tried half a dozen sdcards,  half a dozen power units and half a dozen different USB cables. Maddenly, it WILL boot up on the config a co-worker uses.....though he can't get it to boot up at home with the same config (other than the monitor). A bit frustrating. My power supplies are all nominally 5V / 1A. The result is the same each time: The red LED comes one and the green ACT LED comes one very briefly.....and that's as far as anything gets. It looks like it isn't reading the sdcards. I've tried two different sdcard writers: A Transcend and something else. What physical writer did you use to write your sdcard, Steve? 

Comment by Andrew Ruthven, on 22-Oct-2012 10:16

Hey, linuxluver try a different sdcard. I saw the same issue on a colleagues RPi. His sdcard used to work in the RPi worked in my laptop but the RPi stopped recognising it.

Comment by David Walsh, on 22-Oct-2012 13:51

Hello all I have every thing on my raspberry pi w/pbx up and running. so far so good. As to the sd card a slow class 4 card at 4g should work just fine. if you are using Windows to extract the .img file you will first need to extract the zip file to your hd then using Win32DiskImage copy (or extract the saved image to your sd card. Warning any that old files on the card will be over-writen. Now take the card to your pi and insert it into it. make sure your pi is not powered up when inserting your card. next power up your pi. You can use a 4gig card or 16 gig card but.... only 4gigs will be used. Class 10 cards tend not to work well but it is your time. Have fun I am.

Comment by raytaylor, on 22-Oct-2012 20:50

This is genius

Comment by Linuxluver, on 22-Oct-2012 21:47

Thanks for the advice. I'll try at 4GB class 4 and see what happens. I've tried 16GB class 10 (x 3), 8GB class 6 (x 3) and 8GB class 4 and 2GB class 4. A 4GB at class 4 is the only gap in the lineup. I'm using 64-bit Windows 7 on the two desktop systems I've tried. I may try dd on a linux box. Wouldn't be the first time Linux has been able to do things Windows just won't. 

Comment by ajobbins, on 29-Oct-2012 17:20

I saw somewhere someone had tested running a conference call with 11 participants on a Pi and no issues at all.

Comment by techmeister, on 5-Nov-2012 07:25

Neat gadget
There is an Elastix version for the PI as well, have not tried it yet.

Comment by DonGould, on 29-Aug-2013 20:47

The files are not where they were and some sites are now closed:




sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at stevenbiddle@gmail.com