Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This requires you to modify the 3CX databases. While I have done this several times without issue, please be aware that you take full responsibility for your own PBX and you use this info at your own risk. You should make sure to have a good backup on hand. As well, it is likely 3CX would not support these changes and either will I.

OK, here we go....

  1. Download pgadmin III to use for modifying the database. http://www.pgadmin.org/download/
  2. Install pgadmin on your 3CX box, the defaults should be fine
  3. Launch pgadmin and go to 'File->Add Server'
  4. For 'Name' and 'Host' enter ''
  5. For 'Port' enter '5480'
  6. For 'username' enter 'phonesystem'
  7. For 'password' we need to perform the following....open your ini file located at c:\program files\3cx phonesystem\bin\3cxphonesystem.ini. Do a Find and look for the string 'dbPassword'. You should find a long alphanumeric string with hyphens. Copy the alphanumeric string and paste into 'password' in pgadmin
  8. Make sure the 'connect now' option is ticked
  9. Hit OK.

You are now connected to your 3CX database with full admin rights. At this point, you can completely mung it up.

Now, in pgAdmin....

  1. Navigate to 'databases->phonesystem->schemas->public->tables'
  2. Expand tables
  3. Right click the 'parameter' table and select 'view data->view ALL rows'
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the table
  5. We are going to create a new row by typing values in the row marked with '*'
  6. In column 1 enter 'ALLOWUSEBUSYOPTFORGROUP'
  7. In column 2 enter 'allow group busy'
  8. In column 3 enter '0' (thats a zero not an O)
  9. In column 4 enter '1'
  10. At this point, the last column has nothing in it
  11. Click in another field elsewhere in the table (in other words, click off this new row). this commits the row
  12. Now, click the refresh button at the top of the window. This will autopopulate the last column with the proper next seq num.
  13. Exit pgadmin

Now, go back to 3CX and restart all services. Once everything comes back up your old 'allowUseBusyOptForGroup' should be working again.

Happy 3CXing!!!!



I wrote a post for the 3CX corporate blog about this here....


Some of you may find it interesting.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One of things I love most about 3CX is the simplicity of the management interface. 3CX has done a great job making it very easy and intuitive for administrators to command and control our IP PBXs.

But what about managing our IP Phones?

As many of you know I am a big fan of the Aastra family of XML enabled IP phones. I really love the balance of usability, function and cost that Aastra has managed to achieve (especially with the 5xi family). As well, I am also a big proponent of leveraging the use of XML control that is available in today's IP phones.

While there are a whole host of things we can do with XML scripting on our IP phones, I have become specifically interested in the topic of config management.
If any of you manage a network with more than about 25 IP phones, then you know that managing config files can sometimes become a little bit on the painstaking side. Sure, the use of centralized, tftp based, config distribution definitely makes it easier to "centrally" manage our IP phone config files. It helps us avoid having to make changes on individual IP phones via web interfaces.

There are a few drawbacks to this approach. First, we are still managing a lot of separate files (both global and mac specific files). Second, if we do need to institute changes to subgroups of phones then we may not be able to do this via global.cfg files and will need to edit several files manually. Third, changes made to cfg files are not applied to the IP phone until it reboots and requests it config via tftp.

So, while serving up our config files via tftp is far superior to managing a large amount of phones via web interfaces, it still is not the perfect solution. So, I decided to go in search of some other possibilities and, of course, I love anything than can be done via XML :)

Introducing the AastraIPPhoneConfiguration element...

After some review of the Aastra XML specifications, I came across this little shining gem. The AastraIPPhoneConfiguration XML element allows us to do exactly what we would want, send config parameters/values to an IP Phone as an XML data structure.

What could this mean for config management?

This capability opens the door for users to begin storing phone configuration in a database and serving configs back to the phones via XML push. As well, changes could be made centrally and pushed to phones in real-time rather than requiring reboot (now, the caveat is that certain changes on IP phones always require reboot).

What would this solution look like?

An Aastra IP phone can be configured to request a web application at boot time. A simple front end web application could be created to send back the proper XML data structure based on the MAC address of the phone through a simple database query. Furthermore, the web application could offer a simple admin front-end via which an administrator could make configuration changes to a phone and push those changes in real-time. Effectively, we would be creating a centralized phone configuration management application.

You have to love the power and flexibility that XML controls give us over our IP Phones, I sure do. Wouldn't it be great to have a phone management utility that has us spoiled as the 3CX admin interface? I think it's possible!

Happy 3CXing!!!!



Some of you may be familiar with some work I did in the past to simplify the deployment of remote extensions using a combination of openvpn on a 3cx server and a SNOM 370 IP phone. In this case, we used the built in vpn client on the SNOM 370 to connect back to the 3cx server running OpenVPN and provide simple and secure remote extension setup. If you want to read more on this you can find it here... http://3cxblog.worksighted.com/2008/09/first-post-test.html

This work still left us faced with the problem that, while this is great for 1 model of phone on the market today, what about everyeone else? And what if a company already has a VPN infrastructure in place (like many companies do) and perhaps does not want to (or is not permitted to) leverage a secondary OpenVPN infrastructure? How are these users to deal with remote extensions?

The inherent design of SIP w/ RTP makes it reasonably complicated to "easily" traverse firewalls since we are dealing with a lot of 2-way connectionless traffic. It becomes somewhat "hit-and-miss" to get remote extensions working properly (for the lay user anyway). Throw into this mix the fact that many ISP are now offering their own voice services and in some cases bocking service or degrading quality for users not on their voice solutions and we have a nice recipe for a solution that's more complicated than it's worth.

If a true VPN exists from Site A to Site B, the implementation of the remote extension become quite simple since we have full internal visibility between the phone and the 3cx server. While this is typical for branch offices where they can justify VPN endpoint devices at each site, what about the typical home tele-worker who needs an extension? We certainly cannot justify expensive equipment at user's homes and, as well, certainly do not want to deal with attempting to modify users home equipment to create patch work VPNs or battle against dynamic IPs and port-forwards. Yikes!

What we need is a simple, easy to deploy, easy to manage, inexpensive vpn solution for remote workers.

Enter the "pocket" vpn appliance....

It seemed to me that what we needed was a tiny hardware VPN appliance that could sit in front of a remote phone and provide true, IPSEC VPN capabilities, irrelevant of the phone being used.
After spending some time hunting around I came across this interesting product from ZyXEL. The ZyWALL Personal Firewall P1. It is a tiny, wallet sized, IPSEC VPN appliance designed for mobile workers. Now, they are intending it to function for a PC, but I see no reason why it couldn't work for an IP phone. Take a look here....

I realize there would likely be some complexities getting this to work with different brands of VPN concentrators at the head-end, but in concept, I believe this to be fairly do-able. It would provide drastically simplified deployment of remote phones as well as security and encryption.
I'm interested to hear what others have to say about this possibility. Obviously it does not need to be this particular product, but something similar anyway.

Happy 3CXing!!!!



Saturday, November 1, 2008

Finally got a window free from customer demos. So, I took advantage of this time to upgrade our testing/demo system fromm v6 to v7 Beta. Our test box runs Win XP Pro SP3

I must say the upgrade process went smooth.

  1. Backup v6 using 3CX backup utility
  2. Uninstall v6 (do not select tick boxes...this leaves your config in place)
  3. Install v7
  4. Activate v7License key
  5. Restore v6 backup

Only major thing you need to be aware of is that your DIDs will need to be created. I'm not aure why this is but it was stated on the 3CX blog as a known item.

So, all in all, upgrade from 6 to 7 beta went smooth as silk.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

I have seen a lot of conversation on the forums surrounding how to monitor the status of calls placed into the Parking Orbits. I think that that it would be worthwhile to explore a deeper understanding of the Park Orbits within 3CX as well as how the 3CX Softphone manages to provide this information to us.

Let’s begin with a simple explanation of the SIP SUBSCRIBE and SIP NOTIFY messages. At the most basic level, a client sends a SUBSCRIBE message to the PBX for a given extension. When anything on that extension changes (e.g., it starts ringing, is active, is idle, etc) then a SIP NOTIFY message is sent from the PBX to the client who subscribed to the events pertaining to the designated extension. An example of this would be if a receptionist has a BLF light on her phone to tell her the status of the CEO’s phone. In this case the receptionist’s phone has sent a SIP SUBSCRIBE message to the PBX for the CEO’s extension. When the CEO’s extension starts ringing a SIP NOTIFY event is sent from the PBX to the receptionist’s phone to tell it of the event pertaining to the CEO’s extension.

How the 3CX Softphone does it
You have probably noticed that the 3CX Softphone seems to know the status of all the phones as well as of all the active Park Orbits, VoIP Lines, etc. Is this magic? Nope! It’s simply using SIP SUBSCRIBE and SIP NOTIFY events. This of course begs the question, “how does my softphone know what all these extensions are in order to send SIP SUBSCRIBE messages for each one, especially when Park Orbits are created dynamically?” The answer is...it doesn’t. When the 3CX Softphone first launches it sends a SIP SUBSCRIBE message for the special account “any‐dn”. This is basically like saying “I want to SUBSCRIBE to everything.” So, now, anytime any extension, Park Orbit, VoIP Line….has an event, a SIP NOTIFY is sent to the softphone. This allows the softphone to show you Park Orbits dynamically when they are created and destroyed.

Implications to hardware phones
Most hardware IP phones I have seen that indicate they support Park Orbits require these to be some type of true SIP account that it can send a SUBSCRIBE message and receive NOTIFY messages for. Obviously, this won’t work with 3CX at the moment because the Park Orbits are not really true SIP accounts and are created dynamically. In the long run, this is the easier solution.

But, its important to understand what we might be able to do today.

What I do see as an interesting possibility is the creation of an XML application on the IP phone to handle this. What I am envisioning is that on the 3CX webserver side we could create a simple PHP application that sends a SUBSCRIBE message to the PBX for “any‐dn”. Of course, we will then initially receive back a series of SIP NOTIFY messages to give us the status of all the existing DNs. The Park Orbits could be extracted from this and sent back to the XML requester (the phone who made the request to the PHP page). The PHP script can complete by cleanly ending the open SUBSCRIBE conversation.

  1. Phone requests parks.php
  2. Parks.php send SIP request to any-dn
  3. Parks.php receives response (notifys)
  4. Parks.php extracts Park orbits from responses
  5. Parks.php formats XML structure properly for the phone
  6. Parks.php sends output as properly formatted XML structure back to phone
  7. Voila, we see the park orbits on our hardware phone

I believe this would be a very straightforward way to allow a user to monitor park orbits and would not only give us status but also any other information that is sent back in the XML Presence structure that 3CX returns (but that’s an article for another day). There is actually quite a bit we could here.

Happy 3Xing!!!!



Saturday, October 25, 2008

One thing I have found is that VoIP phone lines can make or break an install for 3CX. You can have the most well thought out 3CX deployment: great hardware, great phones, great software, great design.....but add in VoIP lines and if the end user hears jitter or garbage, the whole install is deemed a failure.

The issue with VoIP service is that there is so much happening between your 3CX box and the ITSP (Internet Telephony Service Provider) that you have chosen, that its practicaly on a whim and a prayer that you get good call quality. The provider can have a great system....you might implement QoS on your edge router, but you can't control whats between you and them.

The kicker of course, is that there is such a cost savings for SMBs (Small / Midsized Businesses) to use VoIP lines that it is extremely tempting and frankly, much more flexible than POTs and PRI.

I have spent some time in my firms home area and have been able to identify at least one privately owned ISP (which is easier to deal with than some goliath like ATT) that is not only an ISP but also provides VoIP trunks. But, to go further than that, they maintain their own physical connections to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). So they are a true ITSP NOT a wholesaler shipping your traffic to another provider.

What does this mean? It means that if they are the customers ISP....and also the VoIP dial tone provider....that the customers Outbound/Inbound VoIP traffic jumps directly to their upstream ISP and is placed onto the PSTN. As well, you have 1 provider who controls the end to end for both internet and voice on a single pipe.


  1. Drastically improved call quality for a VoIP provider
  2. Single vendor for voice and internet service
  3. Cost advantage because the vendor is delivering 2 services bundled rather than buying these 2 services from seperate vendors
  4. Much improved engineering support from the ISP since they are not a goliath


Well, I am NOT AT ALL saying that the ITSP only companies out there are not good. That is not my point. What I am suggesting, is that there is too much happening between the customer and the ITSP to be able to ensure call quality and hence a happy end user. Furthermore, I am suggesting that localized ISPs, that can also act as an ITSP (and when I say this I mean they have physical PSTN connections in-house and are not shipping the VoIP traffic to some wholesaler) can offer some great benefits as well as more reliable call quality.

Just some thoughts to consider.

Happy 3Xing!!!



PS - Don't forget about our upcoming 3CXtreme training. Its going to be a lot of fun! We have a good venue and we're going to have a great small group of individuals who really want to dig in to the 3CX product.

So dont forget to sign up!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

This December, Worksighted will be hosting 3CXtreme, an advanced 3CX training program for 3CX partners and end-users. The training comes just a few months after 3CX's Boot Camp in Florida and will provide a more indepth training that complements Boot Camp.

View 3CXtreme Training Website

3CXtreme training is intended to be a high-touch training experience focused on advanced solutions available with the 3CX solution. This session's topics include Unified Messaging, XML development, Hot Desking, multi-office deployments, and more.

3CXtreme training will take place in a classroom-sized setting so we are able to better understand usage profiles for each attendee and customize the training to maximize knowledge sharing. This structure will also allow a better "community building" experience, where attendees and experts will have more meaningful interactions through intensive training and nightly activities.

When: Wednesday, December 10th - Friday, December 12th
Where: City Flats Hotel - Holland, MI - USA

Registration and Pricing
Standard Registration: Opens October 1, 2008 - $1,695 USD
Early Bird Registration: October 1, 2008 - October 24th, 2008 - $1,495 USD


  • 2 Night Hotel Stay (at City Flats Hotel)
  • Airport transportation to/from Grand Rapids, MI (Gerald R. Ford) Airport and Hotel (both arrival and departure)
  • Welcome Reception on December 10th
  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner on December 11th
  • Breakfast/Lunch on December 12th
  • Prizes!

Monday, September 29, 2008

I am wrapping-up initial development of a hostdesk software for Aastra phones and 3CX. (but I plan to extend to other XML capable phones, SNOM is next on my list). But anyway, the app is pretty slick. I based the beginnings on the aastra xml scripts that do a limited hotdesk function in conjunction with asterisk. But then I added quite a bit of capability as well as added a web management interface and obviously integrated with 3CX for authentication purposes and other features.

Essentially, the app works as follows...

  1. Phone boots and requests aastra.cfg from tftp server
  2. aastra.cfg specifies a startup XML app
  3. Phone launches XML hotdesk program and performs authentication ,etc
  4. XML app imports extension specific parameters from ini file
  5. Extension is marked as active in the active extensions file
  6. XML app then dynamically writes the .cfg file including special parameters
  7. Phone is told to reboot and then fetches .cfg as usual
  8. Voila! You have a working extension with your special attributes (blfs, etc)
  9. User can now "log out" and extension is "released"

I've also included a basic web management interface that allows administrators to see which extensions are in use as well as forcibly reliease extensions after abnormal phone reboots etc.

There is definitely much more I will add in future updates, but hey, it works and it's free!

I will be posting the installation instructions in the next few days.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Im working on some various XML Applications for the Aastra 5xi Series of IP phones. Im starting by porting over some of the pre-made Aastra/Asterisk scripts.

These assume your 3CX installation is in the default c:\program files\3cx phonesystem\ directory. The aastra XML apps will live inside of C:\Program Files\3CX PhoneSystem\Data\Http\aastra


At the moment this has the weather feed ported over. This creates a 'cache' directory for storing cahced RSS feeds etc inside of /aastra/cache. The weather for specific Zips is cached for an hour per phone to prevent hammering the RSS server.

You also need to edit httpd.conf to allow access to the new aastra subdirectory via http. You need to edit C:\Program Files\3CX PhoneSystem\Bin\Apache\conf\httpd.conf and add the following ...

<Location /aastra>
Allow from all

and save the file. You will need to restart the 3CX Apache service for that change to take effect.

To use this on your Aastra 5xi, just assign one of your buttons an XML value of http://xx.xx.xx.xx:5481/weather.php (obviously editing IP and server port as appropriate). If you dont want to prompt for zip and use a default use this format....http://xx.xx.xx.xx:5481/weather.php?zip=xxxxx and it wont prompt for zip code.I'll post the additional scripts to this thread as I go through them.

I'm also working on a hot-desking script which should be cool.


Remote extensions are a hot topic with 3CX. As anyone knows who has wrestled with them, SIP and RTP give us plenty of issues when it comes to NAT and remote phones. I went in search of a plug and play and secure solution for remote extensions.

I ended up using OpenVPN w/ 3CX and a SNOM 370 IP Phone with the OpenVPN firmware to achieve this solution. Here is a complete write up.....

Implementing Remote Extensions in 3CX w/ OpenVPN