Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Install Elastix from USB Step by Step

Install Elastix from USB Step by Step

Elastix is one of the best Open Source Unified Communications Servers available today, it is very easy to install but the installer is designed to be run from CDROM and we can make the installation in several devices that don´t have an optical drive.  This document will guide you to modify the installer so you can install entirely from an USB Flash drive.

The Server Security is a very important and serious aspect in a VoIP server, this guide will not cover that but there is plenty of information on that topic in the Internet. If you are looking for a professional installation contact me and I'll be glad to help you for a
very reasonable price.

This guide was created using a PC with an unpartitioned hard disk, if your hard disk is
already partitioned, formatted or has data you need to keep, you may need to adjust the settings for your configuration. You may also lose the data in the disk. I assume no responsibility for data loss or hardware damage, if you decide to follow this guide, you do so at your own risk.

What you need:

Computer with hard drive

2GB or larger USB

Elastix ISO

UNetbootin (to create the bootable USB)

Let's start ...

Go to the Elastix Web Site and download the ISO, the stable version
right now is 2.4.0, but this guide should work with the beta and alpha
versions too (I hope). 

2. Then get UNetbootin to make the USB bootable.

3. Format the USB in FAT32.

4. Open UNetbootin,

        1. Select ImageDisc

        2. Click on the ... button and select the elastix iso you downloaded earlier

        3. Select your usb drive

        4 Click OK

UNetbootin will make the USB bootable and will extract the ISO files to the USB.

When UNetbootin finishes extracting just click on Exit, we don't need to reboot.

Now let's copy the Elastix ISO to the USB, even though UNetbootin
extracted the ISO in the USB we also need the ISO in the USB.  When
Anaconda (the linux installer) installs from hard drive it looks for the

6. We need to modify two files in the USB

we need to understand how Linux identifies the different drives we have
in the computer, usually the first hard drive is SDA, the second is SDB
and so on.  So if you are going to install Elastix to the first hard
drive (and the only one) that would be SDA.  For Linux the USB will be
another hard drive so it will identify it as SDB if there are no other
hard drives in the PC.  If you have 2 hard drives, then the USB would be

Now that we understand the Linux hard drive naming, let's open the first file we need to modify:

recommend you to use Notepad++ to modify the files, sometimes windows
notepad does not handle Linux files very good. You can get it here: 

Open the file syslinux.cfg with Notepad++, the file is in the root of the USB.

Look for this line, in my file is line 9, but it may change:

append initrd=/ubninit ks=cdrom:/ks_default.cfg ramdisk_size=8192

and change it to:

append initrd=/ubninit ks=hd:sdb1:/ks_default.cfg ramdisk_size=8192

original line instructs the Linux installer to look for the
configuration file in the CDROM, we changed that to make it look for the
file in a hard drive (SDB1), the 1 at the end is the partition, sdb1
is the second hard drive's first partition. If you have more than one
hard drive you would have to modify the line. As we only have one hard
drive (sda) the usb is the second hard drive (sdb),  if you have 2 hard
drives then the USB would be the third hard drive (sdc).

That is all for the first file, save it and close it.

Now let's look for the file ks_default.cfg in the USB root and open it with Notepad++

Look for this lines:

#Use CDROM installation media

and change it to:

#Use CDROM installation media

we comment the cdrom line because we are not going to install from cdrom.

Now append this line after the CDROM section

ignoredisk --drives=sdb

line tells the Linux Installer to ignore the USB as a target for
installation, we won't install to the USB we are going to install to the
hard drive.

Now look for this line, is right below:

#System bootloader configuration
bootloader --location=mbr 

and change it to:

#System bootloader configuration
bootloader --location=mbr --driveorder=sda,sdb

change is very important, it tells the Linux installer that the
computer boots first from sda (the hard drive), so it installs the
bootloader there. If you miss this change, the linux installer will
install the bootloader in the USB, so you would only be able to boot
Elastix if the USB is connected.

That's it for the second file, save it and close it.

We are ready to start the installation.  Plug in the USB drive in the
computer and turn it on. As we only have one unpartitioned hard drive,
the PC should boot directly from the USB.  If it doesn't, load the
computer boot menu and select the USB to boot.

8. You should see the screen below, just hit Enter to continue.

9. Select your installation language and hit enter to continue. 

10. Select the keyboard layout and hit enter to continue.

11. In the next screen select Hard Drive and enter to continue.

Now, if you are using the same configuration as me (one unpartitioned
hard drive), you should get only one choice here /dev/sdb1 (arrow 1)
which is the USB, if your hard drive already have partitions or you have
more than one hard drive you will probably get a list here.  You should
select the USB, usually it is the last one in the list.

you copied the Elastix ISO to the USB root just leave the directory
blank (arrow 2), if you copied it to a directory, specify it there and
the click OK to continue.

If your hard disk was unpartitioned you will get a warning that the
installer will overwrite all the data, just select yes to continue.

Now in the partition type screen, select the first option and make sure
the hard drive in which you plan to install Elastix is selected, then
select OK to continue.

You are going to see another warning about losing all your data in the
hard drive, this is the last on, so make sure the data in the hard drive
(if any) can be deleted. select Yes to continue.

If you want to modify the installer suggested disk layout you can do so
in this screen, usually we would not need to change it, so click no to

17.  In the 4 following screens, configure the NIC parameters according to your current network, select YES to continue.

The data in the previous screens is just an example, fill the data with your own network info.

18. Select a Hostname, and fill it in this screen.

Now select you current time zone, leave the option "System clock uses
UTC" unchecked as some versions of FreePbx don't handle UTC very well.

20.  Select a strong root password and write it down or memorize it, it is not easy to recover it if you lose it.

The installer will now format the hard drive and copy all the files
needed, this step could take 10 minutes or more depending on the
hardware you have.

After the file copy is complete, the computer will reboot, make sure
you have the hard drive as the first boot device in the bios.  Elastix
should boot from the hard drive and you should see a screen like this.

In the first boot Elastix will ask for 2 passwords, first Mysql
password, as a regular user, this password is not used very often, but
if you are going to need access to the databases to make special
applications you will need it, so better write it down.

the admin password, this is a very important password, it is the one
you will use to enter to the web interface to configure your server,
make sure it is a complex password and to write it down.

24. And that's it,  you now have Elastix installed without the need of a CDROM drive !!!.

I hope this guide is useful for you.

Thanks for reading, and leave comments !!!.

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