Author Archives: l2g

Apprise Makes Sending Notifications via the CLI Easy

Introduction

Apprise is a free Python based notification tool that just makes our lives easier. It allows you to interact with just about all of the most popular Notification Services available to us today! I mean right now while writing this blog, there are already 28 supported services you can use! We’re talk about services like Discord, Telegram, Slack, Pushbullet, IFTTT, Amazon Web Service (SNS), Email, etc, etc.

How Does It Work?

You could be sending our system stats via an email from the command line:

# top will print all of the processes running on our Linux system
# Then we pipe that result into apprise and send it in an email:
top -b -n 1 -c | \
   apprise -t "my system stats" mailto://user:password@hotmail.com

Or maybe you’re a Microsoft Windows user! No problem, Apprise is not OS dependent at all! You could still send your services running to your email like so:

# TASKLIST will print all of the services running on our Widows system
# Then we pipe that result into apprise and send it in an email:
TASKLIST /svc ^ \
   apprise -t "my system stats" mailto://user:password@hotmail.com

The tool itself is pretty simple to use:

apprise [Options] [[[URI1] [URI2] ...]

Here are what the options look like:

Option Description
-t, –title TEXT Specify the message title. This field is optional.
-b, –body TEXT Specify the message body. If you don’t specify this value, then STDIN is used instead.
-n, –notification-type TYPE Specify the message type (default=info). The other options are success, warning, and error.
-T, –theme THEME Specify the default theme. This isn’t discussed in this blog entry, but I’ll talk about it soon!
-v, –verbose By default apprise is pretty quiet. By specifying -v (or a few more -vv and -vvv) you can increase the verbosity of the script. This is useful if you’re trying to figure out why a service might not be working for you.

To make a notification you must provide:

  1. One or more Uniform Resource Identifier(s) (URI). These are used to identify and configure Apprise with the service you wish to access (Email, Discord, etc). I’ll explain a more about this in the next section.
  2. A message body to pass along with the notification you’re going to make. This could be piped in from STDIN like in the examples above, or you can pass the message in via the –body (-b) switch.

Note: In the not so distant future, the message body requirement won’t be required for all services as it is today. An example where the body isn’t always necessary is for IFTTT requests. The message body also isn’t required for most home automation services that Apprise may support in the future!

The Apprise Notification URI

The Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is the magic one-liner configuration that tells Apprise everything it needs to in order to notify your service(s).

Generally URI looks like this:

  • service://user@host:port
  • service://password@host:port
  • service://user:password@host:port
  • service://host:port
  • service://host

We see these every day when we access a website such as http://nuxref.com.

Take an Apprise Email URI for example:

mailtos://nuxref:mypass@gmail.com
  ^         ^      ^       ^
  |         |      |       |
service   login    |   email domain
                   |
               password

In the above example, Apprise knows you want to send an email because of the mailto:// service identified in front. From there it can acquire all of the server information it needs about this service based upon the rest of the URI provided. Email (URI) configuration can get complicated depending on what you want to do… But for most email providers, Apprise makes it really easy! You can read more about email URIs here.

There are other Apprise URIs that are really easy to use too. For example, if you’re on a Microsoft Windows PC, you can use the windows:// URI and send your system a broadcast message without any effort at all:

apprise -t "Apprise Is Awesome" -b "A Windows Notification" windows://

Note: This only works on a Microsoft Windows PC. It also requires you to have the pypiwin32 bundle installed (if you don’t have it already).

If you’re on a Linux PC you can use the gnome:// or kde:// to achieve the same effects as The MS Windows users get:

# Gnome <essages:
apprise -t "Apprise Is Awesome" -b "A Gnome Notification" gnome://

# KDE Messages
apprise -t "Apprise Is Awesome" -b "A KDE Notification" kde://

There are so many supported notification services, and the list continues to grow.

The other advantage of having all of your configuration in a single URI is that can chain them all together. Apprise will notify each and every one you specify with the message you put in place. There is no limit to the number of servers that you specify.

# The below fires off a pushbullet (pbul://) notification
# and an email (mailto://)
apprise -b "visit nuxref.com" \
   mailto://myusername:mypassword@yahoo.com \
   pbul://o.gn5kj6nfhv736I7jC3cj3QLRiyhgl98b

By uniquely mapping services to their own URIs, we can additionally allow for custom options this way too. For example, let’s say we want our email to be text formatted instead of the default html. No problem:

# Send all of our log files in a text based email format:
cat /var/log/messages | apprise -t "Logging" \
   mailtos://nuxref:mypass@gmail.com?format=text 

Notification Types

Notification Type Image
info
success
warning
failure

By default all of your notifications are sent as an info message. This comes into play depending on what kind of notification service you’re using. Some services really don’t care, while others will give you a richer experience as a result of knowing the message type.

Notification services like Slack and Telegram can decorate the message you send it with an icon.

Meanwhile other services like SMS Messages (sent from AWS) or Emails won’t use this feature at all.

# The below sends a success message to the general channel on
# slack (slack://):
apprise -b "visit nuxref.com" -t "success" \
   slack:///T1JJ3T3L2/A1BRTD4JD/TIiajkdnlazkcOXrIdevi7F/#general

Note: You will need to build your own URI for your own services that you use. the URIs I use in my example are made up just to demonstrate how it works.

Wait… Exposing My Password On The Command Line Is a Terrible Idea!

I couldn’t agree more! But this doesn’t have to be the case… Consider this approach instead:

# Create a file with all of your URIs in them:
# Now preferably you'll do this using a text editor so this doesn't
# show up in your history :). But for the purpose of this example
# I want to show you what the contents of the file should look like:
cat << _EOF > ~/.apprise
mailto://myusername:mypassword@yahoo.com
pbul://o.gn5kj6nfhv736I7jC3cj3QLRiyhgl98b
slack:///T1JJ3T3L2/A1BRTD4JD/TIiajkdnlazkcOXrIdevi7F/#nuxref
_EOF

# Now secure the file so no one can peak at what is personal
# to you:
chmod 400 ~/.apprise

# Now we can call apprise and source the file for our service URIs:
apprise -b 'Apprise Rocks!' $(<~/.apprise)

# The above command would fire the notification to all 3 of the
# services you identified in the ~/.apprise file.

Microsoft Windows users could do a similar solution:


# Prepare ourselves a file (use a text editor is more ideal
# then what I'm putting here):
echo "mailto://myusername:mypassword@yahoo.com" > Apprise.txt
echo "pbul://o.gn5kj6nfhv736I7jC3cj3QLRiyhgl98b" >> Apprise.txt
echo "slack:///T1JJ3T3L2/A1BRTD4JD/TIiajkdnlazkcOXrIdevi7F/#nuxref" >> Apprise.txt

# Set permissions on this file at this point if you want

# Read in our configuration file into a variable
set /p URI=<Apprise.txt

# Now we can call apprise and source the file for our service URIs:
apprise -b 'Apprise Rocks!' %URI%

How Do I Get Apprise?

Assuming you’ve got Python (2.7 or 3.x) already installed, then PyPI is probably the best place to go. But if you have pip installed, just could also just do the following:

pip install apprise

That’s it! You’re ready to go!

Sources

Pan: A Useful NewsReader for Linux

Introduction

PAN is a newsreader that has been around for ages. It allows you to sift through the massive clutter that Usenet has become through its really fast interface loaded with tons of features!

It’s development died off way back in 2012, but recently it’s development has picked right back up again. Not only is this product feature rich and open source, but it’s written purely in C++ which makes it incredibly light weight (thus very, very fast). Some of the subtle product enhancements this product has seen in the past few months make it worthy to be in the spot light again.

So What Can It Do?

  • Header Caching: Tell it the group(s) you want and how much of it you want to see and it will download the headers it retrieves to a local cache file. This is awesome because now you can sift through this content offline.
    Cache Headers

    Cache Headers

  • Header Scoring: You can flag key aspects of articles with a score. By default every header retrieved has a score of zero (0) unless you start dabbling in this area.

    Anything that scores less than (or equal to) -9999 can be configured to not list itself at all. Some well set scores can greatly clean up your ability to locate content in groups.

    You can score content higher and/or lower based on the posts author, subject, size, age, etc. You can even apply scoring through regular expressions too!

    Scoring is very powerful when used properly! I’ll talk about it again a bit later in this blog once you’ve gotten set up. But if we were to apply scoring to the previous screenshot (above), it might look like this (all garbage cleaned up and content prioritized with color coding too):

    Header Scoring

    Header Scoring

  • Multiple Server Support: Got a block account? No problem, you can add it as a secondary server and only pull from it if the Primary one is unavailable.
  • NZB-File Support: The treasure maps of Usenet can be loaded into Pan too and downloaded through it. True automation of these come through systems like NZBGet and SABnzbd, but it’s still worth knowing that not only is this a newsreader, but it can pass as a downloader as well!
  • Concurrent Connections: Like any great browser/downloader of any system; files are retrieve concurrently. This means that you can just keep browsing and tagging content of interest seamlessly without interruptions.
  • Header Compression Support: One of the new enhancements surfaced with the new development of this project. This makes a world of difference when retrieving hundreds of thousands of headers from a Usenet group. Enabling this feature along (if your Usenet provider supports it) will greatly reduce wait times!

Pan’s Disabled Features

The features page on PANs website explains about a parent company (called ChimPanXi) that tries to sell this free product with added functionality. I guess the deal they have with the developers is to just disable a few features so that they can be re-enabled them the paid version (purely speculation)?

But since the (Pan) code is open source, the options are right there in front of us but just disabled. Quite honestly… of all this disabled functionality, only one is truly worth pointing out: Pan restricts you to just 4 allowable concurrent connections to your Usenet provider at a time. Here is a small patch I created which increases this number to 99. The build I provide in this blog already has this patch applied. Here are the rest of the missing features (with some of my comments as well); maybe some might see value in the others?

Pans Missing Features

Pans Missing Features

The Goods

For those hooked up to my repository are already set, just type the following:

# install the new version of Pan
yum install pan --enablerepo=nuxref

You can also reference this table too for direct links:

Package Download Description
pan el7.rpm, fc22.rpm, fc23.rpm, fc24.rpm, fc25.rpm The Newsreader: This is the program that this blog focuses on.

Note: The source rpm can be obtained here which builds everything you see in the table above. It’s not required for the application to run, but might be useful for developers or those who want to inspect how I put the package together.

It’s also worth noting (again) that this build includes a small patch to increase the maximum allowable number of concurrent connections from 4 to 99.

Securing Your Connection

There is very little security built into Pan from a connection point of view. What little security is (normally) in place is built using GnuTLS. GnuTLS has a history of not keeping up with the security exploits and vulnerabilities that surface with encryption libraries. It doesn’t make it unsafe; it just doesn’t make it as reliable as it’s competition (OpenSSL and Crypto). For this reason the packages I provide are intentionally not built against it (GnuTLS).

It’s really not a problem at the end of the day because there are other ways of securing this connection (properly). The way I use (and recommend) is through Stunnel.

Stunnel allows you to take an unencrypted input (from Pan) and connect it to a secure connected one (at your Usenet provider). The best thing about stunnel is that it links to your (OpenSSL) shared system libraries libssl.so and libcrypto.so which are actively maintained and patched! Basically what I’m saying is by attaching Pan to Stunnel: you get the feature rich usage of Pan and the ongoing (reliable) security of OpenSSL.

The following will get you set up with stunnel; you’ll want to be root before running the command below:

# Install stunnel (if it's not installed already)
# you'll need to be connected to either EPEL or NuxRef for this
# to work:
yum install stunnel

You can also reference this table too for direct links:

Package Download Description
stunnel el7.rpm, fc22.rpm, fc23.rpm, fc24.rpm, fc25.rpm Secure Tunnel: for data encryption.

Note: This RPM is not required by PAN to run correctly. It does however offer you a safer and more secure method of encrypting your communication to (and from) your NNTP Server.
# You must have root permissions when setting up
# stunnel

# Create relay bound to local server only (semi-colons are for
# comments):
cat << _EOF > /etc/stunnel/stunnel.conf
; Use it for client mode
; This is the pass through mode you need to encrypted
; your NNTP traffic:
client = yes
 
[nntp]
;
; --- IN ---
;
; local port to listen on (on this PC)
; You will configure PAN to connect here:
accept = 127.0.0.1:119

;
; --- OUT ---
;
; The Remote Usenet Server's (encrypted) connection to use:
; In this example, I'm just pointing to Astraweb, but you
; can provide any Usenet server you wish here. Just be sure
; to point it to their secure transport point!
connect = ssl.astraweb.com:563
_EOF

# This line below is useless, but it allows you revisit this blog
# entry and continue and copy and paste these instructions at a later
# time. The line removes any previous entries set to prevent the
# creation of duplicate entries  in your startup file at another time
# It's harmless to run at any point:
sed -i -e '/bin\/stunnel/d' /etc/rc.d/rc.local

# Configure stunnel to start after each boot
echo "# Start /usr/bin/stunnel on boot each time:" >> /etc/rc.d/rc.local
echo "/usr/bin/stunnel" >> /etc/rc.d/rc.local

# By default stunnel is configured to read 
# it's configuration from /etc/stunnel/stunnel.conf
# on startup:
stunnel

The next step is to update your PAN server configuration to point to your local server (localhost or 127.0.0.1) instead of the remote one you’re accessing. Make sure to set the port to 119 too like so:

Stunnel Pan Configuration

Stunnel Pan Configuration


You’ll provide the same username and password you would have otherwise provided to your Usenet provider.

The end result is a secure connection between you and your Usenet provider like so:
Pan Setup With Stunnel

Scoring

Scoring articles can greatly ease your life when looking through all of the headers in front of you; it’s great for:

  • Eliminating SPAM
  • Filtering out potential malicious content (such as Trojans and Viruses)
  • Increasing the visibility of items of interest
  • Locating Authors of interest with ease

All scores can be optionally associated with a time limit too. When the limit expires, so does the score. This is useful when you only want to temporarily filter content. Otherwise the permanent scores will make up most of your configuration. To add a score, simply click Articles > Add a Scoring Rule…

Add Scoring Rule

Add a Scoring Rule

Here is an example of a rule you might add; this one greatly reduces the score of all entries that have potentially dangerous file extensions in the subject line:

Block Potentially Malicious Content

Block Potentially Malicious Content


Pan’s built in filter field allows you to sift through all of the articles you found with keywords. Pairing this functionality with the scoring one really shows off the power of Pan.

All created scores are kept in ~/.pan2/Scores so don’t worry if you mess one up. You can just as easily open this file and fix it. Any manual changes to this file will however require you to exit out of Pan (if it’s open) and restart it.

Here is just a few entries of what you might have in your Score file:

%BOS
% Greatly reduce score of potentially malicious content
[alt.bin*]
Score:: -9999
Subject: .*\.(exe|bat|vbs|cpl|msi|scr|vb(script)?|ws(f|h))[^A-Za-z0-9].*
%EOS

%BOS
% Moderately increase the score of compressed content
[alt.bin*]
Score:: 2500
Subject: .*\.(z(ip|[0-9]{2})|r(ar|[0-9]{2})|7z|iso)[^A-Za-z0-9]([0-9]{3}[^A-Za-z0-9])?.*
%EOS

%BOS
% Very slightly decrease the content of PAR content
% This allows it to not quite have the same spot light as
% the item it matches up against. If it were a compressed file
% it would already have +2500 from the previous score entry
% identified above.  These will just sit at +2400 instead.
[alt.bin*]
Score:: -100
Subject: .*(\.vol[0-9]+\+[0-9]+)?\.(par2|sfv)[^A-Za-z0-9].*
%EOS

%BOS
% Very slightly increase the score of NZB-Files
[alt.bin*]
Score:: 250
Subject: .*\.(nzb)[^A-Za-z0-9].*
%EOS 

%BOS
% Mildly drop the score of cross-posted content
[alt.bin*]
Score:: -750
Xref: (.*:){2} % cross-posted to 2 or more groups 
%EOS

Wrapping It Up

I’m certainly not asking anyone to change from their existing system if it works for them. What I am pointing out though is that Pan is completely free, it’s open source and the features it offers are comparable (if not better) than all of it’s competition. Although it works great on Linux, it also works on many other platforms as well such as Microsoft and Apple.

It might not have a beautiful interface, but it wasn’t built to fill your systems memory with bloated eye candy. It was built to be fast and effective… and truly, it really is.

The newer versions coming out are really great! If you haven’t given it a try since it’s dated ones, you really should! If you’re interested in seeing how Usenet is structured, than this is also a great tool to learn with. If you run an indexer (such as newznab or the many forks of it) you can practice your regular expressions (regexs) using Pan. For an Indexer Admin, this tool is especially great in debugging your regexs!

Credit

This blog took me a very long time to put together and test! The repository hosting alone accommodates all my blog entries up to this date. All of the custom packaging described here was done by me personally. I took the open source available to me and rebuilt it to make it an easier solution and decided to share it. If you like what you see and wish to copy and paste this HOWTO, please reference back to this blog post at the very least. It’s really all I ask.

Sources

An Inexpensive and Reliable VOIP Solution

Introduction

In today’s times, most people cancel their land lines because it’s getting just too expensive to have one. I mean cell phone costs are expensive enough and that’s usually the best way to get a hold of someone these days anyway. But there are times where a land line is nice to have too. I mean it’s much nicer giving your relatives one phone number to reach your whole family instead of giving them a list of cell phone #’s.

But what if there was a solution that would make it worth while? Right now, I’m paying slightly less than $3/month (USD) for my land line and here is what I get:

  • World Wide (Cost Effective) Calling: There is really no more such thing as long distance anymore. It costs less than a penny to call anywhere in the world (literally!).
  • Call Display: That handy feature that lets us see who’s calling before we answer the phone.
  • Call Answer: An automated message when you’re not home giving the caller the chance to leave a message.
  • Call Waiting: That handy feature that lets a second call come in while you’re already on the phone.
  • 911 Service: This actually costs $1.50 (USD) of your monthly fee; I’m already including it in my fee mentioned above. If you feel you don’t need it, then your bill will be even cheaper then mine.

I realize that you probably get all this with your own personal phone plan(s) too; but keep in mind that we’re still only talking about $3/month (USD) here. Here is what else you can do with the VOIP provider discussed in this blog (at no extra costs):

VOIP.ms Android Management App

VOIP.ms Android Management App

  • Voicemail Emailed To You: You can have your phone messages (from the Call Answer feature) emailed to you as a small sound clip once one is left. You can get your home messages from anywhere as soon as their left! This eliminates that hassle from having to log in and check your voice mail every time someone leaves one.
  • True Do Not Call (DNCL) Lists: I’m not sure about you, but The National Do Not Call List (for Americans or Canadians) doesn’t work the greatest. We still continue to get Telemarketers calling from oversees and others who violate this agreement simply because they’re calling from a country that just refuses to follow our regulations. Well with the VOIP setup I explain in this blog, you can create a real “Do Not Call” filter by entering these people into a list (that you maintain) blocking them from ever calling again.
  • SMS Messaging: You can send Text Messages to and from your land line. This is really handy! You can use this Android App to do it with too!
  • Advanced Call Forwarding:You can have you phone calls forwarded to another phone at any time. You can also just choose to set up a forward on certain people who call.
  • Transparency & Control: Using the VOIP.ms Android Management App you can:
    • Access your current bills at any time.
    • View your missed calls.
    • Change your settings (forwarding, call answer, etc)
    • Block spammers
    • And much… much more!

Hopefully I’ve still got your attention because this truly is a very frugal but amazing phone (land line) solution!

Requirements

So here is what you need:

  • Any Computer: The only role this computer plays is during the initial setup (account setup, device configuration, etc).
  • A VOIP Telephone: Basically any phone that does not draw it’s primary source of power from the phone line. DECT phones are the cheapest solution and what I strongly recommend you get (which is basically any cordless phone). Don’t worry if you’re confused here because just about any phone (set) that has to plug into an electrical outlet in addition of the phone connection will work for you here.
    VOIP Compatible Phone

    VOIP Compatible Phone

  • An Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA): This is the key component of your setup! It is the core device that will translate all of your incoming and outgoing calls via the internet to your home phone. Again, don’t get confused here; I personally use the GrandStream GS-HT702 and will base this entire blog on it.
    This will be be one of your only one-time up-front cost that will set you back about $40 USD. I imagine most of you reading this blog will probably have to go out and buy this and then come back later finish your hookup. You can find this on Amazon, Home Depot, etc…
  • A VoIP.ms Account: Here is a link to their site. Your ATA device will communicate with your VoIP.ms account and allow you to make calls and receive calls. It’s VoIP.ms that you’ll be paying the $1 to $3 (USD) a month to for your service.
  • An Internet Account: It’s the 21st century so I’m just going to go ahead and assume you’ve already got one.

voip-setup
Depending on your budget, it wouldn’t hurt to buy a UPS device as well. This is totally optional, but the one thing with a VOIP solution is that it requires the internet at all times to function. If you get bad weather in your area and lose power to your home, then (of course) you lose your network/internet connection as well. A UPS device however solves this potential dilemma allowing you to always have (both your internet and) your VOIP phone service.

VOIP In a Nutshell

Before we get any further in this blog, we should identify a few acronyms that will show up throughout the setup screens on your ATA’s configuration. You can skip over this section if you wish, but feel free to refer to it late if something confuses you. It will also make your VOIP experience easier too.

VOIP Acronyms
VOIP Voice Over IP: Just thought I’d get the most obvious acronym out of the way. This is the ability to make phone calls over the internet using a common phone in your house.
DID Direct Inward Dialing: This is referring to your 7 digit phone number ((XXX) XXX-XXXX) that you will use to make and receive calls on. If you already have a land line # you want to use; this isn’t a problem at all. All VOIP (SIP) Providers (including VoIP.ms) will allow you to transfer your existing number over to them.
POP Point of Presence: Not to be confused with emails post office protocol; this acronym (with respect to VOIP) takes on a different meaning entirely. The Point of Presence identifies the server you will receive and handle all of your incoming phone calls at; voice mail gets stored here too. When using VoIP.ms as your provider; this is also the server that your outgoing calls will pass through.
SIP Session Initiation Protocol: You will see this acronym come up a lot. This is the language (or protocol) your GrandStream (ATA) device speaks to your VIP Provider with. It’s the language makes it possible to transmit voice over the internet. The POP Server will communicate via SIP. There are times when you’ll need to provide your SIP Server; what they’re really just asking for here is your POP Server (identified above).
ATA Analog Telephone Adapter: This refers to the device that communicates with the POP server using SIP. It relays the voices to and from your home phone to your VoIP provider. This is a major piece of the puzzle that connects everything together. For this blog the GrandStream HandyTone analog telephone adapter (ATA) plays this role for us.
FXS Foreign eXchange Subscriber: Your ATA device (in our case the GrandStream HandyTone) will associate each (phone) jack it has (that you can plug your phones into). Although our ATA device has more the one connector, we only need to configure one of them.

Now that you know the acronyms applicable to what we’re trying to accomplish; lets illustrate it so you see how easy it really is:
Acronym Buster

Setting Up Your VOIP Account

  1. The first thing you’re going to want to do is create an account with https://www.voip.ms.
  2. Once you’ve got an account; You must set up your Direct Inward Dialing (DID) Number. This involves the transfer (or creation) of a 7 digit phone number people can reach you at. It’s also the number you will make your outgoing calls from. If you already have a phone number from an existing land line, it can be easily transferred so you don’t have to give everyone you know a new number.
  3. Next you’ll have to choose a phone plan; there are 2 main plans offered:

    1. Fixed Rate: Pay just under $5 USD a month for unlimited international calling anywhere.
    2. Variable Rate: Pay $0.85 cents (USD) a month and then pay ~0.005 cents per minute. I didn’t get those decimals wrong either; it’s just half a cent a minute!

    I personally use the Variable Rate only because you’d have to talk more then 880 minutes (($4.95 – 0.85)/0.005) a month just to match that of the unlimited plan (which I don’t do). But your mileage may vary depending on your own personal phone usage. Regardless of what choice you make, you’ll still be saving money when comparing these kind of costs to the competitors! You can also change your plan at any time too.

  4. Once you get your DID in place, you must associate it with one of the many POP servers VoIP.ms has. This process is done from their website (you must be logged in). You can configure all of this from the [DID Numbers] -> [Manage DID(s)] section of their website. You should select a server that is close to your location (to minimize on latency).

    “Latency is very important for Voip, this will determine the time that will take for the data package transmission to reach the destination. A high latency will lead to a delay and echoes in the communication.”
    – Voip.ms

    Here is a list of servers to choose from. The POP server is where all your phone calls will route from. It is also where phone messages will be left (if anyone leaves one).

Setting Up Your GrandStream (ATA) Device

The first time you open up your GrandStream Device, you’ll need to configure it. The easiest way to do this is to plug it in and hook a network cable up from it to your Linux Server. If you look underneath the GrandStream device (where the serial #’s are), you’ll see the devices MAC address (format XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX). The following will allow you assign it an IP address so that you can access it. My local network was 192.168.2.x. So in my case, I used .3 because I knew it was free on my network; you may wish to :

# Assign an IP Address to your ATA Device (with Linux/Mac):
sudo arp -s 192.168.2.3 00:0B:82:81:E3:BB

It’s a bit more tricky for Microsoft users, but the following should add your mapping (after you open up a shell window):

netsh -c interface ipv4 add neighbors "Local Area Connection" "192.168.2.3" "00-0B-82:81-E3-BB"

At this point you should be able to access your ATA (GrandStream) device at the IP address you specified (from the machine you mapped it’s MAC address from). In my case, I’d point my web browser to: https://192.168.2.3/

Default Credentials
Admin Password admin
User Password 123

Login to the device with the Admin account (password is admin). The setup of this device can be a bit over-whelming, but bear with me; it’s worth it.

To start off with, you might want to click on the [Basic Settings] and configure your IP Address information. This will allow your device to be accessible from other PC’s in your house.

Now for the [FXS Port1] tab; the full settings can be found here. I’ll provide mine too should that be more helpful.
A point up front:

  • Your Primary SIP Server and Outbound Proxy should be set to the POP server your configured with your VOIP.ms account.

Below identifies the rest of the configuration; I realize that the configuration presented below can seem a bit overwhelming. But remember: you only have to do this part once and there are actually very little fields that require changing!

VOIP Solution - FXS Port1 - Page 1 of 5
VOIP Solution - FXS Port1 - Page 2 of 5
VOIP Solution - FXS Port1 - Page 3 of 5
VOIP Solution - FXS Port1 - Page 4 of 5
VOIP Solution - FXS Port1 - Page 5 of 5

Troubleshooting

Grandstream Expected LightsWhen you’ve set everything up, you should see the following lights on your Grandstream Device. Unless you see all 4 lights; you will ‘not’ be able to send/receive calls. Here are some hints if you don’t see the 4 lights identified:

  • No lights?: You might have a defective device. Double check that you’ve plugged in it.
  • No Internet light?: Check your IP settings on the [Basic Settings] from within the Grandstream configuration (webpage). If you’re plugged into a wireless router or your ISP’s modem, make sure you’ve selected dynamically assigned via DHCP.
  • No Link/Act Light?: You’re not able to communicate with Outbound Proxy or Primary SIP Server defined in the [FXS PORT1] from within the Grandstream configuration (webpage). Double check that you’ve got these right!
  • No Phone1 light?: The SIP User ID you specified could not be verified/validated by your VOIP provider. You’ll need to double check it. You may also need to make sure it’s activated too!.

Sources

  • VoIP.ms: The best VOIP solution I could find! Far cheaper and more feature rich than the alternatives (such as magicJack, Ooma, Vonage, etc…)!
  • VoIP.ms POP Server Listing: If you do decide to go with these guys, you’ll want to point your ATA device to a server close to you. This is the server listing you can choose from.
  • The National Do Not Call List (DNCL) (for Americans or Canadians: Even if you don’t plan on getting VOIP as described in this blog. You might want to at least add your cell phones to this list. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than nothing!
  • GrandStream GS-HT702: This is the ATA device I personally use. This is also the device my blog focuses specifically.
  • GrandStream GS-HT702 VOIP Setup: Specifically the setup for VoIP.ms.
  • VoIP.ms Console: A fantastic Android App that lets you manage your VoIP.ms account from your mobile device (or tablet).
  • VoIP.ms SMS: Yet another fantastic Android App that lets you send and receive SMS (text) messages through your land line via your mobile device (or tablet).

Just for the record: VoIP.ms does not have a referral program (for me to benefit from), nor do I work for them at all. I speak highly of them because their pricing is incomparable to any of their competitors (in the best way possible), and their support is absolutely amazing. I’ve been using VoIP.ms for just over a year now and have been so happy with my service that I felt like blogging about it.

Nov 19th, 2018 Update: VoIP.ms now has a referral program! 🙂