How to install a Raspberry Pi SMS Server

Before we start

This tutorial will show you how you can set up an SMS server on a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, running Raspbian.

We will use playsms and smstools. In my example, I have used a Huawei E3131 3G modem.


First we need to download raspbian, you can grab the latest version at

Direct url:

Now we need unzip the file:


You will get a file named 2015-05-05-raspbian-wheezy.img, this file must be written to your micro-sd card.

If you need to know some basics on how to work with raspberry pi, and writing the image to micro-sd, you could start with reading this tutorial:

Write image file to micro-sd card, on my PC the micro-sd card is seen as /dev/mmcblk0 on Linux you can use dd:

dd bs=4M if=2015-05-05-raspbian-wheezy.img of=/dev/mmcblk0
  • Please note that block size set to 4M will work most of the time; if not, please try 1M, although this will take considerably longer.
  • Also, note that if you are not logged in as root you will need to prefix this with sudo.

When the image is written, insert the micro-sd card into your Raspberry Pi, and turn it on.

When the Raspberry Pi is booted, you should see a screen like this, on first startup.

Now I select following options:

1 Expand Filesystem
3 Enable Boot To Desktop/Scratch -> Select Console Text Console, requiring login (default)
8 Advanced Options -> A4 SSH -> Enable
8 Advanced Options -> A0 Update
Finish -> Reboot

Now you can login with following username: pi and password: raspberry.

First we setup the network configuration for our server by editing

sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces

My /etc/network/interfaces file looks like this (change the setup of your needs):

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto eth0
allow-hotplug eth0
iface eth0 inet static

Now we restart the network service on the Pi:

sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart

Then we disable DHCP on startup with this command:

sudo update-rc.d -f dhcpcd remove

If you somehow would like to enable it again later, just run following command:

sudo update-rc.d dhcpcd defaults

Now we can use an SSH client such as PuTTY to connect from our PC to the Raspberry Pi.

Now we update raspbian with following command:

sudo apt-get update &&  apt-get upgrade -y && apt-get dist-upgrade -y


Download and install playsms 1.1:

sudo -s
apt-get install apache2 libapache2-mod-php5 mysql-server php5 php5-cli php5-mysql php5-mcrypt php5-gd php5-imap php5-curl
php5enmod mcrypt
service apache2 restart

When asked for the new password for the MySQL "root" user, use a strong password, in this example I have used MyP@$$w0rd

Now we can go to http://your-ip, in my case ,and we will see a page showing: "It Works!".

cd /tmp/
tar -zxf playsms-1.1.tar.gz -C /usr/local/src
ls -l /usr/local/src/
cd /usr/local/src/playsms-1.1/
cp install.conf.dist install.conf
nano install.conf

Copy install.conf.dist to install.conf and edit install.conf

Read install.conf and make changes to suit your system configuration.

I've edited the file, so it looks like this:

# ============

# Please change INSTALL DATA below to suit your system configurations

# Please do not change variable name, you may change only the value

# MySQL database username

# MySQL database password

# MySQL database name

# MySQL database host

# MySQL database port

# Web server's user, for example apache2 user by default is www-data
# note: please make sure your web server user

# Web server's group, for example apache2 group by default is www-data
# note: please make sure your web server group

# Path to playSMS extracted source files

# Path to playSMS web files
# note: please make sure your web root path, in this example its /var/www/html

# Path to playSMS additional files

# Path to playSMS daemon and other binary files

# Path to playSMS log files

# ===================

Now Run:


Press Y if everything looks OK.

Now we want to make sure playsms starts on boot by adding a line into rc.local file.

nano /etc/init.d/rc.local

Add following to the file: /usr/local/bin/playsmsd start
on the bottom of the file (before exit if there's an exit command).
This way playsmsd will start automatically on boot.

/usr/local/bin/playsmsd start

Edit the apache vhost file:

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/default

My vhost file looks like this:

        ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost

        DocumentRoot /var/www/html/playsms
                Options FollowSymLinks
                AllowOverride None
                Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
                AllowOverride None
                Order allow,deny
                allow from all

        ScriptAlias /cgi-bin/ /usr/lib/cgi-bin/
        <directory "="" usr="" lib="" cgi-bin"="">
                AllowOverride None
                Options +ExecCGI -MultiViews +SymLinksIfOwnerMatch
                Order allow,deny
                Allow from all

        ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log

        # Possible values include: debug, info, notice, warn, error, crit,
        # alert, emerg.
        LogLevel warn

        CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

Now reload the Aapache2 configuration to apply the changes.

service apache2 reload

Then you should be able to access the playsms website at following url:

Go to http://your-ip etc.

You can login with:

username: admin
password: admin

Gateway - SMS Server Tools 3

First we install build tools to build the latest version. Run:

apt-get install build-essential libusb-1.0 libusb-1.0-0-dev

Now I have plugged in the Huawei E3131 modem, and I can see it listed with lsusb:

Bus 001 Device 002: ID 0424:9514 Standard Microsystems Corp.
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0424:ec00 Standard Microsystems Corp.
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 12d1:14fe Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

We would like it to be with ID: 12d1:1506, but it's detected with 12d1:14fe right now.

To change this, we install usb_modeswitch to the system, you can grab the latest version from here:

cd /tmp
tar jxvf usb-modeswitch-2.2.5.tar.bz2
cd usb-modeswitch-2.2.5
make install
cd /tmp
tar xjvf usb-modeswitch-data-20150627.tar.bz2
cd usb-modeswitch-data-20150627
make install

Now unplug the modem, and plug it in again, then run:

Bus 001 Device 002: ID 0424:9514 Standard Microsystems Corp.
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0424:ec00 Standard Microsystems Corp.
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 12d1:1506 Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. E398 LTE/UMTS/GSM Modem/Networkcard

Now we got the desired mode: 12d1:1506.

Next we proceed with SMS Server Tools 3.

First we download it, then unpack it and install it.

cd /usr/local/src
tar -zxvf smstools3-3.1.15.tar.gz
cd smstools3

If you see an error like in my case, when you run make:

cd src && make -
make[1]: Entering directory '/usr/local/src/smstools3/src'
Makefile:51: *** recipe commences before first target.  Stop.
make[1]: Leaving directory '/usr/local/src/smstools3/src'
Makefile:10: recipe for target 'compile' failed
make: *** [compile] Error 2

Then do following:

nano src/Makefile

The problem is a missing tab, now look for:

ifeq (,$(findstring DISABLE_INET_SOCKET,$(CFLAGS)))
override LFLAGS += -lsocket -lnsl

And move the line override LFLAGS += -lsocket -lnsl with a TAB

ifeq (,$(findstring DISABLE_INET_SOCKET,$(CFLAGS)))
        override LFLAGS += -lsocket -lnsl

And try to run make again:

make install

Now we create some required folders:

mkdir -p /var/log/sms/stats
mkdir -p /var/spool/sms/{checked,failed,incoming,outgoing,sent}
mkdir /var/spool/sms/modem1
chown www-data:www-data -R /var/spool/sms
chmod 777 -R /var/spool/sms

And then move the original configuration file and download a sample from PlaySMS:

mv /etc/smsd.conf /etc/smsd.conf.dist
cd /tmp
wget -c
cp smsd.conf /etc/

To make sure I always will use the correct device, I will use a dynamic device file.

Read more about dynamic device files at following URL:

nano /etc/udev/rules.d/80-ttyusb-map.rules
ACTION=="add", KERNEL=="ttyUSB[0-9]*", PROGRAM="/etc/udev/rules.d/ %p", SYMLINK+="gsm%c"

touch /etc/udev/rules.d/ 
chmod 755 /etc/udev/rules.d/
nano /etc/udev/rules.d/
#!/usr/bin/perl -w

@items = split("/", $ARGV[0]);
for ($i = 0; $i < @items; $i++) {
    if ($items[$i] =~ m/^usb[0-9]+$/) {
        print $items[$i + 1] . "\n";

Now unplug, and replug your modem, and it should be located at /dev/gsm*:

ls -l /dev/gsm* 
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 Jul 24 01:39 /dev/gsm1-1 -> ttyUSB0
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 Jul 24 01:39 /dev/gsmmodem -> ttyUSB0

I made some changes to the file, so here is my config, my modem is located at /dev/gsm1-1 replace that with your location.

# Global configuration

#devices = modem1, modem2
devices = modem1

loglevel = 5

# logfiles
stats = /var/log/sms/stats
logfile = /var/log/sms/smsd.log

# Default queue directory = /var/spool/sms
outgoing = /var/spool/sms/outgoing
checked = /var/spool/sms/checked
failed = /var/spool/sms/failed
incoming = /var/spool/sms/incoming
sent = /var/spool/sms/sent

# do not set report folder, let status report files saved in incoming
#report = /var/spool/sms/report

delaytime = 2
errorsleeptime = 10
blocktime = 180
autosplit = 3
#receive_before_send = yes
incoming_utf8 = yes

# Queue configurations

modem1 = /var/spool/sms/modem1
#modem2 = /var/spool/sms/modem2

# Modem configurations

# Modem name: modem1
# Modem type: Wavecom USB
#init = AT+CNMI=2,2,0,1,0;+CMEE=1
#init = AT+CPMS="ME","ME","ME"
device = /dev/gsm1-1
baudrate = 19200
incoming = yes
pin = 3391
report = yes
queues = modem1
decode_unicode_text = yes
cs_convert = yes

# Modem name: modem2
# Modem type: Wavecom USB
#init = AT+CNMI=2,2,0,1,0;+CMEE=1
#device = /dev/ttyUSB1
#baudrate = 115200
#incoming = yes
#report = yes
#queues = modem2

Restart the SMS Server Tools 3:

/etc/init.d/sms3 restart

Verify if SMS Server Tools 3 is running:

ps ax | grep -v grep | grep smsd

Monitor SMS Server Tools 3 log file:

tail -f /var/log/smsd.log

Login and configure smstools in playsms webpanel

Login to your playsms installation my address is

Username is admin
Password is admin

Now go to Settings => Manage gateway and SMSC.

You should see a screen like this:

Now click to edit the smstools gateway.

And ensure it's setup like this:

Click Save, and when it's saved click back.

Now you have to setup the SMSC, so please select the + sign at SMSTools.

You should fill in the SMSC Details like this, in receiver number write your modem phone number.

When you are done click save.

Now go to Settings => Main configuration

And fill following fields:

Default sender ID
Default prefix or country code

And set Default SMSC to smstools, like shown on the image below.

Click save, we are ready to send first SMS.

Send an SMS

Now go to My account => Compose message

Write your cell phone number in Send To, and a message etc. Hello World! in message field, and click send.

If the message get's queued, you can follow transaction here:

Go to Reports => All sent messages

Incoming messages that are unhandled is kept in sandbox, you will this in Reports => Sandbox

And log if something doesn't is located in Reports => View log

If you have any trouble with your setup, a good place seek some help is playsms forum.

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