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Posts Tagged FreePBX
A Perl script to send Caller ID popups from Asterisk to computers running Notify OSD (such as Ubuntu Linux) or any command-line invoked notification system
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A Perl script to send Caller ID popups from Asterisk to computers running Growl under OS X on a Mac or Growl for Windows
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Ward Mundy offered up “Some Asterisk Resolutions for the New Year” this morning:
We made some New Year’s Resolutions for 2008… just as we do every year. There are the usual ones: lose weight, exercise, more quality time with the family. But you make all of those, too. This year, there are some changes in the Asterisk landscape we’d like to see: more community participation, better training opportunities, an end to deprecating commands, and a push into major corporate and government organizations.
Most of the points he makes in that article are very valid, but I think there’s a few that could be added to the list:
For the FreePBX folks: Open up FreePBX to more outside development. Take a break from coding (except for necessary bug fixes) and use the time to actually document how to create modules and add-ons for FreePBX, keeping in mind that some people may wish to create modules using languages other than PHP. And for crying out loud, when someone does contribute a module, don’t put it in the corner and treat it like a piece of moldy cheese. If you want a vibrant community of contributors, you cannot act like a royal priesthood that has to consider every submission as if it were a candidate for sainthood. The alternative is to have a closed system, with only a few people working on it, who will most assuredly begin to feel underloved and underappreciated. I understand that Rob Thomas may have had some valid reasons for backing away from the project, but the atmosphere seemed a lot different when he was in charge (among other things, a lot more open to outside ideas and contributed code, and he also had a much nicer documentation wiki). Oh, and please clean up the freepbx.org site and wiki (why are the documentation links on the front page incomplete?).
To the Trixbox folks: Get a thicker skin. Your sniping in various forums whenever you feel slighted is unseemly, and does not go unnoticed. In particular, people who write a personal blog or operate their own online site have no obligation whatsoever to treat you “fairly”, whatever you define that to be. If you feel that your company isn’t being represented properly, then start your own online blog or forum, or post more frequently to public forums. Some people are never going to like the fact that Fonality took over Asterisk@Home and turned it into Trixbox, and they may like you even less after the recent “phoning home” flap. Deal with it. If you feel slighted, commiserate with your peers and among your friends, but be careful about wearing your feelings on your sleeve – it just isn’t professional (just to be clear, I’ve never personally been the target of any comments that I felt were unwarranted, so this isn’t a personal thing with me – it’s just an observation based on what I’ve seen in other forums, including comment #4 on Ward’s article).
To the snobbish people who frequent the #asterisk IRC channel (you know who they are, if you frequent that channel): Stop acting so damn arrogant – just because someone is using FreePBX, or an all-in-one distribution based on Asterisk, does not mean they aren’t an Asterisk user, or that they haven’t found a valid Asterisk bug. Remember that there are alternatives to Asterisk, such as CallWeaver (formerly OpenPBX). Should the FreePBX folks ever get disgusted with being treated like third-class citizens, they may decide to move on, and that would take out a big chunk out of the Asterisk user base. Asterisk sure isn’t perfect (Ward Mundy’s comments about deprecating commands are spot on) and just because someone chooses to use a GUI rather than spend hours laboriously coding dial plans by hand doesn’t make you any better than them – you do that because you enjoy it and love the feeling of power you get, and that’s fine, but most people don’t share your love of writing code, and that does not make them inferior to you. The auto mechanic that fixes your car probably doesn’t know a damn thing about writing code, but does that make him inferior to you? I don’t think so.
To the Elastix folks: Make this year the year you release a version 1.0 (at least). Nobody takes beta versions seriously, particularly in the media. Like it or not, there’s a psychological barrier against reporting on software with a zero point something version number. And, most businesses won’t even consider installing “beta” software.
To the companies that go around installing Asterisk and FreePBX systems on a for-profit basis: If you are making money from installing Asterisk and/or FreePBX, you should be contributing something back to the developers of those products. FreePBX in particular gets the short end of the stick – a lot of people who install an all-in-one distribution just assume that FreePBX is part of that, when in reality it’s a totally separate project. If you got it free, and you’re making money off of it, and you know that continued development and support depends on the developers having some incentive to carry on, then it’s in your best interest to contribute something back. Maybe you should consider it a “tithe” of sorts – if you make a $1,000 profit on an installation, send $100 back to the FreePBX developers (and raise the price to the end-user if you feel you must – they are still getting a heck of a bargain compared to most commercial PBX systems).
And finally, to Ward Mundy: I have one small nit to pick with your article – there are a lot of “at-home” systems that have far more than five extensions, especially in large families where the kids, siblings, grandparents, etc. all have VoIP adapters. FreePBX and Asterisk make a great “family intercom” system – in some cases these are entirely closed systems with no PSTN connectivity whatsoever. So, your proposed “5-extension license” really isn’t a valid way to distinguish between home and personal systems, and systems used primarily for business use. Perhaps a better model would be a limitation on number of outside channels (trunks to VoIP providers or the PSTN) but I don’t know how you’d ever enforce that – since the code is open source, it would be a simple matter for anyone to change the limit and recompile. Maybe what needs to be done is simply to create a requirement that says, in effect, that if you install the product in a for-profit business then you are obligated to have a valid license, which costs a certain amount per group of ten trunks capable of placing calls to or receiving calls from the PSTN, directly or indirectly (trunks used for intra-company communications only, or custom trunks used to create dialing shortcuts, etc. would be excluded). Even so, a certain percentage of businesses would never comply, but by at least creating such a requirement, you put those who install and use FreePBX on notice that if they are using it in a profit-making enterprise they have a moral (and legal) obligation to pay up, without handicapping the home/family user and the experimenter.
I cannot end this article without saying that notwithstanding any comments above (which, in case it is not obvious, are simply my personal opinions), I appreciate the efforts of all the individuals who have worked so hard to give us the products mentioned in this article. Without their efforts, we would still only be able to get the capabilities of Asterisk in very expensive (and far less capable) PBX’s provided by the telephone companies, or in PBX’s manufactured by major corporations that have price tags higher than that of a new car (and that’s for a very low-end system). The fact that you can take an all-in-one distribution, burn it to a CD, put that CD in an older computer and an hour later (or less) have a fully functioning PBX system, with capabilities only dreamed about just a decade ago, is nothing short of astounding to me! So I applaud all those who have made that possible, and I hope the new year will see further development and better documentation, by those folks and by newcomers to the world of Asterisk and FreePBX.
The following is reprinted verbatim from an e-mail announcing this seminar:
FreePBX/Asterisk Open Telephony Training Seminar
We are please to announce the first training seminar focused on the FreePBX/Asterisk market. We have asked for the community’s feedback and listened to the responses. We talked with many of you who have attended other related training seminars and designed ours to fill in the void where the others leave off. We have talked with many customers and resellers to learn what areas you can benefit from in a training. The resulting program will teach advanced topics to market, sell, deploy, troubleshoot, customize and administer FreePBX/Asterisk systems.
We will be presenting the first training in Historic Charleston, SC where Ward Mundy from Nerd Vittles will be our resident host and class participant (and with enough arm twisting, presenting a key note speech). Here is a summary:
Where: Historic Charleston, SC When: February 27-29th, 2008 (and evening reception February
More Info: Open Telephony Training Seminar (Seminar Information Link – Click Here) Call us if you have questions: +1-877-480-9533
The class is actively filling up and the discounted hotel rooms are only available until January 23rd or as soon as the block of rooms are taken, which ever comes first. So if you are interested we encourage you to register soon. We are also offering an early-bird discount for a limited time so come have a look.
If you have had some initial exposure to FreePBX/Asterisk or can spend some time between now and the training to get the basics down, then this class is for you. If you have taken previous trainings and are looking for the additional depth, the tricks and customization areas that only the developers of FreePBX can teach you then sign up. If you are looking to learn details of the PBX SMB market, and how to successfully sell, brand and market this solution then come join us in Historic Charleston. If you are a successful reseller looking to gain that extra edge and learn how to work closer with the project and influence the development and direction, we would love to have you join us!
The same e-mail contained a note about the FreePBX 2.4 Beta Program:
FreePBX 2.4 Beta Program News
We announced the FreePBX 2.4 beta program on December 11th with a lot of great enhancements, too many to mention here but you can get details on the blog:
The results have been great so far and it seems to be rock solid. We would love to move it to a release candidate status but have not seen the number of testers downloading and actively testing it that we like to see before making that call. So if you have a test system (real or virtual) to try it out, or a live system that you are willing to beta on, we would love to see you download and start running it. There are several production systems that are very busy running the code so we feel very confident about its stability, but the more exposure we get, the more comfortable we are to move it to release candidate status.
Please don’t get the idea that this blog is going to become a vehicle for the promotion of seminars and such – I only mention this one because I’ve personally had some exposure to FreePBX and in my opinion it is a fantastic piece of software – it takes Asterisk out of the realm of something only usable by the sort of geeks who know Linux and computer programming inside and out, and makes it usable by just about anyone who can operate a computer on more than a very basic level. That’s not to say that there isn’t a bit of a learning curve, but if you are comfortable with using your computer then you should be able to set up and use FreePBX (it helps quite a bit if you’ve had some prior exposure to Linux, but you don’t have to be a Linux guru by any means).
FreePBX is at the core of many of the all-in-one distributions I’ve mentioned in previous posts (Elastix, PBX in a Flash, RhinOSterisk, Trixbox, etc.) and it’s the software you’ll be using to configure your system if you use any of those distributions. You can literally take an old computer (not ancient, but not the “latest and greatest” either), put one of these distributions on it, and easily handle the calling volume of a small office. A $500 computer can replace a $10,000+ PBX (of course, if you are upgrading an existing system then the phones will probably also have to be replaced, but VoIP phones are not nearly as expensive as some of the proprietary phones used with PBX systems). People can make money by installing and maintaining these systems and once you have learned to set up your first system, you can apply that knowledge to future systems.
In the past, however, there has never been any way to get training in setting up a FreePBX system. This seminar is likely an attempt to rectify that oversight. It will doubtless make some money for the FreePBX developers (hopefully) but that’s not at all a bad thing, considering that FreePBX is freely available and these guys have put a lot of (for the most part uncompensated) time and effort into the project. So I am posting this information just this once, for the benefit of those who can attend and who feel they might profit from such training.
Quoting Kerry Garrison in VOIPSpeak:
After what seemed an eternity and with numerous delays for both technical and staffing issues, Fonality has just released the latest incarnation of its open source PBX platform, trixbox CE 2.4. What sets 2.4 apart from the previous 2.2 versions really warrants more than a simple dot-release as all of the underlieing technologies are completely different. Continue reading the article for a complete list of the new changes and feature enhancements.
Full article here:
trixbox CE 2.4 released
A couple of interesting points from this post:
trixbox CE 2.4 comes standard with OSLEC (Open Source Line Echo Cancelation) which is a very powerful software echo cancelation system. This is a major step in providing a software solution to help eliminate echo problems for users.
This is great – I have written about OSLEC in a previous post, and I’m happy to see that it’s starting to be used in various products, including Trixbox.
Faxing has never been a priorty for the trixbox team until very recently. With the help of the user community they have pretty much solved faxing issues for most people. Due to codec translation, faxing is still not quite usable over VoIP circuits, but users with analog or digital circuits should have very good results now.
I’m happy to see that FAX support is finally getting some attention, but wonder if the level of support in Trixbox is equivalent to that of Elastix (which, by the way, also issued an upgraded version only a week ago). FAX support has been one of the strengths of Elastix, so I wonder how the two distributions compare now, after their respective updates.
(Side comment to the Elastix guys – don’t you think it’s about time you came out with a 1.0 version? Elastix would doubtless be taken a lot more seriously if it wasn’t perpetually stuck in pre-1.0 version numbering).
It’s interesting to see the progress being made in the various distributions. Between Trixbox CE, Elastix, PBX in a Flash, RhinOSterisk, and probably one or two others based on Asterisk and FreePBX, there should be something for everyone.
Interestingly enough, when I did a quick Google search on Asterisk to get the correct URL for the link in the previous paragraph (can never remember if it ends in .com or .org), the sponsored link at the top of the page seemed, well, just a bit, um, confusing:
(Note that prior to doing the screen capture, I resized the browser window horizontally so it would fit here.) I just find it interesting that Fonality would sponsor a link under “Asterisk PBX” rather than one of their own brand names, such as Trixbox. Anyone not familiar with Google might assume that the top sponsored link is where to find the open source Asterisk PBX (then again, I suppose it could be argued that anyone inexperienced with Google is not likely to be looking for Asterisk in the first place). I’ll refrain from commenting further on this because I’m fully aware that this isn’t the only instance where some entity has purchased a sponsored link on Google using a product name that they don’t own, and I’m not a lawyer, nor am I privy to any arrangements that may have been made between Fonality and Digium. All I’m saying is that it jumped out at me that the first “Asterisk” link I saw on the page, highlighted in pale yellow, was not a link to Digium or to the Asterisk site.
In my previous post, I mentioned the new Nerd Vittles “PBX in a Flash” distribution, and now I’ve discovered that the folks behind Elastix
plan to release have released the new Elastix 0.9 Final version later today. See the details here:
You may wonder which is better. If you read the documentation of both, you should start to get a feeling about which is a better fit for you. My gut feeling is this: If you are just starting out, and especially if you have little or no experience with Linux, you’ll almost certainly be better off with PBX in a Flash. However, if you have a fair bit of experience using FreePBX and Asterisk, or if you are the sort that can walk up to an unfamiliar Linux system and feel right at home, or if you think you may need more features than those available in PBX in a Flash, you’re probably going to want Elastix. Note that I’m only comparing those two distributions; it’s possible there may be another alternative you might prefer.
One weird thing I discovered is that on my system, the “PBX in a Flash” documentation (which is in a PDF file) mostly displays as black text on a black background. It could be the PDF file reader, but I usually don’t have that problem (and I tried downloading the file twice, just in case I had a corrupted download). I can tell you that the Elastix documentation, which displayed just fine in my PDF reader, has a much more “polished” feel to it (with many screen shots) but it’s not quite as geared toward the rank beginner, in my personal opinion – it doesn’t step you through every single tiny detail of installation and setup.
Edit: They’ve now put the PBX in a Flash documentation up on the Nerd Vittles web site, and there, at least, it is readable.
I may be jumping the gun just a bit on this, but then so did Tom Keating, who has tipped us off that the new distribution will be available tomorrow:
Be sure to read all the way to the bottom of Tom’s article if you are the impatient sort!