Hello, again. I’m all a-twitter over coming back.

As some of the more observant have noticed, I’ve been doing [url=http://freepbx.org/trac/changeset/7725]some[/url] [url=http://freepbx.org/trac/changeset/7723]commits[/url] to FreePBX recently. Does that mean that I’m back? Well. Yes. Yes it does.

For those that don’t know, back in the mists of time – almost [url=http://freepbx.org/news/2007-06-22/time-for-me-to-hand-over-the-reigns]two years ago[/url] – I discovered that I had run out of hours in the day. This meant that I had to give up the most enjoyable hobby I’d had in years (FreePBX, that is. You with your dirty minds!) to concentrate more on stuff happening in the real world.

Phillipe grabbed the ball and ran with it, and I have been exceptionally happy with where he’s taken FreePBX. Yes, of course I’ve been watching, and even occasionally updating my home FreePBX machine. I’m loving it.

I have, however, been doing some low profile work for some long term VoIP customers here in Australia (Oh yes – I’m Australian for those that don’t know. I live in Queensland, on the coast. It’s great here! Uh.. unless you Americans want to come over. In that case it’s terrible, and we’ll feed you to the sheep) which is starting to bear fruit. This means that I can get paid for doing FreePBX work. And, of course, any FreePBX work must be GPL’ed (or [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affero_General_Public_License]AGPL’ed[/url], of which I will post about later) so I’ve been able to do some commits.

Those [url=http://freepbx.org/trac/browser/contributed_modules/modules/cidroute]first commits[/url] gave me the taste for more, and last week I discovered I had time on my hands, so I went charging into the bug tracker and [url=http://freepbx.org/trac/search?changeset=on&q=xrobau]went to work.[/url]

Also in those two years, the Net has been evolving, and growing. 2 years ago, the Facebook App platform was released, which lead to the astonishing growth of Facebook into the dominant force it is today. Twitter wasn’t even AROUND. But they both are now.

So, because I’m as cool, hip and froody as the next Pyro, I’ve started tweeting to the [url=http://twitter.com/FreePBX]FreePBX twitter account.[/url] This I hope to keep up for as long as possible, or until I get bored, whichever comes first! I’m also planning on having some sort of tweet bot that posts to a different account that alerts people of changes and patches, if they’re interested. Note that those accounts will solely be about FreePBX. I’ve got [url=http://twitter.com/xrobau]my own twitter account[/url] which will have general geekism and family stuff in there. Don’t subscribe to me unless you also want to have [url=https://twitter.com/xrobau/status/1833792436]random iPhone pictures of clouds[/url] and vitally important (to me) [url=https://twitter.com/xrobau/status/1810749451]baby status announcements[/url].

I’ll be handling ‘twitter’ support requests too. Feel free to tweet @freepbx and I’ll reply. Of course, that reply may be wrong, abusive, or totally irrelevant, but I’ll try my best. This isn’t, I hasten to point out, any form of Official Support Channel. If you want real, paid, support, then there’s a [url=http://freepbx.org/freepbx-official-paid-support/]link you need to click on[/url]. Operators are standing by to take your calls. Call now! But wait, there’s more – you also get a free set of steak knives! [sup][Not really][/sup]

In summary – it’s great to be back. And I hope that everyone enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’ll see you on IRC, or on Twitter, or somewhere in my travels.

–Rob

Restricting outbound calls in FreePBX (whitelist)

Previously, we discussed [b]preventing [/b]outbound calls from FreePBX by using two methods: Misc Applications and outbound routes. There is also (at least) two ways to [b]allow [/b]outgoing calls using a whitelist, i.e. allowing calls [b]only [/b]to the numbers specified.

The first one is extremely simple, and I can already hear you saying “Duh!”. But sometimes the answer to a problem is staring us right in the face and we miss it anyway. So at the risk of insulting some of you, and hopefully enlightening some of you, here it is: Password protect your outbound routes. Yes, extremely primitive – but it works! Password protect those routes that you don’t want your users calling, and just leave the others unprotected. This will allow for an environment where you have very tight control over outbound calls.

The second way to restrict outbound calls is much more sophisticated and allows for refined control of which extensions/user are restricted and which aren’t (obviously without the use of a password). One of the goals of this method are to restrict the outbound calls but [b]nothing else[/b]. This method will keep all other FreePBX applications available to the restricted user: Voice Mail, Conferences, Paging, Call Forwarding, etc. – will all be available. The only thing restricted will be outgoing calls.

The first step is to segregate the restricted context form the other users. Start by opening /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf and adding the following context:

[from-internal-restricted] #exec /var/lib/asterisk/bin/restricted.sh

The next step is to make sure asterisk will ‘follow’ the ‘exec’. Open /etc/asterisk/asterisk.conf and make sure you have a line that reads:

execincludes=yes ; support #exec in config files

(specifically, ensure there is no ; at the begging of the line). Next download this script, and save it to /var/lib/asterisk/bin/restricted.sh. Now, create /etc/asterisk/whitelist and add a list of numbers that you want whitelisted. Here a helpful hint: you can a space and a description after the number so that you remember who’s number it is and why its there. Here’s an example:

2125551212 bob
6565552121 marry
4264441212 bill

The last step is to place any extension that you want restricted in to the restricted context. In FreePBX, click Extensions -> select the extension -> and scroll down to the context option. Append -restricted to the text and click submit.

Finally, from the linux cli, type amportal chown and reload the asterisk dialplan in your usual way, either by clicking the orange reload bar in FreePBX or by entering dialplan reload from the asterisk cli.

Now, try to place a call from your restricted context – it should be blocked!

The way this works is as follows: when you reload asterisk, it executes the restricted.sh scrip and includes its output in the dialplan (dynamically). The scipt reads the FreePBX generated dialplan and copys the entire from-internal-additional dialplan in to our custom context (well, not the entire dialplan per se – just the includes. For more on how this works see my previous articles). It then reads the numbers listed in your whitelist file and creates routes for them as Local channels (which are callable by restricted extensions as they can call all [b]internal[/b] extensions).Cool, eh?

Got another way to restrict outgoing calls? Lets hear about them in the comments!

[b]Moshe Brevda, FreePBX Development Team[/b] lazytt – FreePBX forums
hi365 – IRC

Open Telephony Training in the Pacific Northwest

Sometime early in 2006 I started building systems with AA@H. About the only inexpensive way to learn Asterisk was in the forums and blogs. It was in the Nervittles blog of Ward Mundy that I won entrance to the first Fonality trixbox® Open Communications Certification (FtOCC, pronounced “F-talk”) workshop, held in LA – March 2007.

The best thing that came out of FtOCC was putting faces to names I’d seen online. The technical level of FtOCC ended up being a bit too basic for me, and I started to ask around the greater Asterisk community if anyone, including Fonality, had plans to hold more of an engineers course in the near future. Fonality was dead silent. Philippe Lindheimer, the lead developer of the FreePBX project, whom was taking over for Rob Thomas at the time… wasn’t.

Philippe and I engaged in lengthy discussions and I even enticed some of the FreePBX team out for a gourmet meal to talk about what would make the ultimate Asterisk/FreePBX seminar. As things progressed, I was introduced to Tony Lewis and Ethan Schroeder of Schmoozecom (a successful Asterisk based solutions provider) when FreePBX and Schmoozecom collaborated to create the Open Telephony Training Seminar or OTTS for short. The 1st of which February 27-29th , 2008 in Charleston, SC.

I helped shape the OTTS experience with FreePBX and Schmooze, providing my parts of the expertise and producing parts of the content that I have spoken publicly on in other venues and I was invited along to teach the E911 section of the course. It was a roaring success and a great time was had by all.

Fast forward to 2009 and I am organizing the first OTTS in the Pacific Northwest. On April 21st, 22nd and 23rd, 2009 the trainers at FreePBX.org have cooked up something very nice for the next offering of the Open Telephony Training Seminar as the venue is located in the northwest corner of Washington State , halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, BC sits Lummi Island, home of The Willows Inn , an historic Bed and Breakfast retreat. FreePBX-athon redux. This time Philippe Lindheimer and I will be teaching this course in a slightly modified version to fit the venue. Most of the marketing section has been omitted and the class is three days instead of four. It will feature a live lab for demonstration and student use during the course.

The Open Telephony Training Seminar provides some of the best Asterisk®/FreePBX® VoIP training available and has an additional constant source of enjoyment – trainers and learners tend to stick together through meals and enjoy good conversation into the evening. These adhoc roundtables are not planned, it just happens and is said to be one of the great joys of the Open Telephony Training Seminar.

Learners are in for a treat at the Willows Inn as its organic, authentic farm-to-table fine dining is consistent with Slow Food, making The Willows Inn one of the most sought after B&Bs and agritourism destinations in the San Juan Islands. And just as small class size benefits our children in school, small class size in technology training is also better for the adult learner and with chef prepared organic meals the trainers and learners will have plenty of time together. Arrangements can be made for spouses to attend meals and otherwise relax as their significant other learns. Learners considering bringing a spouse along may want to book early as all the rooms at the Inn are great, but each is different and you can choose until they are filled.

After the seminar, On April 26th and 27th the tenth annual LinuxFest Northwest 2009 is being held in nearby Bellingham, Wa. As an added bonus, learners who want to stay and attend Linuxfest will be offered weekday rates that weekend at the Willows Inn. Book early if that is something you are interested in.

We need to fill ten seats to make our new format a reality and as these events are always great, the value is there. The Willows Inn has allowed us to block off their entire facility, but it means filling it up to make the class a reality. So with that note, we need to get 10 participants – and are offering a 20% discount for the first 3 to sign up by March 15th date to make sure we reach that goal. Contact me at rkeller at legoebayuc.com for the coupon code.

Please consider joining us.

Backup Module Ideas – and a Few OTTS Seats Left

The backup module has been a long time member of the available FreePBX modules. It has been well received and has helped many users recover from potential disasters, and for that we are all very grateful. It has also been plagued by various issues and has been one of those modules that many felt could really use an overhaul but at the same time, it’s not the most exciting module that attracts interest from the volunteer development team.

Well Tony over at Schmooze Communications has decided that its day has come and volunteered to move it to the top of their priority and get going on a rewrite. So kudos to them for taking the initiative and now it’s your opportunity to help drive the requirements and features to help make sure that this is the last backup module that we need to write, and that it can serve the needs of the varying distributions of FreePBX out there so that there is a common backup ability available amongst FreePBX distributions AND not only can it address the backup needs that might be particular to a distribution, but it can also help users move between FreePBX distributions as their needs (or evaluation process) changes.

There are a number of Backup Module feature requests outstanding that I’m sure will make for a good start, but I suspect that there are plenty of other good ideas that are not captured. So please provide feedback, whether opening a new feature requests or just responding to this post which I’m sure Schmooze will keep their eye on.

Open Telephony Training Seats Left

Our next OTTS event is coming up at Digium Headquarters in just over a couple weeks (March 3rd) and there are still a few seats left. If you are looking for an in depth training in FreePBX along with the other essential telephony and Linux knowledge required to be proficient in this space, this is the place to do it. In addition, learn the much needed sales and marketing knowledge from our successful team who has sold hundreds of systems and can help you learn now to beat the competition while maintaining very strong profit margins.

If you would like to join us, register here and use discount code LASTMINUTE to receive one of two $500 discounts that we have just released to fill up the remainder of the class!

Philippe – On behalf of the FreePBX Team!

A Quick Update to Start the New Years

You may have noticed quite a few module updates available (for those of you running 2.5, which we hope is most of you). Although it seems like a lot there is really not much to it.

Module Updates

New Years Hat

There were a handful of minor bug fixes in half a dozen of the modules that have been sitting in the repository unpublished.
tango
The rest of the updates were language updates that were already available through
the language pack module. We just thought with the New Year, we would get all the modules in sync as it makes it easier for us to manage and make sure when real bug fixes are checked in, we get them published and out quickly.

Did You Notice the Hats?

CollegeFootballHat

For those of you who visit the front page regularly, you may have noticed that sledge has been having a little fun over the last month or so. Our favorite mascot (who sledge has named tango, yet the jury is still out if you would like to make suggestions) normally looks like this. But as different events and seasons have come up, you may have noticed that he is gaining quite a collection of hats.

Xmas Hat

I’ve scattered him around this page so that you can see some of the fun we’ve been having, and we’ll work on finding a home where you can always go back and have a look at what he has been celebrating. If you are anything like me though, you may always go straight to the forums or this blog, thus missing the fun on
the front page. I’m going to figure out a place that is optionally visible on most of the pages on this site so that you can join us in our fun without having to remember to check on the front page.

Next Open Telephony Training Seminar

Are you looking to expand or deepen your FreePBX knowledge? The next Open Telephony Training Seminar is scheduled for March 3-6 at Digium Headquarters in Huntsville, AL. We hope to see some more of you there as it is a great place to learn and network with you colleagues.

Skiing Hat

Help us maintain the reputation of being the funnest group for a training seminar that Digium had seen since moving into to their new facility! As a New Year celebration, be one of the first to register this year using the NEWYEAR discount code and receive a discount of $500!

For now, we hope that all of you had a great Holiday season and are excited about all we can do in this coming year!

Philippe – on behalf of FreePBX team!