2.7.0 Beta1 Release

As promised we are releasing the Beta 1 of FreePBX 2.7.0. This release is relatively minor though it does have some goodies that will be well received. The biggest change for this release is the new FAX module that will replace the previous FAX abilities in core and add support for Fax For Asterisk (FFA). Legacy FAX support will still be there for those not using FFA.

The legacy fax capability had no provisions for FFA which has proven to be a much more reliable and simple faxing solution over previous options. The new Fax module supports both FFA and the legacy capability that depended on RxFax() and the associated spandsp Fax add-on. The module will use FFA if configured and fall back to RxFax() as a secondary choice (or disable faxing if netiher are present).

The new Fax module also provides a more intuitive GUI to configure FAX detection or dedicated FAX DIDs assigned to specific users. In the past it was necessary to specify a FAX email or device for each incoming route. Creating a dedicated DID for faxing was very confusing requiring the use of a Misc Destination of Simulated Fax assigned as the destination of the incoming route and the use of the fax detection email address that was magically picked up by the Misc Destination even though detection wasn’t necessarily being used. (If you didn’t follow that, I rest my case.)

The new module provides the ability to associate an optional FAX email with each extension and for those extensions, specific FAX destinations will be created. These can be used as any other destination, so a DID dedicated to FAX can simply choose the appropriate extension. When FAX detection is chosen, any destination from any module can be chosen to be used if detected. This gives more flexible options such as routing a fax based on timeconditions to different destinations.

We have made every effort to make the migration as painless as possible. As such, there is a legacy mode in the fax detection that will be present for any migrated settings though it is recommended that you re-configure your system and move to the new paradigm.

Upon initial upgrading from 2.6.X to 2.7.X, faxing will NOT be operational and you are required to install the new FAX module in order to restore your faxing capabilities, so make sure you choose this from the Online Module Admin after upgrading.

There are a handful of other features that are highlighted in the 2.7 Milestone Summary. Please beware that the long list of unclosed tickets listed in that milestone will be moved to 2.8 and don’t reflect the readiness of this release. Only the bugs are being examined and considered. We anticipate a 2-3 week beta and release candidate cycle for 2.7.0.

Two features that are not yet out and will be pushed out as soon as we finish a few things are some improvements to the Backup Module and hopefully some Queue Module enhancements. Once we get some initial broader feedback on the release we will look at putting in an upgrade module to move from 2.6 to 2.7. For now you can simply download it from the Download FreePBX page.

We will be back shortly with more information and updates on what is happening on the v3 front as well.

Philippe on behalf of the FreePBX Team

Planned and Unplanned Outages

We have a planned maintenance outage scheduled soon and have had a few unplanned outages in the past month, so I thought I would take the opportunity to update you on both of these.

First off we were informed of a possible outage as follows:

Start time (central):  10:00pm CST Jan 24
End time (central):  2:00am CST Jan 25
Expected Interruption of Service:  less than 20 minute

This outage will effect all FreePBX sites including the Online Module Repository, SVN access, etc.

In the last month, we have had 4 other un-planned outages which required the server to be rebooted. Root cause has been hard to determine though it appears that there may be some hardware related issues going on. We have augmented the system monitoring on the server to be more proactive if more issues occur. We may have to run some more extensive diagnostics on the system in order to try and isolate any issues. If we choose to do this, we will warn you in advance as it will likely have the site down for about 4 hours.

Related to these outages, we are investigating moving the site to new hardware. If we do this, we are looking at several software updates to the underlying Drupal and trac software packages that make up most of the website functionality. Any implications to planned outages or other effects this may have will be communicated to you as this develops.

Philippe – on behalf of the FreePBX Team

Upcoming Release Plans in Q1

The development team has been busy as usual on both the v2 and v3 front with some good stuff to come shortly. We are planning to get 2.7 into beta by the end of the month with a fairly short beta cycle to release. The v3 release has been a developers evaluation up until now with some plans to make it into a general evaluation release candidate soon.

It has not been so long since 2.6 was release in September a few months back so the 2.7 release will be smaller but focused on a handful of features and some new and improved FAX handling abilities and GUI interface. We have been busy taking some great work that Moshe (lazytt) has done for Schmooze on the FAX front and bringing it into 2.7. In addition to the legacy spandsp support for fax reception that is currently supported, the new fax abilities will now add Fax for Asterisk which has proven out to be a great and more reliable alternative for FAX to email configurations. In addition to these new capabilities we are consolidating all the FAX handling into a new FAX module and have significantly changed the GUI interface to bring a more intuitive configuration ability for FAXing.

Our goal is to have the beta out and available by the end of January once we have tied up the FAX module and migration code to provide relatively seamless migration from the current FAX configurations in 2.6 and prior releases. In addition to FAX there are a handful of new features that are being worked or have already been updated in the 2.7/trunk branch.

The v3 development has been quite intensive since its announcement several months ago. The new framework has continued to be improved as more development eyes and input has been involved with the project. There has also been a lot of action on the telephony driver front with active work continuing on both the Asterisk and FreeSWTCH drivers. The team is driving hard to move v3 from the “development evaluation” stage to a “general evaluation” release candidate. This will give a much broader audience the opportunity to start kicking the tires and providing the much valued feedback that we always look for in our community to make sure our products evolve towards the great PBX and telephony applications that you have come to expect from FreePBX.

We will update you shortly on the progress and specific plans and events on both the v2 and v3 front as they further materialize over the next weeks.

philippe – on behalf of the FreePBX Team