Spammer Attacks the Forum

You may have found a rash of spam in your inbox this morning, or run into it on the forums if you spent any time earlier today having a look. We had a spammer send dozens of replies to dozens of threads last night with your typical “rolex watch” or equivalent spam that floats around on the web.

We have tried to keep a balance on the site by requiring both captcha and email verification on new accounts before a user can post anything. This has worked reasonably well since it keeps automated spamming scripts from creating accounts and spamming the forums like we had several years ago.

However … once someone does create an account they are free to spam. We get a regular flow of such spam though it has been at a low enough level that it has gone mostly un-noticed, and we have several senior community members who regularly detect such spam and remove the messages as well as disable the accounts. Last night’s spam unfortunately resulted in thousands of posts and was a lot more involved to remove them. If you subscribe to any give thread, then you will get email when someone responds to that thread which unfortunately includes such spam.

There are stronger options to try and further curtail spam though it’s always a tradeoff between the fight against spam and the disruption to you, the user. We could require new accounts to be moderated, but that means a new member who ‘desperately’ needs help is at the whim of someone enabling the new account. Even more extensive is to require moderation of posts. Neither of these are attractive to us.

For the short-term we have changed the forums so that most users will be required to enter a captcha when responding to a post. Personally, I hate captcha’s mostly because they are getting so hard to read that I can’t get them right half the time. I’m hoping that ours are not quite so bad. I’d like to hear from you how this is working out. If it ends up to be just a little bit of a hassle it may be well worth keeping. If it is really problematic then I would like to leave it up for a short time just to try and ward off another follow-up attack. (However … now that we have the tools in place, the next one won’t be nearly as bad to delete, though you will still get spammed if you subscribe to a thread).

If you happen to be a user type other than “tadpole” (which is our default authenticated user) then you should not be asked for a Captcha. That leads to another option, which is that we create a new user type that we can move people up to on request that does not require the Captcha. (Today we do have “Conributor”, “Developer” and “Leap Frog” which correspond to various users who have requested greater access to be able to edit more parts of the site and be generally more helpful.)

For now, thanks for your understanding and please do respond to this post if you feel that the Captcha is a real pain, or otherwise if you feel that it is not a big deal and not too hard to read in which case we can choose to live with it.

Philippe – on behalf of the FreePBX Team

v3 spun off to give it full independence

There have been some inquiries over the last few weeks along with some additional news that has come out concerning the direction of FreePBX v3 and the lack of activity in SVN.

Rest assured that the intensive work that has gone into this project is live and well but will be continuing under a new project name.

When we set off with the development of v3 we wanted to rewrite a system from ground up and that is exactly how the project was executed. Darren (pyte) was and has been the chief architect of v3 from the beginning. In an attempt to make sure v3 could flourish with maximum creativity and not necessarily be hampered with any “baggage” from v2, the projects were run fairly independently though they shared this same website.

The fact that they were both under the same “FreePBX” umbrella started to create a bit of confusion in places like the Forums and IRC channel. There was also often concern that v2 development, which supports an installed base of probably 500K systems, would be slowed because of v3. Given that v3 has been a rewrite from ground up there was also concern by some when its feature set in the early “betas” was a subset in many ways of what AMP 1.0 had 5.5 years ago.

It became clear that the best thing that could be done for both projects was to spin v3 off into its own identitty thus allowing both FreePBX and the new rewrite to flourish and serve the community in the best possible way. The new project, still run by Darren, is named 2600hz Project and will be the new home to allow v3 to flourish, while FreePBX (v2) continues to evolve and serve the large installed base that it enjoys today.

We will be cleaning up the current web site over the next week to reflect these directions and are excited as always for all the great work that is being done in this place and by all the contributors that help us make such a great project!

Philippe on behalf of the FreePBX Team

FreePBX 2.8 out the Door and 2.9 Coming Strong

We are excited to have the 2.8 release finalized and released for general availability. We moved to final release status at the beginning of this past week finishing the [url=/v2/milestone/2.8]2.8 Milestone[/url] with [url=/v2/query?status=closed&group=component&milestone=2.8&order=priority]332 closed tickets[/url] comprising of 231 bugs and 101 feature requests and similar. As always, a majority of the bug fixes are bugs from version 2.7 and earlier which are usually only addressed in the new release.

The efforts of 2.8 have been going strong since the beginning of March and we extended the beta testing period to assure a solid release since there were several changes in critical sections of the dialplan. There are way too many changes to recap all the added benefits throughout the release, some visible, some hidden. Some of the big areas that had substantial improvements include [url=/news/2010-03-20/sneak-preview-of-2-8]Outbound Routes[/url] (and some visual changes to outbound trunks), the new [url=/news/2010-05-09/preview-the-all-new-directory]Company Directory[/url], some [url=/news/2010-05-30/high-availability-backup-and-restore]HA related enhancements to the Backup and Restore module[/url], some significant scalability improvements to Queues, [url=/news/2010-03-20/sneak-preview-of-2-8]visual improvements to tool tips and “destination select boxes”[/url] thoughout and a host of other enhancements and new features across the system.

Join the 3900 systems who have moved to 2.8 so far and spend some time digging around to see what new features may be valuable to your system!

While we relish in a job well done on 2.8, the steam is already building up on work for 2.9! I mentioned plans around the Endpoint Manager and DAHDi configuration modules in [url=/news/2010-07-06/plans-for-the-next-milestone-2-9]last week’s blog[/url] and progress on that front continues to be strong! The definition of other features for 2.9 is still very much in the planning state as you will notice if you visit the [url=/v2/milestone/2.9]2.9 Milestone[/url]. We’ve had some suggestions in the forums and in tickets concerning other important areas people would like us to work on but more input is very welcome. If you already have feature requests in the ticket system, feel free to bump them onto the the radar scope. We will be looking though existing requests but they can be easy to miss when there are almost 500 tickets to sift through!

For now, have a great weekend and then we look forward to your help in defining the next great release!

[b]Philippe[/b] – On Behalf of the FreeBPX Team

Plans for the Next Milestone (2.9)

I’m hoping that all of you in the States had a good July 4th Weekend, or for our Northern neighbors, a great Canada Days celebration! The current 2.8 release is looking great with over 2700 systems running the new version and very little noise on the bug tracker front. With those stats, we will be moving it from a release candidate to a final release this week so stay tuned!

With 2.8 winding down we will start gearing up our focus even more on the next milestone for version 2.9. We are really excited about some of the things that we have in store for this next version but as always will be looking towards to community for other ideas and contributions to keep things rolling.

There are a couple modules that we are hoping to make part of this next milestone and they are currently available to play with in the contributed_modules SVN repository.

The first is an End Point manager to be officially part of the FreePBX application. There were some efforts over a year ago by some active community members to get this effort going which did gain some initial momentum for a while. In the last 6 months a very dedicated developer, Andrew (tm1000) picked up the project and started the long task of cleaning it up and moving it forward. He has since moved this module into our repository and started working with the team to integrate it closely in FreePBX. We are all very excited on the prospects this has and look forward to working with tm1000 to get this module fully integrated.

Next is the DAHDi configuration module that was developed by Digium and recently included in their AsteriskNOW 1.7 ISO of FreePBX. This module allows FreePBX to detect and configure DAHDi cards on your system for use within FreePBX. I’ve added this module to the contributed_modules SVN repository and added several enhancements to integrate into the DAHDi Trunk and Extension configuration pages, such that the configuration provided by the modules are offered up in select boxes to these pages vs. the vanilla text boxes that are necessary when no DAHDi configuration module is present. We are excited to be bringing this module into the FreePBX application as well!

Currently there are [url=/v2/query?status=new&status=assigned&status=reopened&group=type&milestone=Cut+Line&order=priority]468 Active Feature Requests and Other Tickets[/url] which we will be sifting through as well to start filling out the target feature set for this next release. That’s a lot of tickets to sift through and it’s easy to miss ones so as always, feedback from you will help in considering what we try to get in to the release. So speak up and let us know!

For now, go try out version 2.8 if you haven’t already and we’ll be back soon with more information and updates!

[b]Philippe[/b] – On behalf of the FreePBX team!

FreePBX 2.8 Release Candidate Released

We hinted at the potential of a release candidate [url=/news/2010-06-18/freepbx-2-8-almost-ready-for-release-candidate]in last week’s blog[/url] and from the great stability we’ve seen so far here we are! We’ve now had about 1500 testers on the previous beta which is enough with the low bug rate to move forward as we just did! As of this blog we’ve closed 299 tickets against the [url=/v2/milestone/2.8?by=type]2.8 Milestone[/url] many of them being new features or bug fixes that existed in prior releases (and are often ONLY fixed in this release!)

We mentioned last week that we provided a [url=/news/2010-03-20/sneak-preview-of-2-8]Sneak Preview[/url] of the release in an earlier blog, and have discussed just a few of the exciting features such as the [url=/news/2010-05-09/preview-the-all-new-directory]Company Directory Module[/url] and the enhanced [url=/news/2010-05-30/high-availability-backup-and-restore]Remote Backup (e.g poor man’s HA)[/url] capabilities in earlier blogs as well. We are also excited to have upgraded the sound files in the Company Directory, as always much thanks to Allison for her great voice talent!

We’ll reiterate that there are way too many enhancements both big and small to try and list them here, and some of them you may find are quite “hidden” without digging though. For example, did you know that you can now collapse/expand categories in the Left Navigation bar by simply clicking on the category? If you are really picky, have a look at the new “secret” [url=/v2/ticket/4311]freepbx_admin.conf INI file[/url], which lets you completely re-arrange the layout and names on the Left Navigation bar. (Sorry, there’s no GUI or module for that yet, maybe in the future…). You can drill down in the [url=/v2/milestone/2.8?by=type]2.8 Milestone[/url] and then into the tickets to get an idea of all that 2.8 is bringing.

For now, we are looking forward that you to spend some time exploring all the small and big things we have done with version 2.8. As we wrap up this milestone, we are really excited to start planning for the next one. We have some great ideas in mind and as always we’ll be sifting through the trac system looking at open tickets to consider when planning the next release. We’ve also been thinking about a new facelift as it’s been a while, maybe we’ll get motivated … stay tuned!

[b]Philippe[/b] – On Behalf of the FreePBX Team