FreePBX Distro Release tracks- The state of the FreePBX Distro

Lately there has been some confusion on the different FreePBX Distro versions. I am going to take a moment here and try and explain how this all works. The FreePBX Distro is a CentOS Distribution that includes a specific version of CentOS, Asterisk and FreePBX.

Until this week we offered the following 3 tracks. Think of each track as their own release cycle.

1.8xx.210.58 – STABLE This was the first track we released and includes
[list] [*]Asterisk 1.8.x
[*]FreePBX 2.10
[*]CentOS 5.8
[/list]

1.10xx.210.58 – STABLE Includes
[list] [*]Asterisk 10.x
[*]FreePBX 2.10
[*]CentOS 5.8
[/list]

1.10xx.210.62 – BETA Includes
[list] [*]Asterisk 10.x
[*]FreePBX 2.10
[*]CentOS 6.2
[/list]

Within each track we offer [url=http://www.freepbx.org/forums/freepbx-distro/distro-discussion-help]Upgrade Scripts[/url] that generally upgrade published CentOS packages, asterisk, DAHDi and FreePBX. Generally you can not upgrade between tracks but we do make exceptions if the track is on the same main CentOS release such as CentOS 6.x or 5.x and we have set a track to be End of Life. We specifically don’t offer upgrade scripts to go from a CentOS 5.x to 6.x released distro such as 1.10xx.210.58 to 1.10xx.210.62 since CentOS has not provided any such upgrade and states the only way to upgrade to CentOS 6 from 5 is to do a new install.

Now that Asterisk 11 is out we have decided to make some changes to our tracks, with community input [url=http://www.freepbx.org/forum/freepbx-distro/distro-discussion-help/distro-input-needed-by-development-team]Which can be see here.[/url]

The new tracks are:

1.8xx.210.62- STABLE Includes
[list] [*]Asterisk 1.8.x
[*]FreePBX 2.10
[*]CentOS 6.2
[/list]

1.10xx.210.62- STABLE Includes
[list] [*]Asterisk 10.x
[*]FreePBX 2.10
[*]CentOS 6.2
[/list]

1.11xx.210.63- BETA Includes
[list] [*]Asterisk 11.x
[*]FreePBX 2.10
[*]CentOS 6.3
[/list]

We have removed support for both of the CentOS 5.8 based track releases. The plan is to keep offering upgrade scripts on the 1.8xx.210.58 track for asterisk and DAHDi for the next 6 months since we can not provide any clear upgrade path to the 1.8xx.210.62 track that is based on CentOS 6.2

As we watch the 1.11xx.210.63 track stabilize we will be dropping the 1.10xx.210.62 track but will provide an upgrade path from 1.10xx.210.62 track to 1.11xx.210.63 track since they are in the same CentOS 6.x family. With Asterisk 10 not being a Long Term Release (LTE) from Digium we have no plans on supporting it very long and moving everyone to the Asterisk 11 track since this is their LTE.

As a recap the current state of the 5 different FreePBx Distro release tracks are;

1.8xx.210.58 – STABLE – END OF LIFE. Receiving upgrade scripts for new Asterisk 1.8 and DAHDi versions only. Will not be building any new ISOs for this version. Recommend using FreePBX backup and restore to move to a Newer Centos 6.x track of the ISO long term.

1.10xx.210.58 – STABLE – END OF LIFE. Will not be receiving any Upgrade scripts and recommend using FreePBX backup and restore to move to a newer supported version track.

1.8xx.210.62 – STABLE – PRODUCTION- Recommended track for Asterisk 1.8

1.10xx.210.62 – STABLE – PRODUCTION- Recommended track for Asterisk 10

1.11xx.210.63 – BETA – PRODUCTION- Recommended track for Asterisk 11

You can find the upgrade scripts for each version track under the Distro Forums as stickies at the top. [url=http://www.freepbx.org/forums/freepbx-distro/distro-discussion-help]Upgrade Scripts[/url]

More Routing and Trunking Enhancements in 2.11

Back again with a few more features being added to the Routing and Trunks category though this time targeted at 2.11. Tony told you about the [url=/news/2012-09-20/freepbx-extension-routing-module]Extension Routing module[/url] a week or so ago which resulted in a lot of positive feedback and happy community members who have wanted a simple solution to this problem. While we were messing around with this part of the code I thought I’d address a handful of other requests that have been outstanding in this area!

To recap [url=/news/2012-09-20/freepbx-extension-routing-module]Extension Routing[/url], this was the introduction of a module available on 2.10 that allows you to restrict extensions to certain routes in a simple and easy to understand way. [url=/news/2012-09-20/freepbx-extension-routing-module]Tony’s blog post[/url] goes into a lot more detail if you didn’t get a chance to read it.

[b]Outbound Route Destinations[/b]

The first of today’s highlighted features is the addition of an optional [i]Destination[/i] that can be chosen for an Outbound Route. This dialplan destination would be followed if all the trunks configured reported some form of CONGESTION and you wanted to do something more creative [float=right]Route Destinations[/float]with the call then simply playing one of the messages configurable from the Route Congestion Messages module. A simple use case for this might be a custom announcement for all 900 phone numbers informing your users that these numbers are not allowed. You can route a call to any other destination you have on your system where I’m sure our user base will come up with all sorts of creative uses for this feature!

[b]Outbound Route Recording[/b]

When we re-engineered Call Recording in 2.10 we added the ability to force a call to be recorded based on the inbound DID it came in, within Modules like Ring Groups, Queues and Conferences or though a specific call flow directive. The last loose end was forcing all calls out a specific route to be recorded, just like the setting with inbound routes. That’s now been implemented in 2.11.

[b]Trunk Fail-Over on Busy[/b]

Something that comes up repeatedly in the forums are users running into carriers that don’t know how to signal properly. The carrier will send back a BUSY when they should have been sending back a CONGESTION. A BUSY is suppose to mean the far end destination you just tried does not want or can’t be bothered at the moment. Given this ‘proper’ interpretation FreePBX does not bother to fail over [float=left]Busy Trunk as Congested[/float]to the next trunk since the message was clear, [b]THEY ARE BUSY![/b], and another trunk is not going to tell you something differently! In order to get around these carrier issues, we’ve added a per-trunk feature so you can configure any one or multiple trunks to ‘always’ fail over to the next trunk if they can’t get the far end ringing. This is not limited to the BUSY scenario, your carrier might be signaling a number as invalid because their switch is programmed improperly or for other reasons. When configured, this will always overflow to the next trunk or configured destination on an un-successfrul call attempt.

These new features will all require 2.11 to take advantage of and with Astricon fast approaching, I’ll try to get a proper 2.11 beta tarball rolled this week so you don’t have to pull these from SVN if you want to get started with them early. Of course don’t let me stop you from grabbing the code now!

Speaking of Astricon, a bunch of us plan on being there this year and we’ll have a booth as well so come by and say hi and see what we are up to!

For now, give us feedback on these features or other other ideas this might trigger since it’s always a good time to make sure “long ignored features” show up on our radar when we are in a push to get a release finished!

[b]Philippe[/b] on behalf of the FreePBX Team!

[b]P.S.[/b] We haven’t touched on the [url=/news/2012-08-16/seeking-feedback-on-new-website-design]New Website Design[/url] in a while. We’ve been looking for an experienced Drupal developer to help with the implementation of the new design. This includes both the Drupal backend configuration and migration as well as Drupal Theme design for the new look we are shooting for. If you know someone you can recommend, can you please PM me with that information? We have funds to do this so it doesn’t have to be free though it isn’t going to be a ‘huge’ project either. Thanks!

FreePBX Extension Routing Module

FreePBX Extension Routing Made Easy…

Amongst the many requests that FreePBX continuously receives, one of the most common has been the ability to allow only certain routes to be used by specific extensions. A common but very complicated and incomplete solution often tried is the unsupported Custom Context module. There have been other modules and solutions used to address this need but as a general rule, they have been burdened with hard to understand and often incomplete solutions such as “security” loop holes where restricted phones could still provide call forwarding to routes they should not have access to.

Because the frequency of requests Schmooze Com has seen both in the forums and while providing paid support services to FreePBX customers, we’ve decided to leverage some of our commercial module technology we use to solve this problem. We have added a free module that provides simple and easy to understand configuration. We are excited to provide this not only on the 2.11 up-and-coming release but on the current 2.10 release as well!

The module is called the Extension Routing module and its focus has been very specific: allow any extension to be restricted to a subset of routes, including any calls launched by that extension whether from Call Forwarding, Follow-Me or VmX Locator.

This can be configured one of two ways. Once the module is installed, each extension (or user) will have a section that includes a list of Outbound Routes configured on the system. By default they are all enabled. From here you can restrict or include any route for each extension as seen in the screenshot.

Alternatively, under each route you will be provided with two boxes that list all the “Allowed Extensions” and “Blocked Extensions” for that route. You can simply drag and drop extensions between the boxes to make adjustments to the route!

It really is “that” easy and if that is not easy enough, then have a look at the [url=http://literature.schmoozecom.com/extension_routing-module/extension_routing-userguide/Extension%20Routing%20Guide.pdf]Extension Routing PDF UserGuide[/url] that we prepared to step you through it. All other aspects of standard Outbound Routing and Trunks will work as configured and calls that are sent out from the system that do not belong to an extension will not be affected having access to all routes as normal, such as an external configured in a Ring Group or Queue.

As mentioned, the module is free but since it includes a lot of code from our commercial modules, you will have to make sure your PBX is registered in the [url=http://schmoozecom.com/oss-signup.php]Schmooze/FreePBX Portal[/url] where other commercial modules and FreePBX paid support business is conducted. If you need step by step instructions on how to register, check out our [url=http://support.schmoozecom.com/index.php?/Knowledgebase/Article/View/6963/1513/how-to-register-and-license-a-deployment]How to Register a Deployment.[/url] This process simply provides your deployment with a unique id which is needed to obtain the free license required to run this module. There is no limit to the number of deployments you can obtain licenses for!

Once registered just go and “purchase” a $0 license for any of your registered deployments, the module itself can be downloaded to any system through the online Module Admin by enabling the Commercial Repository in the GUI.

One small note, you’ll need a proper Zend environment to be able to run this module as is the case with many of the other commercial modules. If you are running the FreePBX Distro then you are covered and we’ve also worked with the PBXiaF team in the past to enable these modules for them as well, so as long as you have their version 2.0.6 or greater, you are also covered. Otherwise, sorry but you’re on your own as you’ll need the Zend environment in addition to the System Admin Module in FreePBX which includes some specific FreePBX Distro RPMs that must also be installed. It’s a bit complicated and why we do all the work for you on our nice, clean FreePBX Distro!

For now, enjoy and give us feedback if the module is meeting the needs that we see constantly being requested!

[b]Tony Lewis[/b] on behalf of the FreeBPX and Schmooze Team!

FreePBX Distro Annoucement

We mentioned coming out with a full install ISO for the FreePBX Distro in the [url=http://www.freepbx.org/news/2012-04-18/update-on-2-11-and-full-iso-distro]last blog[/url] so as promised here we are with the details! We’ll discuss that and some core changes that many of you have been asking for.

Over a year ago we set out to provide a clean and stable ISO after years of requests from all of you in the community for us to do so. The easiest way to do this at that time was to take the proven and stable build environment that Schmooze uses on the commercial products and modify them for the FreePBX ISO.

This process, using a netinstall, worked well. In fact, it worked so well in conjunction with the huge success of the FreePBX Distro to the point of over taxing our systems with many thousands of downloads each month! We have been super excited about this success but at the same time, it has become more and more painful for some of you to get access to the Distro especially outside of the US because the success is putting a big stain on the datacenter bandwidth!

I am excited to announce we spent the past few months refactoring everything on how the ISO is built and managed from the ground up and can now offer a Full ISO with 99% of the packages on the Disk in addition to the Net Installer just like we had before. The only difference in the new Net Installer is it includes the kickstart on the disk instead of pulling it from the website to keep things inline with how the Full ISO is built.

One of the other neat things we always did before and worked great for Schmooze as all of our hardware was identical and certified, was we would auto detect if you had more than 1 hard drive with no Hardware Raid Controller and we would auto setup software raid. Well this too would cause issues with some people since it would detect things like USB stick as a Hard Drive and try to add them to the raid array. In the new Net Installer we still do this but in the Full ISO you now get 3 options.

– Auto-detected raid arrays. This is the same way we have always done the Net Installer and will attempt to detect all the hard drives that you have and setup software raid.
– Simple partitions- This will just take the first hard drive it detects and set that drive up with standard linux partitions and install the ISO. This is the default behavior with text mode install in Centos
– Advanced mode- This will allow you to go into Centos Graphical Mode and setup your hard drives and drivers anyway you want just like you can in standard Centos Graphical Mode

Lastly there are a few items that the Full ISO has to do after install in the firstboot area. This is installing RPMs that can not be installed at the Installer time and updating all your modules in FreePBX to the latest version of the same release such as 2.10.

When this firstboot runs it detects if you have internet and if not it will exit and inform you that you need to get internet configured on the box and then a command to type to have it finish running through the firstboot installer stuff. This should solve the issue where network drivers are not supported in the default install but allow you to get 99% of everything installed resolve your network drivers and then run the firstboot scripts to finish it.

And for all the users who would would rather not be bothered or consumed with installing the software and making sure the hardware works well you can always visit the [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/freepbx-appliance.php]FreePBX Store[/url] and purchase a certified Hardware Appliance with the latest version of the Distro pre-installed for you.

A big thanks goes out to GamerGamer43 and all his hard work of helping track down issues with the RPMs and get everything playing nicely and to Jared Smith formerly Fedora Project Leader helping track down weird issues with the Andaconda Installer not setting up the loopback during install and causing the FreePBX RPM not to install in some scenarios

Please visit the Distro Page [url=http://www.freepbx.org/freepbx-distro/]Here[/url] to download the version of the Distro that suites your needs

Tony – On behalf of the FreePBX Team

[url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/freepbx-appliance.php]Get details on the FreePBX Appliance Here[/url] [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/oss.php?tab=support]FreePBX Support Services including Great POMP Offerings[/url] [url=/open-telephony-training-seminar]Training Opportunities with OTTS[/url]

Update on 2.11 and Full ISO Distro

I’ve been back from Spring break for a week so time for an update. I’ll go over some of the CEL (Call Event Log) work, talk a bit about some security “auditing” additions I’ve been adding to Module Admin, and give you a preview on some great work towards a full FreePBX Distro ISO (vs. netinstall) that Tony has been working on! We also have a great [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/freepbx-appliance.php]FreePBX Appliance[/url] that has been added to the store and some new [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/oss-contracts.php]Support Peace of Mind (POMPS)[/url] service offerings to compliment the existing paid services. Lastly, if you are procrastinating registering for the next [url=/open-telephony-training-seminar]Open Telephony Training Seminar[/url] time is running out so [url=/open-telephony-training-seminar-register]go register now[/url] to assure your spot!

FreePBX 2.11

Version 2.11 is still very much in an “alpha” phase with no tarball available yet. We’ll work on branching trunk to 2.11 shortly and make it a bit easier to start reviewing. Some work has started with the Asterisk CEL technology and I made some checkins yesterday into the 2.11 branch of the CDR reporting module. Unix ODBC, Asterisk ODBC, CEL and CEL ODBC support are all required in order to get the module working the way it has been initially implemented. All the required RPMs are available through [i]yum[/i] on the Distro though no configuration work has yet been done. Much of this is at the Distro level which we have not attacked at this time, but we’ve included a zipped file with instructions in the 2.11 CDR module that makes it pretty easy to configure if you want to start playing with it. We would like early adopters who are very interested in CEL to get their hands dirty and provide feedback and suggestions before we move forward heavily on an implementation path.

Once you’ve configured CEL, the current CDR Reports module will allow you to click on any CDR record resulting in a full list of CEL events associated with that record, as well as a display of all the CDR records that are part of the same call. You can now have fun with call pickups, transfers, parking, etc. and see all the events that make up that single call, as well as all the CDR records which are in fact the same call.

The CELs are ultimately designed around getting more accurate billing data but our initial goal is to simply get the technology out and into FreePBX hoping this results in creative ideas or third party modules taking advantage of this and delivering some very useful functionality.

Security is always a critical area that gets people’s attention. We [url=/news/2012-03-26/security-concerns-2-11-updates-and-expiring-early-bird-specials]patched a serious security vulnerability[/url] several weeks ago but despite that, we continued to see reports of people being hacked well after the fixes were available for easy detection and installation from the online repository. We decided to embark on some ideas that may help highlight vulnerable modules installed on a system that are known to contain security vulnerabilities. When this work is finished, Module Admin will highlight known vulnerable modules so they are very obvious and add security notifications into the notification panel. If you are setup to receive emails from Module Admin, then these security issues will also be emailed to you. We’ll blog more details about this in the coming weeks since there’s a lot more to talk about and this blog is already getting pretty long!

FreePBX Distro and Appliance

The FreePBX Distro has been a great success and the endless work from Tony and the Schmooze Com, Inc team has been awesome! Up until now loading the Distro requires a [i]netInstall[/i] which works fine for most situations but has resulted in a lot of requests for a full ISO download. Tony has tackled this problem and will tell you a lot more about this in the next blog so stay tuned. As always, he’s gone the extra mile to deliver you more then just a basic ISO!

[float=left] FreePBX Appliance
[/float] We’ll take a moment to point you at the absolute and simplest way to load up your system, which would be with the [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/freepbx-appliance.php]FreePBX Appliance[/url] that has been sitting in the [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/oss.php?tab=fpbx-applaiance]FreePBX Store[/url] for some time with a lot of happy customers. The [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/freepbx-appliance.php]FreePBX Classic[/url] is a great solution for most installations including standard features such as dual mirrored (RAID1) drives, a fantastic form factor with minimal moving parts and even [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/oss.php?tab=support]FreePBX Support Credits[/url] to get you started. For a really beefy and/or rack mountable solution that won’t run you much more there’s the [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/freepbx-appliance.php]FreePBX Xtreme[/url] which packs higher CPU, memory, expandability and more. You can get much more details on these great appliance [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/oss.php?tab=fpbx-applaiance]in the store[/url] and they all come pre configured with the FreePBX Distro on top of high quality hardware components!

If a fully supported appliance from the world class team that brings you this great project doesn’t give you all the [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/oss-contracts.php]Peace of Mind[/url] you require, have a look at the new [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/oss-contracts.php]POMPS[/url] support contracts now available from the [url=/freepbx-official-paid-support]FreePBX Support and Services[/url] team! With these offerings SLA levels up to 24×7 support are now available whether running your own hardware or one of these great appliances! Check the [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/oss.php?tab=support]Store[/url] to get all the details.

Open Telephony Training Seminar

The next [url=/open-telephony-training-seminar]OTTS[/url] event is coming up in less than 4 weeks and the last two seminars completely sold out! If you are thinking of joining us in the Twin Cities next month then make sure to [url=/open-telephony-training-seminar-register]register now![/url] We look forward to seeing some of you there!

Back to coding for now, we’ll be back shortly with more details on the ISO and the Security Notification work that is being worked on!

Philippe – On behalf of the FreePBX Team

[url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/freepbx-appliance.php]Get details on the FreePBX Appliance Here[/url] [url=http://www.schmoozecom.com/oss.php?tab=support]FreePBX Support Services including Great POMP Offerings[/url] [url=/open-telephony-training-seminar]Training Opportunities with OTTS[/url]