Get to Know: Members of the FreePBX team

Hey All,

As part of my earlier effort to introduce you to some new members of the FreePBX development team at Sangoma, I wanted to also highlight some of the existing members of the team so that you can get to know them better.

The first person this week is Philip Joseph from our Bangalore office:


Q: Where are you from and where did you grow up?

A: I am from Kerala, also known as “gods own country” in India.  Once I completed my basic education, I moved to Bangalore in 2004 to do my higher studies in computer science.
I completed my master in computer science from Christ University, Bangalore (2009).

Q: How did you get into working in the telephony industry?

A: As a part of my internship I joined a company called astTECS in 2009, who does business with open source software (mainly Asterisk).

There I put my feet in the Asterisk world and I start playing with most of the Asterisk based applications such as A2Billing, asterCC, Vicidial, FreePBX(2.9), and custom applications on Asterisk. I continued to expose myself to it however possible until mid 2015. Then I started doing freelancing work with Asterisk applications where I have made cloud telephony applications and IP based communication (for factories). In this project I used FreePBX 2.11 and customized FreePBX in many ways and implemented many new features. Some of the features included extension priority overriding and passcode for dialing while doing paging with a DTMF response from paging device, turning paging to private communication, as well as dial out conferencing (scheduled/dynamic).

All of these FreePBX experiences helped me to get into Sangoma in 2017 Feb.

Q: What is your favorite part about working on FreePBX?

A: I like the Queue Callback module which I have spent a lot of time making more reliable and stable. Also Paging, Paging Pro, and other modules.  Warm spare backup in 15. And many more.

Q: Is there an area you’d like to see improved in the project?

A: Yes, generally there is some room for each module to improve.  From a new module point of view, I think we should add dial-out scheduled conference support.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

A: Apart from work, I love spending time with my family. Also, wine making, horse racing, and driving are some of the hobbies.

Our second is Franck Danard, who works in France (he is on the right):

Q: Where are you from and where did you grow up?

A: My name is Franck Danard and I’m 53 years old. I come from France and I grew up in Nantes, close to the west cost in south Britany. Now, I live in the countryside about 30 km from Nantes.

Q: How did you get into working in the telephony industry?

A: I worked at Tandy France and one day I found another job. So I started to work in telephony in 1989, and not only with telephony systems. I worked on alarm systems, video surveillance systems, and fire alarm systems. I grew up not only with Alcatel PBX systems, but also with other telecom systems, fax systems…etc.  And finally, I worked in the support team online for NXO before working fully on Asterisk systems for IT’TEK, which led me to eventually working at Sangoma.

Q: What is your favorite part about working on FreePBX?

A: I don’t have a specific part I like to work on in FreePBX more than any other. All the modules are different. I like the diversity.

Q: Is there an area you’d like to see improved in the project?

A: Maybe high availability, GUI themes. I don’t know. Just a few ideas like that.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

A: I like cooking everything and even for 50 people. I make bread homemade. I compose some music and I make arrangements for my father, I have my home studio, and I
mix bands in small concerts. I just need to get out my telescope, I haven’t used it since our daughter was born (for 11 years). I like stars. Also, I like to sail by boat on the river. It’s very quiet and wonderful. Sometimes I like to code personal apps for home automation systems.

That’s all for this week, but be on the lookout for more posts introducing other members of the team.  Thanks to both Philip and Franck for taking the time to answer my questions 🙂

Best wishes,

Matthew Fredrickson

 

FreePBX Master Key Update

Hey All,

A few weeks ago, you may have received notification about a security update to add support for an additional FreePBX master key. A few of you asked us “what is this for?” or “what does this mean for FreePBX?”

TLDR

  • Increase the size of the master key, in order to keep current with security best practices
  • New key provides a faster, more reliable public key infrastructure lookups
  • Invite 3rd party developers with existing signing keys to get their keys re-signed with the new master key

Security

For those that are not familiar with the way that FreePBX uses GPG keys, they are used to cryptographically sign FreePBX modules that are to be installed on a PBX system. As with modern operating systems, the module installer verifies that the modules have been distributed by an authorized source, i.e. the one that owns the FreePBX master key.

This also allows FreePBX to verify that modules have not been tampered with by potential bad actors (such as hackers, for one example) trying to modify the module code to (for instance) insert backdoors into the system. All in all, it’s a very strong “net positive” from a system security perspective and allows administrators to better trust that their FreePBX systems are not compromised.

GPG Master Key Size

Over the years, the standard best practices encouraged administrators to increase the cryptographic key size. We have chosen to increase our key size to 4KB which is inline with more current best practices.

GPG Key Infrastructure

FreePBX utilized the public key infrastructure for verification of 3rd-party-developers’ keys in order to ensure that they were signed by the FreePBX Master key, which is owned by Sangoma.

Infrastructure such as this can be susceptible to external attacks. That kind of an attack could result in a Sangoma public master key “poisoning”, as it’s called. While the word “poison” sounds scary, it does not mean that the key was lost or compromised – it just means that FreePBX module signature verification could take an inexplicably long time or potentially time out due to FreePBX being unable to retrieve the public key from a key server.

In order to work around this problem, FreePBX developers chose to bypass usage of the public key infrastructure by bundling the public side of the FreePBX master key with the FreePBX distribution, effectively making poisoning a non-issue.

What about the old key?

A few of you have seen comments/posts from 3rd parties not affiliated with Sangoma, that claimed or speculated that Sangoma was going to cancel the old key. Comments from sources outside of Sangoma, about what Sangoma may be planning are probably not reliable, so if you ever have any questions or concerns about something of this nature, please contact me or Jared Smith.

We understand that deprecating the old signing key would be very disruptive to the FreePBX community. Thus, there are no current plans at Sangoma to deprecate the old master key. If circumstances in the future change, it would be done in such a way to minimize disruption.

FreePBX modules signed with the old master key and the 3rd-party-signed developer keys will continue to work.

But we do strongly encourage developers with existing signed keys to reach out to us at code@sangoma.com to have their keys re-signed with the new more secure master key. We also invite any new open source module developers that want to have their keys signed to reach out to us as well.

Separately from the key updates, Sangoma is even exploring ways to offer 3rd party developers access to building and distributing commercial modules. We’ve been asked this a few times over the years and know that historically it was challenging for developers and companies to do so. So we see this as one of the areas we may be able to improve upon and be more flexible, under commercial agreement.

As good stewards of the FreePBX project, Sangoma is working hard to improve and maintain security while offering innovative ways for developers and customers to continue to work with us even more closely and cooperatively in the future.

I would like to conclude by thanking everyone who is involved in pushing the project forward. This includes those of you that help to answer questions in the community forums, submit wiki documentation, contributing patches to the codebase, and any other way you might be contributing. Each person’s efforts in doing so is vital for the life and success of the project.

I wish all of you the best, and look forward to any questions you might have.

FreePBX 15 is Released!

Hello Everyone!

We’d like to announce that FreePBX 15 is now fully released! It has been a long road in getting things shored up with some of the new included functionality but we’re very excited that we’ve finally come to this moment. I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you who have helped to test, submit bugs, submit patches, answer questions on the forums, and otherwise participated in getting this release out. It takes the diligent efforts of many to ensure that everything comes together.

As a final note, updated ISOs should be available on the download site with updated versions of SangomaOS and FreePBX 15. Thanks so much again, and happy upgrade/release day to you all!

– The FreePBX Dev Team

FreePBX Team Update

Hey,

The last few blog posts we’ve done have been technical, so this week I’d like to take a step back from that and introduce you to some recent additions to the FreePBX team. As a company, we have been redoubling our investment into the FreePBX project, and it’s good from a community perspective to see some of the fruits of those efforts.

The first person is Walter Moon (picture above). Walter began his career in telecommunications back in 2005 at Switchvox, during its earlier days. “During my time in multiple roles with Switchvox, I built a good understanding of how companies use a PBX, and what they expect from them. That perspective really helps when I approach things as a developer.” After joining the FreePBX team in June of this year, he’s looking forward to what’s to come, saying “I’m happy to be on board as a developer for the FreePBX team. The benefits of being an open source project are notable, and it’s exciting when there’s a strong community contributing in numerous ways. It keeps things interesting. I always liked FreePBX as a product. It offers so much for so little cost. It’s something I’d use myself, and I like that.“ When he’s not working, Walter likes to spend his time tinkering with cars, and playing video games.

Another recent addition is Matt Brooks (also pictured above). Like Walter, Matt also began his career at Digium in 2005. For the most part, Matt has worked many years behind the scenes at Digium and Sangoma building the website infrastructure and business systems. “I’m excited to make the transition from a supporting development role to an active product development role in FreePBX. I have been playing around with Linux and Open Source software since I was a teenager and finally getting the opportunity to work on a Great Open Source Project, such as FreePBX, has always been a dream of mine. I have many ideas for the project and I can’t wait to see how I can apply them to help push the project forward.” Matt’s hobbies outside of work include building and supporting local tech communities in Huntsville, AL by organizing technical workshops and innovation competitions through local non-profit Urban Engine. Here, Matt has been key in organizing many events such as the NASA International Space Apps Challenge, the Hudson Alpha Tech Challenge, HackHSV High School Hackathon, and 4 Hours to Product.

I think we’re excited as a team to see them grow into their roles as FreePBX developers and start interacting with different members of the community. Hope you all enjoyed getting to know Matt and Walter a bit better, and best wishes to you all!

– Matthew Fredrickson

FreePBX 15 Release Candidate Announcement

Hey All,

Before I get down to business, I’d like to introduce myself to you, as I don’t think I’ve had an opportunity to do so. My name is Matthew Fredrickson, and I’m the new FreePBX project lead at Sangoma. I began working at Sangoma as a part of the Digium acquisition and have had the role of Asterisk project lead for the last few years. After Andrew decided to leave Sangoma, the leadership at Sangoma asked me if I would be willing to step in and work with the many great developers and community members of FreePBX in addition to those of the Asterisk project. Taking on that mantle from Andrew has been no small undertaking, but has been an enjoyable opportunity for me to grow as well.

My background in telecommunications started in 2001 when Mark Spencer asked me to work for him doing open source software development with Asterisk. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to do extensive work on DAHDI, Asterisk, and many of Digium’s traditional telephony products. The acquisition by Sangoma allowed both Digium’s and Sangoma’s world class teams to come together and try to improve our part of the telecom industry in a more synergistic way.

All that being said, my goal today is not to go extensively into my own past, but to write about the present. Today, we’d like to announce that the FreePBX 15 branch is graduating from beta into a release candidate phase. This is the final step that will take place prior to an official FreePBX 15 release. The goal is to have an approximately 4 week period in the release candidate phase and have all major issues and regressions resolved by the end of the month, at around Astricon time (Oct 28-Oct 30 or so). So for those of you who like to test new releases, please do your best to test things in the FreePBX 15 branch so that we can get as many pesky bugs knocked out as possible prior to a final release.

In conclusion, I want to thank all of you that contribute regularly to the FreePBX project – whether it be in the forums answering questions, doing code level contributions, or all the many other ways there are to directly and indirectly contribute. I have learned in my work with the Asterisk project that it takes a lot of time and effort from not just one, but many individuals to help make all the parts of an open source project to run smoothly.

Also, be on the lookout over the next few weeks for a few blog posts editorializing some of the new features in FreePBX 15.

Happy testing to you all, and best wishes!

Matthew Fredrickson