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]

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]

FreePBX Distro Update

We are working on a new Distro Install Process as we speak.

The plan is to let you go through the normal Centos Setup screens with a full Centos ISO and than we will prompt you with a payload/version option for what version of the Distro you want to install and it would pull down the packages it needs for the Distro like Asterisk, Dahdi, FreePBX and such so the amount of time it spends pulling down packages from the Internet should be about 1/4 of what it currently is with the Net Install only option that we have.

Which brings be to this Blog.

We are trying to come up with a better version number for the Distro mainly because lots of people equate the 1.8.2.x-x with that we are either using Asterisk 1.8.2 or FreePBX 1.8.

What I am thinking of is as followed.

asteriskversion.freepbxversion.centosversion-minor release number.

So for example the next release would be
1.85.29.55-1
This would equate to a Asterisk 8.5 with FreePBX 2.9 and Centos 5.5

We will also have a
1.85.29.60-1
Which would equate to Asterisk 8.5 with FreePBX 2.9 and Centos 6.0.

I would love feedback from everyone on what they would like to see in regards to version numbering so we can polish off the new Full ISO builds for everyone this week.

This will also allow you to wget the setup script from our webserver and just execute the script on any stock Centos Machine to turn it into a full fledge FreePBX Distro system.

FreePBX Market Place

We are excited to be unveiling the initial details of the FreePBX Market Place that has been communicated on some previous posts. The Market Place concept is simply another extension to FreePBX, the Distro and the overall professional community that we set out to further enhance to the benefit of the community by complimenting the core technology projects with other important offerings that are of interest and have been requested by many folks over time.

FreePBX has already been offering Support and Professional services for years which has been well received by hundreds of resellers, integrators and end users giving them the confidence and added help or services needed when requirements have gone beyond their internal capabilities or organizational capacity. The Market Place will both house those services and begin to expand upon them and also unveil a spectrum of new offerings that have either been absent or a well kept secret in the past.

A place to purchase specialized modules that have begun to show up in the commercial repository, or in some cases are not there but available will be handled through the portal, examples include FOP2, iSymphony as well as several of the modules that Schmooze has talked about in the various forums. We are hoping other developers who have great value to add will join in over time as well. We will also be providing access to some limited but very high value hardware from vendors with whom we have a deep relationship with and who have proven to be 100% behind FreePBX and the underlying Asterisk core technology. Over time, our offerings in both of these areas will be augmented and we will listen to your feedback and suggestions to shape this service as best meets the needs of the professional community that is benefiting from it.

The target market for these services is very much the large reseller/integrator community of which many of you are part of and as such, we have tried hard to design a market place portal with your requirements in mind. As such, the portal will include the abilities to segregate and manage your needs based on unique deployments thus allowing licensing requirements, support requirements and other related things to be segregated and managed within a single master account. As such, we are working on the final touches of a video that will help walk though the portal features and usage to help you better understand what is there and how to navigate through it to make the best use of our services.

The account will be accessed from: http://portal.freepbxdistro.org and is actually ready and live at this moment, but being brand new please be patient with any bugs or anomalies that you may encounter as it is “yet another piece of software” that as all such applications, may need to have a few things flushed out once you start doing things that may not have been expected and we learn from your feedback what we need to do to make a better experience! You can sign up for an account and get started at http://freepbxdistro.org/signup.php

For purchases such as support and professional services, or software licensing needs you will need to create a deployment which will include the various necessary information that helps uniquely identify it and benefits both you and use when dealing with that installation since many of you have many such customer deployments and this allows them to be managed individually but all within your master account. (If you only have one, well you will be done after the first time!) The video will walk through and clarify many of the details of how these deployments work and what is required.

For now, we hope this keeps the excitement up of all the new things we are working towards around the new FreePBX Distro and associated activities. We are not stopping here as work is coming along nicely on the FreePBX Certified Reseller and Certification Program that has been received with a lot of excitement both here in the community as well as in our “captive focus group” that we had available in our last OTTS with whom we discussed and probed to get more interactive feedback on the ideas and concepts that we have been developing around this space. We’ll have more on this subject coming soon as well and as fast as we can keep the momentum moving forward on all these exciting fronts!

Lastly if you have some ideas on commercial modules or add on services you would like to see added to FreePBX please let us know and we can look at building and providing such a add on if there is enough interest in it. I am thinking of partnerships with a Commercial CNAM lookup or voicemail transcription services with a commercial provider tightly integrated into FreePBX. Let me know your thoughts.

We will have the signup page for the Portal out shortly once we go live on the last few changes we are making today.

UPDATE- You can sign up for an account and get started at http://freepbxdistro.org/signup.php We will get this into a proper tab in FreePBX real soon.