We enjoy some infrequent entertainment reading the latest Reddit posts about Incredible PBX®. The comments range from "stealing FreePBX®" to "they move too fast" to "there are too many add-ons, only some of which I use." Most of the naysayers, of course, post anonymously. From the general tenor, it’s pretty simple to conclude that most of these folks have little clue about how open source development works much less any understanding of GPL licensing. Others are probably affiliated with competitors. So, despite the temptation, we’ve heeded the advice of George Bernard Shaw to "never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it."
Let’s spend a minute addressing the "move too fast" argument. Since COVID reared its ugly head, less than a handful of Asterisk® and FreePBX developers still reside in North America. Most are now citizens of India. While that’s not a bad thing, it does tell you that there is virtually no remaining institutional knowledge with regard to how Asterisk or FreePBX was constructed… or where the bodies are buried. That’s the primary reason that we created our own firewall solution many years ago because you never knew when a recent Sangoma® hire or contractor would change something that might cascade into a major security breach.
Sh*t Happens! So, yes, when it comes to security, we move quickly.
Then there’s the timetable for Asterisk and FreePBX development. New versions of Asterisk are released annually while FreePBX module updates occur almost every week. That is a slippery slope to navigate even for their own staff much less an outside entity with no access to development data. Sangoma has blurred the development process even further by restricting development ticket information to just their own employees. So, yes, when new FreePBX modules are released that blow something up because the Sangoma people didn’t catch the bug internally, we move quickly.
And finally there’s the RedHat elephant in the room which turned years of secure CentOS development on its ear. So, yes, we’ve scrambled to find operating system alternatives that are more trustworthy. The irony of all this is that, in my former life, heading up an IT development staff, telecom was the least of my worries because you could measure telecom stability in terms of decades, not years or months.
And that brings us to 2022 and where things stand. Our objective always has been to deliver a stable telecom solution that could run almost unattended for many, many years. In fact, our home system still runs on Vultr for $2.50 a month with CentOS 6, Asterisk 13, and FreePBX 13. Weekly backups push the monthly cost to $3.00, and it never hiccups. So, no, YOU DON’T HAVE TO UPGRADE YOUR PBX IF IT’S SECURE AND IT MEETS YOUR CURRENT NEEDS!
While we continue to support multiple operating systems including Rocky 8, Ubuntu 20.04, and the latest Raspberry Pi OS, our preferred and recommended platform is Debian. It’s rock-solid reliable and runs well on Cloud platforms. If you’re still running your PBX in house, you’ve got a Death Wish. Find a reputable cloud provider that offers backups and migrate to the Cloud. You’ll find numerous options on the Incredible PBX Wiki.
Last week we introduced the new Incredible PBX beta 2 release with Debian 11. While it’s not for everyone, it, too, is rock-solid now. It also offers three flexible install options. You can choose the base install with Debian 11, Asterisk 18 LTS, and FreePBX 15. Or you can upgrade to Debian 11, Asterisk 18 LTS, and FreePBX 16. Or you can upgrade to Debian 11, Asterisk 19, and FreePBX 16. Just keep in mind that Asterisk 19 is a one-year release that’s about to expire so our recommendation is to stick with Asterisk 18 LTS running with either FreePBX 15 or 16.
So, yes, we offer sensible choices on stable platforms with no commercial hooks. To simplify getting started, we add extensions, trunks, outbound and inbound routes, ring groups, conferencing, text-to-speech and speech-to-text with sample AGI scripts for News, Weather, Voice Dialing, and more. Then we test our solutions on over 40 servers that we maintain on premise and in the cloud and offer literally hundreds of Nerd Vittles tutorials to kickstart your VoIP adventure. If that’s your cup of tea, we hope you’ll come join the party. Otherwise, there are plenty of proprietary alternatives from which to choose.
They say seeing is believing so we’ve uploaded a VirtualBox image with Debian 11, Asterisk 18 LTS, and FreePBX 16 to SourceForge. Once you download it, the VirtualBox install takes about 3 minutes, and you’ll be up and running. Numerous tutorials on VirtualBox already are available on Nerd Vittles, and we’ll add one for Debian 11 next week. In the meantime, enjoy!
Originally published: Monday, April 5, 2022
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