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Announcing PBX-in-a-Flash: A New Asterisk Platform for Everyman… and Woman!

We’ve been keeping a low profile for a few weeks, and now it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. As some of you know, we just haven’t been thrilled with the direction of the trixbox project lately. Without boring everyone with a lot of detail, suffice it to say that it’s just gotten a little too proprietary, too closed, and too commercial for our open source, puritanical tastes. So today, with a bunch of help from some really sharp folks, we embark upon a new open source project that we hope will become the best-of-breed Asterisk®-based development platform. Our design goals are simple: a very modular system that meets the needs of Asterisk experimenters as well as those looking for a reliable, scalable, IP-based business telephony solution with all the bells and whistles.

Our up front promise is to keep the project open, participatory, reliable, and fun. After all, that’s what the Asterisk revolution was and is all about. The plan is to provide a free ISO-based offering for home or office use that will run on a dedicated Linux machine. There also will be a VMware image that will run on a Windows desktop. And, for the Mac desktop, we’ll provide both a VMware and a Parallels image. Down the road, when you get sick of babysitting your own hardware and worrying about fault tolerance and backups, there will be a transparent option to migrate your entire system to a dedicated, hosted service with very reasonable pricing for one trunk or hundreds. The system can be scaled to meet almost every business need. And, if you ever want to reverse-migrate back to a system that you maintain, that option will be available as well. The hosted option is about 1 millisecond off the Internet backbone in Atlanta so we’re doubtful there will be a lot of reverse migrations.

The free ISO-based offering as well as the hosted alternative will include a bucket of minutes for some free calls in the U.S. to get you started. You can add your own providers at any time or provide a credit card and continue to use the preconfigured services. For the desktop, both the ISO-based and hosted offerings will include instructions for use of a preconfigured softphone. Or you can purchase an auto-configurable phone.

As for the ISO-image, it’ll have all your favorites: CentOS 5, Asterisk 1.4, FreePBX, Apache, MySQL, PHP, phpMyAdmin, SendMail, Perl, Flite, and, of course, all of the Nerd Vittles Goody Bag: weather forecasts by zip code, airport code, and international forecasts as well as the NewsClips news reader, the MailCall email reader, AsteriDex phone directory, TeleYapper, Telephone Reminder System, Podcast Studio, and more. Everything else is optional. There will be free scripts to install every Asterisk-compatible application on the planet. Can you add your own stuff? Absolutely. Can you help by adding stuff to the PBX-in-a-Flash repository? We hope you will. And, last but not least, there’s a new Nerd Vittles Forum where you can get lots of help at no cost when you get stumped. Sign up now, and you’ll be all set. We’re all ears for suggestions already!

Show Me the Beef. Yeah. We wish it were ready today, too. But we’re shooting for early November unless we eat too much candy on Halloween. Either way, it won’t be long. Can we tell you who all the players are today? Well, we could, but then we’d have to shoot you. So hang in there for a couple more weeks, and we’ll have the first beta for you to sink your teeth into.

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  1. Great! I’ve been with you since A@H and I’ve been putting off upgrading my A@H system to trixbox. Looking forward to the new system… Will Any upgrading tips be provided or just fresh installs…

  2. Hey, it’s great finding out that NerdVittles didn’t just gave up on Asterisk… With all those iPhone, and MagicJack posts, I really thought there was nothing else to be done about the trixbox new approach… I’ve even started customizing and testing other bundles (Elastix, and my-home-made bundle).

    It’s really great to hear from you about Asterisk again! Let’s try to get everything working, so we can start the creative process of New Stuff . LOL I really like getting new stuff to do with Asterisk and Flite…

  3. Uncle Ward, Thank you yet again. I welcome this news.

    There’s an old saying, "It is not the Chefs that made French cooking great." This is every bit as true in software development and business.

    Open source development, just like any other venture, needs to keep it’s primary focus on serving user/customer needs and desires. If that attention isn’t apparent, or a venture has it’s focus elsewhere, users/customers will seek something that does. This seems a simple concept, yet it’s decidedly ignored time and time again.

    If this new installer can save me time, offer stability, security, and meet the requirements of myself and my clients while offering better value, others like me will flock to this new project.

    I also want to add that the trixbox/asterisk@home project has seen few friends like you. Nearly every step of the way, Nerd Vittles has been there, providing the needed documentation, required fixes, and many useful, free add-ons. If this demonstrated attention is any indication of what to expect moving ahead, we are all in for some remarkable stuff!

  4. This is a step in the right direction. TB had become something of a joke. Now let’s see the power an open atmosphere work to all our benefit.

  5. I like the idea!
    Have you decided on what will be included?
    My picks would be Centos 5, Asterisk 1.4, Hylafax, avantfax (or something similar).. not sure about sugarcrm (never had a use for it).
    I’d love to see something like adminsparadise but without all of the customizations so that upgrading the various components separately can be straight forward. Will you be doing rpm’s or have scripts build it from source?

  6. Why not make it Ubuntu based? …they make a server distro you know.

    I’ve had lots of problems with CentOS based VOIP distros running on stuff that should have been easily supported x86 hardware (via mini-itx boards in particular)

    [WM: A lot of work has gone into an Ubutu distro, but none have worked. So we’re sticking with CentOS 5.]

  7. I know the ClarkConnect folks are releasing an Asterisk version now, will you have a build that can incorporate your version with CC?

  8. I have my personal box running Fedora + asterisk + freepbx. I chose this path about year and half and no regrets. Do you think Fedora would be better choice than Centos ? Fedora is more widely accepted than Centos.
    I recently did install asterisk+freepbx with Ubuntu on a prehistoric laptop for a friend of mine since fedora wouldn’t install on that one. Worked without too much of issues. I installed bare bone ubuntu (server install) and then added asterisk, zaptel and freepbx. No issues. Currently I am configuring (just need to add trunks) a fedora image so that I can use it as backup when upgrading my real * box.
    I can whip up vmware image of both ubuntu or fedora if required.

  9. I am soooo looking forward to this. As soon as Trixbox was sold to Fonality, we all knew the end was in site. I wish you good luck!!

  10. We love Ward and NerdVittles but still don’t understand the comments since we do not consider trixbox to have closed development, the fact is, 99.99999% of users do not contribute anything to development, mostly because they do not have the programming skill to do so. We wish Ward the best in this new business venture. I also don’t understand some of the messages I have received that this is a major competitor to trixbox. trixbox is a pure 100% GPL open source project and this new project is part open source and part commercial hosted PBX platform that they hope to monetize. We are not in the same market as we do not have a hosted PBX product.

    [WM Clarification: This project will be 100% open source. Nothing in the project is "part commercial." You’ve gotten us confused with somebody else, Kerry. There will be a migration path to and from a hosted PBX platform, but the provider can and does host many different Asterisk implementations. The difference will be the ability to transparently migrate to and from the provider’s hosted platform.]

  11. I’m very curious what the problems were with Ubuntu; I’ve not had any serious problems getting a voip-only solution running on Ubuntu server. I’ve taken care to document the steps I’ve followed – indeed; I got many of them from this site! I’m curious to know if I’ve missed some pitfalls….

  12. Kerry, I think this project was initiated because people got frustrated by stagnation of trixbox. It has been really long time since the last ‘stable’ build of trixbox. Also instead of letting people experiment (read Tom’s script) it was frowned upon. Letting people upgrade their kernel etc was also not supported.
    Also some of things like registration requirements etc. have turned off some of the people.
    Nothing personal against you, but people like to have options. And if they don’t get it at one place they will go another place.

  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I agree 100%. "a little too proprietary, too closed, and too commercial for our open source, puritanical tastes."

    Keep up the good work.

  14. A sugestion…. I use a dedicated servers for asterisk and I do not physical access to them. That’s why an ISO installation would be more cumbersome. I think alternative ways of installation (such as tgz, rpm) and upgrade would be very good for situations like mine.

  15. This is GREAT NEWS Ward!!! Somehow it just seems Trixbox has just to many Trix!! Ward I hope your goals and the MANY who will use it will keep it simple like the old days of AAH… And when it comes to teaching it to do new things… maybe they can be introduced without breaking other things 😉 … http://www.centpbx.com/downloads.html reminds me of the Good old days.. Asterisk with just enough "Training Wheel"(FreePBX) to get you going …then you can add what you like!

    Thank you Ward!!!

  16. I sure hope you figure out how to apply updates without reloading the entire OS from an iso each time. I always hated this about the aah/trixbox project: it was always a mess to keep the fully configured and stable OS and update from the update scripts. Things broke. A lot.

    Some use the box concurrently for a bit more than just Asterisk, and dumping a fully configured box for an update is not much fun.

  17. Never thought about integrating Hylafax? I tried Elastix, and I liked very much the fax features, in Italy we still use a lot the faxes

  18. sweet deal

    thanks guys
    I was hoping for a return of astradex
    and this come with a sweet new lighter loaded system

    no offense Kerry but trix was a great thing did a huge service for the asterisk community up until fonality started swaying the focus of the project as many of us were afraid it would we were hopeful that
    it wouldn’t and it still helped get these packages we love to use
    get to where they are. I say way to go Ward and crew thanks for all the time so far glad to see you finally roll your own from
    the ground up

  19. I would like to see either a Debian or Ubuntu based Asterisk. I used to be a fan of the "redhat" type stuff, and lately have appreciated the "Debian Style" package management style of doing things. Also, I think based on my own trials, a debian-based OS is far more "vendor neutral" and efficient int eh use of resources than a RH or "RPM" based distro. Just my .02 worth. Would really like to see it.

    Cheers. Keep up the good work.

  20. Thanks for the update ward. Looks like we have semi been doing the same thing (other than the hosting). I have been in the process of making a debian/ubuntu cd with all the asterisk stuff on it. I am not finished yet, but I do have a working system. I was also tired of the closed development. There used to be something going on every week and I couldn’t wait to see what was next. I then saw my self getting bored and the project going astray once Trixbox ‘took things over’. THey don’t even release their scripts anymore. I didn’t want the whole iso. I had to hack up their script quite a bit so it didn’t try to take over permissions it shouldn’t have…

    Can’t wait to see what you have… Maybe once I get things going I may send along to you what I have as well!

    Corey N3FE

  21. Thanks Uncle Ward. I have been using AAH since it’s inception and must say it hasn’t been the same since it got Trix’d.
    Been using the easyvoxbox distro of late as. Waiting for yours impatiently.

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