What some of us feared with Sangoma’s acquisition of Asterisk® and FreePBX® is now coming to pass with the departure of almost the entire previous FreePBX development team. New Sangoma staff are "fixing" outstanding FreePBX software bugs in GPL code by merging in proprietary, non-GPL code. In addition to violating the spirit of the GPL,1 it also has immediate consequences for those using Linux platforms other than CentOS since the proprietary code and Zend Guard won’t run under Debian, Ubuntu, or Raspbian.
This issue first appeared when voicemails were not restored using the new Backup & Restore module for FreePBX 15. The module itself had almost two man-years of programming time invested in it, and the beauty of the module as we have previously noted was that it allowed transparent migration of a FreePBX 13 platform to FreePBX 15. At least that was the theory. Unfortunately, there still are some minor bugs which were reported in several issues on the FreePBX Bug Tracker including this one.
In addressing the identified bug, the Sangoma solution required installation of the commercial SysAdmin module which had two major shortcomings: (1) it required non-GPL code to use the new Backup & Restore module and (2) the Backup & Restore module would no longer run on any platform other than the proprietary RHEL-based FreePBX Distro. Thus, while the Backup & Restore component continues to be advertised as a GPLv3 module, it now is actually commercial because of its SysAdmin dependency.
What’s particularly disappointing about this issue’s resolution is that the voicemail recordings which were not being restored do actually exist in the backup files created by the Backup & Restore module. So the simple bug fix was the addition of a single line of code to restore the data, if any, in the backup:
tar zxvf $BACKUP ./var/spool/asterisk/voicemail -C /
Instead, what was proffered was a hack that forced users to migrate to a commercial platform. Whether intended or not, this sort of monetizing scenario is exactly what we feared when Sangoma acquired Asterisk and FreePBX. We hope you will join us in voicing your concern. This is not the way to be a good steward of an open source project.
Originally published: Monday, September 2, 2019
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- One of the major shortcomings of the GPL is that it’s a toothless tiger when it comes to GPL infractions by the actual copyright holder of the code. There is no enforcement mechanism when the copyright owner himself breaches the terms of the GPL. [↩]