Asterisk + FreePBX flexibility

Hi there !

I’m new to this forum.

At the Asterisk mailing list they recommended FreePBX to me as a GUI on top of my Asterisk-system.

I would like your opinion on the following :

Will installing FreePBX still give me the freedom to keep my hand-made configurations (sip.conf and extensions.conf) ?

Why working with a GUI : I got the remark of a customer saying “I do not want to be forced to call you every time a new employee (+ new phone extension) joins the company”.
Now, I’m guessing that a CEO of a meat-company does not want to learn some vim-skills so I need to adopt a GUI for the “simple administration tasks”.
I’m talking about adding an extension, a sip-account and a voicemail-account.

Again my question : will FreePBX respect my hand-made config and provide an easy way of administrating for the noob ??

At offset I would be tempted to say yes and yes, however if your a$$ is on the line why take our word for it.
At the risk of annoying the “old guard” why don’t you fire up a test box and have a look-see for yourself?

The “FreePBX way” is to do EVERYTHING through the GUI. Sure, you can make changes in extensions.conf or whatever, but the moment your customer makes a change, your configurations will be totally overwritten. That’s because FreePBX overwrites those files every time you make any change and click the orange bar. If you think of FreePBX as a configuration file generator (which is really only one of its functions, but it’s a major one), you’ll understand why your existing config files aren’t compatible.

That said… probably 99% of what your have done in your configs can be done from the FreePBX interface, plus a whole lot more. Once you learn how easy it is to do things in FreePBX, you probably won’t want to write your own configurations anymore.

And also, if for some reason FreePBX won’t let you do what you want, there are ways you can use your own dialplan fragments. You just need to put them in the correct place, such as extensions_custom.conf or extensions_override.conf, etc. If you really have a burning desire to write custom dialplans, it’s easy enough to do, but you just can’t do it in the two files you mentioned.

Seriously, give FreePBX a try. If you really have a deep-seated need to write code, you can always start developing third-party modules that do useful functions - if you contribute those back to the community, those of us who don’t code would appreciate your efforts!

If it’s up to me… I stick with the manually written macro’s and stuff.

Was just searching if there is a way to let other ‘lesser skilld people’ add some simple administrative updates.

Well, yes, but it doesn’t sound like it’s really up to you, now does it? Your customer has made clear what they want, you know you can provide it but you may have to give up some of your precious macros (or not, but then you’d have to learn how to properly include them).

Point is, if you just tell your customer you can’t or won’t do it, and they later find out about FreePBX and find out they can, they potentially will badmouth you to everyone they know (and at a far extreme, maybe even sue you). Is it really worth it? Sometimes when you are in business, you have to swallow your pride and give the customer what they want. Or, you can be the arrogant bastard that says “no way will I do that” and sooner or later you will be out of business, but a lot of your FORMER customers will be talking about you behind your back first.

I’m not saying you have to use FreePBX, it’s not the only GUI-based PBX around (although I happen to think it’s one of the best, and I’m not even a developer). But if you want to stay in business you do have to give your customers what they want, and even if you don’t want to do that, you cannot lie and say that what they want isn’t available, because they have Internet access too. And even if the guy you are working with is a total Luddite, you never know when his geeky second cousin once removed will hear him expressing frustration over his phone system at a family reunion or some such gathering, and will say, “Didn’t anyone tell you about Asterisk and FreePBX?”

There is another option, you could write your own GUI configuration program for that customer, but I doubt you want to go through that and I’m betting your customer doesn’t want to pay you to do that, either. Why not at least give FreePBX a try? What’s the worst that can happen, you might actually find out that you like it!

Take a look at building a test box, and learning a bit about FreePBX. you can not edit extensions.conf and sip.conf but FreePBX has support for custom coding. Go to and read about what files you can edit, etc.

I have discovered Asterisk Realtime.
With a custom web-GUI php + mysql I can still control what the user does, and loose nothing of my own flexibility.

Thanks for all the input.