FreePBX design discussion


Could you summarize those points, concisely please? I would like to participate in the discussion but feel that the points are getting lost in all the prose.

I think this is exactly right. I want to be able to forget that Asterisk even exists. In fact, who knows what VoIP engine is underneath? Could be FreeSWITCH, or something built from components like opensips, rtpengine, etc.

Not only would this kind of abstraction benefit me as a seasoned user, it would benefit the new user. (Some level of understanding of IP telephony still required.)

(Tom Ray) #23

Perhaps my skin is a little thicker than others but I yet to seen an attack in this thread

Yes, they are because they are two different things completely. AdHominem just admitted he doesn’t actually charge for installing FreePBX. That can be a problem because there are plenty of hobbyists out there that like to do this for “fun” and make a few extra bucks so they taint the pool.

Let’s be clear on something, if you are someone who installs PBX systems or offers a MLTS style service (like me who does hosted solutions ala RingCentral or the like) and you’re in the US/Canada your way of life is about to change thanks to new laws that are now on the books.

Kari’s Law, Ray Baum’s Act, etc do not care if you are a professional or a hobbyist. If you install a PBX (MLTS) system after Feb 16th 2020 you must follow Kari’s Law. On top of that Ray Baum’s Act says anything that exists before Feb 16th 2020 must comply to Kari’s Law by mid-December 2020.

So you see as a professional I’ve spent the last two months working with lawyers, contacting all my end users that have their own PBX systems that need to comply because many of them have very old analog PBX systems and there is a huge portion that can’t comply to the new laws because of the limitations of their PBX. However, when I’ve talked with the MSPs and individual installers that I consult/support almost none of them where aware of these new laws and regulations. They have no plans for them for current or new installs.

See 15 years ago VoIP, as someone pointed out, was the VHS vs BetaMAX scenario. SIP was niche and no one was sure if it would survive but it won and now in 2020 SIP is how the PSTN interconnects are mainly done. Most PRI services are now SIP to the end user and converted to PRI handoffs. However, now after 15+ years and the fact that Telephony is considered a public utility it has basic service expectations and now that SIP is a leader in Telephony and it means every joe blow out there can setup and offer telephony services the powers that be realize it needs to be regulated more like traditional telephony service because SIP is replacing traditional.

While this may seem like a long winded off topic rant but really it’s not. It goes back to the core of “Professional vs Hobbyist needs/wants for FreePBX”. So either FreePBX is a fun to play with project that lets you manage and control Asterisk with some cool add-ons. Or FreePBX is a business level PBX project meant for businesses and commercial entities as a lower cost alternative to high cost PBX systems.

Because right now if you took a location that needed 10 extensions and you gave them a side by side list of features of 3CX (free version) and FreePBX, 3CX would check off more feature options that would require FreePBX to either need commercial modules or can’t support at all (web video conference is one thing that sticks out).


Hi BillSimon,

At a top level here is what I’m walking away with on AdHominem messaging -
Documentation - Missing, lacks detail, or hard to find.
Product is not intuitive.
No “FreePBX” for Dummies (not to say people a dumb but to have a let me help you get started in the same manor as the Dummies books)



You actually already did participate. Your participation was:


Agree on “hard to find” due to wiki, mostly. It would be nice to compile that down into a format.

Question is: not intuitive to whom? Someone coming from no PBX background but having systems background? Someone who knows PBXes like Cisco but doesn’t know Linux/Asterisk? Maybe none of the above? Intuition varies greatly, but I agree that there are folks who will not find this intuitive. There may be only so much you can do to cater to everyone. People come to FreePBX from every level, and not every new user is the same. So this needs to be refined.

I think the video series that Jared Smith wrote about would be a great place for this topic.


I certainly did not “just admit” that. I’ve been saying that for years.

As I said, I’ve never charged anyone for FreePBX. The people that taint the pool are the people who do what you have said that your former employer did. They learn just enough to underbid and screw up installations. Hobbyists who really know FreePBX, like me, can get it to do things that would make your head spin.

Your comments (quoted above) reflect a level of panic that I see in virtually every field when new regulations come along. Drone users are likewise freaking out about the FCC’s new Remote ID requirements. As with those drone users, you’ve largely overstated the impact of these new rules.

Kari’s law, by its own terms, only applies to professionals. It won’t apply to hobbyists at all. (See Section 721(a) ["A person engaged in the business of manufacturing, importing, selling, or leasing multi-line telephone systems may not . . . .]; Section 721(b) [“A person engaged in the business of installing, managing, or operating multi-line telephone systems may not . . . .”].)

The notification requirement does apply to people who are engaged in the business of “operating” such a system. (Section 721( c ) [“A person engaged in the business of installing, managing, or operating multi-line telephone systems shall, in installing, managing, or operating such a system for use in the United States . . . .”].) But, notification is only required if the system offers that feature. (See section 721( c ) [911 notification required only " if the system is able to be configured to provide the notification without an improvement to the hardware or software of the system."].) As a result, no change will be required for older phone systems that don’t support this feature.

Kari’s law won’t require any of your existing users to change anything about their existing phone system, unless they hire you or someone else to make a configuration change, or unless their system already has a hardware notification feature that is not configured. If their system is working just fine, they can keep using it just as it is.

But, setting that aside, anyone who has been installing a PBX in the U.S. anytime in the last ten years, and certainly anyone who has been installed FreePBX, should already be in full compliance with Kari’s law.

  1. Every system that I’ve installed allows direct dialing of 911 without prefixes. Nobody should ever install a system that doesn’t. If you’ve installed a system that doesn’t allow 911 dialing, you’ve been exposing yourself to massive potential liability under state law, without respect to Kari’s law.

  2. Routing directly to a Public Safety Access point is done via the ITSP and not the PBX. Again, anyone has has installed a PBX in the last ten years should have ensured that the ITSP is configured to do so. If you’re using an analog PBX, your analog service provider (AT&T, Frontier, Comcast, etc.) will take care of that. Although this is a provision in Kari’s law, it duplicates an FCC requirement that has been in effect since the early days of VOIP.

  3. Notification can be done at the PBX, but it is easiest to set that up at the provider level. has offered 911 notification since as long as I’ve been using it. I’ve never set anyone up without it. And again, if the system you install or maintain doesn’t support that feature, then you don’t have to do anything to meet that requirement. (See section 721©, quoted above.)

The Ray Baum’s Act is a little more complicated, but the primary thing that it adds is the dispatchable location requirement. You can read more about that here:

FreePBX can do web video conference, or anything else, without commercial modules. Commercial modules just make it easier. IMHO, some of them make it harder. EPM for example is far more time consuming than writing your own text-based phone configuration files.


I haven’t sat down to work out how I would change the interface - I was interested in hearing from AdHominem actually as he seemed to have given this some thought. I can tell you I feel that I seem to go all over the place sometimes. For a seasoned pro the current interface I’m sure is perfect. :slight_smile:

It’s not obvious to me where these videos exist can you provide me the link?


(Tom Ray) #29

You really didn’t understand what I was pointing out. I personally don’t taint the pool because I don’t undersell or under quote. If I was to do the install direct the end user would be paying 2-3x more than what the MSP I contract with charges for the same install.

As for your comments on the new laws, you’re helping me make my point. You are stating because you’re actually not in the business of doing PBX installs but just do it for funsies makes you immune to these laws. Perhaps you are right but I wouldn’t want to put money on you if things got serious and legal. However, you installed a PBX for a business and like most things they will have an expectation of service from you. Doesn’t matter that you aren’t charging them and are just helping them out, they are using you because they are expecting your experience and skills to be a benefit.

That was my whole point about tainting the pool. When hobbyist come in and isn’t in tune with the industry, doesn’t follow or know laws/regulations but offer to do the same job that those who are professionals and are in tune and follow the industry, laws and regulations. You have tainted the pool. You’ve undercut the value of what installing and maintaining a PBX system is. You’ve left the end user open to things because you aren’t aware and in the end the attitude because “this isn’t my real job, this was for fun now it’s not so I’m done” (and before you go crazy I’m being general with that statement not directing it at you)

Yes but again I thought part of this was FreePBX’s lack of being intuitive for the end user. I don’t need to use commercial modules because I know Asterisk so yes, I can avoid using commercial modules because I know how to do what is needed in Asterisk. So again, this goes back to the point of FreePBX being a glorified Asterisk management GUI because if FreePBX can’t do it but I know Asterisk I can make it. I can make it so the actual GUI is non-usable because of all the things I can make Asterisk do but the GUI can’t. Again, at that point is FreePBX an actual PBX system or is it a glorified Asterisk management GUI?


The first one was linked from the FreePBX blog:


I edited that section of my comment to delete the reference to you personally, but it appears that you read it before I did so. That portion of my post now only refers to your former employer. I agree with this portion of your response.

Not quite. I did point out that your claim that the law applies to everyone is not correct. I also said that these laws impose commonsense requirements that everyone already should have been following. I certainly have. I’m sure you have as well.

I also noted that the dispatchable location requirements are a bit more nuanced, but they probably won’t impact most small businesses.

FreePBX and Asterisk came about as a result of hobbyists. Mark Spencer started writing Asterisk in college for fun. FreePBX was initially developed by hobbyists as well. The entire project developed by enthusiasts.

It worked so well that it turned into a business for Mark (Digum), and people like Tony Lewis (a serial entrepreneur) adopted FreePBX and made it into a successful business as well.

I appreciate the clarification, as your use of the word “you” would cause most people reading this to think that you were talking about me, specifically.

As I explained above, hobbyists are the reason that we have FreePBX and Asterisk.

For the reasons that I’ve already stated, all of the problems that you’ve identified ultimately come down to the lack of documentation. FreePBX and Asterisk are great because they can do almost anything. That level of sophistication comes with a level of complexity.

The complexity can be mitigated by good documentation and good UI decisions, or made worse by the opposite.


I think we may have devolved into semantics. “Is FreePBX an actual PBX system or is it a glorified Asterisk management GUI?”

The simple answer is that it is both, and there’s no reason that it cannot be both at the same time.

And it can continue to be both while at the same time having a simple, easy to use UI and good documentation. None of these things is mutually exclusive.

(Lorne Gaetz) #33

It is literally impossible to satisfy all the people all the time. If anyone out there perceives there is a lack of documentation on any subject they feel they know (or are willing to learn), then you are encouraged to be the change you want to see. Contribute to the community doc initiative here: FreePBX Community Documentation


What’s interesting is if you go to YouTube you can’t find this video even by the title - Open Source Pro Tips by Sangoma. Also if you click on the publisher - Sangoma

It doesn’t even list this video as it’s published works. .

Will I need to go to the blog site every time for every video?



Not impossible, just impractical. You could conceivably develop multiple UIs at the same time. You shouldn’t, but you could if you wanted to.

As far as the documentation, I’ve already covered that. A lot of people have contributed to the documentation over the years, but most have given up after unnecessary UI changes made their contributions obsolete. In other cases, the CM simply deleted or moved large portions of those contributions.

The fact is that if a dev is going to change something, it should be on him to update the documentation before he commits the change. Requiring the dev to document his changes will also go a long way towards keeping the UI simple. If you cannot explain the UI (or a change to the UI) in documentation, then you need to rethink it.

If it is left to the users to document things, the documentation will always be behind development, and sometimes be wrong.


If you are hoping for consistency from any aspect of the FreePBX team, you will be disappointed. :slight_smile:

Sometimes things will only be on the blog. Sometimes they’ll only be in the wiki. Sometimes they’ll only be in forums. Sometimes they’ll only be in the tooltips. Sometimes it will be something that everyone knows, and they’re sure that somebody documented, only nobody did.

Don’t bother bookmarking a web-page (any web-page), because eventually they’ll reorganize all the links. If you find something that’s useful, print it to PDF and keep it yourself.

(Itzik) #38

As you can see on YouTube, this video is unlisted.

Why this is unlisted? I can’t answer that.

However, if someone is looking for a good way to learn FreePBX (besides the Wiki) Sangoma has online training.

(Andrew Nagy) #39

We get it already. Can you move on to talking about something else. Maybe specifically about the design or gui changes. It’s exhausting seeing you post about the same thing over and over and over and over again. (You did documentation and it was deleted/moved) I know I’m not the only one. You’ve made your point about your work on the documentation and how (in your opinion) it was deleted/destroyed. We all understand that fact and point and we believe you as you’ve beaten it into the ground in about an average of 2000 words. Please.

Edit: thanks @AdHominem for flagging this post as off topic.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

(TheJames) #41

We have seen essay after essay after thesis about your desire for the project to remain stagnant. There are still trixbox and old elastix images on sourceforge. Feel free to go use the “classic FreePBX”. Frankly things move forward. The GUI changes you keep going on about and subsequent documentation updated happened 5 YEARS AGO. Yes your documentation was a lot like your forum posts. Long, unorganized and useless to the majority. It is a wiki nothing is deleted just versioned so all the old work exists in version control. 5 YEARS AGO I went through and organized and normalized the documentation for the project. Created a formatting and concise information for every module and field. It wasn’t just paragraphs of text with a hope and a dream. You know other lawyers put their diatribes on their own blogs. You should start one.
Seriously after 5 YEARS if you are still traumatized by GUI changes of a product you get for FREE, please seek counseling.

(Andrew Nagy) #42

I didn’t ask you to STFU. You interpreted that because you are angry. I asked you to stop beating the dead horse anytime someone brings up documentation. We understand you won’t participate in documentation because of what happened 4 years ago to your old documentation. However what Lorne and Jared said about anyone is free to modify the documentation and even Sangoma is paying community members to write documentation is valid and should not be dismissed with “well the CM deleted all the documentation”. That was (again) more than 4 years ago.

I don’t expect you to STFU about anything you are saying except for beating the dead horse about documentation being deleted every time documentation is brought up.

My one and only single gripe about this is that in almost everything you post these days in regards to freepbx is about how your documentation was deleted by the “CM”. I think everyone understand this by now. So stop beating it into our heads. We are four or five years past that event. Move on.

The GUI could change tomorrow under new leadership and it wouldn’t bother me. I don’t think the current GUI is amazing. I can see how it’s complex and could be simpler in some area. There’s definitely room for many improvements. I’m all for that and it wouldn’t negate what I or others have contributed to freepbx as most of that is in the backend code that you don’t see. In fact if Sangoma makes the GUI even easier that’s great and well only help to propel freepbx into the future.

However. Wouldn’t another change in the GUI go against your mantra of “DONT CHANGE THE GUI”. Even going back to the old “classic” freepbx would be changing the GUI.

I’m also not taking anything personally but when your 2000 word responses keep lighting up the forums and it’s just more of the same (you don’t want to do documentation because it was deleted) it just gets annoying. So I replied in response to my annoyance at those specific statements. Because they are beaten into our heads. Much like what I am saying now. Where I continue to beat this into your head. Get it?

I have no other gripes about what you say because you don’t detail your issues anywhere.

For reference. The last bug I fixed that you reported you replied with a snarky response about how it took five years to fix it. That response along with asking for a commercial documentation module is not the encourage this community needs.