The signs are becoming clear, and our community is taking notice. We understand that the budget-conscious decision-makers aim to cut costs, and it appears that FreePBX is slowly fading away. The demarcation is gradually disappearing, and the FreePBX brand is being phased out. The most recent move involved discontinuing the wiki. While this might seem harmless, it has effectively disrupted the internet. Now, every link on Google, in forums, and elsewhere is broken. When people muster the courage and motivation to seek answers, they are all led to the same landing page, lacking proper references. All of this is happening because FreePBX has apparently outlived its usefulness to those in charge, and they seem to view it as a mere historical footnote. This is both absurd and, frankly, a disheartening decision by the executives.
I, along with fellow community members, am joining in the call for Sangoma to consider passing the project on to others who are genuinely committed to its well-being, rather than treating it like an unappreciated partner, suffocating it simply because it once outshone all the commercial alternatives they acquired, and their sales team struggled to promote it effectively.
This massive link rot occurred on the Asterisk wiki a couple of months ago, and I don’t think that Google has found the replacement pages yet. I’m assuming that the same has happened on FreePBX: the wiki hasn’t been removed, but has been moved to a new location and new structure, so that the Google searches that one used to remember, rather than the actual URIs, now lead to a page that can only be searched with the internal search engine, which like most such search engines generates far too many false positives compared with Google used to do.
It is very complicated but I would say it felt like a good move but in hindsight there was a lot of gaslighting. After the honeymoon the executive team aka Bill and anyone who was a yes man to him started cutting corners and withdrawing or latitude within the project. There are things that made it in to 14/15 because I went forgiveness over permission.
Bill was not and will never be an open source guy. He had one goal. Squeeze every penny out of the user base and put on a good show. I thought it was a good thing when he got the boot but his replacement is of the same school.
Because of their success with buying schmooze, not realizing the success was a direct result of the people who came with it they went on a buying spree. I think they were irritated they couldn’t replicate it. Well all those people left the company.
They have been on a mission to trim the fat. With the executive team that means open source stuff that doesn’t serve a commercial interest goes in the trash.
Funny thing about “free software” is you have to know how to monitor it AND balance the commercial vs free aspects. Protip in open source telephony there is only one guy who has truly done it. That guy doesn’t work for Sangoma and they didn’t take notes.
Admittedly I have never, and don’t fully understand the implications of forking a project like this, but why not? Seems like the new brand is already established, and in my opinion the most valuable commercial module (Endpoint Manager), is already fully functional. I get that it would be nice if they just turned over the keys, but that’s a lot of sour grapes for Sangoma to chew through.
Fragmentation helps nobody. There would have to be a dedicated effort to maintain and advance FreePBX. Originally @xrobau one manned it with some community help and he got burned out. It is a lot of work and really does need some sort of commercial sponsorship or backing. Basically a few people who can work in it and still pay their bills.
This would also have to be independent as a fork not really taking from “upstream”. Trust me the code quality is all but gone. So duplicate efforts on almost every issue.
Ideally since it would become it’s own beast I would like to see so someone rework the whole thing and lay it on top of laravel perhaps. Pipe dreams
I guess the tl;dr is that a fork is likely to die and if it does survive it will ultimately become a different codebase that may be incompatible
Ain’t this the truth…when I needed a multi-tenant solution while sticking with Asterisk and not being stuck in a closed source solution my grand plan was to add this functionality to FreePBX but the coding was…chaotic. It would have required a lot of re-structuring and clean up…so I just did my own.
Not to downplay the effort and expense, but perhaps not as daunting as it would have been in the past thanks to new versions of software, AI, and having a roadmap/end state to work towards (feature parity)? It would still need a financial backer, as you say. I saw @Crosstalk’s video asking to hand it over (which is not realistic), maybe he could help organize and advertise a new build in partnership with Clearly.
I think there is a lot people are not considering when they ask for this. This will require a lot of resources and a lot of time to migrate to someplace else. There is also the fact that there is the OSS part and the commercial part. Sangoma can give up the OSS part but they do not have to give up the commercial part, at least not without asking for money on it. Then of course there is the matter of the IP phones and the softphone apps, who’s getting those? If Sangoma is going down the whole SaaS road why would they continue to make the IP phones.
Ignoring all the stuff needed just to get the OSS side going, what is going to happen to the current use base that relies on the commercial parts of FreePBX? That includes any free-to-use commercial parts such as the Distro, unpaid SysAdmin, the EPM and Phone Apps (free for Sangoma devices). Then you have to look at things like the System Firewall which is OSS but directly tied into and dependant of commercial modules (SysAdmin). Then of course there are going to be those users that have things like support contracts and perhaps even some rarities of those using branded distros (that was/is a thing).
Then there is the staffing of the project. There needs to be a project leader, a lead developer and well developers. I think a trip down memory lane in the these forums is required so people can refresh about the complaints of things lacking when they shouldn’t be like having developers and let’s go one further with that…competent developers. There will need to be a Q/A process team…bugs and support will need something.
Whoever takes this on is looking at lot of work, money and frustration. It’s not like this project, despite all claims publicly, has had a great community development structure. The reality is, it is pretty much non-existent. I have spent a lot of time in 2023 trying to work on FreePBX 17 only to have constant issues with the existing development infrastructure and a lack of communication/support for said infrastructure.
When I was on staff we had I believe we had 3 What I would call comets. People who would contribute a little bit here and there once in a while. When we went to 14 one gentleman came on and contributed a bunch and still does but only on a few modules. Currently just from skimming I believe there are 2 significant community contributors and one of those is bill who works on his own “3rd party” module. I still contribute randomly here and there but I at one point owned a large percentage of the code so I don’t count myself in the mix. A lot of the code is/was just mine.
My dream/delusion would for it to go under a foundational control like other large open source projects with sponsors funding it. Also perhaps funded through foundational memberships that give voting rights and a board made up of those elected by the membership. There would need to be at least 2 full time developers perhaps 3 and these would have to be funded through that foundation. One of these would take the roll as project lead and hopefully the community would step up. The foundation could also host and sell commercial modules for a percentage while Sangoma and whomever else maintained, owned, retained the rights. As a proper open source project with no commercial interest the project would get a lot of freebies from places like github etc. Anyway it is never going to happen but cool to think about.
Only until you take action. Do you still have some contact with Sangoma? Maybe worth pitching to see if there is a viable approach. Something that take pressure off Sangoma but still lets them realize value. You could setup a go fund me to gauge interest or some sort of petition (just to demonstrate the interest through volume of signatures). You could demonstrate progress by partnering with Chris and using his audience via youtube, via monthly updates.
The initial foundation could be a commissioned work using a company. It would need a strong leader/project manager to make sure it is on track, but it’s not impossible. Nothing is immediate, but if you truly believe the platform is dead/dying, this would be a productive path.
I think VitalPBX took the correct approach and just wrote their own GUI. Sadly, it isn’t open source. They don’t use macros and haven’t had to re-write their code constantly to keep up with Asterisk. Frankly, the old Asterisk GUI that was out there wasn’t bad either. If FreePBX is such a mess, maybe its better to start an entirely new OSS GUI from scratch. That’s why I’d love to see a ClearlyIP and/or Crosstalk Solutions take over. The amount of FreePBX talent that is no longer working with Sangoma must have a wealth of ideas if something new were to be created.
On a personal and professional level, I contribute back to FreePBX by identifying and, in some cases, addressing bugs and select feature requests. Additionally, I conduct code reviews whenever my schedule allows. While this isn’t a full-time task for me, I believe it contributes positively to the community.
In terms of new and innovative ventures, our primary focus is on our PBX platform, Clearly Cloud. We’ve invested considerable effort in Clearly Cloud, unlocking functionalities that were constrained within FreePBX due to policy or technological limitations. It’s important to note that while Clearly Cloud is a robust alternative, it’s not an open-source or free solution.
Worth noting that virtually all of the available alternatives are closed source. I suspect that may be because it avoids having to fight about whether their code incorporated open source components from others that probably should have been licensed under the GPL.
@jfinstrom, I have used FreePBX for many years now, and I have noticed your presence on the github and around this forum for quite some time. Based on that, I have to admit, after reading this thread and several others as of late, I am quite worried. My worry has been brewing for quite some time, but the destruction of RHEL clones recently, with the reality of not being able to integrate with Asterisk 21, has accelerated this worry. You being such a large contributor in the past, and still now, waving the red flag, has me worried even more. I work for a large school division, and I have bet the farm on FreePBX. It’s been great for is, and I use commercial modules as well. Even with commercial modules it has been a HUGE cost saving for us in Education, and frankly, it’s more money that can go back into educating youth and future minds. I have also encouraged many of my K-12 IT Peers to use FreePBX as well. Being forced into another commercial choice is a VERY uncompromising position for us, especially with how we are funded. That’s the while reason we moved away from commercial in the first place, they were bleeding us dry (Commercial Mainstream Telcom that is). I could go all open source FreePBX on Ubuntu and debian and hope some sort of devleopment continues. But I’d have to Drop FaxPRO which replaced ALL of my landline faxes and works like a dream for us, for what faxing we have left for “Insurance” requirement purposes. Because of Orgs around us that have legacy practices that are linked to Students health and well being, we have to have some sort of Fax option still. FaxPRO on FreePBX fit that bill perfectly. If by some miracle we could move away from that, I could probably get away with no commercial modules and go ALL opensource FreePBX. But your comments about FreePBX and Asterisk have me worried. Frankly at this point, with all the changes happening so fast and the Future of FreePBX up in the air, I don’t know which route to take. But I need a route that is affordable, and flexable, like FreePBX is. I am hoping I see a path soon, because right now, I am seeing no path, and as stated, from comments here, most of the offerings have gone closed source.
FreePBX-17 is in alpha stage right now and will accommodate the changes to Asterisk that come with Asterisk 21. The move to Debian is the same direction that FreePBX is taking for their commercial repo. While you should strive to keep your system updated, you don’t have to be an early adopter. FreePBX-16 and Asterisk 20 are good for several more years. IncrediblePBX has moved to Debian and Ubuntu and should have full support until 2027.
While there are install scripts for Rocky Linux, it is not recommended due to many issues with the new OS. Debian and Ubuntu are stable and reliable so there is no need to panic and look for a CentOS replacement.
I still have some versions of Asterisk 1.4 as well as the latest 15 and 16 for Freepbx, given that the former are not accessible via the internet for sip registrations, but in a mpls circuit. However, the problem in my opinion, as I have written on several occasions, is that sangoma support is practically nil, even on a commercial level. You open a ticket, a week goes by, nothing is resolved, in the end you get creative, do a very thorough debug, identify the anomaly, but nothing, the problem remains and you realize that using freepbx perhaps in certain situations with hundreds or thousands of extensions is not it’s a winning choice. But beyond the great needs on some modules even with a hundred extensions things don’t work as they should, and as I said before the sangoma support is a total 0