Introduction to the new FreePBX Distro

With the launch of the first ever official FreePBX ISO installer disk I thought I would take a few moments to explain what you may find different from other installers you may have used before and make sure everyone understands how to install and get into their new PBX.

For those who do not know who I am. My name is Tony Lewis and I am one of the Developers involved in the FreePBX Project. Even though I do not write much code I am the main go to guy for bug testing and support management. I am also one of the owners of Schmooze Com, Inc. who’s company is a major sponsor of the FreePBX project. We also manage all the FreePBX paid support. You probably already know Moshe, aka mbrevda, and Bryan, aka GameGamer43 on the IRC channel who are both also with Schmooze. We basically sells turn key FreePBX hosted and premise based systems with a ton of features built on top of normal FreePBX through a reseller channel. Some of these cool features will start becoming available in a new soon to be launched FreePBX Store and download-able through the new Commercial Repo in FreePBX but more on that another day.

The first thing you will notice when downloading and installing the FreePBX Distro is the ISO is a small disk about 18MB known as a netinstaller. Once your boot off the drive it will ask you to setup the network interface to get to the Internet and once done, the fun begins. A handful of setup questions and your system install is on the way. We’ve tried to keep things simple with functionality such as automatically setting up a software RAID pair of disks if two are detected (with no hardware raid card present).

When the setup is done and you point your browser at the PBX you should see a screen that looks something like this:

This is a lot different then you may have encountered before. We have tried to design this “out of box experience” (OBE) to avoid any default passwords floating around on the internet adding yet another aid to all those hackers out there trying to break into systems! For those passwords that you don’t see like the database or AMI credentials, those were already handled during the installation process and populated with randomly generated values! All of this, along with several changes in FreePBX 2.9 reflect the constant effort that we have been trying to put into further securing your systems based on the constant feedback that we hear and listen to.

Don’t worry about that email address listed there, that’s just what FreePBX uses to tell you about new updates, and that address resides on your system alone, it never gets transmitted anywhere!

Once inside you will see the normal FreePBX interface and everything in one unified spot. If you click on the tool tab and look for a module called System Admin you will find a few cool things. The System Admin module is not a standard FreePBX module and allows you to manage numerous Linux sysadmin items but in an abstracted way to make sure we are not giving the FreePBX apache user access to any root commands such as changing network settings and other normal root user only options. This is another example of the security minded approach that we are trying to take, as there have been major breaches in the past when hackers have found ways to exploit the elevated privilege that sudo root access to the web application can provide.

In this module you can control the following items;
[] DNS
] Intrusion detection (aka Fail2ban)
[] Network Settings (including virtual interfaces)
] Power Options- To power off and reboot the system
[] Storage- Will show you basic hard drive usage and let you setup a email to get notified of hard drives becoming full and if using software raid notifications of a raid failure.
] Time Zone- To change the system timezone and force rsync with some ntp servers.
[*] License- This will be used at a later point to pull down a license file from the FreePBX store for paid commercial add on modules that Schmooze will be offering or anyone else who wishes to add commercial FreePBX style modules for sale through the upcoming FreePBX Distro Commercial store.

Want to be part of the party? Get the beta now:

[*]FreePBX Distro Beta Download

We are looking forward to the further exposure and feedback that we will receive once all of you start to take a look at the new Distro and are extremely excited to start working with the community to provide a great full featured product!

[p_lindheimer] All the comments are great, keep them coming! As an FYI though, the following forum topic has been setup to discuss Distro issues, ideas, suggestions, etc:
[*]FreePBX Distro Forum Topic

Congratulations on the new FreePBX Distro. I am also very impressed with the approach you have chosen to provide greater security, because very few have made this a priority. I have had a chance to play with the distro a little, and I am generally very impressed. It seems this will fit a nice niche which has been lacking a solid solution. I especially appreciate the simplicity, without an over-complicated gui that just makes the system so fragile.

I look forward to seeing the success of this project. Congratulations to everyone at FreePBX and Schmooze Com.

is the iso available ?

Can we play too? Where is it??

Sure, just click on the link at the bottom of the post, honestly, it was there before, you must have just missed it :stuck_out_tongue:

I guess I need to learn how to include links with drupal. Sorry about that.

I understand you guys are using Asterisk 1.8 with the Distro. Which version/subversion?

I ask because there is a significant bug,, and 1.4.40 which causes voicemails to be unplayable and undeletable in certain cases. There’s a patch out, but it hasn’t made its way into the latest release.

Are you using one these? Have you added the patch?

I think for as long as I was involved we had talked about a distro. Congrats on making it happen! I’m also so glad to see that security is a primary concern, and there are no default passwords.

No at this time we have not included that Patch. I am trying to figure out if Digium plans on a new release shortly or if we should apply the patch.


Long time. Hope all is well with you and we would love to see you get back into working with FreePBX code again.


awesome to see your input here! Long time, hope all is going well.

Yes, we have talked about this for many many years, haven’t we! Well we finally got tired of saying no to the requests from users so here we are!

I just tried to reproduce the bug and am not able to. The FreePBX Distro is using which was released back in the end of March. If someone can confirm they are seeing the problem on the Distro I will be happy to look at the patch but at this time I can not reproduce the voicemail bug.

For anyone that does experience the voicemail problem (unable to delete voicemails), here’s where you can find the patch to fix it…

I apologize, but I still haven’t had a chance to install the distro and test it. I’ve personally experienced it on 1.4.40 and, and I’ve seen posts about it on PIAF forums re: their purple distro(they’re running, and since is, I’ve gotta believe it’ll happen on your distro too. The patch is in 1.8.4-RC1 and so if 1.8.4 comes out before you release the release version distro, you should be fine.

Yes 1.8.4 will be out in final before we go final with the distro. We also have applied the patch to our RPM’s and will be testing today to make sure the patch does not break anything else. I expect more little things like this will creep up on 1.8 as Digium flushes out all of the bugs in 1.8.x branch.

just some feedback
We installed the distro and there are 2 minor issues

  1. When it asks for the IP information at the beginning of the install you have to enter it 2-3 times. First time you hit save it goes back to the initial IP setup screen and you have to enter it again.

  2. lack of progress indicator. While installing packages the screen is blank and after a few hours we thought it had stalled when in fact it was still working. Second time around we found the debug window and watched the install there.

We also noticed a couple of errors in the debug log and will post back if we find the answer.
ERROR[13987] res_clialiases.c: res_clialiases configuration file ‘cli_aliases.conf’ not found
ERROR[13987] chan_dahdi.c: Unable to load config chan_dahdi.conf
ERROR[13987] cdr_custom.c: Unable to load cdr_custom.conf. Not logging custom CSV CDRs.
ERROR[13987] cel_custom.c: Unable to load cel_custom.conf. Not logging CEL to custom CSVs.
WARNING[13987] chan_iax2.c: Error opening firmware directory ‘/var/lib/asterisk/firmware/iax’: No such file or directory

There is a progress bar. It shows each package it is installing as it installs them. It sounds like to me that you have a video card issue. I bet the driver for your video card is not supported at the basic anaconda kernel level.

Where are you seeing those errors? Mainly what logs? Is it in the asterisk logs or the install logs.

I have never had an issue with entering IP info. I just tried again and had no issues.

What motherboard are you using and what NIC Card is on it?

OK. It’s an old Dell server (P4) we us as a test system so you are probably right about the video card. The NIC issue is not really important. I just thought I’d mention it. If no one else has the same issue then forget about it.

The asterisk errors are in the asterisk log and the
"ERROR[13987] chan_dahdi.c: Unable to load config chan_dahdi.conf"
is probably there because chan_dahdi.conf does not exist in the
"/etc/asterisk" directory

I do see it in
but not in “/etc/asterisk”

That directory only contains chan_dahdi_additional.conf and chan_dahdi.conf.template

Can we start a thread about the new distro in the forum, to post questions and exchange ideas? Or is it too early?

Please see for information on both the Voicemail issue in asterisk 1.8.3 and the chan.dahdi.conf.

Both have been fixed in the which is the version that will be installed from this point forward. There are also 2 upgrade scripts you can run to get to the release that can be found in the link above.

Keep the feedback coming guys but as Philippe mentioned lets try to use the forums under FreePBX Distro moving forward. We will get this all setup in trac at some point in the near future.


No that is a great idea. Considering we are in beta stage right now its the perfect time to get ideas into the Distro before we go final on it. Go ahead and start a thread on whatever you are thinking about.