Is it me or does FreePBX now seem considerably less "Free"

Hi Guys,
I don’t wish to complain but what a faff it is setting up the PBX with all the adverts for different Sangoma products popping up. It seems to me that now they have control of Asterisk itself, what was initially open source, they just want to sell everything.

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I’m not sure how to unpack this logic. First, have you not been on the Internet…ever? The whole “free” thing has been a compromise of having ADVERTS splashed all over your screen. Second, the FreePBX Distro is a commercial product. Don’t want all those adverts? You install FreePBX the old school way, manually. No adverts and no commercial BS, 100% OSS. Go to town.

Installing a free-to-use commercial solution from a PBX vendor might result in some ads for relevant products they offer in synergy with the PBX, like SIP trunking or Faxing or softphone clients. This is not something that is a new approach.

I get it, you don’t wish to complain but you’re going to complain about 5 pages of ads during the initial setup process of your free-to-use commercial PBX solution. Also not sure why Asterisk has anything to do with this. The FreePBX Distro had ads before Sangoma even bought Digium.

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Well Sangoma does own both asterisk and FreePBX…

Sorry about the 5 ads you have to skip on a PBX that costs 0 of your dollars. You can opt out of the distro - FreePBX is available on Debian builds as well.

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Less free? There is not one single byte of OSS code that has been deprecated in favor of a paid module of which I’m aware. There may have been free community supported, third-party modules over the years with similar features to paid commercial modules (fax?) where the free one was not maintained, but that’s the closest thing I can think of for features that were once free but now are not. You have to go back a decade or more to find such a module.

There are 4 (5?) splash screens you see exactly once on system install and that’s it. Commercial modules are installed by default (and always have been on the FreePBX Distro) but you’re free to remove them. There was a bug recently where uninstalled commercial modules would reinstall on update, but that has been resolved for some time now.

Credit to @billsimon for the below script that uninstalls all commercial modules.

for x in $( fwconsole ma list | grep Commercial | awk '{print $2}' ); do fwconsole ma delete $x; done

Be aware that some commercial modules are free or otherwise provide features for free.

Can you cite a specific example? I have seen not any feature “regression” in what is free, only expansion (maybe less than or in a different direction than I personally would like). The cost of FreePBX has always been very competitive compared to the alternative of having to use key/enterprise systems.

I have also seen Sangoma develop new features and modules and charge license fees for them, but how would they cover the cost of business and development otherwise?

If Sangoma is not successful at their business, Asterisk is at risk for commercial use. What is your ideal state, or what would like to see done differently?

@Gizepi64 as an alternative to FreePBX Distro, try the Debian install: FreePBX 16 & Debian 11: An apt Combination | FreePBX - Let Freedom Ring

I don’t share your complaint but thought you might like an alternative that installs nearly as quickly as launching the Distro ISO.


Pretty sure that adverts have been there since Schmooze incorporated things in a Distro like it exists today. Obviously, the content changed, but these have been around for a long time.

Even on a purely open source install, things will pop up, but the advise is not necessarily useful without an underlying Sangoma OS ;-). Feel free to ignore them.

Everything about FPBX is becoming more and more commercial as far as I can tell. Many commercial modules required to do some fairly basic things now. Seems to me they are also trying to steer everyone towards the fully commercial PBXact product now. About the only difference between that and FPBX as far as I can tell is that it doesn’t still pretend to be free and open.

Some modules are only available for PBXact now like Xact Dialer. I could be wrong but I believe previous versions of that, whatever it was called, worked on FPBX. I have a feeling there will be more and more of that happening with other modules.

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This conversation pops up every year or so and usually gets a spectrum of replies bit they always come down to the following.

  1. Free as in freedom, not beer
  2. It’s open source you can fork it
  3. The distro is not open source
  4. There are far more oss modules than commercial modules
  5. Without some form of monetization developers don’t get paid, projects die. A great example of this is when FreePBX was taken over by bandwidth originally. Rob didn’t have the time or spoons to continue development. He had to feed his family so FreePBX was handed over to Philippe at bandwidth where it was maintained until he and the project moved to schmooze. Without those actions there would be no FreePBX.
  6. It’s open source fork it. Make your own FreePBX with blackjack and…
  7. Turtles are pretty cool
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Such as? The word “now” implies free OSS features removed and replaced with paid features. I stated above that is not the case but happy to be corrected

With the exception of cosmetic stuff, there are no modules that only work with PBXact.**

** edit - as pointed out below there is a module that is only supported on PBXact (at present), the Oracle connector for Property Management.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

My question was sincere. One single feature that illustrates your point please.

Neither does understanding what a man is saying mean he is right :wink:

I don’t have anything to say about the rest of your points, but this particular one is easy to address:

People get weird about using something called “Free”-PBX that has commercial components to it. It’s not free enough I guess. Maybe the open source part should be called FreePBX and distro should be SangomaPBX. You can still use SangomaPBX for free but the name makes it more clear that it is geared toward bringing people into the Sangoma system and they will naturally try to sell you services, phones, modules, etc.

(Marketing department, you can send the consulting fee for this idea to me by paypal :slight_smile: )


Why not call it Trixbox v2, electric boogaloo. What is happening now kind of reminds me of what happened with that project in a lot of ways. People got ‘wierd’ about that too. Didn’t have anything to do with the name.

Why not spend more time here? Then you could have known you are rehashing a tired, old joke people have been saying for 8 years or so.

Also, history lesson. Trixbox was a fork of FreePBX.