Running FreePBX Distro vs CentOS

Ups and downs of using the Distro vs standalone on CentOS? I’ve searched around but surprisingly haven’t really found an answer. Thanks!

Same as any other package -

With a distro, you have a common user interface that lots of other people are using. Less flexible, easier to get help.

Without, you are on your own. Very flexible - boned if you can’t figure something out.

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Is the Distro currently based on a 2.x kernel? How easy are upgrades generally?

Well install freepbx on centos, wait a couple of months and then yum update the box. You will learn the difference! :smiley: Trying to be funny but what @cynjut said is the biggest pro of the freepbx distro.

I’ve definitely broken stuff with yum updates in the past lol. The Distro updates itself correct?

That is a big lie.

If you don’t use a “canned” distro of asterisk you will have FREEDOM, you will not mess with many configuration files when you want to think out of the box of FreePBX, and the upgrade path is painless, meanwhile upgrading FReePBX ca broke stuff or lost some module support with plain asterisk you have control of all that you want and complied earlier.

Of course this have a cost and it is called knowledge, you need to undertstand what are you doing instead leaving all to the GUI, at the end you will see that the dialplan from FreePBX is full of macros and stuff to keep easy the life for the people who dont want to understand how asterisk works.

Ah and about the help you can have a lot of help from the asterisk forum and the IRC channel. People who claims that you are on your own do not know nothing.

So for me always, yes I repeat, always will be better to use vanilla asterisk over all the GUIS based on FreePBX.

Thanks - I do like the freedom aspect. I have an HTPC running Openelec, and it’s very hard for me to work on because it’s not standardized, and because it doesn’t leave a lot out there to change. Setting up an NES emulator was very challenging, while on Ubuntu or Fedora, it’d be a walk in the park. So I can relate, and this has been one of my biggest attractions to CentOS (and because I have most of my experience in the RH world).

Also, some folks on another forum are suggesting I stay with FreePBX 6, and not go to 10. Opinions?

You may want to verify those version numbers a bit before choosing one to go with…

Version numbers are spooky in FreePBX. The basic FreePBX code relies on lots of external software. For example, with FreePBX 13, you can run Asterisk 11 or Asterisk 13.

Asterisk is not the same as FreePBX. FreePBX uses Asterisk. It can also use DAHDI (which has it’s own version numbers), Chan-SCCP-B (which has it’s own version numbers), TimeTrex (which has it’s own version number), etc.

I’ve been using FreePBX for a LONG time - mostly because it gives me a predictable, stable baseline system to which I can add functionality to make the people I work with get their work done. Sure, there are some dependencies that might jam you up sometimes, but creative thinkers can usually get around those reasonably quickly.

Installing a working FreePBX system from source is always a possibility, but starting from a distro gives you a working framework from which to move.

@navaismo “always” is a pretty strong statement. There are lots of counter arguments to going with the graphical user interface. and simplified installer. There are 200+ packages that need to be installed and there are people that work (as professionals) making the FreePBX experience better.

Also, there are lots of distributions that start out as FreePBX.

Now, if you are setting a system up for yourself (and not your employer or on contract), then I do agree. If you want to tune the system up to absolutely maximize performance and trim out all of the fat, then yes, starting with your operating system of choice and loading up Asterisk is definitely the way to go. Understand that this means you are going to spend a lot of time (hundreds, if not thousands of hours) working on configuration files, studying contexts, becoming an expert in the internals of Asterisk.

For some people, this level of understanding is the preferred state. Everyone wants to know the guy that’s spent that kind of time working on Asterisk. That’s because they don’t have to.

There are lots of people out there that don’t want to know that much - they want to get something working and quickly. In this case, starting with a distro and getting it installed and working is the way to go. At this point, we can’t ascertain @amztransit’s dedication and interest.

Everyone does. The problem is that having that level of freedom requires a level of commitment and education that many people aren’t willing to invest in. Starting your first install with a distro is an obvious “quick route” to getting a working system going. After you’ve been doing it for a few years, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on which route is best for you.

Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed reply.

We’ve decided to go with CentOS to give us a little more freedom. We may consider running Odoo alongside, depending on how resources are looking (we only plan to run 4 extensions for now).

Definitely not ready to do bare bones Asterisk yet.

I did try the distro again in a VM, and I feel it’s very loaded with commercial extensions - just an initial impression.

When Sangoma bought the FreePBX name, they added a lot of commercial modules that might be interesting. There are a lot of them that you don’t need and can easily remove through the module administration module. Note that some of the commercial modules are actually free (as in beer) but are otherwise encumbered (as in speech).

Most of the system - I’d dare say all of the important stuff - is absolutely (beer/speech) free and is the result of the combined efforts of the people that get paid to make FreePBX as well as people that have contributed stuff to the system.

If you don’t want the commercial modules (or even the free ones) the module admin module will let you disable or remove them.

You should remember that Digium (also a commercial company) is maintaining Asterisk and they are using it as a platform to sell their stuff too. Sangoma and Digium work closely together to make sure that their stuff works together. They have a commercial interest in making peace and getting the bugs out. They also compete in some product spaces, which means that they have to make a better product than the other guys.

This is the only thing I’m not clear on.

CentOS is not a phone system. It’s a distro of RedHat, which is a disto of Linux. You can’t connect phones to CentOS - you need Asterisk, and as a way to manage Asterisk, I recommend FreePBX. As it stands, you are “pretty much” getting CentOS/RedHat and Asterisk when you install FreePBX plus all of the other modules and almost all of the drivers that you need.

Of course, no one’s path through telephony is the same. Good luck in your endeavor.
Note that this confusion may be on my part. Since these parts are all different things, supported by different groups and discussion fora, I just naturally separate them in my mind.

Oh yeah, absolutely understand why Sangoma and Digium need to monetize on their products. It’s nice to see them expanding it into the commercial space too, making for a more appealing offering to larger companies.

By going with CentOS, I mean versus the Distro. We’re going to setup CentOS, and then add Asterisk/FreePBX on top of it.

Just as an aside, actually, there’s been NO new commercial modules since Sangoma bought FreePBX. But there has been a couple of new Open Source ones.

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Honestly, you shouldn’t. If you don’t know what you’re doing, let other people who DO know what they’re doing care about it.

If you want to learn about FreePBX, then sure, do a custom install. But if you want this to go into an office and work forever, and be able to say ‘Oh, if this breaks and I get run over by a truck, anyone will be able to support you because this is the standard platform’.

We have however added new features and bug fixes to many of the commercial modules. As rob said all of the new modules have been open source.

There were no distro updates for 10.13.66 since November 2017 (latest kernel and package versions are from CentOS/RHEL 6.8 while 6.9 has a number of security fixes and for SNG7 since December 2017. I start thinking that if you are using FreePBX in a corporate environment it is better to use it on CentOS then a distro version for security reasons, as OS updates are coming too slowly.