Why Elastix/Issabel for Alternative Telephony?

I have p!ssed on Asterisk systems for a number of years, and for rightful reasons. To say it’s an M1 is BSing. A claim it’s a sexier G3si, is screwing with you. Hell, NEC makes a better system… you just have to fork cash.

Ironically, like all other open source projects, they come and go, and the moment you settle on them, they may not settle on you. For instance, Trixbox was cool, in terms of manipulating the Asterisk daemon without attempting to tweak .conf files without taking down a box, was great. Guess who did that, a company who developed FreePBX. But FreePBX was sold off to another company, whom in turn would later buy Digium, the publishers behind the original Asterisk code by the end of the 2010s.

Oh the full circle!

I had downloaded the Free PBX distro circa 2018, and to be blunt, I hated it. One of the biggest turnoffs was you had to register (using a disposable email address) and if you did a full blown register, you can then set it to a static IP LAN address and then it could work without an Internet connection. Wait, this code is supposed to be “free” but it has to yet “phone home” and yet this derivative doesn’t require licenses.

I frankly don’t care for Sagmona, or however the hell you’re supposed to spell it. Their blue colors, the horribly designed IP sets (FFS alive, Digium designed better SIP sets than when they were sold off!) I was like, “there has to be more than FreePBX” and Elastix was so cool for a clear alternative to anything else. Enter Issabel

I had recently downloaded Issabel, and why them?

  • Didn’t I say how much I hated the current version of FreePBX?
  • Trixbox is basically dead (best to use for Museum-grade VOIP sets… yup there’s an age for VOIP sets to die into a isolated LAN for non Internet exposed devices.)
  • Freeswitch could be set to a PBX, but that’s like telling a 5ESS switch to act like an on-prem System 75… and it’s not easy to compile, and there is no distro.
  • If you liked OS X Server’s email and calendar features, and since Apple has taken server features out of the “Server”, Issabel can fill that void*
  • I prefer the older/classic FreePBX GUI.
  • Other than a better HTML5 experience, and you can tweak the system to do things like SCCP (even if people encourage to stick with SIP), when I chose Asterisk 1.6 it came with the Unistim drivers for the Avaya Blue sets; and other little things.

* Actually, it’s believed that most of the OS X installs were under 50 users, and in fact the email and messaging systems were recommended to be more of a “relay” server than a straight up, email storage and forwarding system like in Domino or Exchange install (and be directly exposed to the internet at the server level. In the GUI Wizards, the example in OS X server, was showing the system against another email server, and OS X instance was really just between the client and the bigger mail or calendar server.

Think of this as an always on desktop logged in as a user, times another 49 or so fetching the emails from either a cloud/corporate email. OS X Server would then be the one between the user, by simply forwarding it. Elastix/Issabel’s implementation of it’s email and messaging servers reminds me a lot like what was in the OS X Server  (in that “relay” mode) – including those “mail” servers found in Drobos and Synolgy based NAS; so I would recommend people to not have an Elastix email instance exposed directly to the Internet without some firewall in between to prevent it becoming a host of spam attacks.

In a future Installation Insensation; I’ll show you how the installs work and how they play well.