With the end of maintenance for the Asterisk 1.4 (the previous long term support (LTS) release) and Asterisk 1.6.2 (the previous standard, short term support release) branches, the time to look at using Asterisk 1.8 (the next long term support release, which provides another 4 years of maintenance, followed by a year of security support) is upon us. For those who have successful deployments of Asterisk 1.4 and 1.6.2 (heck, even 1.2!) there is no immediate need to migrate those existing systems; let them happily continue what they’re doing. And for those who have successful product launches based around 1.4 and 1.6.2, there is still a year of security maintenance, so the lead time to migrating existing systems to 1.8 can start now, but doesn’t need to happen for another 12 months, which gives us all a little breathing room.
It is important that the Asterisk community continue to look forward and progress the Asterisk project. The resources of the Asterisk Development community must be used as effectively as possible, and sometimes this means making tough decisions in the short-term for the greatest benefit in the long term. With the end of maintenance support after the releases of Asterisk 1.4.42 and 220.127.116.11 (with the first release candidates due out shortly), all focus can now be put onto Asterisk 1.8, continuing to stabilize additional components and making it the most robust, feature rich release of Asterisk to date.
I’ve already deployed numerous systems on Asterisk 1.8, and have been ecstatic as to the early reliability compared to other dot-zero releases. I’ve always been an early adopter when it came to Asterisk though, and I can certainly say the number of show-stopping issues I’ve run into has continued to decrease excessively over the years. When deploying Asterisk 1.4 pre-1.4.0, I was working on a database driven, physically distributed call centre where I learned many of the tricks of my trade. When I deployed another call centre running pre-18.104.22.168, I found it remarkably stable in comparison to those early 1.4 deployments (and that call centre is STILL running pre-22.214.171.124 code without issue).
Having done a few more deployments with pre-Asterisk 1.8.0 (and subsequently 1.8.2 and 1.8.3 based deployments), I’ve run into even less issues, and none of them show stoppers. I think a few things contribute to those successful deployments:
- Enhanced understanding of Asterisk after dozens of custom installations
- Development of best-practices in many areas of Asterisk
- Reviewboard which finds many issues in code BEFORE they are committed, rather than when doing deployments
- Developers having greater experience with the Asterisk code base and knowing how best to code in various situations — greater code fu
One of my favourite new things is the Asterisk Testing Framework, currently being managed by Paul Belanger. The testing framework allows people to provide tests to the project in order to have greater confidence in performing upgrades going forward. So if there are some business critical aspects to your deployments, and you want to be confident that code changes don’t break your infrastructure, then spend the time writing tests and submitting them to the project. Not only will you be helping to make Asterisk better, you’ll be getting the direct advantage of having the developers notified of changes to functionality shortly after a commit.
More information about where Asterisk is going into the future was posted by Bryan M. Johns on the Digium blog: http://blogs.digium.com/2011/05/03/the-importance-of-looking-ahead/
Recently Jim Van Meggelen, Russell Bryant and myself released the 3rd edition of the Asterisk book published by O’Reilly Media titled ‘Asterisk: The Definitive Guide‘.
We have released this book under a Creative Commons license in the spirit of Open Source software. It is available in its entirety at http://ofps.oreilly.com/titles/9780596517342/ and for purchase through Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Asterisk-Definitive-Guide-Leif-Madsen/dp/0596517343/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1303765969&sr=8-1
If you have a chance to review the book, and feel it is a useful and well written resource, we would appreciate your favorable review on Amazon.com. One of the biggest factors in sales is favorable reviews, and with better sales comes the ability to dedicate more time to writing books like this one (which are typically written in our “free time”).
Any comments, suggestions, or constructive criticisms are always welcome.
Mark your calendars! The next installment of the Asterisk Tech Tips webinar by Digium will feature Russell Bryant and myself presenting a couple of recipes from the Asterisk Cookbook. The presentation will be on April 21, 2011 at 12:00 Noon CDT (-0500 GMT).
From the blog post by Steven Sokol of Digium:
“I’m pleased to announce that Russell Bryant and Leif Madsen, two giants of the Asterisk community, will host the next Asterisk Tech Tips event, scheduled for Thursday, April 21. The dynamic duo co-authored Asterisk Cookbook, a new how-to filled with a laundry list of Asterisk recipes. Russell and Leif will introduce the book and each will present their favorite recipe – live and in person!
Leif will start things up with “Hot Desking with the Asterisk Database” wherein you will learn to use AstDB (the Asterisk database) and clever Dialplan scripting to implement hot desking. Next, Russell will present “Debugging the Asterisk Dialplan” covering the process of building a flexible Dialplan debugging system.”
Head over to the blog post for a link to the registration page: http://blogs.digium.com/2011/04/13/asterisk-tech-tips-asterisk-cookbook/
Just a quick update that the Asterisk Cookbook is complete! We’ll be releasing it under a Creative Commons license (just like Asterisk: The Definitive Guide) again. It’ll be a 24 recipe e-book right now, with it growing over time and eventually becoming a full print edition once the size warrants it. Of course if you purchase now you help spur on additional incentive to continue making it larger. I’ve been told that you also continue to receive updates automatically as the book grows and corrections are made (which sounds pretty cool!).
More information about the book is here: http://oreilly.com/catalog/0636920018551
Just a quick note that we’ve finished the Asterisk Cookbook (electronic edition) and it is now ready for review! We’re hoping to have all comments submitted within the next week.
We’re using OFPS (Open Feedback Publishing System) again. You can read the book and help review here: http://ofps.oreilly.com/titles/9781449303822/
In case you missed it, Russell Bryant wrote a blog post on debugging the Asterisk dialplan with the Verbose() application. This is one of the recipes that will be features in the upcoming Asterisk Cookbook that we’re writing, and hoping to have done by the end of March!
(In case you’ve missed all the cool stuff lately, the Asterisk Cookbook will also be released under the same Creative Commons license as the previous Asterisk books. We’re also making use of the Open Feedback Publishing System (OFPS) again. You can help review the text and test the recipes at http://ofps.oreilly.com/titles/9781449303822/.)