What Art Thou, Oh Certified Asterisk?

By Malcolm Davenport

(Wherein Malcolm does his best to explain the nifty new branch of Asterisk)

Why art thou?

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.
– Traditional

Some users want the latest and greatest Asterisk. They’ve got a particular bug fix they’re keen about and they don’t want to mess around applying patches. If you’re this type of user, you’ll get the fix for your issues, and generally other people’s fixes, in the monthly point release.

Some users really want it tested. They don’t care about anyone else’s bug fixes, except their own. In fact, they really don’t want anyone’s bug fixes but their own. That could break something. And when something breaks, Hulk gets angry. And when Hulk gets angry, well, you don’t want to make Hulk angry.

Some users want additional functionality that can’t be part of the canonical release. Digium phones required all kinds of changes to Asterisk 1.8, and 10, and changes to support even more phone functionality will continue. That, of course, runs counter to the Asterisk release policy of not adding new features once a release branch is made.

To address all of these different needs, we’ve cooked up a plan that, we hope, will satisfy most of the people, most of the time. For the first group of users (lots of bug fixes, frequent releases)? Stop reading. You’re all set; the world remains exactly the same.

For the second (minimal changes) and third group of users (extra features)? We now offer something to (hopefully) address your needs. We’re rolling out something we’re calling, “Certified Asterisk.”

What art thou?

Certified Asterisk is a branch of Asterisk for which Digium provides guaranteed SLA support, for customers who wish to purchase that level of support. We don’t do that for any other version or release of Asterisk. It’s a branch that has infrequent releases – between two and four per year, not the 10-12 per year you find with mainline Asterisk releases – and only provides bug fixes for issues reported by SLA-supported customers. This answers the requests of many of our customers, who want to minimize the uncertainty of accepting large or frequent code updates. Further, it has support for Digium’s phone products, which means we’ll be adding additional features on an ongoing basis to support the phones.

If this is starting to sound like Digium’s former Asterisk Business Edition product, it’s not. Certified Asterisk isn’t a closed-source product. It’s open source, GPLv2 code, just like any other branch, release or version of Asterisk. It may be used freely by anyone. Digium’s not selling a product with Certified Asterisk. We’re offering Service. If you are interested in that Service, or if you are interested in other commercial subjects, Digium’s Sales department is happy to speak with you.

A few times per year, we’ll select a mainline Asterisk release (1.8.11), put it through rigorous QA testing for our SLA customers and our phone products, and release it (asterisk-1.8.11-cert1). When an SLA customer has a bug report that requires a new release, we will produce a fix for that bug and include it in 1.8.11-cert2, after testing. Meanwhile, three to four months after the release of 1.8.11-cert1, mainline Asterisk will be off to Asterisk 1.8.15 or so (hypothetical), and we’ll start the process all over again with an asterisk-1.8.15-cert release cycle.

Certified Asterisk releases will only be based on LTS releases of Asterisk, not Standard releases. We do this because with the Standard bug fix lifespan of one year, the risk-averse gravitate towards the LTS releases and their substantially longer lifespans.

Art thee finished?

We believe this to be the most reasonable way to address the needs of all three types of users. It minimizes the number of maintained branches and it’s not another Asterisk Business Edition – it’s totally free and open. If you’ve got additional questions, head over to the Digium website.

Also, look out for an additional blog post later day with more information related to this topic.

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There Are 13 Comments

  • Yes. If an SLA customer discovers an issue that requires a bugfix and that same bug is present in a mainline release of Asterisk, then that bugfix will find itself merged into the next mainline release of Asterisk.

  • Leif Madsen says:

    Will issues reported by Certified Asterisk customers and then fixed in the certified branch, if applicable, also be merged into the non-certified branches of Asterisk?

  • Tony,

    In my hypothetical example of a 1.8.15 world, no, 1.8.15 will not include any support for the DPMA. We won’t be changing mainline 1.8 to add in support for the DPMA. In Asterisk 1.8 and 10, you’ll only see support for the DPMA in asterisk-1.8.X-certY and 10-digiumphones, respectively.

  • Ward,

    Does my answer to Tony provide clarity for you?

  • Tony Mountifield says:

    So in your hypothetical example of 1.8.15 above, would regular 1.8.15 by then include the digiumphones support, or would that support still only exist in 1.8.15-cert?

  • Ward Mundy says:

    Good question. I must have missed something. First, you said adding new features like Digium phone support “runs counter to the Asterisk release policy of not adding new features once a release branch is made.” That would mean adding Digium phone support to Asterisk 1.8 was out. But then you said, “Certified Asterisk releases will only be based on LTS releases of Asterisk.” That knocks out Asterisk 10. And, then, all of a sudden you said you were adding Digium phone support to asterisk-1.8.11-cert1 and changes in Certified Asterisk Releases would be rolled into the next certified branch release. So, is the proprietary Asterisk phone support only going to be included in the “totally free and open” certified releases, or is it going to find its way into Asterisk 1.8 and 10??

  • Leif Madsen says:

    Ward: my question, and the subsequent answer was about issues filed by Certified Asterisk SLA customers, and those changes getting committed to the certified branch and then rolled into Asterisk mainline.

    From Malcolm’s post it was pretty clear that features can not be rolled into mainline Asterisk (because the policy forbids that) thus new features (such as DPMA support) could not, and would not, be rolled into mainline Asterisk. I was speaking about bugs essentially, not features.

  • Leif Madsen says:

    Ward: additionally, I think it may not be overtly obvious, but Certified Asterisk would be a separate branch from that of mainline Asterisk. Essentially, the first version of Certified Asterisk (from the example given) would be based on Asterisk 1.8.11. Thus, a new branch would be created from that as the base.

    So now you have a Certified Asterisk branch with a starting point matching Asterisk 1.8.11 (mainline). Once that was done, new features could be added to that branch because it lives independently of Asterisk mainline. When a bug was filed by an SLA customer, and then fixed, that fix would go into the certified branch. Once merged there, it could also be merged into mainline Asterisk (assuming the issue was present there).

    The feature changes would not be merged into Asterisk mainline, due to policy as has already been discussed.

  • Alexandre Keller says:

    Hi there.

    Just to clarify, Certified Asterisk is going to be a paid version of Asterisk, or if I want to, I can downloaded and use it instead of, lets say, “normal” Asterisk versions?

    Thanks in advaance.

  • Howdy,

    From the blog post:

    “Certified Asterisk isn’t a closed-source product. It’s open source, GPLv2 code, just like any other branch, release or version of Asterisk. It may be used freely by anyone.”

    Does that answer your question about whether or not it’s a paid version of Asterisk?

  • Alexandre Keller says:

    Thanks Malcolm.

    Like I said, just to clarify.

  • Danny says:

    Hello,

    If i have a customer with Asterisk OpenSource 1.8.5 in production, and now i want to add Digium IP Phones and use the features like call park, visual voicemail and so on, so i think i will have to use the DPMA, is that right? if that’s the case, i will have to migrate mi 1.8.5 asterisk opensource, to the new asterisk certified. This is going to be a problem? Why using a “certified” version of Asterisk (which still being free like the opensource) to add the DPMA? The benefits are that will have less releases per year than the opensource ones? only support for customer who has support contracts?

    BR

  • Howdy,

    If you want to use the DPMA-specific features of Digium phones, you’ll have to use a release version of Asterisk that’s capable of supporting the DPMA. Mainline Asterisk 1.8 does not. The “why” of the “not” is explained in the blog post.

    Again, we don’t add new features to released branches – and users seem to like this policy – and Digium phones required *lots* of new features on top of mainline 1.8. Further, as we’re continuing to add new features, even if we had added everything all at once, we’d have to keep doing it on an ongoing basis. Thus, we’d have changed the release policy of Asterisk 1.8, mid-stream. And changing policy mid-stream doesn’t seem like it would have been a good idea.

    If you’re using 1.8.5 today, you should upgrade to a newer version to address the Asterisk security vulnerabilities that have been opened, and closed, since the release of that version. To that, then, you should be on 1.8.11.1 to address all of the currently reported security vulnerabilities. Thus, upgrading to 1.8.11.1 or 1.8.11-cert1 shouldn’t have any different impact on you.

    Certified Asterisk releases are made less often than mainline Asterisk releases. If you want an SLA contract from Digium, you can only get an SLA contract against Certified Asterisk releases, not mainline Asterisk releases.

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About the Author

Malcolm Davenport

Digium lifer, celebrator of 17 Digium birthdays, and Digium employee #4. "I like telephony and I cannot lie. You other vendors can't deny; When a call comes in with MOS so you can't hear and some echo in your ear you get angry!" - Sir Mix-a-Malcolm

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