How is Asterisk Different from FreePBX?

Astricon 2019 is next week. And while there will certainly be a lot of discussion about Asterisk, there will also be some discussion about FreePBX. And sometimes I get questions about the differences.

Let’s go through the reasons people ask this question in the first place. Number one, both are free, open source, downloadable communications software. The two leading ones in the world in fact. And by now the 25 Millionth download of Asterisk has occured! That’s a lot. And both are associated with PBXs. But what’s the actual difference?

Asterisk is, in fact, a communications toolkit. Not a ready-to-go PBX. It has a lot of functionality that someone needs to craft into something. That something most often happens to be a PBX, but it doesn’t have to be a PBX. It can be contact center software, an automated call distributor, a voicemail system, a video mail system, an IP-PBX, or so much more. Someone could even add their own IoT hooks to it to turn it into some other kind of communication system. (By the way, we’ll be demoing something like that on FreePBX so come see it.)

FreePBX, as per the definition from, is “a web-based open source GUI (graphical user interface) that controls and manages Asterisk.” So it’s a GUI built on top of Asterisk that makes it easier to deploy a PBX from that Asterisk core. In the graphic above, it’s one of the items that would appear in the blue box. It’s a complete IP-PBX.

So they are two separate open-source projects. Sangoma will continue to support both projects. If you want to hear more, please attend Astricon next week in Atlanta.

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