You’ll most commonly meet FreeSWITCH and Asterisk when you are installing or upgrading a telephony network. These two competing switches work well, and it may be tricky to distinguish between them.
But how do the two compare? This article offers an overview of each switch. Besides, it looks at their core features alongside their differences.
Mark Spencer is the name behind Asterisk. He, alongside his engineering team, developed this software in 1999 under Linux Support Systems but later re-branded it as Digium. Since its inception, it has been absorbed into many PBX systems, including Elastix, FreePBX, and PBX. It is open source and can b applied in phone systems as a standalone.
FreeSWITCH was designed by Anthony Minessale, who wanted to fix some errors in Asterisk. This project got off-ground in 2007, and since then, has been a powerful tool in telephony. It is a genuine open source switch software majorly utilized by sipXcom and FusionPBX.
FreeSWITCH vs. Asterisk: Switch Design
Asterisks have a modular design, and it uses shared resources at run time – e.g., software threads, which might result in issues under heavy call loads. Although it is written in many programming languages, giving it a complex code, it is very efficient, as witnessed in the multiple adaptations floating on the web.
FreeSWITCH is written in C and has a more structured approach. The execution of process threads occurs consistently across the memory. This differs from Asterisks design as each channel maintains its thread and memory space. Perhaps this is one reason why FreeSWITCH has a larger RAM requirement than Asterisk.
2. FreeSWITCH’s API is well defined
It exists as several layers. Each layer maintains a unique role. By contrast, Asterisk is slightly fragmented courtesy of the modular design and lacks feature read/write locking for its threads. The advantage of this design is the protection of the FreeSWITCH API. Asterisk’s a more open design that allows for additional experimentation, but there is a higher likelihood of errors and bugs.
To configure Asterisks, you use regular text, but FreeSWITCH is based on XML files. Although XML files are a pain to edit its beneficial on the automation side. Ideally, grouping together multiple tasks becomes very easy.
FreeSWITCH vs. Asterisk: Hardware and Software Requirements
The hardware requirements vary significantly between the two, but it’s hard to know to what extent. Each software has a different role in achieving. Here is how they compare.
- Processor: both can work with a Single Core, but Asterisks require a minimum of 700 MHz while FreeSWITCH has a higher requirement of at least 1GHz.
- RAM: FreeSWITCH requires at least 1GB, while Asterisk can work with RAM of 512MB.
Both systems require storage of 10GB and require a Linux-based operating system at 64 bit. However, Asterisk can work with 32 bit OS.
It’s worth noting that the lower specifications mentioned above might work well for light systems but with minimal capabilities. Variants of Asterisk PBXs are pretty light; thus, they can run on primary machines. However, most FreeSWITCH systems work well with modern systems – for instance, FreeSWITCH PBXs require a modern quad-core processor at 2 GHz per core, 8GB of RAM, and 80GB storage. If you are recording for IVR menus, you’ll need 1MB storage for every minute.
FreeSWITCH vs. Asterisk: Functionality
At a basic level, both switches have similar functions – creating gateways and extensions is similar. Besides, both can take maximum advantage of SIP to call between different devices on a network and other endpoints, including mobile networks and Public Switched Telephone Network.
FreeSWITCH system provides multi-tenant capabilities as its standout feature. Although Asterisk offers this capability, it is an expensive proprietary system built on top of Asterisk. Conversely, FreeSWITCH natively offers this ability on different domains and sub-domains, and they will run in a segregated manner. This ensures that a tenant cannot call another tenant via an extension call.