I think we can do this with without opening a can of worms. That doesn’t help anyone.
They’re the same base product with a few differences. I think it’s best to explore both and be comfortable working with either. You may even chose to keep multiple cards around with different distributions installed. HamVoIP has enjoyed a strong following due to its early and continued support for the Raspberry Pi along with a user-friendly management interface. There’s no question that it’s easier for a new user to get going quickly on HamVoIP. The source for this distribution was forked from mainline Asterisk/app_rpt/ACID/DIAL/ASL at some point unknown. There is currently no source code available for public consumption. This doesn’t seem to be a big deal for casual users. Anyone who wants to improve the product or tailor it to their own needs will have some difficulty.
The ASL distribution seems have had some lapses in development and it’s feature-set/stability is somewhat behind the HamVoIP distribution. The reasons for this are varied, and there’s a whole history lesson that goes along with it. This isn’t to say that there has been NO recent development. You can check out the source code on GitHub and see that some folks have put a lot of hard work into the project.
The thing is, ASL is the only current alternative if you value an open source product.
I’m a tinkerer. That’s one of the reasons I got into ham radio. I like ASL because I can mess with its inner workings. I hope that some day I can make a positive contribution to the project and help to bring it to feature parity with HamVoIP. If your friend (the computer guy) likes to mess with source code, he may be more comfortable on the ASL distribution. Perhaps he may even contribute as well.
These are my opinions and findings that developed over the past year or so. I don’t believe I’ve said anything untrue or provocatory and I truly hope that no one else choses to follow up in that way.