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Softphones for Linux

With the news that Microsoft has bought skype, Linux users are left wonderinf how much longer a Skype client will be available to them. Although Skype is currently the most popular internet calling service there are other options that work equally as well and have the added binnifit of being open source. Open source softphones use the SIP protocol. This means, in order to use a softphone, you need to get a SIP address. There are a lot of sites that offer free SIP addresses.

  • Iptel.org
  • Sip2sip.info
  • Ekiga.net
  • are great examples of sites that offer free sip addresses. Often your sip account will include some great features too like free voice mail, and the ability to get the voice mail emailed to you.
    After you have registered and gotten your SIP address you will need a softphone. once again there are several choices. My personal favorite is Linphone but there are also Ekiga Softphone, Twinkle, and a lot of others available for Linux. Softphones are available on all opporating systems, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, etc all have softphones.
    After you have installed your softphone:
    sudo apt-get install linphonec
    in Ubuntu and Vinux for linphone, you need to configure it. This may be different for different softphones. Here, I will show how to set up Linphone using iptel.org as an example. One great thing about Linphone is it is usable in the terminal, so if you happen to be in a console you can still make and receive calls. The way you launch Linphone in terminal is by typing:
    linphonec
    You will get some messages as the program starts and finally a warning about video being disabled in linphonec. If you are in Gnome, for example, and using gnome-terminal you can enable it by typing:
    linphonec -v
    Then, to add your sip address type:
    proxy add
    Here is each of the prompts you will get an what should go in it:
    linphonec> proxy add
    Adding new proxy setup. Hit ^D to abort.
    Enter proxy sip address: sip:iptel.org
    Your identity for this proxy: sip:YourUserName@iptel.org

    Do you want to register on this proxy (yes/no): yes
    Specify register expiration time in seconds (default is 600): 3500
    Expiration: 3500 seconds
    Specify route if needed:
    No route specified.
    ——————————————–
    sip address: sip:iptel.org
    route:
    identity: sip:YourUserName@iptel.org
    register: yes
    expires: 3500
    registered: no
    ——————————————–
    Accept the above proxy configuration (yes/no) ?: yes
    Proxy added.
    linphonec> Registration on sip:iptel.org successful.
    If you are using linphonec you can get help on the commands by typing help. Most things are pretty simple, answer answers a call, terminate hangs up, to make a call do:
    call sip:UserName@sipprivider.whatever.
    If you start getting a lot of calls from what looks like just an ipaddress with no one there when you answer, these are called "ghost calls". They can be annoying as hell, especially when you get over 70 a day. One way to deal with these is to change your local sip port. To do so, edit your ~/.linphonerc and add the following lines under where it says [sip]

    sip_port=5065
    sip_tcp_port=5065

    There are lots and lots of softphones. If you have a favorite and would like to provide instructions for setting it up please do so in the comments. Please also say on which opp operating system it is available. Unless you are sure you are using IPV6 you will want to type the command ipv6 disable. If you do not do this you may not be able to connect.

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3 Comments

  1. If using windows, you may be wondering what options you have regarding an accessible sip phone. Please take a look at the following instructions i wrote for the express talk sip soft phone, a very accessible phone in windows.

    If you want to try a reliable provider, give call with us a try. they’ve never let me down and although they charge for some services, its worth it at 1$ a month!
    http://www.callwithus.com/
    download the free version of express talk here:
    http://www.nch.com.au/talk/index.html
    go ahead and install, accepting the licence agreement. make sure that you untick all boxes on the install screen which offers to install extras. The installer may install extra apps from the manufacturer on your pc, these can be removed afterwards generally they are just trial links to the full app from the website.
    After clicking finish, express talk should be installed.
    run express talk.
    The quick start wizard will open. follow the wizard. on the first screen, set options with arrows for headset or microphone, then tab and set bandwidth options. if you are on broadband, using higher quality should be fine.
    click next, if you want to use video you can set video options here.
    click next, and set your sound input recording device.
    click next, and set your sound playback device, you should hear the words volume check being played over and over again. if you can, click next as chances are your audio is working fine and you may not need to specify a playback device.
    for both recording and playback, your default device as set in control panel will be used if you don’t specify one.
    on the next screen, click on yes i already have a sip account if you have one, i’d assume you do.
    fill in all details as provided to you by your sip provider. friendly display name, sip proxy or PBX server name, your number/username, and your password will all need to be filled in. these are generally always available from your sip provider.
    click next.
    untick the box to open the user guide and click finish.
    Now you are ready to make a call. type your number or sip ID that you want to call in the edit box and press enter to call. all navigation is done through the menus, on the main interface you have various buttons but these aren’t generally read out. press alt C to go to the call menu, and you will find that each option already has a keyboard shortcut i.e dial control D, answer call control A, etc.
    Press control O to set further options on the preferences screens. The menus are file alt F, call alt C, window alt W, and help alt H. the rest should be self explanatory for the most part.

    good luck!

  2. If you are wanting to use linphone with the mac you can do the following to install the client. It works rather well in mac as it does in Linux. Alternatively if you would like to use telephone that is available through the app store for free.
    First download macports at the following address.
    http://www.macports.org/install.php
    Once downloaded extract the .dmg image and locate the .pkg file with in the extracted folder. Upon opening the .pkg file you will be presented with an installation wizard.
    Once installed locate the macports application in the applications folder. Run the application once to update the ports tree.
    Upon success, you will have a working ports installation. this will allow you to install linux base software on your mac.
    Note- When installing macports the default is to create a directory in /opt/local. everything relative to macports and the required dependencies for the package/packages that are to be installed resides in this directory.
    Once macports is installed locate the terminal application in the utilities folder.
    Upon opening the terminal window you will be logged in and bash should be the prompt you are presented with.
    type
    sudo port selfupdate
    this will update the ports tree and say to run port upgrade outdated to upgrade packages.
    that will not be necessary since no ports are installed.
    to find the given ports.
    port search (package name)
    To install a package do
    sudo port install linphone
    give your password used to do administrative tasks to install the port.
    Upon installation of linphone you will run linphone and do the setup just as if you were running a linux os. See storms instructions for setting up the linphone client.
    Similarly though do proxy add, follow the prompts, then give the password used to connect to your sip provider. You will be logged on and can call out.
    Note-
    the ports tree is not up-to-date with the latest version of linphone. to run the latest version of the program you will need to compile from source.

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