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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:
    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
    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]


    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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