[discuss] Voice on Internet: Skype, Gizmo, Linphone, Ekiga, Wengo, oh-my..

A conversation started in the GOSLING general forum a little while
ago talking about how the Green Party of Canada (GPC) has recently added
pro-FLOSS policy. This is in addition to the pro-FLOSS stances they
have had in recent platforms.


There are a few members of GOSLING who have intimate knowledge of the
GPC, and claimed that such a policy was a bit hypocritical since the
party was not adopting open standards in key areas. Mentioned were file
attachments in email, MS-ascii in texts, and the use of Skype for
various conference calls.

I disagreed that this was hypocritical, and believe it is normal for
there to be a disconnect between what the policy people say about
technology issues and the implementation of technology within IT (in
this case, all volunteers).

In stating that I disagreed that this was hypocritical, I brought up
CLUE as an organization that is more supportive of open standards and
FLOSS than any political party ever can be (Unless we start a Free
Software Canada party ;-). We use Skype for our executive conference
calls, and it was CLUE that asked me to install a voice client at all (I
had not had anything on my desktop before then, and since bought a USB
headset given how often I use it now).

I'm not an expert on this, but know that there are some experts in
this forum that I'd like to see discuss this. Focusing on my roll as a
policy person my comment is that we need to be less harsh with people
who make non-standard, non-FLOSS decisions for perfectly reasonable
reasons. We want to push people towards standards and FLOSS, but trying
to do so before the alternatives are ready is counter-productive. If I
had a choice between an organization that had pro-FLOSS policies but
lack IT implementation and a group which had no FLOSS policy or a
negative FLOSS policy but had FLOSS in IT, I would choose the former.

My own attempt to check out alternatives hasn't gone well. I have
Skype, Gizmo, Linphone and Ekiga all installed. Skype I use a few times
a week for various conference calls, and it works well.

Gizmo works well for talking to other Gizmo folks one-on-one when the
Internet is being helpful, that it quickly breaks down into nasty sounds
at the slightest congestion. This is something where the P2P features
of Skype would come in handy, and seems like a useful extension for
other phone software/gateways to be looking into. I'd love to
eventually see software in routers that would accept SIP connections
from the local LAN (IE: softphones and physical SIP phones), and then
gateway to a P2P enhanced network for things such as conference calls/etc.

I've received a single call from outside of the Gizmo network to
sip:17470694722@proxy01.sipphone.com , which was then relayed to my
desktop. I have been able to make calls to sip:@toronto.xelerance.com
(which gets me to a menu where I can type in extensions), but like all
the other SIP clients I've tried it seems to ignore anything in front of
the @ symbol (IE: adding the extension there doesn't do anything at all).

I have called @toronto.xelerance.com with Linphone, but got nothing
out of Ekiga. I never installed the Wengo client as I don't want to
just install binaries that aren't managed by my package manager (my
desktop runs Fedora 7).

Thoughts? Lets discuss this, but please don't get too heated as I
know this is a topic that will bring out emotions for some.

Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant:
Please help us tell the Canadian Parliament to protect our property
rights as owners of Information Technology. Sign the petition!

"The government, lobbied by legacy copyright holders and hardware
manufacturers, can pry my camcorder, computer, home theatre, or
portable media player from my cold dead hands!"
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