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Open Source Alternative for Skype 165

slackah writes "OpenWengo an open source alternative to skype. It includes features such as sip calls, SMS, video conference, and automatic NAT configuration. It's still under heavy development, but it looks very promising."
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Open Source Alternative for Skype

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  • Ah (Score:4, Informative)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:17AM (#13489540) Homepage
    Development Status: Pre-Alpha

    Also has a singularly unhelpful website, but that may be partially down to the /. effect meaning I can't reach the source code. Ah well, maybe it'll be good when it's done! :)
    • Re:Ah (Score:2, Funny)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      If their website failing under load is any indication of the level of service that *may* be provided by their alternative in the future, I must say that I wouldn't be using them.

      • Re:Ah (Score:2, Informative)

        They happen to be using Trac [] as a web-based wiki/issue tracker/project management tool, and they're using an old version.

        Trac's development trunk has fixed some of these locking issues with SQLite as well as allowed for using Postgres as a backend. I'm still not sure if it would survive a slashdotting, but it would be better performance than this.

        I don't think their dev server is any indication of the level of service...
    • Re:Ah (Score:3, Insightful)

      by L. VeGas ( 580015 )
      I don't want to disparage their efforts at all, it does look like a very interesting and worthwhile project. Perhaps this article will attract more people to it.

      However, it seems a bit premature to have this on the front page of Slashdot.

  • Just in case.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:18AM (#13489543)
    here's the Coral cache []
  • Hmmm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LIQID ( 841500 )
    Well minus the 500 error I can't tell much about this product. I just hope its extensible. VOIP is huge right now.

    I am not sure how the traditional carriers can handle this competition, but what I have noticed is that outside of the non-metro areas it isn't catching on like I thought it would. Being originally from the midwest I still have to explain what voip is.

    Try explaining why a street address is not as good as an IP address to a farmer.
  • by jurt1235 ( 834677 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:22AM (#13489588) Homepage
    The added value of skype is that they have a pretty good working voice protocol compared to others at this moment. The other part in added value is that they can connect to the normal voice networks globally. Just having an opensource chat program is not going to do you a lot of good in the second case.
  • by HateBreeder ( 656491 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:24AM (#13489598)
    PC-to-PC calls were available for ages... some software do this very well.
    But PC-to-Regular Land Lines and Cellular Phones at extremely competitive international/long-distance rates (at least where I live) is the *real* breakthrough.

    So until this project supports such services...
    Nothing to see here, please move along.
    • If it supports SIP calls it supports PC-to-POTS and POTS-to-PC.

      You can pay external SIP-gateways for PC-to-POTS. You can POTS-to-PC for free.

      The beauty of it is that you can rent phone numbers in as many area codes or countries as you like and route them to your computer.
    • Net2Phone [] has been able to do this for years and there are possibly others. What's the point?
      • by Scherf ( 609224 )
        I guess the point is that an open source project probably isn't able to do this. You know, the topic and stuff.
      • I guess you didnt get passsed the header...

        "OpenWengo an open source alternative to skype."

        I went to that net2phone link you have up there. Its not holding a candle to Skype. Skype has clients for other systems than Windoze...

        Ya gotta read past the heading, man! :-P
    • But this one do. Wengo is a french telco affiliated to "neuf telecom", one of the leaders. It offers PC to regular phone and regular phone to pc for France residents. They also have very competitive international rates. [] (site in french).
    • Disagree (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sanity ( 1431 ) * on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @11:14AM (#13489963) Homepage Journal
      Skype was soaring to popularity long before they introduced their "SkypeOut" functionality. Skype's real innovation was their NAT hole punching which meant that you didn't have to worry about fiddling with your firewall to get it to work, a major shortcoming of other VOIP apps.
      • How does that work, anyway? Have they discovered a massive vulnerability in all firewalls? What if two people behind the same IP address want to use Skype?
        • Re:Disagree (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
 m-p2p-01.txt []

          This memo documents the methods used by the current peer-to-peer (P2P) applications to communicate in the presence of middleboxes such as firewalls and network address translators (NAT). In addition, the memo suggests guidelines to application designers and middlebox implementers on the measures they could take to enable immediate, wide deployment of P2P applications with or without requiring the use of special proxy, relay or midcom protocols.

        • Re:Disagree (Score:4, Informative)

          by arodland ( 127775 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @12:30PM (#13490625)
          RFC 3489 []
      • Well have you had any luck using SkypeOut? For 3/4 of the calls I tried, the people on the phone couldn't hear me. Even when they did hear me, the quality of sound and the delay were just awful. I now have a big SkypeOut credit I'm probably never going to use (the usual PC to PC works fantastically well though).
    • The thing that interests me about Skype is that I think my parents have a shot at setting it up, something that doesn't seem very plausible with some of those other programs that require "just a few modifications to your firewall settings"... yeah right.

      Skype is self contained and very easy to set up and use, and any open source competitor must match that.

      I actually wrote an advogato article asking about this a while back: []
    • I agree.

      I live currently in UK and all my family and firends are in Mexico. Before knowing skype I used phone cards to call them but I have found skype to be a blessing.

      I have looked for other software to replace skype (just to see if there is any competition) but, the fares are almost the same. Unfortunately the calls to Mexico outside Mexico City are 0.080 EUR vs the 0.025 or 0.020 EUR for the standard skypeout call...

      All the other services offer something similar. I know it is difficult have cheaper pric
  • by Masque ( 20587 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:26AM (#13489617)
    This is an "alternative to Skype" in the same way that Google Talk is - it's an alternative if you happen to be running Windows 2000/XP. I have too much to do during the day to mess with running Windows, so it looks like I'm sticking with Skype or GizmoProject []. No affiliation with either, aside from liking the fact that they work on more than one OS.
    • This is an "alternative to Skype" in the same way that Google Talk is - it's an alternative if you happen to be running Windows 2000/XP. I have too much to do during the day to mess with running Windows, so it looks like I'm sticking with Skype or GizmoProject. No affiliation with either, aside from liking the fact that they work on more than one OS.

      Seems to be available to several platforms, or did I miss something?
      License: GNU General Public License (GPL)
      Operating System: MacOS X, Windows, Linux
    • Uh... Google Talk just uses the Jabber/XMPP protocol, so you can connect to it with Gaim, Psi, or whatever you want.
      • But Jabber doesn't do voice.
        • Google extended the Jabber protocol to support voice in a jabber friendly way. They are preparing the spec for public release right now and I assume it'll be integrated with Gaim. Google paid several developers for Gaim over the "Summer of Code" and I believe they still have other resources dedicated to adding features to gaim. Regardless, if it is an open spec it will eventually be added to Gaim and Google's protocol will most likely support Speex according to their site.
          • If anything, gaim-vv will add jabber/voice capability, which may eventually get merged into the mainstream gaim code along with their yahoo and msn webcam work. IMO the gaim people should first work on getting some of the simpler, useful features of jabber implemented, like service discovery and a presense system that's more advanced than anything AIM (and therefore gaim) currently supports. I think some of this is in the 2.0 version in cvs, but i haven't played with it that much. But I wouldn't go around "
      • Connecting to Google Talk is nice. Holding voice conversations with my contacts is both nice and necessary - if I just wanted text communication, I'd stick with IRC. Or ICQ. Or AIM. Or MSN. Or Yahoo!. Or any of the other countless instant messaging systems that have come and gone over the years.

        As an added-value comment, I'll also note that everything Skype does is encrypted - EVERYTHING. That's a plus. Is Google Talk encrypting passwords yet? iChat doesn't think so when I connect with it...
    • Neither Skype nor Gizmo work on Win9x. Does anybody know of a decent (preferably open source) Win9x client that is at least protocol-compatible with some Linux client?

      Seriously, this is the first time I've really noticed that Win9x is approaching EOL due to lack of future development. If Skype gets back-ported I'll be relieved.
  • I Don't Get It (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MikeyTheK ( 873329 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:27AM (#13489624)
    What is the big deal? It's neat to be able to do this sort of thing, but it's, what, ten years ahead of its time?
    Desktop OS's aren't reliable enough yet, and get slowed down at the weirdest times, which means that this is going to be unreliable, too.
    Please give me a cheap-to-deploy, POTS-enabled (yet still cheap) system that a monkey (i.e. the person at the front desk) can administer. It needs to be able to interface with HR so that when a new person comes on board the system is automatically updated, and when a person leaves their stuff is forwarded to their manager and their account is blocked.
    THAT would be great. The rest of this stuff is just a lot of technology for WebEx to deploy to reduce their development costs.
    • Can you say asterisk?
    • Re:I Don't Get It (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:59AM (#13489850) Homepage

      in fact asterisk@home can be administered by a monkey. espically if you compare it to any professional phone system.

      oh, with a bit of perl scripting the phone system can be automated and interfaced to HR databases. something that is 100% impossible with any AT&T, siemens, Cisco, NEC or other phone system made and sold.

    • "Desktop OS's aren't reliable enough yet, and get slowed down at the weirdest times, which means that this is going to be unreliable, too." Uhmmm, guess you must be running Windows ME...
      • Actually I'm running XP Pro, but I still have issues DAILY, everything from the machine slowing to a crawl, to having to reboot because something horrible goes wrong.
        But that raises an interesting point - if you have to have the most current and recent version of an OS to be able to use an application that, to be useful, requires very close to 100% uptime, then the app. becomes much less useful, since most of the machines out there aren't running the most recent (and patched) version of any OS.
        • sounds like you bought a cheap PC

          buy decent kit and your PC will be rock solid all day long, just like *all* of mine be they WinXP, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, plan9 whatever

    • For most people, Asterisk is not easy to use. Several companies are offering setups that are very easy to use. See [] and [] for and interesting solution based on Asterisk. The interface rivals Vonage which is great for VoIP. The next generation of the software will allow database calls based on caller id so you can launch outlook or another database and pull up information based on the caller id. This system can add users and extentions ea
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:35AM (#13489672)
    Well, as far as VOIP is I'm very glad with voipbuster [], it lets me call for free most of the landlines in europe and also in USA. It's not an opensource solution, but after all the really important thing is what can a regular guy get out technology, opensource or not. If voipbuster let me call for free most of my friends in europe I for one salute our new voip ruler, opensource or not.
  • by tuggy ( 694581 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:40AM (#13489711) Homepage Journal
    i think we are starting to see too many VoIP solutions...
    we dont know lots of competition, we need interoperatibility between them.
    Google said its trying to achieve that with Talk, I hope the rest goes the same way...
    • There is iterpoperability - this is just a client that uses an open protocol spec. It's not like they designed their own proprietary network. Besides, lots of options is a good thing, right?
    • This is far more interoperable. It's SIP, which is, quite simply, the standard. Skype avoided it because it has problems with nat/firewalls, and that may be why google avoids it (I haven't been looking at their client), but this client will interoperate with anything else.
  • by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:48AM (#13489773) Homepage Journal
    Before releasing it, it better have a simple name like Wengo or Rype.

    I think the word Open in the first bit of every free OS software is going to hinder adoption by the unwashed masses.
    • I realize he's joking, but he actually makes a good point. Joe User doesn't care how the software is developed, he only cares that it does the job. Plus, the word "open" will cause some to think that their personal communications will be open for others to intercept.
  • the promises it makes look really nice (as opposed to the current user interface, i hope they fix that), but does it a promise a single feature that gizmo [] doesn't already have? (i mean, modulo linux support; gizmo project promise to add that soon.)
  • Phone Gaim? (Score:5, Informative)

    by johnnyproton ( 160621 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:50AM (#13489790)
    I know this was made by the guys at Lindows but it seems like such a great project. Wonder why the Gaim developers don't talk about it on their own home page? []

    It seems this would be a great option for GNOME in general. I'd love to have this functionality tied into my Evolution Data Server instead of creating yet another buddy list, etc.
    • there is a gaim/evolution integration plug-in available. it's not amazing at the moment, but they certainly seem to be moving in the direction you want.
      • The plugin does work quite well actually -- at least the stuff they've created so far. I'm actually concerned about the integration of the Phone Gaim code with the core Gaim code. I've never seen any mention of them working on that kind of functionality at all.

        Seems the SIP phone and landline phone tie-in may be a revenue stream for the major distros. I'd rather give my money to Fedora for my long distance phone calls than to Skype, but that's what I do now...
    • Re:Phone Gaim? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by n8willis ( 54297 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @12:38PM (#13490683) Homepage Journal
      The Gaim developers don't talk about it because the Linspire guys have only released the "source" in completely unusable form and refuse to answer simple questions about it. Plus, they didn't make it a plugin that normal users could install, they forked the code and hacked it together. They're trying to weasel the GPL, as they usually do.

      What's more, it's based on an ancient fork of Gaim, so the developers naturally don't have time to waste on it. It'd be great if the Gaim folks added some softphone capabilities, but they'll likely do it starting from the modern codebase. Or someone else will write a plugin.

      Last but not least, the people who created and then later abandoned phonegaim did so because they turned their efforts to creating the closed-source, proprietary replacement for it: Gizmo [].

      This they have no intention of putting under an open-source license either. They like to use the word "open" as much as possible on their web site to confuse people into thinking they're open source, but they're not. Frankly the more I learn about Linspire, the less I like them, for just such actions as these. Give your money to a company that supports free software.

      • This they have no intention of putting under an open-source license either. They like to use the word "open" as much as possible on their web site to confuse people into thinking they're open source, but they're not. Frankly the more I learn about Linspire, the less I like them, for just such actions as these. Give your money to a company that supports free software.

        Have they claimed to be Open Source? I thought they were Open Standards?

        AFAIK, they're a free SIP softphone with a bundled PTSN dial-out servi
  • by Adult film producer ( 866485 ) <> on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @10:54AM (#13489819)
    AFAIK, sip is being coded and/or already added.. it has voice, video, text chat... open source and in pretty good shape compared to the pre-alpha software in the story..
    • Written by Damien Sandras in the GnomeMeeting team:

      GnomeMeeting "opal" should be ready before the end of the year.

      It will feature :
      - a redesigned GUI
      - a WIN32 port (hopefully)
      - support for the H.323 protocol
      - support for the SIP protocol (ie compatibility with many windows
      softphones including Windows Messenger, XTEN, SJPhone, compatibility with Asterisk, SER, ...),
      with video support
      - a Voice over IP platform for GNOME users sponsored by :
      * all users will be world reachable usin

    • One problem with GNOMEmeeting is that its decentralized design makes it harder to set up and use than Skype for non-technical users in common network configurations. Being behind a NAT (which a lot of users are) makes GNOMEmeeting more difficult to configure. Skype works right out of the box, even behind a NAT, but Skype is more of a risk because if the central Skype server is unreachable for any reason, the simplicity of the client vanishes too. A central call routing server also makes it easier for thi
  • GnomeMeeting (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    GnomeMeeting [] has been doing that for years with H.323 and SIP. They are using the same protocols and technics to cross NAT.

    Sorry, but I really don't see what's new with this openwengo thing.
  • Of course (Score:2, Insightful)

    by caronc ( 601582 )
    Of course it looks promising at this stage. When a product isn't completed it is always presented as the perfect solution. This is classic with salesmen. "Will your product do such and such?" And of course Mr. Salesman says yes in order to close the deal. I understand this is opensource but the concept is the same. For the project to get attention it's presented as the open source skype alternative. Let's just see it materialize, let's see it's capacities, limitations. Only then we will be able to claim
  • But does it support pocket pc? Without Linux? Then it's on its way to being a Skype replacement.
  • SMS Integration (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mparaz ( 31980 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @11:23AM (#13490045) Homepage
    I couldn't find info on how OpenWengo does it, but SMS integration should be technically easy under Google Talk []
  • by Kerbo ( 835934 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @11:29AM (#13490085)
    Yeah its great that more and more companies are coming out with Softphones that use SIP to talk to THEIR networks. Then why can't anybody make a damned good softphone that will talk to ANY SIP or IAX network? The biggest problem for mobile users who are using softphones to talk through a remote VOIP PBX is that it only works on about 60% of the networks. If someone would code a GOOD softphone for SIP and/or IAX, so our softphones worked on 90%+ networks, it would be worth paying for.
  • by meisterk ( 658216 ) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @11:48AM (#13490240)
    It's called OpenBlah, it has many features: HDTV streaming, 96Khz/24 sampling lossless encoding at 120:1 compression ratio, peer-to-peer real-time updates without restarting and an undelrying small-talk based OS with a korn shell! It's still under heavy developement (they just hit the planning milestone) but surely will it kick evil, closed-format Skype's ass like there's no tomorrow.
  • Using my SIP phone as a Skype client would be nice... or does software for that already exist? Skype support in asterisk sounds interesting.
  • Lets get down to business. I call my testers in India almost everyday. In the past we have tried VoIP based products from MediaRing to Skype, but everything is a big hype. The price to call India-Bangalore is 19.6C/Min(including VAT) on While another Indian Telecom carrier, offers at 12.9C/Min. Additionally I get to call from my phone or cell phone and not stuck with PC. I'll tell you from my first hand experience unless the rates are going to fall drastically, not many p
    • Try Sunrocket VoIP phone that lets you call to India - Bangalore for $.12. For only $199 annual you get all-you-can-eat USA/Canada unlimited calls with monthly credit of $3 USD on international calls.

      The Sunrocket is the "Google" of the VoIP (IMO). With this service you can simply hookup their gizmo overseas with USA area codes phone numbers, which will ring in India or anywhere else... and you'll simply call "home" number from USA.

      The gizmo (VoIP Gateway) will run on any ethernet as long as you have soli
  • C# based? Um, no thanks.
  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PerlDudeXL ( 456021 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ekcideul.snej]> on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @12:25PM (#13490575) Homepage
    this is not an alternative to Skype.

    I don't care about protocols and open-source-ness if the product a) works like a charm, b) has a Linux client available which doesn't suck or crash, c) provides a fair-priced VoIPtelephone service.

  • There are already open source telephony applications: ohphone and GnomeMeeting.

    The real problem is that VoIP-to-POTS gateways are proprietary right now; they should become commoditized, so that you can combine whatever client software you like with whatever POTS gateway you want to subscribe to.
  • Call me when it's stable.
  • FreeWorldDialup [] already has a free service that supports all sorts of existing standards. If you want to use a difficult to set-up SIP phone you can, but they also have an, apparently, brain-dead-easy Pulver Communicator [] for those who don't want to deal with the hassles. They also have a small set of pre-configured SIP phones and even sell pre-configured hard phones. The only thing they don't have is a huge marketing push to skype... err.. hype this service.

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