Linked by David Adams on Mon 21st Mar 2011 20:14 UTC, submitted by Anonymous
GNU, GPL, Open Source The GNU Project has announced a new project called GNU Free Call, an open source Skype alternative that will offer anonymous VoIP and will use the GNU SIP Witch server as the back end. GNU SIP Witch requires a minimum of system resources so it can be used on cell phones too so it seems the goal is to provide a cross-platform application, the immediate target most probably being Android.
Order by: Score:
Gnu Free Call
by benb320 on Mon 21st Mar 2011 21:02 UTC
benb320
Member since:
2010-02-23

The Gnu Project thinks up pretty mediocre names

Reply Score: 1

RE: Gnu Free Call
by David on Mon 21st Mar 2011 21:20 UTC in reply to "Gnu Free Call"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

At least it's not a recursive acronym.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Gnu Free Call
by Laurence on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 13:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Gnu Free Call"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

At least it's not a recursive acronym.

It's times like this I wish I could +1 multiple times.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Gnu Free Call
by Timmmm on Mon 21st Mar 2011 22:41 UTC in reply to "Gnu Free Call"
Timmmm Member since:
2006-07-25

Freecall isn't bad. Does what it says on the tin, and doesn't follow any of the tired gimmicky naming schemes (FIF Isn't Foo, KFoo, gfoo, etc).

Reply Score: 5

RE: Gnu Free Call
by Soulbender on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 01:41 UTC in reply to "Gnu Free Call"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

because "Skype" is such a great name....

Reply Score: 5

RE: Gnu Free Call
by ParadoxUncreated on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 20:10 UTC in reply to "Gnu Free Call"
ParadoxUncreated Member since:
2009-12-05

I thought it was a good name.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Gnu Free Call
by nt_jerkface on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 20:23 UTC in reply to "Gnu Free Call"
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

Could be worse a lot worse.

I'll just finish up this image in The Gimp and then talk to you about it in Cripple Call.

Oh and both names are acronyms so there is no reason to get offended.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Gnu Free Call
by jrtayloriv on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 20:39 UTC in reply to "Gnu Free Call"
jrtayloriv Member since:
2011-03-22

The Gnu Project thinks up pretty mediocre names

I actually prefer names like this -- i.e. names that give you a fairly clear idea of what the software does, rather than names like phonon or unity that don't tell you anything. What's wrong with "Free Call"? Would you prefer that it was called LazerSpeek?

Edited 2011-03-22 20:41 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Gnu Free Call
by toblerone on Thu 24th Mar 2011 23:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Gnu Free Call"
toblerone Member since:
2008-12-11

I like "LazerSpeek". ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Gnu Free Call
by phoenix on Thu 24th Mar 2011 23:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Gnu Free Call"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Depending on how you pronounce "gnu", it could be offensive to people living in Newfoundland, Canada. ;)

"What's this here 'newfie call' all about? Is that like two cans on a piece of string?"

;)

Reply Score: 2

SIP standard
by Alfman on Mon 21st Mar 2011 21:54 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

I am a strong supporter of open standards and interoperability, and when it comes to internet telephony, that points to SIP/RTP.

However it is one of the worst thought out protocols I've ever had to deal with on account of assuming that both ends can open up arbitrary public facing ports. This is terribly difficult to accomplish behind NAT routers - particularly those which I don't own/control.

To anyone who's having trouble with SIP port forwarding on netgear routers:

Many home netgear routers have a SIP ALG bug which causes corruption and breaks SIP calls even when the port forwarding is correct. (It took me hours to discover this by looking at wireshark traces).

Once I realized what was happening it was easy to recognize, the router was corrupting all values which appeared to match an internal/external IP address and mangled the values. The problem is that the 4 byte substitution was applied on raw packets without regard to the SIP fields - whoever programmed this was an idiot.

Anyways, many sip clients use "USERNAME@EXTERNALIP" to identify themselves. When the packets are acked, netgear routers substitute USERNAME@INTERNALIP, which is wrong so the client drops the ACKs.

Since I was debugging the source code (initially thinking it was a client issue), I modified the client to ignore the mangled IPs, which "solved" the problem. However, this can be fixed by using domain names instead of IP addresses.

I reported this bug to netgear, and they eventually were able to confirm the bug. They initially denied the home routers had any SIP ALG - their business products do, however it turns out the home routers have the SIG ALG enabled in an invalid state and the engineers merely disabled the user interface to control it.

That was two years ago and it hasn't been fixed. Anyone working with SIP should keep this in mind.

Reply Score: 5

RE: SIP standard
by Bringbackanonposting on Mon 21st Mar 2011 22:37 UTC in reply to "SIP standard"
Bringbackanonposting Member since:
2005-11-16

That's good to know. I agree SIP (and H.323) are just not good enough in the 21st century. It was and still is not straight forward to implement at home or at work. The fact that VoIP providers still don't route calls between themselves is amazing. The idea of having a universal phone number or alias that anyone can call from any provider is way off.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: SIP standard
by johjeff on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 15:51 UTC in reply to "RE: SIP standard"
johjeff Member since:
2007-11-06

Maybe I read you wrong, but aren't you describing Google Voice? Or VoxOx?

Reply Score: 1

RE: SIP standard
by Timmmm on Mon 21st Mar 2011 23:09 UTC in reply to "SIP standard"
Timmmm Member since:
2006-07-25

I agree. And SIP will never take off because it is simply too complicated. First you have to choose a SIP provider from the swathes of near-identical companies, and their many fronts.

Second it's nearly impossible to get your caller ID to display your existing real number. At least with the Android SIP clients I've tried, it simply doesn't work.

Third, as you mentioned there's the whole NAT issue, I think this isn't too bad due to STUN servers being standard. But it isn't ideal.

Fourth, this may be just android, but I have no idea how to actually call a number (or address) using the built in SIP client! As far as I can tell there is no easy way to do it -- the dialer certainly can't. The only way is to set it to ask you for *every call* whether or not to use SIP. Which gets annoying fast.

Finally -- and this is the real reason I don't use it -- the latency is simply too high. I never got lower than about a second round-trip, which is pretty terrible compared to GSM.

Reply Score: 2

RE: SIP standard
by Soulbender on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 01:43 UTC in reply to "SIP standard"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

What, you think SIP is bad? It's a dream compared to the horrors of H.323.

Many home netgear routers have a SIP ALG bug which causes corruption and breaks SIP calls even when the port forwarding is correct.


So the problem is with shitty netgear equipment, not with SIP.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: SIP standard
by Alfman on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 03:25 UTC in reply to "RE: SIP standard"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Timmmm,
You really can't really blame the issues with particular clients on the SIP protocol/standard.

The X-Lite client has been one of the most reliable SIP clients I've used. Also, the "sipura" devices (bought out by linksys, then cisco) are also very good. I've never had to do anything special to configure caller ID on these (assuming the upstream provider supports it).

About the latency being too high, are you saying your SIP calls are worse than Skype or something else over internet? That ought to depend on the quality and distance of service providers. I'm pretty happy with vitelity in the US.

There's no question SIP is problematic behind NAT.

Soulbender,
"What, you think SIP is bad? It's a dream compared to the horrors of H.323...So the problem is with shitty netgear equipment, not with SIP. "

Well, it's true netgear screwed up. However, the fact remains that a SIP "Application Level Gateway" is required in the first place because SIP isn't designed to work with NAT routers. Like the old FTP protocol, SIP requires multiple ports to be opened in multiple directions and the values of those ports are communicated dynamically over packets on other ports. This design is fundamentally incompatible with NAT/port forwarding.


As Timmmm said, we have hacks like STUN or uPNP to work around some problems, which might work with certain router configurations, but in practice it can be hit and miss.

We can blame the routers if we want, but protocols which scatter packets all over the place need to take some of the blame too.

Putting a SIP device behind an actual firewall without ALG support is virtually impossible. Just opening up all the in/outbound ports the client might choose is not a good solution. This is why linux comes with nf_conntrack_sip and nf_nat_sip, in other words, an ALG.

As I said earlier, I much prefer to use standard SIP devices over something proprietary like Skype, but SIP can be unnecessarily painful at times.

Other protocols that direct packets over a single port don't have these problems. AIX is the closest thing I know of to a SIP replacement aiming to fix this.

Reply Score: 6

RE: SIP standard
by spiderman on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 15:55 UTC in reply to "SIP standard"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

The problem is not SIP, it's IPv4. IPv4 is obsolete since more than 20 years now. We just can't seem to get rid of it. We will have to deal with NAT and hacks around NAT until the end of time or until the Internet implodes.

Edited 2011-03-22 16:02 UTC

Reply Score: 3

'Twas about time
by vodoomoth on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 09:50 UTC
vodoomoth
Member since:
2010-03-30

I'm not versed in the technical details of VoIP, SIP, etc. but, as a user, I can only say "it was about time!", knowing the state in which Skype for BSD is...

Reply Score: 2

RE: 'Twas about time
by Neolander on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 13:36 UTC in reply to "'Twas about time"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

If you're around Paris, you should try the release of FreeBSD which is installed on the computers of the University Paris Diderot - Paris 7.

Suddenly, anything BSD which you may have on your computer will look modern and shiny.

What I'm talking about is a broken implementation of top (does nothing, freezes), a release of Firefox 3.0 (!) that crashes when opening GMail, and versions of evince and kpdf (!), that don't support PDF forms.

Reply Score: 1

RE: 'Twas about time
by johjeff on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 15:54 UTC in reply to "'Twas about time"
johjeff Member since:
2007-11-06

Good luck getting all your contacts in Skype to use GNU Free Call.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: 'Twas about time
by greygandalf on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 16:29 UTC in reply to "RE: 'Twas about time"
greygandalf Member since:
2008-04-07

Exactly. It is like everybody using MS Office and your OpenOffice exchange is broken.
Everybody uses skype because it works, it passes through routers and works even inside big firewalled company networks.
What would be needed is a skype-compatible implementation.

And, to complete the rant: The latest skype versions are really terrible, they have an indecent UI that looks like iPhone stuff brought to your workstation.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: 'Twas about time
by Alfman on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 17:00 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: 'Twas about time"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

spidermain,

"The problem is not SIP, it's IPv4. IPv4 is obsolete since more than 20 years now. We just can't seem to get rid of it. We will have to deal with NAT and hacks around NAT until the end of time or until the Internet implodes."

Yes and No.

NAT is useful even if address space wasn't a problem. For example, I routinely forward SSH and SMTP connections using simple iptables forwarding. (Side Note: it is extremely disappointing that Linux IPv6 stack hasn't even implemented this port forward functionality).

Even if NAT is out of the picture, you ignored my point about SIP being impossible to firewall without custom code (an ALG). Presumably firewalls will have greater importance once (in the distant future) NAT gateways are gone.

There is no technical reason that SIP requires more than one (static) port, it is a design decision that will make SIP forever difficult to use.

Take note how relatively well P2P apps work behind NAT considering the limitations.


greygandalf,
"Everybody uses skype because it works, it passes through routers and works even inside big firewalled company networks."

Yep, AIX has that property too, but it hasn't seen much uptake, obviously due to the fact that it's incompatible.


"What would be needed is a skype-compatible implementation."

Skype has a tons of DRM in the protocol/client to make this impossible (when it's broken, they change it). They don't want to become a standard. This was a large reason most skype to telephone line converters need a computer, whereas SIP to telephone line converts are a standalone device.

"And, to complete the rant: The latest skype versions are really terrible, they have an indecent UI that looks like iPhone stuff brought to your workstation."

You're not the only one who thinks that: it sucks.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: 'Twas about time
by spiderman on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 19:01 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: 'Twas about time"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23


NAT is useful even if address space wasn't a problem. For example, I routinely forward SSH and SMTP connections using simple iptables forwarding. (Side Note: it is extremely disappointing that Linux IPv6 stack hasn't even implemented this port forward functionality).

don't agree. Even if you have a dedicated ssh server that has the same address as your router if that makes sense in your setup, voip clients should still have their own address as this is how they can be reached. NAT is pretty useless with ipv6. Just give one address per application if you need to.

Even if NAT is out of the picture, you ignored my point about SIP being impossible to firewall without custom code (an ALG). Presumably firewalls will have greater importance once (in the distant future) NAT gateways are gone.

There is no technical reason that SIP requires more than one (static) port, it is a design decision that will make SIP forever difficult to use.

Take note how relatively well P2P apps work behind NAT considering the limitations.

agreed, although this is not that much of a problem with ipv6 since your voip can have its own ip.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: 'Twas about time
by Alfman on Wed 23rd Mar 2011 03:32 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: 'Twas about time"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

"don't agree. Even if you have a dedicated ssh server that has the same address as your router if that makes sense in your setup, voip clients should still have their own address as this is how they can be reached. NAT is pretty useless with ipv6. Just give one address per application if you need to."

Firstly, you still haven't addressed the firewall/ALG issue with SIP I brought up twice, which still exists without NAT.

Secondly, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, port forwarding does have valid uses outside the scope of mitigating limited number IP addresses under IPv4.

One example is load distribution, the gateway router should have the ability to redirect inbound packets to multiple servers. This is an example of something NAT is good at.

Another example is the ability to use one domain name for multiple services. Domain names (typically) resolve to one IP address, without port forwarding/NAT, you're essentially forcing all daemons for one domain name to reside on a single server. This is a stupid limitation. For example, I may want 'domain.com' to have HTTP, FTP, SIP, all residing on separate servers. NAT/port forwarding on the gateway is far simpler, more efficient, and more scalable than forcing all protocols to be handled on one server.

Another example is a company moving servers to a new IP/location may want to port forward the requests on the old IP to the new servers' IP.

A similar example is when a server has maintenance downtime, the admin can forward requests at the gateway to an alternate server until the original server is ready. The port forwarding switch is instantaneous.

I definitely understand the motivation for IPv6 and eliminating the dependence on NAT. However, it seems you've overstated your case that it is never useful.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: 'Twas about time
by spiderman on Wed 23rd Mar 2011 06:51 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: 'Twas about time"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23


Firstly, you still haven't addressed the firewall/ALG issue with SIP I brought up twice, which still exists without NAT.
I don't have to address all your points. I agree the SIP protocol could be better engineered but I don't get what is the need for a firewall when your voip application has its own IP address.

Secondly, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, port forwarding does have valid uses outside the scope of mitigating limited number IP addresses under IPv4.
NAT has no use for voip.

One example is load distribution, the gateway router should have the ability to redirect inbound packets to multiple servers. This is an example of something NAT is good at.
load distribution does not make sense for a voip application.

Another example is the ability to use one domain name for multiple services. Domain names (typically) resolve to one IP address, without port forwarding/NAT, you're essentially forcing all daemons for one domain name to reside on a single server. This is a stupid limitation. For example, I may want 'domain.com' to have HTTP, FTP, SIP, all residing on separate servers. NAT/port forwarding on the gateway is far simpler, more efficient, and more scalable than forcing all protocols to be handled on one server.
domain names don't apply to voip.

Another example is a company moving servers to a new IP/location may want to port forward the requests on the old IP to the new servers' IP.
That is why there are registrars. Just tell your registrar what is your new IP address and you are done.

A similar example is when a server has maintenance downtime, the admin can forward requests at the gateway to an alternate server until the original server is ready. The port forwarding switch is instantaneous.
And the registrar request to change your IP is also instantaneous.

I definitely understand the motivation for IPv6 and eliminating the dependence on NAT. However, it seems you've overstated your case that it is never useful.

No, I stand by my claim. NAT is useless for VoIP. You are digressing because you want to prove that SIP is a bad protocol. I don't disagree with you but IPv6 and VoIP is a perfect match. The QoS of IPv6 is a nice feature. The single biggest problem with VoIP is IPv4. IPv4 is a nightmare. Give me IPv6 and I can cope with the SIP protocol quite easily.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: 'Twas about time
by Alfman on Wed 23rd Mar 2011 08:04 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: 'Twas about time"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

"I agree the SIP protocol could be better engineered but I don't get what is the need for a firewall when your voip application has its own IP address."

The need for firewalls is really a separate debate.

"NAT has no use for voip."

You could say "NAT has no use for HTTP" or "NAT has no use for SSH", since NAT has nothing to do with these protocols either. Somehow I allowed myself to veer off from talking about SIP to talking about NAT, but these are two separate topics. My original point was that protocols which use a single port are much more manageable.

"load distribution does not make sense for a voip application."

Why not? Shouldn't that decision be left to the sysadmins? Who are we to set policy?

"domain names don't apply to voip."

You've never used xlite or another voip/im client to dial "mydomain.com" or "###@mydomain.com"? Not only does this work, it's highly practical.

If ever it became popular, I'm sure most businesses would like to use their domain name for VOIP calls as well as web hosting. Why should we require that a domain name can only be used for services running on a single server? There is no reason to impose limits like this.


"That is why there are registrars. Just tell your registrar what is your new IP address and you are done."

Yes of course, but you could port forward the old IP to eliminate the DNS prorogation downtime. It's one solution we have today you think we shouldn't have, but why not?


I understand your agenda against IPv4, but your beef with port forwarding is exagerated. Regarding the load balancers mentioned above? Please explain why these shouldn't be permitted on IPv6?

I already know ipv4 is a nightmare, but port forwarding is useful even in corporate environments where IPv4 was never a limitation....you are simply overstating your case.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: 'Twas about time
by phoenix on Thu 24th Mar 2011 23:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: 'Twas about time"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Exactly. It is like everybody using MS Office and your OpenOffice exchange is broken.
Everybody uses skype because it works, it passes through routers and works even inside big firewalled company networks.


*AND*, Skype works through an HTTP proxy, something that is both a blessing and a curse in a school setting.

Blessing because it allows for video-based tutoring through our web proxies. ;)

Curse because it allows for video-based chat through our web proxies. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: 'Twas about time
by nt_jerkface on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 20:24 UTC in reply to "'Twas about time"
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

Where is Skype for DOS?

Reply Score: 2

Over Promise, Under Deliver
by johjeff on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 16:08 UTC
johjeff
Member since:
2007-11-06

I love Linux. I love BSD. I love FOSS. I love everything open source ... but I get sick of these "developers" that promise the sky and deliver mud. How is this any different than all the other projects that seek to accomplish the same thing? None of them approach Skype in UI, performance, or quality. That doesn't say much for the Open Source Projects that want to duplicate Skype since Skype has some problems of it's own.

Isn't Ekiga supposed to do this? What about Linphone, qutecom, kphone, ihu, twinkle, etc.? What about the now swallowed by Google Gizmo5? Instead of bragging about something (that has nothing more than an announcement behind it) being a Skype replacement, maybe they should lower their sites and make an Ekiga replacement. They'd have a better chance of succeeding and not being laughed at when their beta comes out - which is probably as far as this thing will get.

Here's hoping they make a liar out of me! Cheers!

PS - do you think it will run on Hurd?

Jeff

Reply Score: 1

skype alternative
by ecruz on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 18:33 UTC
ecruz
Member since:
2007-06-16

Is this another one of those great GNU programs that never get finish and just wander around the Internet never coming to consumers? Does that remind you of some big GNU project? Does the Hurd comes to mind?

You think people would move from Linux to the Hurd even if it was finish today? I don't think so. GNU people are not relevant anymore, they just have enough of a voice to be contrarians!

Reply Score: 0

RE: skype alternative
by spiderman on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 18:45 UTC in reply to "skype alternative"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

I suppose you have never heard about gcc, glibc, bash, coreutils, autotools, emacs, gettext, gzip, grub, grep, cpio, readline or tar? Because those are a subset of the GNU softwares that are highly relevant to several tens of millions of people.

Edited 2011-03-22 18:47 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: skype alternative
by nt_jerkface on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 20:47 UTC in reply to "RE: skype alternative"
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

Parent's point still stands. The GNU greatest hits came out years ago.

Gnash has been developed at a glacial pace and HURD still doesn't have a stable version.

Even if they developed a Skype alternative it would probably be ignored just like ogg. Skype is free and over 99% of the population does not care about having the source available.

Speaking of delayed open source projects, where the hell is Samba 4? All this focus on the desktop has left some important server projects out of the spotlight. FSF is just going to further divide the limited amount of available GPL developers with another project that will be ignored by the public. Meanwhile MS continues to roll in record profits from WinServer since Linux still does not offer enough advantages when it comes to integrating Windows clients.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: skype alternative
by Valhalla on Wed 23rd Mar 2011 12:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: skype alternative"
Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24

Parent's point still stands. The GNU greatest hits came out years ago.

So did Microsoft's, Windows and Office aren't new products.

FSF themselves have stated that Hurd was all but abandoned once Linux gained traction, and Gnash is a clean room implementation done by extremely few developers, which will have even less priority now that the web seems to be gravitating towards HTML5.

So by your logic we should judge Microsoft by looking at Microsoft Bob and Zune, or maybe the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, or the Microsoft Smart Watch, or the -insert failed Microsoft product here-

Meanwhile the FSF software flagships are as strong as ever, GCC and binutils/coreutils enjoys rapid development, and it's still the de facto toolchain in the open source world. The other flagship of FSF, GPL, is as popular as ever.

So if FSF is relying on old greatest hits, so is Microsoft.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: skype alternative
by spiderman on Wed 23rd Mar 2011 12:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: skype alternative"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

http://gcc.gnu.org/wiki/History
gcc development started in 1984. The first beta release was in 1987. I believe it became popular in 1999 or so, 15 years after the development started.
In 1984, you would have said that GNU and gcc was irrelevant, that UNIX was king, etc.
For today, Skype is king (in the US I mean) although Google Talk is rapidly taking over. Come here in 15 years and tell me if you remember what Skype was.

Edited 2011-03-23 12:56 UTC

Reply Score: 2