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Ekiga Internet. IP Telephony, VoIP, and Video Conferencing Application

The Ekiga program is a software phone and video conferencing application. Ekiga (formely known as GnomeMeeting) is an open source VoIP and video conferencing application for GNOME. Ekiga uses both the H.323 and SIP protocols. It supports many audio and video codecs, and is interoperable with other SIP compliant software and also with Microsoft NetMeeting.

With this application you can do the following:

  • Software phone and video conferencing
  • Talk with other SIP compliant software or Ekiga users
  • Desktop sharing capabilities
  • Connect with Microsoft NetMeeting tm users
  • Fully functional chatting

Basic Usage

Basic Usage

"Ekiga is a SIP and H.323 compatible (SIP and H.323 are two protocols used in telephony over Internet) VoIP (Voice over IP, or IP Telephony) and Video Conferencing application that allows you to make audio and video calls to remote users with SIP or H.323 hardware and software. It supports all modern VoIP features for both SIP and H.323. Ekiga is the first Open Source application to support both H.323 and SIP, as well as audio and video. Ekiga was formerly known as GnomeMeeting." - http://wiki.ekiga.org/

(For a larger image, click on the following (click here))

You can access this application in the following way(s):

  • Computer ▸ More Applications ▸ Accessories section ▸ Ekiga.
  • From the command line: 'ekiga &'


Hardware Compatibility

Hardware Compatibility

The following provides general information regarding hardware.

Web Cameras

  • Are not required, a working soundcard is enough.
  • Any camera supported by the Linux kernel and compatible with the Video4Linux/Video4Linux2 APIs (Philips webcams, Creative webcams, and many others...) will work
  • Any Firewire camera provided that you are using the appropriate plugin will work.

Headsets

  • A headset is not required to use Ekiga, however this will improve the overall sound quality greatly.
  • Not sure if USB headsets, or Bluetooth headsets are supported.

Sound cards

  • Any full-duplex soundcard supported by the Linux kernel and compatible with the OSS or ALSA APIs will work.
  • Pay attention to use a full-duplex driver as well.


SIP Introduction

SIP Introduction

What is SIP?

SIP stands for 'Session Initiation Protocol', it is defined by RFC3261 and provides a method for registering with VoIP Service (or 'Dial-tone') providers and initiating/receiving VoIP calls.

Ekiga is capable of using any service provider which supports SIP (for example Ekiga.net, FreeWorldDialup, SipGate, etc.). Once a 'call' is created the audio (and optionally video) is set directly between caller and receiver. Though it is possible to use SIP proxies, where the call is routed through the proxy. The audio/video is encoded/compressed using a codec. Different codecs are available within Ekiga, each provides a compromise between audio quality and bandwidth required. - ekiga.org

SIP Numbers

A SIP number normally resembles an email address, 5000@ekiga.net for example. The part before the '@' represents the user and the part after represents the service provider. The user part may be either numeric or alphanumeric depending on provider. For example Ekiga.net uses alphanumeric usernames, but each has a numerical alias to enable dialing from a standard telephone key pad.

To dial a number on an application (such as Ekiga) just enter the SIP number. If the provider part is not entered, the application will assume the same provider as the user. Using a telephone keypad it is not possible to entered alphanumerical characters, so it is not possible to enter the provider portion. To make calls to other providers the user can use a Peering prefix.

Another problem is that unlike a normal telephone, the full 'user' part of the number must be entered before the call is placed and the number can be any number of digits. The '#' can be used to indicate that the number is complete, another solution is to set up a dial-plan (which interprets numbers as they are typed).

  • In order to differentiate a SIP number from an email address the 'sip:' URI should be used, for example sip:5000@ekiga.net.

How contact presence (online, offline) work in SIP

  • kamailio (the ekiga.net SIP proxy) has a table with sip addresses, their state and persons who are subscribed to this address.

If eugen wants to know yannick's state, then:

  • eugen's ekiga sends to ekiga.net a SUBSCRIBE sip:yannick@ekiga.net
  • ekiga.net adds eugen as subscriber for yannick
  • ekiga.net sends a NOTIFY to eugen's ekiga containing yannick's current state
  • each time yannick changes state (or when he registers), his ekiga sends to ekiga.net a PUBLISH sip:yannick@ekiga.net with his new state
  • upon reception, kamailio sends to eugen's ekiga (and to all yannick's subscribers) a NOTIFY with the new yannick's state
  • both PUBLISH and SUBSCRIBE (REGISTER too) are subject to expiration. That's why, even if yannick's ekiga does not change state for 500 seconds, ekiga sends again a PUBLISH sip:yannick@ekiga.net to ekiga.net
  • if after ... minutes ekiga.net does not receive any PUBLISH sip:yannick@ekiga.net from yannick's ekiga, then it marks yannick as offline in its table, and sends to eugen's ekiga (and to all yannick's subscribers) a NOTIFY with yannick's offline message
  • the same for SUBSCRIBE
  • ekiga.org


Register For a SIP Address

Free SIP Account Registration (ekiga.net)

  1. Using the Webbrowser, navigate to the www.Ekiga.net website
  2. Locate the registration page and fill out the information.
    Your new SIP address will be: sip:user_ID@ekiga.net


Configuration Assistant

Configuration Assistant

When starting Ekiga for the first time the configuration assistant will launch automatically.

The Configuration Assistant is a step-by-step questionnaire that will guide you through all the steps involved in creating the basic configuration you will need to operate Ekiga.

  1. Configuration Assistant Introduction
    Throughout the entire configuration process navigation is available at the bottom of the window. You will be able to navigate through the questions using Back, Forward and Cancel. If you hit Cancel during the setup Ekiga will not be affected by your changes and all entered information will be discarded. This page welcomes you to the Configuration Assistant. There is nothing to change or edit here.
    Press the 'Forward' button towards the bottom of the window to start the configuration.
  2. Personal Information Configuration
    The Personal Information window requires you to supply personal information to use Ekiga. This information is displayed when connecting to other audio/video applications.
    You must provide both first name and surname or you will not be able to continue.


  3. Setting up ekiga.net Account
    Ekiga.net is a free SIP services platform provided to Ekiga users. If you want to call other users and to be callable, you need a SIP address. You can get one from http://www.ekiga.net. Ekiga.net also offers additional services like conference rooms or online white pages. Please see Ekiga.net VoIP service subscription for more information.
    Just follow the link given in the dialog to get an account if you do not have one, then fill in your username and password.

    Please press 'Forward' after having entered all required information to continue.
  4. Ekiga Call Out Account
    Please see Diamondcard.us VoIP service subscription for more information.
    Just follow the link given in the dialog to get an account ID if you do not have one, then fill in your PIN code.

    Please press 'Forward' after having entered all required information to continue.
  5. Setting up Connection Type
    Ekiga supports several audio and video codecs. It includes codecs with excellent quality as well as codecs with medium to good quality. The higher the quality of a codec, the more bandwidth it requires. Moreover, video codecs can adapt their quality to the available bandwidth. This option is necessary in the initial configuration of Ekiga so that it chooses the optimal codec suited to your network connection and so that it adjusts the video quality settings.
    If your connection type is not mentioned in the list you should select the one closest to your network connection and adjust Ekiga manually with the preferences window (codecs section) later on.
  6. Configuring Audio Devices
    The Audio manager manages everything audio. It is dependent on the Operating System on which Ekiga is running, and some offer different alternatives.
  7. Configuring Video input devices
    This step is optional and concerns users with video devices (e.g. webcams) only. If you do not have any video devices you may skip this page. If you have a webcam or video device in the list you may select it here.
  8. Configuration Complete
    The configuration of Ekiga is now completed. The last window only shows a short configuration summary of the settings you have chosen. Please verify that all these settings are correct. If something is incorrect you may use the 'Back' button in the lower right hand corner of the window to move to any page of the assistant and correct the mistake.

    If everything is correct please press the 'Apply' button to save the configuration. The assistant will be closed and the main Window of Ekiga will now appear.

You should go through all of these steps properly, otherwise the assistant will re-appear (when it has not been completed) or Ekiga will not function appropriately (if some of your answers have not been correct).

  • You may run the Configuration Assistant at any time from the Edit ▸ Configuration Assistant menu.
  • All settings can be changed via the Edit ▸ Preferences window at anytime.


Testing Your Connection

Testing Your Connection

Toll free numbers accessible from Ekiga.net:

  • Ekiga Prefix-SIPnumber Service / provider / Description
    sip:500@ekiga.net Echo test (supports Video as well as Audio)
    sip:520@ekiga.net Call-me test (call, hangup, and you will be called right afterwards) (supports audio only)
    sip:501@ekiga.net Public conference room from Ekiga.net
    sip:501xxxx@ekiga.net These rooms are public or private, anyone can join a conference at any time if he choose the right number or you can protect the access with a PIN number.
    sip:5011122@ekiga.net french conference room 1122
    Prefix-SIPnumber Service / provider
    sip:*010600@ekiga.net Echo test from Voxalot (USA)
    sip:*031600@ekiga.net Echo test from Voxalot (Europe)
    sip:*061600@ekiga.net Echo test from Voxalot (Australia)
    sip:*0131800xxxxxxx@ekiga.net US 800 Toll Free Numbers using SIPBroker ENUM Server, Search USA Toll Free numbers
    sip:*01349800xxxxxxx@ekiga.net Germany Toll Free Numbers using SIPBroker ENUM Server.
    sip:*013352800xxxxx@ekiga.net Luxembourg Toll Free Numbers using SIPBroker ENUM Server.
    sip:*01388299000199xxx@ekiga.net e164.org's public voice conference rooms (000 through 999 are the conf numbers)
    sip:*01317853950049@ekiga.net Kansas State University Test Phone Number
    sip:*201511@ekiga.net VoIP.Brujula.net's conference room (51112 creates a new room #12)
    sip:*201393613@ekiga.net VoIP.Brujula.net's echo test (forward to FWD?)
    sip:*2011800xxxxxxx@ekiga.net Toll Free 800 numbers in USA 800 Directory
    sip:*248333@ekiga.net Wengo's echo test (France)
    sip:*248335@ekiga.net Wengo's video echo test (H263 + PCMU/PCMA)
    sip:*266300@ekiga.net Blueface Monkey sounds (Ireland)
    sip:*266301@ekiga.net Blueface echo test (Ireland)
    sip:*266303@ekiga.net Blueface speaking clock (Ireland)
    sip:*266305@ekiga.net Blueface Music (Ireland)
    sip:*318613@ekiga.net Ixcall echo test
    sip:*318411@ekiga.net Tell me ixcall.net (speech recognition)
    sip:*393613@ekiga.net FreeWorldDialup's echo test
    sip:*393*31800xxxxxxx@ekiga.net Netherlands toll-free numbers from FreeWorldDialup
    sip:*673500@ekiga.net Echo test from Ekiga.net
    sip:*74717475552663@ekiga.net Free Conference Call
    sip:*850100xxxxxxx@ekiga.net Idea SIP's conference call
    sip:*201393514@ekiga.net Coffee House (conference room, voip.brujula.net)


    • x = any digits from 0 to 9.
    • When using the conference rooms (501xxxx) you'll be asked for a "PIN number". The first person to enter a 'room' may specify a PIN by entering a number (followed by #) to limit access to the conference room, just entering # will make this conference room public. When the last person leaves a conference room, the PIN will be cancelled and others may use the 'room'.
    • in case of multiple VoIP accounts saved in Ekiga (the software), add @ekiga.net suffix to these toll free numbers to place a call using Ekiga.net service.
    • for more information: http://wiki.ekiga.org/index.php/Fun_Numbers


Ekiga Usage Features

Ekiga Usage Features

Using Ekiga to do PC-to-PC calls

If you know the SIP address of the party that you wish to call, you may enter that adress into the sip:_________ input box at the top of the screen and press the Connect button; eg: sip:foo@ekiga.net and pressing the Connect button would call the user at that address.

  • With the default setup, you can simply type sip:foo to call user foo@ekiga.net

Using Ekiga to do PC-to-phone calls

Ekiga can be used with several Internet Telephony Service Providers. Those providers will allow calling real phones from your computer using Ekiga at interesting rates. There is no obligation for you to use the default provider, but we recommand it.

The default provider

The default provider is Diamondcard Worldwide Communication Service, which offers these rates

  • When signing up for a DiamondCard account, a small amount of the subscription is given back to the Ekiga project.
    1. Open the PC-To-Phone configuration window from the Tools menu and purchase an account. You absolutely need to purchase the account from the PC-To-Phone configuration window or it won't work.
    2. Wait for the mail that will give you a login and a PIN.
    3. Enter that login and PIN in the appropriate fields in the window and enable the PC-To-Phone service.
      You are now ready to do PC-To-Phone calls at very low rates all over the world.

      To dial a number, simply add "00" followed by the country code, and by your number. For example, sip:003210111111 to call number 10111111 in Belgium. If Ekiga.NET or the PC-To-Phone account are not your default account, you will have to enter the full URL to be able to dial, without the leading "00": sip:3210111111@eugw.ast.diamondcard.us

Other providers

You can use several providers at the same time. Ekiga users have reported many providers able to be used with Ekiga. Some may require you to use their own software to register their service. But once you get your username, password and registrar, you usually can use Ekiga. Read Managing VOIP Accounts for further informations on how to add new accounts.

Using Ekiga to receive phone calls from regular phones (Phone-to-PC)

Ekiga can be used to receive incoming calls from regular phones. To allow this, you simply login to your PC-To-Phone account using the Tools menu as described above, and buy a phone number in the country of your choice. Ekiga will ring when people call that phone number.

  • You can actually use any H.323 or SIP ITSP provider, including your own PBX at work. However we recommend using the integrated provider.

Sending instant messages

You can open a chat window by selecting Tools → Chat Window or by clicking the chat icon on the upper left side menu. To send a text message to a user, simply enter his/her SIP address into the sip: input box at the top of the screen, enter your text message, and click on Send. You can later decide to call that user by clicking on Call User.

You can also exchanges text messages with H.323 Ekiga users, but only while on a call. To do this, simply click on the new tab icon, and a new tab will automatically be created allowing a conversation with the user you are on a call with.

Configuring Video
Ekiga has an assistant for configuring video support: just run the Configuration Assistant until the end.

If it doesn't work as expected, you can try to change those settings:

  • Choosing the right kernel API
    The Linux kernel has two ways to communicate with video devices, the old v4l and the new v4l2. It's best to use v4l2, but some drivers only support v4l.
    • Ekiga has a plugin for Firewire based cameras.
    • Go to the menu Edit → Preferences → Devices → Video device
    • Try "v4l2" or "v4l" as video plugin for most USB webcams.
  • Choosing the right video device
    If you have several video devices (like a TV card and a webcam) you will need to tell Ekiga which one to use:
    • Go to the menu Edit → Preferences → Video → Devices
    • Change the channel number until you find the right one.
  • Activate the video support in calls
    • Select Edit → Preferences → Video Codecs → Enable Video Support

Test your webcam
To test your webcam you can do this:

  1. Make sure View → ShowCallPanel is checked on.
  2. There are 4 icons on the bottom side of the video window. Push the 3rd button from ("Display images from your camera device").
    If eveything is ok, you'll see the output of the webcam. If not, you'll see the Ekiga logo bouncing slowly.


Further Information

Further Reading and Information

For more information regarding Ekiga, please refer to the following internal/external website(s):

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