Enhancements to VoIP Software Ekiga 3.0

Sep 25, 2008

Ekiga, formerly known as GnomeMeeting, is an open source VoIP application with video support. The Ekiga project has recently incorporated major enhancements into its version 3.0 software.

Ekiga's new graphical user interface includes a buddy list and an accelerated video display, thanks to DirectDraw and XVideo. A new connection quality meter was built into the status bar.

Extended status information in the buddy list displays network neighbors. The new address book supports Evolution and LDAP contacts and the URL bar autocompletes known addresses. The Ekiga Call Out account allows sending of text messages over SMS. Hotplug support provides quick audio and video device plugins while being in a call.

Ekiga 3.0 supports various codecs, including H.263+, H.264, Theora and MPEG4. The software achieves a framerate up to 30 frames per second and resolution is up to 704x576 pixels in DVD quality. The audio and video codecs are plugins for flexibility. Unique among Open Source developers, Ekiga provides a SIP capabilities exchange for codecs.

Because Ekiga supports the SIP protocol, it can serve as a front end for an Asterisk application and automatically recognizes network and LAN cards. Ekiga automatically logs the user off the SIP account with an inactive interface, and re-registers when traffic resumes. NAT traversal was also improved: according to the Ekiga wiki, in 99 percent of the cases, as with Skype, the user should not use port forwarding for calls; Ekiga puts the device on STUN to avoid problems with firewalls and NAT.

What about other services? Ekiga users can also make platform-independent calls, such as with Windows Messenger 5.1 or NetMeeting. Mac users can videoconference with Linux users over X-Lite 3.0 and XMeeting. However, Ekiga users cannot currently talk with MSN, Skype or Google Talk clients because of the proprietary nature of their software. Service with other clients, such as Wengophone, is audio only. An Ekiga interoperability chart shows the full client compatibility.

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