Let’s begin with a fairly obvious statement: one useful function of an “ultra-portable” computer such as the Eee 701, is for making voice and/or video calls over the Internet, from wherever one can find a suitable connection.
Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I am a keen user of Skype—largely, but not exclusively, because it is convenient, widely-used (including by our family and friends) and free. However, there are other services offering VoIP (or “Internet telephone”) facilities, usually based on the SIP protocol. In my household, we use Sipgate for reasons going back some years, including low call charges to Korea (where my wife’s family lives) and the existence of SIP-compatible hardware VoIP telephones (from the days when we didn’t want our then-toddler daughter breaking the laptop).
There are numerous “softphone” applications available for all sorts of computing platforms, and Linux is no exception. On distributions using the GNOME desktop (such as Ubuntu), a popular SIP/H.323 Internet phone program is Ekiga (formerly GnomeMeeting), and as I have this installed on my Eee (running Eeebuntu v3), I thought I would show how it is relatively straightforward to set up Ekiga to work with Sipgate, as they don’t provide setup instructions for the program on their site (AFAIK).
To get you started, Ekiga provides a “Setup Assistant”, which guides you through the information you need to supply to configure a SIP account. You will need a SIP service provider before you do any of this—although I am talking about Sipgate, this is simply because we have an account with them. Ekiga provides their own service, which you can open an account with during the Setup Assistant if you prefer.
However, if you are using Sipgate, here are the items of information you will need to supply during the Assistant process:
- The name you want this account to appear with in the list (“Sipgate” will do :-))
- Your Sipgate user number
- Authentication user
- Your Sipgate user number (same as “User”)
- Your Sipgate password
- My setup has 3600 set here, so I have left it “as is”
If you have already set up the account but want to change the settings, this is straightforward. As in the screenshot, select Edit/Preferences… from the main Ekiga window, then select the account you wish to edit, and choose Accounts/Edit… to bring up the main account details.
Other useful information
- The STUN server, if one is requested or required, is stun.sipgate.net.
- If you have a firewall set up on your machine, you may need to open the following ports for Sipgate to work:
- 5060 (UDP)
- 5004 (UDP)
- 10000 (UDP)
If Ekiga still won’t let you connect to Sipgate after all this, then it’s time to head for their online “help centre” (log into the Sipgate site first), as the problem could lie with your machine’s network settings, the network you’re connecting with, and so on. Be aware that some, if not many, mobile networks (T-Mobile UK is apparently one) block VoIP traffic if you’re not on one of their “higher-level” packages, so this is worth considering if you’re trying to call over a 3G data connection.
Hope this helps other Linux-sporting Sipgate users, anyway 🙂