And everytime I blog about one of these, some user point to to some SIP solution like Wengo, Ekiga or Gizmo which are supposed to solve all my problems I have with skype (not standard compliant, until some weeks ago no Alsa support, etc.). Thanks about the comments and the hints, I really appreciate feedback here. But I also have to say: They do not solve any problem. In fact, they cannot but introduce even more problems. Because they are SIP based. And SIP is not a solution which can be compared with Skype. Not at all.
The problem with SIP is that it only works out of the box when you have either no NAT-Router or Firewall at all in front of you, or if you have SIP capable Firewalls/Routers. In other cases, you have to start dealing with STUNNEL, UPnP or similar stuff – and that does not work in every case. Especially when there is a NAT setup with more restricted rules on both sides SIP is impossible. And that’s the fault of SIP which is designed in such a way.
Let’s have a look at the other side: Skype, the working solution everyone knows, and Jingle, the hopefully-somewhen-to-be perfect solution. They do not have these problems, they work out of a box. It just works, there is nothing, nothing to configurate at all, it juts works. That’s because the protocol design is completely different: it is P2P with Nodes, and can access everything everywhere. That is the big advantage when you compare it to SIP. And that’s the reason why Wengo, Gizmo, Ekiga and all the other SIP solutions do not work for me, and are not a threat to Skype at all. Sure, they can be useful in a corporate environment where you have professionals creating the setup, but not for personal use where the people will not use SIP when they have trouble reaching some people (like both behind restrictive NATs) once in a while.
My big hope, though, is that the mentioned programs will get jingle support soon. Actually I hope that almost all these tools will get jingle support soon. At the moment there are only Coccinella (which I never tried), Telepathy and Tapioca, where tapioca joins telepathy inn the near future.
At this point I also have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed by the reaction to jingle: it was *the* opportunity to introduce a real alternative to Skype, and it could have been introduced to Linux and other free systems almost perfectly. Instead, the only system which really added jingle support was MacOS, where the adium IM client has full jingle support.
But I’m also a but disappointed by Google: they could’ve launched Google talk as a real competitor: together with a set of services (like call in and out), with some functions for corporate needs (think about SIP-B for example) and with strong development support to bring it into the free world. I still miss the Asterisk connector, that would have been perfect! And I also thought Google is putting more power in it to make it a real competitor against some MSN or ICQ solutions: where is the Video support, where is fully conference support, where are nice addons and easy-share buttons for files or directories and such stuff? And where are these functions in the free clients?
I guess I have to wait until the Free world starts bundling the efforts of implementing every protocol and start working together. That should free some sources, and improve the quality of the implemented functions massively. Until then, I have to stick to some half baked solutions, what a sad situation.