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Ekiga - Skype-killer

Skype has started a revolution. Before everybody used to use ICQ or other IMs to exchange text-messages with friends all over the world, then came Skype, and people started talking to each other.
As nice a tool Skype may be, for some of us it has one big flaw that might render it unacceptable: It's not free software.

A tool that is free software and nearly offers the same functions is Ekiga, the program formerly known as GnomeMeeting.
The thing Ekiga seems to lack compared to Skype is the contact-list. It does not seem to be possible to see if your contacts are online.
Since so far I have nobody who uses Ekiga I am not 100% sure about this, as technically it should be possible. You have to login to their server after all.

A good thing about Ekiga is that it isn't only limited to accounts on ekiga.net, but can call any user of a SIP-phone in any network. Skype of course cannot be contacted because the use their own home-brewed protocol for communication.

Like Skype Ekiga also offers the possibility to call real phones. This is through DiamondCard.us, and prices even are a little lower than for SkypeOut.
I have created myself an account there, transferred 10USD by PayPal and already made a few calls. I am quite happy with the service. As was to be expected there is a little delay, but it is tolerable.

A downside on Ekiga comes with the used protocol, SIP. As it is unencrypted it is quite easy to sniff and the conversation can be extracted from the stream. I think adding an encryption-layer might be a nice idea, on the other hand, this would break what my next post is going to be about. ;-)