I was pleased to see that OpenWengo 2.1 was released for Linux recently. I’ve already written about why I was excited when I first came across it, and about how Ekiga, the main FOSS alternative stands up.
Interestingly, Ekiga is no longer bundled with Kubuntu. Feisty, 7.04, contains no VOIP client by default, while 6.10 Edgy contained Ekiga, albeit with a nasty crash bug.
With Wengophone version 2.1 being released recently, and apparently quite usable on Linux, I decided to give it a try. It’s the most cross-platform of the alternatives, having Windows and Mac versions as well, so even though it may lag behind some of the others technically, the fact that I could potentially use it to talk outside of Linux users only is a big plus.
Unfortunately, overall, the experience was highly disappointing. It crashed repeatedly on both my and a colleague’s machines (both Kubuntu Feisty). When it was running, I got enough of a look at the interface to realise that Skype’s is far, far superior. For example, whereas Skype has the test call right in your contacts, to make a test call in Wengophone, you need to click on hardly intuitive Audio Settings, then Make a test call. Nothing happens. If you then click Cancel, and go back to the main screen, you’ll see you are connected to a test call, but the interface is clunky. Then, when an incoming call arrives, you don’t answer it by clicking on the big green button next to the person’s name in the main interface; rather you need to click the green button next to the popup that appears elsewhere informing you of the incoming call.
Finally, I couldn’t get sound working at all. In the bottom right was a little cross telling me that there was an audio configuration error. A few tweaks made the cross go away, but still no sound. Interestingly, it seemed to behave better after I switched off Skype, but the fact that the little cross was missing didn’t mean I had sound.
After yet another crash I got tired of playing, and will wait for a later release before I revisit it. Meanwhile, Ekiga still only has a beta release for Windows, and nothing for Mac, and after my last experience I’m not ready to try it again either.
So for now, Skype remains the only realistic alternative.
- Ekiga – the free, open, Skype alternative?
- Greed and need, or why I’m excited about Wengophone, the ‘open Skype’