In my experience, Skype® for Linux doesn't really work all that well. In one case, the video was flashing blue. In another case, the calls would unexpectedly end. Because of these issues, and because I really did need a good VoIP client, I decided to look for an alternative.
One of the names that stood out was Ekiga. Since the application was included in the Ubuntu archives, it seemed like the obvious choice. So I installed the application on two machines: an old Dell computer running Xubuntu 12.04 LTS and an HP netbook running Ubuntu 13.04. Both machines were connected to the same local network.
After installation, I was greeted with a configuration wizard. You are given the opportunity to sign up for an Ekiga.net account, which will make receiving calls outside your local network easier. The last page of the wizard summarized the configuration I had chosen:
Once Ekiga was set up on both machines, I attempted to place a call by entering the IP address of the other machine in the textbox at the bottom of the dialpad:
Now, at this point the other machine began to ring and I was presented with the option of accepting or rejecting the call.
After accepting the call, I started to run into some problems with the webcams. Although they both worked fine on Linux (I tested them in VLC), Ekiga was using the Ogg Theora video codec for the video, which wasn't working very well. I switched them both to H.264 and bumped up the bitrate to 128 Kbps.
After that, things worked quite well.
Remote calls are a bit more tricky. You need to do a bit of port forwarding:
<table class="table table-striped"> <tr> <th>Protocol</th> <th>Port(s)</th> </tr> <tr> <td>UDP</td> <td>5000 - 5100</td> </tr> <tr> <td>UDP</td> <td>3478 - 3479</td> </tr> <tr> <td>TCP</td> <td>1720</td> </tr> </table>
You may need to consult your router's instruction manual or check online for details on setting up port forwarding. Once you have that set up, it's simply a matter of using your Ekiga.net "number" for dialing. For example, to call myself from somewhere else, I would enter:
Overall, Ekiga did the job quite nicely. I would certainly consider it a worthy alternative to Skype® for those who don't mind a little bit of extra configuration.