Video Chat Linux Tools

Michael Torrie torriem at
Sat Jun 9 09:39:04 MDT 2007

On Sat, 2007-06-09 at 08:48 -0600, Clint Savage wrote:
> There used to be gnomemeeting, which can supposedly connect and chat with
> netmeeting (which doesn't really exist anymore), but since they moved that
> to Ekiga, I can't even chat with other Linux users on it.  Today, I spent a
> good couple hours with my friend Christer trying to communicate with him.
> Albeit, I am at a hotel and he is too, but in Windows, there are still
> several options that fit my needs.  I've tried wine too, and for the most
> part something is always lacking in Linux.

In my experience, Ekiga works awesomely.  What do you mean you can't
chat with other linux users?  You are talking other ekiga users?  

> There's a few good things in Linux that are much more improved over recent
> attempts I've made to get my camera working.  One of them is that there now
> seems to be a stable driver, over the old broken spca5xx driver, for my
> webcam.  And I can record myself, which I suppose is a good thing, and send
> that out, which definitely has some advantages.  But real time video chat
> seems to be a problem in Linux and I can't understand why.

Web cams in linux are pretty rough, if you don't have one that's
supported well.  The only consolation here is that Linux supports far
more web cams than OS X.

What do you mean real-time video is a problem?  If you can record from
your camera, then any real-time problems are going to be network

On a MacBook Pro with Skype, I can normally only get a couple of frames
per second.  On Ekiga, I get less than 10 fps also, depending on
networking conditions.

> Anyone have any suggestions above and beyond the stuff I've tried?
> Here's a short list of all the tools I've tried, and failed to get working.
> Ekiga (appears to almost work, then fails)

What do you mean, appears to work, then fails?  In my experience Ekiga
works very well indeed.  Ekiga can talk to anyone using
standards-compliant protocols, including SIP and H.323.  Even windows
users using Microsoft NetMeeting can interact with Ekiga.  Typically I
only talk to one Linux user and it worked fabulously, once I got the
d*** webcam to actually work.

> Skype (but it doesn't have video for linux)

This one is a bit of a red herring since you can only use skype to chat
and video-chat with other skype users.  I do use skype on windows in
vmware and my webcam from time to time, though, given the lack of a good
video chat client on Windows other than skype.

> WengoPhone (you've gotta pay for it, but I can't find the Linux download).
> If anyone knows where to get this on a trial basis, I am wiling to pay.

WengoPhone's commercial product is based on openwengo, which is open
source.  GPL actually.

Video chatting is beyond the scope of wengophone, though.

> Others via wine

Wine won't support your webcam.  Period.  At least not until they have
raw libusb support in kernel32.dll.  That's coming, about 2 years down
the the pipe.

> Yahoo! Messenger
> GoogleTalk

Video only works on GoogleTalk with other Google talk users, who have a
third-party plugin, from what I've read.  I don't believe it's H.323

> MSN Messenger
> Skype
> There were others, but these are a good list off the top of my head.  Give
> me options people.  This is Open Source for heavens sake!  I want to see
> what is out there before I start a project that will meet my needs.

Starting your own project could be rewarding.  But if you do, just make
sure you follow the standard SIP and H.323 protocols (and codecs) so you
can remain compatible with Ekiga, and all the other various
standards-compliant video chatting solutions out there (including
hardware ones).  I estimate you could have a bare minimal video chat
working in 6-12 months.

I'm very curious to hear about exactly how ekiga is failing (as would
the ekiga author also, likely).  Seems like maybe you could best put
your energy into it, since it's already the closest to being feature

> Cheers,
> Clint
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