Frank told me a while back that I should look at OpenWengo for voip. At the time I was running FreeBSD and on AMD64 it just wouldn’t compile. I tried a few fixes and had a discussion with one of the developers, but it basically didn’t get far enough to compile, let alone run.

Recently frank started talking about it again, telling me I should have another look at it. Now that I’m on Ubuntu, and everything works so much easier, I thought I’d give it a look. This time it all works as advertised and it’s certainly an application that shows what can be done. It’s UI is very skype like and easy to use. Registration is easy but quite heavily web oriented, whereas with skype it’s (almost) all done via the app these days. This is a minor nit though.

My biggest problem with this type of apps on my laptop has been configuring the sound, so I was very pleasantly surprised when I looked at the WengoPhone configuration for audio. It detailed all the options, allowed me to use different devices for in call and ringing as well as choose the mic to use. Compared with other apps I’ve looked at, this really is smart.

Of course the app alone isn’t enough. The use of open standards is something that prompted me to look at it and after the experience so far my hopes were high. Sadly it wasn’t to be. I tried to call a SIP id and the app started off by detecting it as a SIP call, and tried dialling – but no joy. Looking round on the web for inspiration about how I should format the number didn’t reveal much either. Once again the app, while the best of it’s ilk I’ve come across, just doesnt quite manage to overcome the problems that seem to be inherant in SIP.

With the advent of STUN (allowing use of SIP behind firewalls) the future looked good for establishing an open standard for voip, but that has yet to materialise. Until we have a system of directory and seamless transport of calls voip will remain a dream for those not willing or able to use skype.