VoIP client for Ubuntu II

After upgrading to Ubuntu 11 (Natty) I did some further research on VoIP clients (SIP) for Ubuntu Linux as XLite seems horribly out of date now.

I came across QuteCom (formerly WengoPhone) and from first testing it seems to work quite well. The install is easy as it’s part of the Ubuntu Community Software (Universe) and that means it can be installed via apt-get, Software Center or Synaptic.

Qutecom configuration

So far the early testing has been very positive and the interface seems quite workable as well as having a number of other instant messaging options available.

QuteCom Account Configuration

GoogleApps (Gmail) as default Ubuntu mail client

Keeping mail on a local machine does not make sense when working across a large number of different (vitual) devices. As a GoogleApps user I have long preferred browser based mail client as my default.

Unfortunately this is not yet a very straight process on most Operating Systems and Ubuntu is no difference.

Edit: all the commands need to be run with root privileges. so either run “sudo su” or prefix all with “sudo ” (thanks to Paul for the comment below)

Remove Evolution (thanks to Grant Likely for the comment below)

apt-get remove evolution evolution-indicator

Install Gnome-Gmail

apt-get install gnome-gmail

Create entry for gnome-gmail using your preferred text editor and copy the following into the created file:

vim /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications/gnome-gmail
#insert this line
/usr/share/applications/gnome-gmail.desktop

Edit this file: /usr/share/applications/gnome-gmail.desktop and add the following line:

MimeType=application/mbox;message/rfc822;x-scheme-handler/mailto

Update desktop database for Gnome Gmail to be recognised as an email program:

update-desktop-database

Go to System Settings –> Preferred Applications and choose gnome-gmail as the default e-mail client

Log out for the changes to the indicator to take effect (or kill gnome-indicator process).

Desktop Notifications

VoIP client for Ubuntu

Having used IP Telephony for a number of years I need a workable SIP client for all of the devices I use. I have found a very capable client for my Android phones (SipDroid) and on Windows/MacOSX I generally use X-Lite (as well as it’s paid version EyePhone) from Counterpath.

Having tried several different Linux SIP clients (Ekiga, Twinkle, …) but all discarded them because of weird UI’s and/or problems with stability I noticed that there is a Linux version of XLite available. Unfortunately on current versions of Ubuntu (10.04) it needs a deprecated version of a library.

Download XLite Linux: http://www.counterpath.com/x-lite-3.0-for-linux-download.html

Dowload libstdc++.so.5: http://packages.debian.org/lenny/i386/libstdc++5/download

[you will need root permissions for all of the below]

dpkg -i libstdc++5_3.3.6-18_i386.deb
tar -xzf X-Lite_Install.tar.gz
cd xten-xlite
cp xtensoftphone /usr/sbin
chmod +x /usr/sbin/xtensoftphone
Now you should be able to run:
xtensoftphone

Enjoy calling from your Ubuntu machine !

EDIT: Since upgrading to Ubuntu 11 (Natty) I have switched to QuteCom

Ubuntu – Google Mail (GoogleApps) as default mail client

Since Ubuntu 9.10 NetbookRemix has been released I am again finding myself using my trusty old ASUS EEE when on the road.  And  finally it seems I have found a vanilla Linux distribution that is reasonably responsive and works ‘out of the box’.

One thing I don’t need on the road (as a matter of fact on none of my equipment) is having to install & maintain some client/server mail client. Here is a workable solution to have your browser default ‘mailto:’ links to Google Apps.

Howto

System –> Preferences –> Preferred Applications

Ubuntu Preferences Screenshot

Chrome:

perl -MURI::Escape -e '$to = shift;$to =~ s/^mailto://i;exec("chromium-browser", "https://mail.google.com/a/yourdomain.tld/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&cmid=22&to=".URI::Escape::uri_escape($to) );' '%s'

Firefox:

perl -MURI::Escape -e '$to = shift;$to =~ s/^mailto://i;exec("firefox", "https://mail.google.com/a/yourdomain.tld/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&cmid=22&to=".URI::Escape::uri_escape($to) );' '%s'

Note: do not forget to replace ‘yourdomain.tld’ with your actual Google Apps domain

Here is the link to the original blog entry by David Davis (xantus77): http://xantus.vox.com/library/post/howto-use-gmail-for-mailto-links-linuxubuntu.html (Kudos !)

Finding the ideal OS for (my) EEE PC

I have been a user of an EEE PC 900 for over 10 months now and in general very happy with the form-factor and it’s portability. I has been very useful in public transport, waiting rooms, coffee shops,…

However – in terms of Operating Systems I am now on my 3rd OS (despite initially telling myself that I will stick with the default and avoid tinkering) and it looks like I still have not found what I am looking for.

With the XP version of the EEEPC not even on the list of choices because of the sluggish performance on models I tried I survived on the default Xandros install for about 1 month until it’s ‘Easy Interface’ just got too painful in the number of clicks it took to get anywhere.

So I changed the Xandros install to ‘Advanced Mode’ which made some things easier, however the lack of any locking mechanism and the fact that installing nearly anything that was not officially supported (via other Debian packages) broke something else, forced me to look for a more standard Linux distro.

Eventually I chose Ubuntu for EEE (now called Easy Peasy – ???) As I have started to use Ubuntu on my VMWare desktops for some cloud-app development. The thought of having the same OS on the desktop and netbook had a lot of appeal. Next to CentOS (our Server platform of choice) I don’t want to deal with more distros than absolutely necessary. However in hindsight this turned out to be missing the key differences between both platforms. They are after all very different animals. While it was nice to have the same interface on both Desktop and Netbook, running Ubuntu on the EEE ended up being painfully slow and the WIFI support was pretty ordinary (which is not something I could say about Xandros). Another issue for me was that the support Huawei USB Wireless Modem E220 was sometimes unreliable and took ages to get working. I often had to reboot the machine to get the Wireless modem working again. And time is a very valuable commodity for me these days.

Eventually (after some research) I ended up with PuppyLinux and at first glance I have to say it was the fastest user interface I have ever seen on the EEE. There are a few oddities, such as running everything as a privileged user (same as Xandros) and as having Seamonkey as it’s browser instead of Firefox (which is a bit annoying for me as I have a few very useful Firefox add-ons I like on the netbook as well). But at first I thought I have found what I had been looking for.

Puppy Linux 4.12
Puppy Linux 4.12

If it wouldn’t be for the problems with network drivers (and how much use is the fastest UI, best functionality without Internet access on a Netbook) I would have dumped all others and stayed with PuppyLinux. Its startup time, speed, no-frills UI is exactly what I need while ‘on the run’. But after a number of hours of tinkering with drivers and various patches reported to work on other EEE versions I gave up. Getting WPA encryption on the WLAN side and the Huawei E220 to work was just too time consuming. Note: I tried to get Puppy 4.12 working. There are some ‘Puplets‘ specificly for EEE’s but mainly for 700 series using and much older codebase .

Currently I am (reluctantly) back with Xandros (although the XEPC version of it) and using PuppyLinux as a ‘secondary choice’ from the internal storage drive in the hope the wireless driver problems will be resolved at some stage. I would love to hear from somebody that has it working on the EEE 900 as I really like this puppy. And I’d be even quite happy to donate some dollars for this purpose.

Conclusions

  • There is not yet an ideal distro for me :(
  • PuppyLinux without the networking issues would be the distro of choice
  • If you don’t have much time – stick with the default – the amount of time you burn finding something that works will by FAR outweigh the time savings in a fast UI (if you can actually find it)
  • And (just in case if Asus is listening and wants some advice) – look at what these guys are doing with Puppy – this is what an alternative Netbook OS should be like – FAST boot, FAST UI, No-frills ….
  • If you want to be as close to your desktop with ‘Windows-like ‘ UI – stick with the Original – at least then you can take the slow UI as a fact of life ;-)

Update: just found this link to an excellent article in the recent Linux Magazine on alternative OS´s for netbooks