Why is trying to make a SIP call so ridiculously complicated?
Skype have it sorted. You download Skype, install it, register a nickname and you are ready to go. You can call anyone anywhere, assuming they are online, just by knowing their Skype ID.
With SIP, on the other hand, you need to register with one of a load of competing services, all of which have websites which are far keener on selling you WibbleOut and WibbleIn minutes than actually telling you how to configure and test your client. Despite a load of “SIP is open; Skype is closed” rhetoric, instructions are also sadly lacking on how you call people who have registered with one of their competitors.
And what about the state of softphones in Linux? I haven’t tried kphone, as it’s KDE and my desktop is Gnome, but linphone is a configuration disaster, and their website doesn’t tell you how to configure it for the most popular services – surely the one really useful bit of information it could possibly provide! Gnomemeeting is better, but the SIP version of that isn’t packaged for the latest Ubuntu. And, with all respect to Dan Glazman, the Wengo extension for Firefox gives you no clue whatsoever as to whether it’s logged on, correctly configured or working in any way. If you add contact called “gfdgfdgsdf”, it appears exactly the same in the contact list as one called “glazou”. Not a particularly useful way of telling if you’ve actually entered the right things into the right boxes.
And when you do try and configure e.g. linphone, you need usernames, ports, addresses, passwords, proxies, and so on. What on earth is the difference between a “SIP Identity” and a “SIP Proxy” in the linphone “Proxy/Registrar configuration box”? For that matter, what’s the difference between a proxy and a registrar? And why should I have to care?
Let’s say you’ve got as far as having a configuration you think might work. Where are the public echo services which let you find out? FreeWorldDialup has one, but Wengo doesn’t.
I want to fire up a client with a simple UI, enter a username (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) and a password, and be able to make calls to anyone else who has a SIP phone and whose username I know. All I need is a text box to type it into – no fake dial pads, DTMF or other POTS-holdover rubbish. I wouldn’t even mind paying a small subscription for the privilege. Why is it not that easy?