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Posted 19 July, 2013 by Alix Dunn

Open Source VoIP Up and Running in 5 Minutes

So now we know that Microsoft has been providing the NSA with access to Skype users’ data. Annoyingly, finding an alternative to Skype is difficult. For conference calls, we use Go To Meeting – a paid, reliable, but closed source solution – but this doesn’t work for an open chat and voice client that is always on. You have to create a conference call and invite people to it. I decided to give Jitsi (an open source VoIP program) a test run to fill that gap (and hopefully to replace Skype over time).

Jitsi definitely isn’t as user-friendly or intuitive as Skype. In fact, it was a bit tricky to install.

Here’s how I did it in 10 steps (on a Mac):

Jitsi

  1. Download the Jitsi application here

  2. Install it

  3. Set up a SIP account through Jitsi

    [What’s a SIP account? It stands for Session Initiation Protocol and it’s a standalone username that uses a hosting provider. Think of it as an email address for VoIP service. You can set up accounts through other providers and beef up your options for your account – by buying airtime minutes to call phones, paying for voice message functionality, etc. Setting up a Jitsi account was the easiest of these options. And it’s free.]

  4. Once you have your username and password for a Jitsi SIP account and you have Jitsi installed, you are ready to log in for the first time.

  5. Open Jitsi. Click on FileAdd New Account

  6. In the “Select Network” dropdown, select XMPP

  7. Leave “Existing XMPP Account” box checked

  8. In username type your username@jit.si and in password, type the password you used when you set up your SIP account

  9. Click “Add Account”

  10. And voila – you are now logged in to your new Jit.si account

To add contacts, you will need your friend’s SIP account address. Go to File → Add contact, and send an authorization request to your friends. Jitsi can be used for VoIP, chat, and video conferencing – but can only be used for one-on-one communication. Also, make sure you explore the secure chat options that allow for OTR (off-the-record) communications with your friends.

The engine room isn’t a guide making organization, and we don’t normally do tool installation walkthroughs (and by normally, I mean, never). But hopefully this is useful for others trying to take baby steps away from commercial service providers that are abusing consumer privacy rights.

2 thoughts on “Open Source VoIP Up and Running in 5 Minutes”

Constant Gardener says:

Thanks for the instruction. Can you suggest an OpenSource SIP that I don’t have to provide credit card info to register, since maybe I won’t need it to make long distant calls, only local at the moment?

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