Initial Release of Telephony Application KCall

The KCall team is happy to announce its first public beta release, which was finished during LinuxTag 2005. The telephony application KCall integrates with Kontact and makes use of KDE's central addressbook (screenshots). This enables KCall to access phone numbers stored in the groupware servers supported by Kontact.
The currently supported telephony backend is kphone's SIP implementation, a VoIP softphone. Other backends will be provided through the planned OpenTAPI framework.

Major features of this release are:

  • VoIP calls via SIP
  • user notification through an applet, the main application is not necessary for making phone calls
  • access to KDE's addressbook. Through this phone numbers stored in a groupware server are also available.
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by Patrick Trettenbrein (not verified)

I've heard, that the Kopete team is planning to support Skype in future. If KPhone integrates with Skype, Kopete and Kontact, KDE will be the perfect PIM solution for everybody. :)

Skype is garbage for 2 major reasons (not to mention lesser reasons):
- It is not Free
- It does not use standard VoIP protocols-- so it does not interoperate with any other VoIP programs.

Of course, most Kopete users use it for non-standard protocols, so I wouldn't find it *overly* surprising...

Skype is not garbage for the following reason:

- It seems to be the only damn thing that Just Works on both Windows and Linux, behind firewalls, etc.

It doesn't matter how easy something is to use if it doesn't work properly (read: interoperability) or is immorally licensed (read: not Free)

Luke, I'll forgive your troll (read: propaganda), given your young age (read: junior).

Luke didn't troll..

What ever you like it or not, lots and lots of people in this community focus on the ethics/politics of Free Software. That you personally belong strictly in the camp which is only in it for the technical benefits does not give you the right to label other people's oppinion as "propaganda"... Let alone to be condecending and to deminish a viewpoint as something assiciated with only with the young.

FYI I used to be in the "Linux is Open Source" camp, but have gradually slided over to the "GNU/Linux is Free Software" camp. This transition slowly happened when I started to give heck about the by-gone-flame-wars and then actually listen to what "the other camp" really has to say. It might, in this context, be worth pointing out that I've been in the OSS/FS communities since Redhat 5.1... and too that I am pushing 30 years.

I [and alot of others from the FSF camp] respect that not everyone is interested in "Free as in freedom". I would never attempt to hinder or ague against that a given project supports an external non-free program, eventhough I would never use it myself. But it *does* start to piss me off that it the "Don't Care Camp" is more and more often lashing out at "Free Camp" with scornfull, ridiculing and outright childish remarks.

If you dont care about Free Software at all... then why do you make an issue out of people mentioning it? Use what you want to use.. And let others do the same [even if they chose somewhat differently from you].

Have a nice an coorporating day :-D


by Michael Staggs (not verified)

Doesn't work properly because it isn't interoperable? Well, linux doesn't work with windows maybe linux doesn't work properly?

When you think of interoperability, you have to think interoperable with WHAT? The quality of skype is much much greater than most SIP phones out there. I have a cable connection and have tried both SIP and skype. I settled on skype because when calling PSTN lines, Skype has MUCH greater voice quality.

IMMORALly licensed? Oh please. Who gives a flying monkey what the license is. If it works but the GPL'd software doesn't...then USE it. This is the real world. Many of us are not ready to give up functionality over issues of license. Right Linus?

The end of the Linus' story doesn't support your argumentation very well.

by Michael Staggs (not verified)

Sure it does. The problem was that someone wanted to reverse engineer the software and take advantage of the hard work the company did instead of using their software that was being GIVEN to them. Any company in their right mind would pull the software if that happened.

by Ingo Klöcker (not verified)

You couldn't be more wrong. A lot of companies are selling the server application or the tool to create some files while they give away the client application (NX from NoMachine) or the viewer (Adobe Acrobat) for free. Moreover those companies have no problem with somebody creating an alternative client or viewer.

by Chris Samuel (not verified)

Sigh, so little information..

Tridge talked at LCA this year (an excellent conference, BTW) about the "reverse engineering" and he said there were basically two camps:

1) That he had somehow reverse engineered a binary and broken a license;

2) That Tridge is god and magically knows the internals of any protocol he cares to think about.

Both camps are wrong.

To sum it up, Tridge put up a bitkeeper URI, which looks like:


He then posed the audience some quick questions.

Q: So, what would you do to connect to the server ?

A: telnet 5000

Q: Then what ?

A: Type "help"

"Reverse engineering" complete...

For more info see the Register article at which includes a screenshot of what you get if you do it..

The quality of Skype is not better than other softphones. They even use the same codec (iLBC) so it's physically impossible. Why do you so desperately seek to defend one proprietary protocol? SIP has many technical advantages compared to Skype, if you'd actually care, but I suspect you don't.

by Michael Staggs (not verified)

It's not physically impossible. Skype has much better quality....even on a cable connection.

I don't care what technical advantages SIP has, if I make a phone call, I want the best quality possible. That's all I care about.

Hahaha, yeah. It takes a special kind of zealot to declare something "physically impossible". :-)

by Michael Staggs (not verified)

Yes, I think he needs to stick idealism to the side and actually call a ptsn line with skypeout. He would be amazed at the quality. THEN let him tell me it's physically impossible.

by Michael Staggs (not verified)

Better yet, use to call someone. Then, call them right back with skypeout. Then, ask THEM if they noticed a difference.

I've had everyone I've called with skype or has called me remark how much better it sounds now.

Interoperability obviously refers to using standard (or at least documented) protocols.

Many people are not ready to give up our rights and freedom just for mere ease of configuration.

by Michael Staggs (not verified)

That doesn't even take into account that kphone is only a partial implementation of the SIP protocol, so it DOESN'T work with

I don't want to hunt for ways to make buggy software work. I want software that works. Hence, I use skype and can call PSTN lines with no problem.....and have PSTN lines call me.

by Eva Brucherseifer (not verified)

What part of the SIP protocol are you talking about? I am not aware of any.

I tried to find out the sip data in my account I registered ages ago, but cannot find it. Can you help?

I tested with and didn't have notice any problems.

by Janne Karhunen (not verified)

SIP common call scenarios document is 500 pages long. No single client ever
written supports all scenarios. That's one of the fundamental problems with
SIP, it's just not implementable. It's heavily overdesigned by big telcos with
some serious amount of cash.

by Michael Staggs (not verified)

Well, this is a start:

and the crew said they'd be willing to help with the other:

Then use IAX if you think SIP is too complicated. It survives most forms of NAT, it is pretty straightforward, and is submitted to the IETF for consideration. Just don't use some properitary magic that we can't ever change in the future and tied to one specific company.

by Michael Staggs (not verified)

Who said I thought it was too complicated? I never said anything about it being too complicated.

I said it doesn't have the quality of skype and kphone is buggy.

That has nothing to do with the complexity of the protocol.

I use mine to dial ptsn lines and have ptsn lines call me. I have no other use for it. So, Skype works fine.

Skype uses the iLBC codec. SIP and IAX2 both support iLBC, so there's no basis for your claim of quality difference.

If you only do POTS calls, then none of Skype's "benefits" even apply to you.

by Michael Staggs (not verified)

I'm getting the impression that you know nothing at all about skype, you just hate it because it's not "free". First, as far as it using the ilbc codec, that is true, however you might want to check out: and their network administrator's guide, also available from

As far as skype's benefits not applying to me because I do POTS calls, from my computer to the POTS network, I am dependent upon skype. So, I don't understand how you can say skype's benefits do not apply to me.

Quote: "It doesn't matter how easy something is to use if it doesn't work properly (read: interoperability) or is immorally licensed (read: not Free)"

Dear Luke, I understand you very well since I also do suffer of this kind of idealism. However, we live in a world that IS, and it does as it does - and not really as we would like it to do.
So: Yes, it does matter if it just works and it actually doesn't matter to most people if it is or isn't free. (Not to speak about the fact, that for them it is "free" enough (read: as beer). They want just something that works, not something that "is morally so nice" but doesn't work. That's the reality, let's face it. You won't change the reality just by denying it...

by Patrick Trettenbrein (not verified)

Thats's also my opinion. Skype is the only voip-software that just works. And that very easy to install on *all* systems (inclusive Windows, Linux, MacOS...).

And note: Not every piece of software must be free, but of course everybody should prefer free software! :)

Others would say MSN Messenger "just works". Why are you plaing around with that Linux stuff?

by Patrick Trettenbrein (not verified)

Every Instand Messenger I know just works, but not every VoIP software I know just works... That's the difference! :)

by fast_rizwaan (not verified)

Skype is not the GOD of VOIP, QNEXT is also a great app. but again not free.

You administratively prohibit protocols with a firewall because you DON'T want them used -- not so your users can find new protocols to circumvent the filters.

Especially not when it is a monopolist such as Skype backing a proprietary format.

I agree on the second reason, because this implies that achieving (1) ourselves would require heavy reverse engineering.

Same situation as in the IM realm, but this time there are open standards available from the very beginning, instead of being developed when the IM protocol situation grew nasty.

But of course everybody nca decide for themselves if they want to turn them in again and be kept like addicts or hostages later on.

by Eva Brucherseifer (not verified)

Kopete is going to integrate with skype's dbus interface. So you still need the proprietory software to phone with skype. afaik there is no free solution available. With the opentapi framework we will be able use the same mechanism for kcall and use the gui to control the calls.
btw, we also want to integrate with kopete in the long term. But of course time is limited and it will take its time ;-)

btw: this is kcall, not kphone. kphone is only the sip implementation, which might be replaced later on.

by KDE User (not verified)

Would be cool if it's compatible with GnomeMeeting.

Is SIP only free in Europe? I notice the URL of the site is

by Luke-Jr (not verified)

GnomeMeeting uses the H.323 protocol for VoIP.
SIP is a a more common VoIP standard. FreeWorldDialup is one (of a number of) free SIP registration servers.

by Eva Brucherseifer (not verified)

Please have a look at the opentapi web page. The sip implementation will only be one way to communicate. Of course a H.323 backend is possible too.

by Luke-Jr (not verified)

I was just basing my comments on the description. KCall is still compiling for me.

by ac (not verified)

Does SIP enable video conferencing the same way as H.323 does? Will that be supported by KCall?

by Eva Brucherseifer (not verified)

SIP (=session initiation protocol) is only for signalling phone calls. The media stream can be audio and/or video. Actually kphone already supports this through the tool "vic", but we didn't include this in the first step in order to keep things easy.

by Ellis Whitehead (not verified)

Hi Eva -- looks like promising work your doing.

Softphone development could really improve the rediculous artificial urgency that's accompanied by a ringing a telephone. If I'm talking with a work collegue *in person*, for example, and then someone else suddenly ran in making alarm-like noises, I'd really be annoyed if it were not actually urgent. *grin*

Anyhow, what I really hope for is someday having an Instant Messaging paradigm (without the online status part), so that if you happen to be busy when the other person makes a connection request, you can continue as normal and easily establish the connection in your "connection queue" 15 minutes later. The caller should be able to indicate if it's urgent or not, too, since you wouldn't want to miss the rare urgent call either...

Well, just a few thoughts I wanted to get off my chest! ;) I look forward to using your work, and also find the kontakt integration plans quite good.

by Eva Brucherseifer (not verified)

The keyword here is "presence service". IM protocols have this already, technically it is possible to add this to phone applications as well and to let them act upon presence information. Its rather a matter of standardizing the mechanism.

by Haakon Nilsen (not verified)

I'd like to take a moment to thank the developers for going with KCall for a name, and not something silly like "Kall". I cringe when I see idiotic names such as "Kallery" (to be part of KDE 3.5) or "aKregator". I know this isn't a very productive thing to post about, but silly naming traditions really is a thorn in the side of an otherwise top-class desktop environment.

by superstoned (not verified)

well, i'd rather have Kall and not Kcall - i prefer the names where the K is 'embedded", like kontact, kopete, kaffeine - over names like kget and kmail.

by Fab (not verified)

I hope that some traditions will be forgotten. I am very happy with the naming of some new projects like Plasma, Tenor and Oxygen.

by Haakon Nilsen (not verified)

That's exactly what I mean -- real words for real names, not conjured up twisted permutations of some letters. Look to GNOME for good names.

by Aaron J. Seigo (not verified)

well, as Fab pointed out, i don't we have some fine examples within KDE as well. we're not terminally challenged when it comes to naming, though it seems people love to bark about it.

by Anonymous (not verified)

> Look to GNOME for good names.

Like gconf, gedit, gthumb...

by T. Middleton (not verified)

Evolution and Nautilus are pretty nice names. But notice they came from outside Gnome, by actual commercial entities... which is kind of interesting to ponder... seems we'll be stuck with crap K names as long as hackers are allowed to name their own stuff. <-; Maybe we need an OpenDecentSoftwareNames group, similar to OpenUsability effort.... submit your project and get a nice name.

Actually "Gnome" itself is not a bad name either. Rather better than "KDE". Alas. Though at least our "gear" is marginally better than the ridiculous old "footprint".

by Michael Thaler (not verified)

Why is Evolution a good name? KMail makes it obvious what the application is for, but Evolution does not do this at all. So I really prefer KMail to evolution. And what is good about names like Epiphany? I guess most non-English speaking people have to look up what Epiphany actually means... at least I had to and I lived in the US for a year. The same goes for evince, which is also not a really common word. kpdf at least makes it clear that the thing shows pdfs. And what is better about Gnome then KDE? Gnome does not indicate it is a desktop environment at all, so it is not better then KDE.

I really don't see any reason for replacing names like KMail or Kontact which at least makes it clear to everyone what the app is for by names like Evolution and Epiphany, which don't do that.

by KDE User (not verified)

> Look to GNOME for good names.

What a load of crap! This is just GNOME propaganda, some of their names are far worse than the KDE ones.