Chatting, Audio- & Video Calls

General informations about Instant Messaging (IM), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) & Video Telephony

Chatting, Audio- & Video Calls … Instant Messaging (IM), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) & Video Telephony … Text-, Audio- & Video- Chat … a confusing lot of different words are existing for the different forms of digital realtime communication over internet. Some are using the word chat only for text-communication, some are talking about video chat … We propose to use the following words:

  • Instant Messaging (IM) to name digital realtime communication with text
  • Voice over IP (VoIP) to name digital realtime communication with audio (voice)
  • Video Telephony to name digital realtime communication with audio & video

Protocols, Providers & Programs

Protocols like SIP / SIMPLE are describing the technical way, how connections between users are made and how the communication data is exchanged.

Most protocols need at least a server that is always online to get the information, which user is available at which address (IP). It depends on the protocol, if the final communication data is exchanged directly between the users (peer to peer) or via the server. That’s why you need a provider like ekiga,, skype, yahoo or facebook for digital realtime communication – you need someone who provides the server(s).

In the end you also need an interface for your communication – this might be a webinterface that shows up in your web browser (e.g. Firefox) or a special program like:

  • Pidgin Internet Messenger
    Pidgin is a graphical, modular Instant Messaging client capable of using AIM/ICQ, Yahoo!, MSN, IRC, Jabber/XMPP, Napster, Zephyr, Gadu-Gadu, Bonjour, Groupwise, Sametime, SILC, SIMPLE, QQ, and MySpaceIM all at once.
    With the plugin pidgin-otr you can use Off-the-Record (OTR) Messaging with all protocols. OTR allows you to have private conversations over IM by providing:
    • Encryption – No one else can read your instant messages.
    • Authentication – You are assured the correspondent is who you think it is.
    • Deniability – The messages you send do not have digital signatures that are checkable by a third party. Anyone can forge messages after a conversation to make them look like they came from you. However, during a conversation, your correspondent is assured the messages he sees are authentic and unmodified.
    • Perfect forward secrecy – If you lose control of your private keys, no previous conversation is compromised.
  • Empathy
    Instant messaging program supporting text, voice, video, file transfers and inter-application communication over many different protocols, including: AIM, MSN, Google Talk (Jabber/XMPP), Facebook, Yahoo!, Salut, Gadu-Gadu, Groupwise, ICQ and QQ.
  • Skype
  • Yahoo Messenger is provided only for the Microsoft Windows Operating system and Yahoo doesn’t support the integration of it’s services in other programs. You can use Pidgin or Empathy for IM, but we didn’t find a way to use Voice over IP or video telephony with yahoo on Linux yet.

Webcams & Compatibility

Many webcams will “just work” in Ubuntu. There is a USB standard that defines USB streaming video called UVC. This stands for Universal Video Class, and it does for webcams what UMS does for USB memory sticks and hard drives. This allows one driver to work with many webcams. When looking to purchase a webcam for use with Ubuntu, you should look for a UVC compatible camera. The Linux-UVC has a good list of UVC compatible webcams as well as The Quickcam Team for Logitech cameras. A german list about the linux-compatibility of different webcams: Hardwaredatenbank – Peripherie – Webkameras auf