[Ekiga-list] Observations and challenges of switching from Skype to Ekiga


I decided last fall to switch from Skype to Ekiga for a few reasons, and I wanted to present you with some of my observations and a few wish list items.  I prefer Ekiga because it is free software, and it integrates better with my OS (Ubuntu).  Also, in spite of the fact that Skype works really well, and even supports Linux, it is distasteful to me that the service and software are proprietary.  In addition, I purchased webcams for many of my extended family members for Christmas, as my immediate family was moving and I thought video calling would be a great way to stay in touch.  In addition to giving my family members webcams, I wanted to give them a Free Software VOIP application to call me on, so that my gifts wouldn't have the effect of locking them into a proprietary system forever.  What follows begins as a list of things I wish Ekiga did better, which transitions into a list of things Skype does better.

Some of the items in the list could be more descriptive, so if you are interested in more information about my experience, I'll be happy to provide it.  (Disclaimer:  Some of these items likely have existing bug reports, or Ekiga may do it already and I couldn't figure out how, or it isn't Ekiga's but the SIP provider's responsibility.  If any bugs here are new, I'd be happy to report them - just let me know.)

-I can't Import/Export contacts from inside Ekiga (Roster and/or Evolution contacts)
-The difference between the Ekiga Roster and Evolution contacts in Ekiga is very unclear.  Why can't the Roster be called the Ekiga Address Book (or Ekiga Contacts) and the Evolution Address book be called the Evolution Address Book?  This would make understanding the address book stuff significantly easier.  The two contact lists should also behave the same way in the software, or the Evolution address book should be dropped, and the Ekiga Roster should gain the ability to import (sync?) contacts from Evolution instead.
-Import contact info from Evolution Address book to Ekiga Roster.
-Import contact info and phone numbers from Skype (probably a longshot, but it would be Really Awesome, and helpful, if not absolutely necessary, in getting normal people to make the switch)
-Add Contact phone numbers to address book without requiring the full sip address  (couldn't the full SIP address for traditional phone numbers be assumed in the configuration settings?  This would also enable someone to try out a different SIP provider without having to manually edit all of their contacts)
-Option for automatically entering the country code when dialing
-When I leave the Ekiga PC to PC phone on all the time, I get calls from people I don't know at 3AM, waking up the baby.  I want to have Ekiga running 24/7 so that it is useful for incoming calls from people I give my SIP phone number to (like customers).  Setting a forced Do Not Disturb mode for each different SIP service would be useful, or only allowing calls from people I have on my contact list (like Skype) 

-Skype is prettier and more fun to use (UI, sound effects, more attractive and useful website)
-Skype stores your contacts online (Huge! - it would be great if Ekiga could host my contacts, and if I also had the choice to host them myself on a home server)
-Some settings are easier to configure Skype, especially in regard to settings which are currently handled through the Diamondville website, such as configuring call forwarding and voicemail, and adjusting call redirect settings (could this be done in Ekiga through an API?)
-The Diamondville website is ugly and confusing to navigate, although the service generally seems good.  I pay for incoming and outgoing calls to/from traditional phones, but I've had difficulty configuring the Diamondville service to forward to my cellphone if I don't answer it, something really easy to set up in Skype (I really need to call their customer service to get it straightened out, I know)

Overall my biggest issue has been with the contacts.  I had to set up Evolution with my email account for the sole purpose of exporting my Ekiga address book (which I now understand is really the Evolution address book).  I'd really love to only use the Ekiga Roster, but right now I can't import my evolution contacts, and I don't see any way to export my Ekiga roster, which is a BIG DEAL since I need to copy the settings to a bunch of different computers.  It would be easiest if I could use some online repository to store my contact list, so it would be available even if I was at a friend's house (currently this is the ONLY reason I ever access my Skype account - signing into Skype makes all of my contacts available when I'm away from home and just need to get a phone number).

In spite of my issues, I do think Ekiga is great and improving with each release, and if it didn't exist, we'd all be stuck using Skype.  I personally want Ekiga to improve to the point that it is the best VOIP software available. 

Hopefully some of the points I've raised above are useful.  Thanks for all your hard work.


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