[Freedom-misc] Testing voice calling apps on Trisquel

strypey at disintermedia.net.nz strypey at disintermedia.net.nz
Wed Sep 12 12:51:43 CEST 2018


In the last few days I finally managed to find some people to test some voice  
calls with 100% free code apps (organized through the fediverse, where I'm  
now @strypey(at)mastodon.nzoss.nz). Both these tests were conducted using my  
ancient netbook (Acer Aspire One), on which I've previously only been able to  
have any kind of voice chat using Mumble. Here's some quick notes on my  
experiences:

Wire: https://wire.com/
(My ID = strypey)
Server/client (not federated as yet), with clients for: web and all major  
platforms. GNU-Linux app uses Electron.
Tested on: Trisquel 7

Had a voice call on #Wire on Sept 10, using their GNU-Linux desktop app  
(still in beta), on an ancient netbook (Acer Aspire One) over a VPN. Really  
impressed with the performance! We could hear each other clearly, and it  
didn't jitter if we started talking at the same time. We were able to send  
images and links to each other while talking with no loss of voice quality.  
Top Marks Wire!

The Wire UI is very user-friendly. It is easy to search for and add contacts,  
send messages (asynchronous text messages are supported), and organize a time  
for a voice call, all within the app. Supports text messaging groups,  
conference calls, and video chat, but I haven't tested any of these yet. I  
would recommend this as a replacement for Skype / FaceTime / FB Messenger /  
Ello / Telegram, for use with friends and family who aren't very confident  
with bleeding edge tech.

Wire has E2E encryption by default, so no messages are stored unencrypted on  
the Wire server, although I'm not sure whether encrypted messages are stored  
at rest, or whether any metadata is collected on the server. The server code  
is 100% free (AGPL) so you can investigate if you want to know more on these  
points:
https://github.com/wireapp/

GNU Ring: http://ring.cx/
(My ID: strypey)
P2P, with clients for: all major platforms.
Tested on: Trisquel 8

Tested a voice call on #GNU #Ring for the first time on 11 Sept, using the  
GNU-Linux desktop app. Worked pretty well. Not quite as good as #Wire, mainly  
because with Ring there was 3 sec delay, and I couldn't get it to stop  
echoing my own voice back to me, even using headphones and an external mic.  
More tweaking required (at my end or theirs)? Quite impressive though  
considering no server is involved. Client #UX isn't quite a smooth as Wire  
yet, but it has a lot of potential.

I would recommend this as an app to use with other software freedom  
activists, and others who are motivated to learn how to use P2P /  
decentralized tech. With more active use, contributions, and quality feedback  
to the devs, I'm hopeful the UX could be improved to the point where I would  
recommend it for mainstream use.

Being a P2P app, no metadata is stored on any server, and I believe that E2E  
encryption is baked in, although I'm not sure if the security has been  
independently audited.

I'm keen to do more testing, particularly of conference calling with 3 or  
more people, and video chat. If anyone is keen to test with me, install the  
app, add me, and send me a message, or share your ID here.


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