A Free Telephone
This is not Linux unique but here is one way to get a free telephone complete with a free US phone number, and even personally answered voice mail. For those who want more, let me toss in free conference calls. If I was writing this for monthly TUX this would be a real how-to. Here, this is more like a "what-to".
- A Gizmo account (which gets you a SIP number)
- Gizmo Project software for your Linux desktop
- Free Washington state phone number from IPKall
First off, SIP is the standard, non-proprietary Voice over IP (VoIP) phone technology. You can contrast this with Skype, for example, which is a proprietary protocol. Once you have a SIP number you can freely call others with a SIP number. There are multiple networks but there are gateways to deal with that for you.
Step one is to go to Gizmo Project and download the software. It is free and available for a whole assortment of platforms. If you are a real TUX guy you will be most interested in the Linux versions. Besides the usual choices you can get a version for the Nokia 770 hand-held computer. Pretty sweet.
Next, sign up for a Gizmo account. Again, it's free and includes some cute features including voicemail where you can customize your greeting message. If you see the need to make outbound calls to regular telephones you can sign up for a number of options including $.01/minute calls throughout the US and very inexpensive calls to many places in the world. But, that is totally optional.
Gizmo also offers two inbound number options. One is free in the 775 area code. The other offers options and costs $35/year with unlimited access. These may be what you need but I personally liked the free Washington state number and went with that.
For that free number go to ipkall and sign up for a no strings inbound number in any of the area codes in Washington state. For example, for a number in the city of Seattle, pick the 206 area code. The only info you need to give them is an email address (where they will forward messages) and your SIP information (number and proxy). You can see your sip number (it will begin with 1747) if you click on Account->Profile in your Gizmo Project client. The proxy will be proxy01.sipphone.com:5060 which you can find in the Gizmo Project Knowledgebase.
The only other consideration is that IPKall also offers voice mail but it cannot be personalized. So, set the ring before voicemail pickup time to something long (like 120 seconds) so that your personalized Gizmo voicemail will kick in first. Gizmo will automatically email your message as a WAV file.
That's it. You are all set. And, being a standards-compliant solution, you can choose to use a hardware phone adapter rather that the Gizmo client or even a WiFi SIP phone with the system. It won't offer you all the cool Gizmo features such as member search but it will offer portability away from your computer.