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".

You need

  • 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.

fyl - Tue, 2006-12-26 07:51.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Another US-only offer?

Handy article!

However, before registering with Gizmo, don't you know if IPKall prevents non-American IP's from the offer? If they did, they would not be the first by far. E.g. the Skype offering free US landline calls until the end of this year did not work for me in Bohemia.

I could probably try some proxy software but I hate this IP discrimination. Thanks anyway.

Ondrej Michalek (not verified) - Tue, 2006-12-26 17:57.

Works for me

I'm in Nicaragua and all seems fine.

Phil Hughes

fyl - Tue, 2006-12-26 18:12.

Gizmo is not free software

Why not make propaganda for a trully free "as in speech" SIP softphone software?

An - ymous (not verified) - Tue, 2006-12-26 08:38.

Correct magazine?

This is TUX. We show people how to get things done with Linux. It sounds like you are looking for a political magazine.

For those of you who may be confused with An-mous' comment, let me explain. The GizmoProject software is free (as in cost) to use. There are no "up-sells" other than what I explained in the article but the source code for the program is not available. Thus, you could not modify the core software. Note that I say core because you can develop your own interface program but the part of the program that actually does the connecting and communicating is not available as source code to modify.

For those concerned with the proprietary aspects here, let me contrast this with Skype (again). Skype uses it's own communications protocol to handle calls. This means you must use the Skype software to use the service. Gizmo, on the other hand, uses an open standard. That means that you can use any SIP phone software. This would include what looks like standard desk telephones but communicate over Ethernet rather than a regular phone line.

Why did I "make propaganda" about Gizmo rather than one of the alternatives? After playing with a few I felt Gizmo was the best choice for a TUX reader because I had the least trouble installing it. I encourage others to talk about any good experiences they have had with other SIP-based software so TUX readers can pick what they consider best for them.

fyl - Tue, 2006-12-26 10:16.