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15 March 2011, 14:57

GNU Free Call starts development, aims to be a Skype alternative

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The GNU Project has announced plans for GNU Free Call which will offer secure communications for use by the general public and aims to be as ubiquitous and usable as the proprietary Skype VOIP service. Billed by the developers as "Free as in freedom, and free as in no cost too!", it is intended that this will be available on all platforms, including PCs and smart phones.

Unlike Skype, however, this new system will use the peer-to-peer SIP protocol which requires only a simple network. According to the announcement, this will add significantly to the security of communications: there will be no need for any central service provider, no "insecure source secret binary protocols that may have back-doors", and no need for potentially vulnerable network control points.

The project will build on the existing GNU SIP Witch, a call and registration server for SIP. Instead of using any central provider or server, this enables multiple endpoints to find each other and connect. The announcement claims that acting as a self organising meshed calling network, without any central control, the system will continue to operate even if major parts of the network have been isolated. The project is being coordinated by Haakon Eriksen ( and architected by David Sugar (

The announcement asks for participation, and suggests three contact points. The first is the general GNU Telephony wiki-site. There are also two mailing lists: one for SIP Witch,, and the other for more general architecture and other issues,


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