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Schaller: The long journey towards good free video conferencing

Schaller: The long journey towards good free video conferencing

Posted Oct 15, 2012 15:44 UTC (Mon) by Richard_J_Neill (subscriber, #23093)
Parent article: Schaller: The long journey towards good free video conferencing

Nice one. But, it doesn't mention some of the most significant problems, which imho are caused by firewalling. SIP does all sorts of clever things to try to get around NAT/firewalls (notably the rather clever trick of using STUN), but nevertheless, unless you have a public proxy server which is accessible by both parties to the call (and which is willing to handle both the low-bandwith call setup AND the high-bandwidth call data), it's very hard to be reliable.

Trying to get SIP to work for an inbound call to someone behind a corporate firewall is nearly impossible. The public proxy server approach works, but this is too expensive for an organisation like Ekiga to handle (Ekiga can easily provide the free, low-bandwidth address-book service, but not proxy the calls themselves).

It pains me to say this, but Skype get it right, and nobody else does.


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Schaller: The long journey towards good free video conferencing

Posted Oct 15, 2012 17:26 UTC (Mon) by Tester (guest, #40675) [Link]

Actually, the modern, standardized ICE + TURN based approach works as well as Skype. Google Talk uses an early draft of it and they get the same functionality. We have that implemented in Empathy also, but only if you have a server that provides a relay, which for now means only Google Talk.

Schaller: The long journey towards good free video conferencing

Posted Oct 16, 2012 8:53 UTC (Tue) by job (guest, #670) [Link]

You're not supposed to "work around" a company firewall. That would defeat its purpose. You're supposed to open holes in it.

Schaller: The long journey towards good free video conferencing

Posted Oct 16, 2012 12:22 UTC (Tue) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

Company firewalls are not supposed to make your job incredibly harder while adding very little security either. Yet that's how many are configured.

So to get your job done you can either:
- convince your network admin team, or
- work around your company firewall.

Guess which one people tend to pick. It's not just people: why do you think every protocol is now HTTP-based? To work around company firewalls.

Schaller: The long journey towards good free video conferencing

Posted Oct 16, 2012 14:21 UTC (Tue) by Richard_J_Neill (subscriber, #23093) [Link]

> So to get your job done you can either:
> - convince your network admin team, or
> - work around your company firewall.

In this case, we had the official support of the admin people, who were happy in terms of policy to enable SIP, but couldn't actually do it. The firewall in question (Checkpoint) "didn't support SIP"! I couldn't believe it either.

Schaller: The long journey towards good free video conferencing

Posted Oct 16, 2012 22:58 UTC (Tue) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

> It pains me to say this, but Skype get it right, and nobody else does.

While it really sucks in many other ways, the way Skype can cope (in real time!) with the most hostile network conditions never stops to amaze me.

The very first Skype version was written by the Kaaza developers - and it still shows.

Using central servers hosted in massive compute farms is cheating; too rich, too easy!

I didn't get a chance to test Skype with IPv6 yet, do they support it too?

Schaller: The long journey towards good free video conferencing

Posted Oct 16, 2012 23:06 UTC (Tue) by Richard_J_Neill (subscriber, #23093) [Link]

Skype is really clever at trying multiple workarounds. It can do direct connections, STUN, use a peer2peer approach to use a 3rd-party's bandwidth (which saves skype costs of a central server), or use a skype.com server. It also adapts to use the available ports. If it were only an open protocol, I'd strongly recommend it.

Schaller: The long journey towards good free video conferencing

Posted Oct 23, 2012 2:38 UTC (Tue) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

Direct, STUN, and proxied are all pretty easy to implement (especially with help like https://github.com/jselbie/stunserver ).

I haven't heard of the peer2peer approach. Any more info or code on this?


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