Bluetooth headset under Linux and Windows

Since I’m teleworking, I use VoIP a lot. My usual equipment is the Creative HS300 headset, which has a cable, so I’m tied to my desk while talking. I would rather walk around, saving the sitting for later.

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Why rewrite Wengophone?

I’m still using Wengophone Classic, which works well, it just has some annoying issues.  I would expect the developers to eventually fix them, but the whole development powers are invested in the Wengophone NG (a.k.a. 2.0). So those little things will keep bothering me until the new version of Wengophone is usable, which doesn’t seem to happen soon. They publish the betas, but I neither could run the binary version nor compile the source code.

The main three problems are not that big, but since they happen very often, they get more and more annoying.

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Wengophone, ALSA and choppy sound

I had some problems with the Wengophone Classic, because it produced a choppy sound with my Audigy Value 2 soundcard (emu10k1 driver). I first made Wengophone work by recompiling it with OSS support instead of ALSA. My Linux is using ALSA drivers with OSS emulation, so probably OSS was doing some kind of conversion (resampling?) that Wengophone couldn’t do without.

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2007-02-24 UPDATE:
Gurney Halleck has submitted an improved version of the script: Download.

2011-11-22 UPDATE:
I have set up a HFSC repository on github. Feel free to pull, and if you have any improvements, send pull requests.

Since I started to use the internet telephony, the Quality of Service (QoS) started to be important. When my girlfriend opened a web page, the sound was going choppy. So what I want to is:

  • Have a responsive remote terminal sessions over SSH
  • Stable VoIP telephony
  • Fast web browsing, but not hurting SSH nor VoIP
  • Low-priority traffic for p2p applications, that uses all the bandwidth that isn’t being used for other services

That’s pretty much to want from a 256/128 ADSL line. However, doesn’t seem impossible.

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Skype for Linux is dead

I've checked on the Skype forum and there are few threads about the lack of Skype development for Linux. There wasn't any new version in few (8?) months, Windows has Skype 2.0 with video support, while the latest Linux version is still 1.2 without video support, and with some long known problems unresolved.

I'll stick with Wengophone now, as the Classic version does its job and I enjoy free calls to the land-lines!

Wengophone introduced

Some of my friends installed Skype 2.0 and bought webcams.

“Don't you have a webcam?” they asked.

“Well, I do, but Skype wasn't kind enough to release a Linux version of their software with a webcam support.”, I had to answer.

“Oh, so webcams don't work with Linux!” they said.

“They do!”, I answered, “It's Skype that prevents implementing video support for their software because it's not a free software. You are locked-in to Skype.”

Then comes the evangelism.

“If you use Skype, you can only communicate with programs and devices controlled by them. Skype can suddenly charge you for their services an unfair fee and you'll be unable to escape because you'll have already Skype devices.” ok, that's enough about them. Let's introduce the hero. “You should use free software that uses free protocols to communicate. The Wengophone is free software. It can talk with other soft-phones and device-phones. Also, the charge for land-line connection is lower, 0.010€ vs Skype's 0.017€ for one minute.”

Finally, I managed to make my boss install Wengophone. It worked fine. I stopped using Skype today.

Automatic mixer settings

How to set up a mixer for internet telephony from a Linux box? Even though mixer settings are not complicated, I’ve seen people having problems, not being albo to set up their microphone for audio capture. Mixer have lots of elements and most of them irrelevant (seen the same things on Mac? just two keys on the keyboard for volume adjustment). If you need to set up your mixer for talking over the internet, like Gnome Meeting or Skype, you can try this script:

amixer set PCM 85% unmute
amixer set Master 85% unmute
amixer set External unmute
amixer set Capture 100%
amixer set Mic 0% mute cap
amixer set 'Mic Boost (+20dB)' unmute

It will set up playback and recording. I’m using device names (Mic, PCM, Master) from my sound card, I hope that yours will be the same.

The actual device names on your system will be probably different, but you can list yours and change them accordingly. You can list your controls with “amixer scontrols” for simple controls and “amixer controls” for the full list.