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3 More VoIP Alternatives to Skype

Written by Jesse Afolabi

Skype is a very well known voice over IP service that is as well cross-platform, the client on Linux however, it is rather unpleasant to use and mostly buggy with way fewer features than its counterparts on other platforms.

Previously I covered Ring which is a secure cross-platform alternative to Skype, but then there are even more functional optional softwares to Skype that are rather uncommon and I ‘ll be featuring just three of them (which i term as the best) on this list.

These VoIP services are Tox, Voptop, and Retroshare. These three have some distinct features that set them apart from each other but then they share more similarities than differences.

First off, they are all secure (encrypted), decentralized, open source, use some form of hash keys as an ID/verification, and support group chat – These services are no more different than Ring that we covered last week.

Tox – Instant Messaging

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Asides the aforementioned features that Tox has in common with the others on this list, this VoIP service has quite the number when it comes to clients available to it and while it’s mostly functional, it’s still under heavy development.

The supported platforms you can use Tox with include Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, and FreeBSD; – all of which have multiple clients with the exception of iOS.

qTox

qTox

Basically, the clients perform the same functions as in allowing you to connect to other users on the Tox network. The varying Tox applications essentially give a different user experience and are built using different languages and graphical toolkits which are great for end users.

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You can find the varying list of Tox clients and tox packages for your disribution.

Voptop (Voice over Peer to Peer)

From their website, “Voptop offers private & anonymous end-to-end encrypted telephony within a decentralized network. The aim of Voptop is to create the possibility to telephone private & anonymously within a closed network and to hamper the tapping of phone calls by hiding them”.

True as is, Voptop is equally as functional as Skype or any other VoIP service with an exceptional uniqueness of its peer to peer secure connection.

voptop

voptop

The software is cross-platform, open source and released under its own license (which allows the application to support ads with plans for an ad-free version in tow). Voptop supports IMs, voice and video calling, file transfer and screen sharing.

The video below gives an overview of the features of the software.


Voptop is currently in beta and is available as precompiled .debs for Ubuntu (from 14.04 to 16.04) and Debian 8 Jessie.

Voptop Downloads

Retroshare

Retroshare isn’t all too different from the above mentioned VoIP services with the exception being able to generate many additional anonymous accounts inside RetroShare v0.6 which can be used in Forums, Channels etc.

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Retroshare uses F2F – friends to friends (which is essentially a new model of P2P – peer to peer) with certificates via UPnP and DHT to connect to other Retroshare users around the world using OpenSSL for encryption.

retroshare

retroshare

Technical specifications as listed on their website include:

  • Network topology: decentralized Friend to Friend network (F2F)
  • Transport: IPv4 TCP+UDP, Tor
  • UPnP / NAT-PMP port forwarding support
  • Distributed hash table to locate friends
  • Optionally can use dynamic DNS
  • Connect to friends behind NAT with UDP
  • Transport encryption with TLS (OpenSSL)
  • Authentication with PGP keys
  • Services: chat, VoIP with video, multi-user chat, file search/file sharing, forums, link sharing, Retroshare mail
  • Extensible through plugins

Installing Retroshare in Linux

For Ubuntu Systems
------ for Retroshare releases only ------
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:retroshare/stable
------ for Retroshare development snapshots ------
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:retroshare/unstable

then, install retroshare as shown:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install retroshare06
For Debian Systems
------ for Retroshare releases only ------ 
$ sudo sh -c "echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/AsamK:/RetroShare/Debian_8.0/ /' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/retroshare06.list"
------ for Retroshare nightly builds ------ 
$ sudo sh -c "echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/AsamK:/RetroShare/Debian_8.0/ /' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/retroshare06-git.list" 

then, install retroshare as shown:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install retroshare06

For other platforms, you can head on to their download page and make the required download as per your operating system.

Have you tried/or do you currently use any of the clients on this list? share your thoughts and experience with us in the comments!

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About the author

Jesse Afolabi

Jesse is that tech enthusiast you never heard of...he's mainly into things relating to Linux and Android and has an unending passion for both platforms which is why he writes about them.

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