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VOIP on the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet
Pages: 1, 2

SIP

Without importing any apps, the limit of your VOIP calling is to fellow Gmailers. You're not a Gmailer, you say? Well, as a 770 owner, you already have an account. It's just a pity that the Opera browser shipped with OS 2006 can't fully cope with Gmail. Opera tells me that the next version is better.



Another alternative is to download a client from the Gizmo Project. Once you open the app, you receive 25 cents of free calls if you register. At 1 cent per minute to quite a few places, the rates are quite competitive. Calls to fellow Gizmo users are free. You can also register a normal phone number for your device at Gizmo for $12 for three months. Calling is very straightforward. You put in the number, put the 770 up to your ear, and talk away. Top up your minutes by clicking on "add credit" in the "home" section.

There's also Tapioca, which is "a GoogleTalk client with VoIP and instant messaging capabilities, with a simple user interface. It can be installed on the device without any conflict with the product's built-in Gtalk client."

Another project called Minisip comes from the postgrad students at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. It's quite advanced, but there are no downloads at the moment due to code rewrites.

Asterisk

Finally there's a port of the well-known Asterisk that will do VOIP as well as PABX duties. Getting this on a 770 isn't, at the moment, for the faint of heart though...but if you're a long-term Asterisk user, you won't be faint of heart.

This is what you want, I'm sure. Here's what I did to get a working (as in "non-crashing") version of Asterisk 1.2.1 (the latest release from Digium) on the Nokia 770.

If you're in a hurry or you don't want to mess with compiling and Scratchbox (or you simply don't know what those are), just skip to the binaries.

  • Start Scratchbox.
  • From within Scratchbox, run wget http://ftp.digium.com/pub/asterisk/asterisk-1.2.1.tar.gz to download the latest Asterisk sources.
  • Unarchive the sources with tar xvfz asterisk-1.2.1.tar.gz. This will give you an asterisk-1.2.1 folder. Change to that folder (cd asterisk-1.2.1).
  • Patch the main Makefile and the one for the GSM codec in order to make them compile for the 770. Download both diffs with wget http://www.cayennegraphics.com/asterisk770/Makefile.diff and wget http://www.cayennegraphics.com/asterisk770/Makefile-gsm.diff.
  • Patch the main Makefile with patch Makefile Makefile.diff.

There are eight steps to go; read more at Installing Asterisk on the Nokia 770.

Note: A point of interest here is that the linked Asterisk Nokia 770 binary includes a SIP client for OS 2005, which might be useful if you don't want to upgrade for other reasons.

The Scratchbox reference means that you first need to install the Maemo SDK. Otherwise, you can pick up toward the end of the instructions and get a ready-made binary, which needs some work to install...

  • You're ready to move the binaries to your Nokia 770. Go to /tmp/ast121/ and type tar cvfz asterisk-1.2.1-nokia770-arm-binary.tar.gz *. You can also download the Nokia 770 Asterisk binary directly. Drop the files on your memory card or scp them from your machine--your choice.

    Another note: As I write this, the binary for OS2006 does not work due to missing libraries. I imagine the fix is on its way, though.

  • On the 770, start an XTerm and become root.
  • Go to the folder where you dropped the asterisk-1.2.1-nokia770-arm-binary.tar.gz file and (as root) type tar -zvx -C / -f asterisk-1.2.1-nokia770-arm-binary.tar.gz.

    Note: The easiest way to become root is to get Becomeroot from the Maemo.org's application list. With that on board, sudo su gives you a passwordless root.

  • That's all. To run Asterisk, edit the configuration files at /etc/asterisk, then type asterisk -vvvvvc to start the program and get a console prompt.

Other Things

There is some interesting stuff coming up with handwriting recognition. At a recent Symbian Smartphone show, I saw both Symbian and 770 demos of vastly improved systems. The one from MyScript recognized whole lines of cursive linked writing rather than just one letter at a time. XT9 also showed an improved version of the current system.

Some people call the 770 "the new Zaurus" but really the only comparison is Linux and the degree of enthusiasm around. Nokia seems fully aware of what it has, which is more than Sharp ever demonstrated, at least in markets other than Japan. Nokia also has the advantage of having much wider distribution channels.

Very special thanks to Gala's fourth-year computer science students at Simferopol University for showing me where to get a WLAN connection for this article. Special thanks as well to Ciaron Linstead in Berlin for extensive use of his network, which allowed me to get Pine working, among other things.

John Littler is chief gopher for Mstation.org.


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