I'd like to propose that Jitsi be considered as the default messaging,
VoIP and webcam client for the next major Debian release (jessie).
This would mean it is installed by default in a desktop install and it
is the default handler for sip: and xmpp: URIs.
Currently, Empathy is installed by default
There are several reasons I am suggesting this and it is possible that
Empathy could address some of them before the release freeze in
November but we should be completely prepared to go with Jitsi if they
continue to be the leaders in this area.
* Google dependency: Empathy is hard-coded to use Google
media relay (TURN) servers for NAT traversal. It can't
be configured to use a TURN server on a Debian server,
even though we have three TURN servers packaged for our
users. This means that when Google shifts the goal posts
(as they already did, ditching true XMPP to promote
Google hangouts) or when they have a service outage then
Debian's users are left high and dry. There are also privacy
concerns, Google themselves report a 120% increase in the amount
of data they officially and knowingly give to their government.
Jitsi supports any user-specified TURN server for XMPP and they
plan to support TURN for SIP too.
* Convenient NAPTR discovery. Empathy does not autoconfigure
itself with services (such as Debian.org's own SIP proxy) that
have NAPTR records in DNS. With Jitsi, this just works.
* WebRTC integration (calling from browsers to Jitsi desktop).
This depends on new media stream features (e.g. DTLS-SRTP and AVPF)
that are not supported in Empathy yet.
* ZRTP - peer to peer encryption, like PGP for VoIP. Once again,
it has been in Jitsi for ages but is not in Empathy
* Upstream. Both Empathy and Jitsi upstreams are very
good developers. Jitsi seem to have an edge though.
Just look at how quickly they turned out the
JitMeet multi-party video conferencing solution for WebRTC
browsers - it is a phenomenal achievement and delivered
in good time to help free software gain traction in the
emerging WebRTC space before any vested interests try to
monopolize the technology.
The whole real-time communications (RTC) space is very important for
free software in general. If it fails to work conveniently and
reliably, the peer pressure of family and friends pull people back into
dangerous non-free solutions. Some of these solutions are a threat to
the whole concept of free software on mainstream desktops. With all
the recent attention on communications privacy, there has never been a
better time for Debian to try and fill this gap with a solution like
Jitsi on the front-end and the various free SIP/XMPP/TURN servers in
To put it simply, the Jitsi team are blazing a trail in this area and
a Debian initiative to install Jitsi on every desktop will give them
more momentum and ensure more people can talk to each other in line
with our agreed definition of freedom.