VoIP Client Twinkles Brightly on Linux

A question came up today on ILUG regarding Skype on Linux which then spill-ed over onto a conversation about VoIP clients. KPhone was mentioned which is what I have been using to date with my Blueface VoIP account. Unfortunately I can’t give KPhone a good review as I have always found it buggy, unintuitive and it crashes regularly.

The conversation reminded me of a news bite I read on KDE.news about new Linux VoIP clients that are gaining momentum. One in particular looked very promising: Twinkle. The first version of Twinkle, 0.1, was only released last month but it’s already a formidable application when compared with KPhone.

Although Twinkleuses the cross platform application development framework known as Qt (which is also the foundation of KDE), it is only compatible with Linux’s audio system. Some of the features already completed include two lines, three-way conference calls, call redirection, DTMF sopport and the G.771 and GSM audio codecs.

Some obvious features that are currently missing but that the author plans to add include an address book, a history function to log incoming and outgoing calls, instant messaging and video support. So far I’m very impressed and I have already replaced KPhone with Twinkle.

The only negative comment I have to make, and it’s not really a reflection on Twinkle, is that although the author decided to use Qt it is really a shame he didn’t go the extra step and use the KDE application framework so that it would better integrate with that desktop environment and the other KDE PIM and networking applications. No doubt Michel de Boer, the author, has his reasons – perhaps he plans to extend Twinkle‘s compatibility to other operating systems.

Timing Work Periods with KDialog, DCOP and KAlarm

Mikolaj Machowski posted an nice example of using KDialog with DCOP to the KDE Developers mailing list a while back:


PROGRESS=$(kdialog --icon kalarm --title "Short rest" \
    --progressbar "Take a break..." 30)

if [ $PROGRESS ]; then
  for (( i=0; i<30; i++ )); do     dcop $PROGRESS setProgress $i     sleep 1   done   dcop $PROGRESS close fi

The purpose of Mikolaj's post was to suggest a method of regimenting work periods - e.g. 20 minutes on, 5 minutes off - using the above script and KAlarm, a personal alarm message, command and email scheduler. But, more than that, it shows off one of the many hiddens treasures of KDE: KDialog, which allows shell scripts to take advantage of some of the KDE widget set, and DCOP, KDE's Desktop COmmunications Protocol.

More information and a tutorial can be found at:

Easy Listening – KRadio

I often listen to the radio in the background while working/coding and in particular I’m a bit of a news talk junky. Generally I use my TV/radio tuner card with KRadio so I can control the channel and volumes with a few simple keystrokes. Of course there’s no explaining why someone always rings during a good Matt Cooper interview or while Vincent Browne is berating yet another politician for giving an answer that’s at a right-angle to the simple question asked – but now there’s a solution on the horizon:

Ernst Martin Witte has just released KRadio 1.0 beta with a new feature that looks very promising – the ability to pause radio playback and continue it later. This is still a beta version which may explain why I’m having some difficulty getting it to work properly. While I eagerly await the final release, the good news is that the normal recording function works perfectly so I won’t miss those interviews; and it supports both Ogg/Vorbis and MP3.

KDE frontend for o2sms

o2sms is an excellent Perl script for sending SMS’s (or text messages) via the UNIX command line without the bother of logging in through the provider’s webpages (which are often slow, clumsy and non-standards compliant). Despite its name, it supports Vodafone (Ireland) and Meteor as well as o2 (Ireland) users.

I have been using this script for years and have installed it for many others. Despite its ease of use and obvious advantages, I still see those around me reaching for their phones to send a text which they will then have to pay for! ko2smsapplet is a simple front-end to this script for KDE users. It sits on the taskbar and you simply click on it to send an SMS.

[Snapshot of KO2smsApplet in Kicker]

This applet was born out of the need to take a break from research/thesis writing one evening during the week. It is simple but functional. It can be downloaded with installation instructions from: