I'm interested in trying out Linspire's PhoneGaim, but I'm wondering how useful it is. To call your friend using PhoneGaim, do they also have to download the same program? Are there any issues getting it to work? (I've heard that it can be a real bear to get running.)

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Phonegaim is a nice application to combine Instant Messaging with Internet Telephony. By default the application uses the services of SipPhone.com. That company has partnerships with several other providers, and as long as you call within that network you call for free. It doesn't matter what type of software or sip-phone your friends use. If they aren't using voice-over-IP, you can still call them through regular numbers, but in that case you'd be paying money for the call. But to be honest, those prices are still very low.

Phonegaim has a Windows as well as a Linux version. The installation isn't complex at all and the procedure to get a number is truly simple. After the installation you have a great bonus, since Phonegaim supports multiple networks which frees you of the obligation to make a choice or to run multiple programs. All your buddies are present in a single interface.

This was first published in January 2005

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