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Communications Debian Google Ubuntu Linux

Gmail Video Chat Now Available On Linux 113

borfast writes "If you use Gmail on Linux, you may have wondered when you would be able to use the voice and video chat that Windows and Mac users have enjoyed for quite some time. The wait is finally over; Google yesterday announced video support for Linux browsers. Now if only Pidgin could provide solid video chat functionality in their client..." According to the brief announcement on the Google blog, "Voice and video chat for Linux supports Ubuntu and other Debian-based Linux distributions, and RPM support will be coming soon."
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Gmail Video Chat Now Available On Linux

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  • Nice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TrisexualPuppy ( 976893 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:05AM (#33314114)
    Shows where Google's priorities (rightly) are. We have been waiting for years and can't even get a decently-working version of flash for Linux. Foreshadowing, perhaps?
    • DIY (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ironchew ( 1069966 )

      Well, if you didn't mind screwing around with ffmpeg, ffserver, and VLC Media Player, you could have done audioconferencing and videoconferencing already. Be warned, it isn't for the people who stray away from compiling and documentation.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by dragin33 ( 529413 )
        My wife, a non-Linux user sat down with our Ubuntu 10 laptop last weekend to video chat over Skype. It worked great for the most part! However, after having the video in full screen mode the application hung and, unable to get out of full screen mode, effectively the computer was unusable and had to be power buttoned. At least it wasn't a totally bad Linux experience for my wife but I wish the Linux desktops and (more specifically) the applications that run on it were more stable!
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          killall skype
          • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Ctrl+Alt+F7 to get back
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Fri13 ( 963421 )

            Ctrl+Alt+Esc and click the screen. Because the video was fullscreen, you could not miss it. This just would not work if the Xorg has crashed so the input devices does not work.

        • In Kubuntu:
          * Ctrl+Alt+Esc
          * Watch for skull/crossbones mouse cursor to appear
          * Click Left mouse button
      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by CarpetShark ( 865376 )

        Be warned, it isn't for the people who stray away from compiling and documentation.

        I think you meant "shy away". Being an unfaithful dog has nothing to do with it... I mean... so I hear.

        • Being an unfaithful dog has nothing to do with it... I mean... so I hear.

          When you're responding to a user named TrisexualPuppy, it has everything to do with it.

      • by Curtman ( 556920 ) *
        Why not just use Ekiga [] (formerly known as Gnomemeeting)? I've been using it for videoconferencing for years, and it's very stable.
    • by flnca ( 1022891 )
      Adobe Flash has been working on Linux for many years now. Only on some platforms like Ubuntu 10.04, Flash is a bit flaky. I'm running RHEL 5, and on that, Flash runs perfectly stable (the original ATI driver as well, btw).
      • by bcomisky ( 47607 )

        Adobe Flash has been working on Linux for many years now. Only on some platforms like Ubuntu 10.04, Flash is a bit flaky. I'm running RHEL 5, and on that, Flash runs perfectly stable (the original ATI driver as well, btw).

        I see your anecdotal evidence and raise you my anecdotal evidence. I've always had issues using the 64bit flash plugin on linux (on Fedora, Gentoo, and Ubuntu) with errant npviewer.bin processes using 100% cpu or crashing.

        • by flnca ( 1022891 )
          Granted, the 64-bit Flash player seemed to be less stable to me as well. Additionally, it doesn't seem to work well with PulseAudio. But on RHEL 5, I don't need to care anymore, since I'm neither using 64 bit, nor using PulseAudio. ;P
          • The 64-bit Flash Player also has hardware acceleration disabled. The 32-bit player uses OpenGL for acceleration (though sometimes you have to convince it that your video card actually can handle it with a simple config file).

            I have no issues in Ubuntu 10.04 with 32-bit Flash running in a 64-bit Firefox/Chrome (this is the default config and you only have to install the flashplugin-installer package and it "just works", at least on my system. ymmv of course). I'd rather have the hardware acceleration (smooth

      • by arifwn ( 1674022 )
        Compared to windows, linux version of flash consume much more cpu juice. just like what happen with flash in osx. having flash block installed is a must for linux user.
    • Re:Nice (Score:5, Funny)

      by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:24AM (#33314392) Journal

      We have been waiting for years and can't even get a decently-working version of flash for Linux.

      Yes such a blessing Linux is! Years before iphone/ipad didn't have flash. We didn't have it first!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CarpetShark ( 865376 )

        Yes such a blessing Linux is! Years before iphone/ipad didn't have flash. We didn't have it first!

        This is probably more true than you'd think. Linux users were clamouring for Flash for years, as were Linux/PPC and Linux/AMD64 users. Linux and Linux/AMD64 Flash, at least, actually happened. So they probably all contributed to Flash's portability, paving the way for Flash on mobiles etc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by helix2301 ( 1105613 )
      Flash has had so many issues on linux the infamous you tube with no sound if you Google that you have enough reading material for quite a while and the high resource intensive issues. Flash I think has gotten worse with every Ubuntu release I really don't think has gotten better at all.
  • Empathy (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tester ( 591 ) <(olivier.crete) (at) (> on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:05AM (#33314118) Homepage

    Empathy has already supported XMPP video chats for years! And has been compatible with Google non-standard variant almost since it was announced.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by robotito ( 460199 )

      But now, you can read the Google ads while chatting... (which is essential for them)

    • Re:Empathy (Score:4, Informative)

      by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:26AM (#33314418) Journal

      So does Pidgin, and has done for at least a few months. I'm not sure what the author of the summary was on about, I've had Gmail video chats between a Windows box and my wife's Linux box several times, her using Pidgin and me using the video chat client in Firefox.

      Her eeePC has some microphone driver oddities we had to overcome in Linux (my one and only reason to drop to the command line in that install, turns out the eeePC identifies itself as having a stereo mic but only a mono is installed, and if signal comes in on both channels they cancel each other out, so you have to mute one of them), but the camera worked right out of the box in Linux Mint, and turning on video chat support in Pidgin was a matter of enabling the extension and using it, all in the Pidgin GUI.

      In any case, it's nice to see it coming straight to the browser chat client.

      • I just noticed the Eee PC microphone issue when I installed the Gmail video chat client yesterday. I didn't feel like looking for a solution right away, but lo and behold, here it is. If I had the points I'd mod you up, instead, I'll just says thanks.
        • There's a wiki out there that I contributed to some time ago - and coincidentally I got a notice that someone posted the solution in some detail to that page just today:


          When I solved it, you couldn't unlink the two channels in the default GUI, so I had to download a more detailed control package (forget what it is) and solve it that way. That was in Mint 8, though, and Mint 9 probably has the more detailed controls as def

      • by shish ( 588640 )

        turns out the eeePC identifies itself as having a stereo mic but only a mono is installed, and if signal comes in on both channels they cancel each other out

        I'm pretty sure that there are actually two mics, but they're designed for background noise cancellation rather than stereo, and the linux drivers are doing it wrong (I have the same problem with my 1201n -- in linux, I can disable one channel to have the other channel and no noise cancellation which is very noisy; in windows, both channels are active, but it does noise cancellation properly, so the sound is crystal clear)

      • by rdnetto ( 955205 )

        You mind giving us a link to that extension? I couldn't see anything on the official plugins page, and if no one can find it then it might as well not exist...

        • Sorry, wrong term. It's a Plugin, and they are located under Tools/Plugins on the Pidgin menu, the plugin you want is called "Voice/Video Settings".

          Once you set up your webcam and mic, set up the account as XMPP, with your Gmail username (the bit before the @ only) as the user and as the domain, and I have mine set up to force SSL and the connect port is 5222.

          Hope this helps.

    • Re:Empathy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by think_nix ( 1467471 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:41AM (#33314616)

      Unless your are behind a proxy server: []

    • by Locutus ( 9039 )
      but Empathy and Pidgin both did very poorly with device configuration and especially so for USB based mics. I'll see what Google does about this but since I've already setup a few others on Skype because of the device selection issues. It's going to be a tough sell to move them over to Google now they they are already configured and running Skype. With Skype, it just found the USB mic and webcam devices, lists them and easily uses them. I have manually configured a few machines for voice/vid in the past bu
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The same with Nokia N900 since spring.

    • I know, right? I remember being impressed at how Empathy supported video chat natively. This is about as late-to-the-partyy as that recent rash of posts about caffeine tolerance buildup.
    • and Kopete. In fact are there any linux chat clients that doesn't already support this?

  • hopefully it'll work in Firefox too? I mean, Iceweasel?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      hopefully it'll work in Firefox too? I mean, Iceweasel?

      It work too. I tested it with firefox right now.

    • by bl8n8r ( 649187 )
      after converting the .deb to a .tgz using alien I noticed these in the tarball:

  • While nice that this feature is coming to Linux , I really wish that they would have released a tarball, bunzip, or whatever so non Debian/Ubuntu users can also try it out.

    • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:14AM (#33314256)
      My thoughts exactly. Why not GPL this code, and maybe then we could see it merged into other clients as well?
      • Because they don't have the license to?

      • Or BSD the code so it can be used in clients that matter. Or better still ... use the fucking standard XMPP video protocols rather than their own fucked up version so that every client that already supports proper XMPP video can work with it.

        I don't want to use some other shitty client like Pidgin because Google doesn't want to follow the standard for some retarded reason.

        • Google set the de-facto standard for video in XMPP with Jingle and made it open source. Every single XMPP client that supports video & audio can interoperate with GTalk (like Empathy).
    • Can't you just do something like this:

      % mkdir ~/temp
      % dpkg -x somepackage.deb ~/temp/

      Then move stuff to wherever you need it?

      • If it is a compile binary, you might not have such luck. You may need to do a lot of work to get it to run, and you can forget trying to use something other than x86 (although that probably affects very few people these days).
      • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

        If they're not on a debianlike, they don't have dpkg :P

        That said, .deb files are actually ar archives, they could extract it with ar x somepackage.deb and just about every distribution should have ar

        • thanks , I will try this .

        • Well, IIRC dpkg is available on SuSE at least, I presume for applications like that. But if ar works, use ar. :-)
        • # emerge -pv dpkg

          These are the packages that would be merged, in order:

          Calculating dependencies... done!
          [ebuild U ] app-arch/dpkg- [1.15.2] USE="bzip2 nls unicode zlib -dselect% -test (-selinux%)" LINGUAS="-de% -es% -fr% -hu% -ja% -pl% -ru% -sv%" 4,729 kB

          Total: 1 package (1 upgrade), Size of downloads: 4,729 kB

          Maybe you won't have dpkg in your default install, but it surely will be available. Just like rpm is available in every distro.

      • Try using Alien [], a program that converts between Redhat rpm, Debian deb, Stampede slp, Slackware tgz, and Solaris pkgs. It at least works some of the time but can be quite hit or miss.
    • by bl8n8r ( 649187 )

      $ alien -t google-talkplugin_current_i386.deb
      Warning: alien is not running as root!
      Warning: Ownerships of files in the generated packages will probably be wrong.
      tar: Record size = 8 blocks
      Warning: Skipping conversion of scripts in package google-talkplugin: postinst postrm
      Warning: Use the --scripts parameter to include the scripts.
      google-talkplugin- generated
      tar xvfz google-talkplugin-

    • by jthill ( 303417 )
      a .deb is just an ar archive. Poke around, it won't take all day to figure out what's going on in there.
  • Announcement? (Score:3, Informative)

    by VincenzoRomano ( 881055 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:14AM (#33314254) Homepage Journal
    Sadly enough, I didn't get any ofthe usual announcement email from Google.
    It's ridiculous that I have to read every day their blog in order to know the news about the services I'm using...
  • The reason (Score:2, Interesting)

    This is great and all, but it's obviously just the byproduct of Google preparing ChromeOS. Linux-based, browser-only.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Locutus ( 9039 )
      while it would be great to have OS native versions of everything, a fully functional and usable browser solution is not a problem. If anything, it should still result in move vendors digging in and supporting GNU/Linux and that should result in more OS native options. If the driver model for ChromeOS is very different from the standard drivers then it might not carry over as much as we'd like. But still, getting vendors to support any GNU/Linux platform is better than what most do now by not supporting it.
      • Absolutely. I could not agree more. I just realized my original comment may have come across more negative than intended.
  • Now if only Pidgin could provide solid video chat functionality in their client..."

    Forget (just) video chat! How about file & photo sharing (Yahoo I'm looking at you!), better social media integration and a stock appearance that wasn't fugly?

    Frankly, if Kopete wasn't such a POS in *buntu-land for the past year, I would have ditched Pidgin a long time ago.

  • Pidgin (Score:4, Informative)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:34AM (#33314526) Homepage Journal

    ``Now if only Pidgin could provide solid video chat functionality in their client...''

    I honestly think the Pidgin team isn't that interested in such features. Video chat was coded for it years ago (back when it was still called Gaim), but that code was never adopted. I guess it just isn't a very big deal, or else I expect people would have switched to software that does do video chat, like the gaim-vv fork, Kopete, or AMSN. I don't see that happening, though. And Skype got by without video support for years, too. The world at large doesn't really seem to care about video chat.

    • Seriously, who wants to have to put clothes on every time some random family member, friend, or business associate feels the need to intrude on your time?
    • A FaceTime plugin for Pidgin/Adium would be very cool.

      • by marsu_k ( 701360 )
        You know what would be even cooler? If Apple were to support the existing standard for UMTS video calls via 3G. Not bloody likely though.
  • ok knuckleheads (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stumbles ( 602007 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:43AM (#33314646)
    please provide a tarball.
    • by Fri13 ( 963421 )

      And if not a tarball, at least a LSB compatible binary!

      I, and any of my friends or schoolmates do not use Ubuntu. We use OpenSUSE, Mandriva and some has the Fedora. Deb package is not enough at all and it actually is insult towards Linux users! Maybe Ubuntu fans does not care it, but when they actually would care about the whole F/OSS community instead only their own?

      Thats why we do have LSB ( so we can all choose the distribution what to use, instea

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by orzetto ( 545509 )
      $ alien --to-tgz google-talkplugin_current_amd64.deb
  • It would also be a "nice to have" if google could see to porting some version of their talk client so that I don't have to use my web-browser for the "official" plugin, that would be nice (though I've heard that empathy can do VV, I haven't had an opportunity to test that yet).

    Oh, and while they're busy porting... how about a voice+video version for the Android, or at least voice.

    • Pidgin does Google Voice (including video) just fine. Others have reported that Empathy is also good at it.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @12:28PM (#33315250)
    login to gmail and go to your "settings", select "chat" from the tabs of things to change and you'll see the "Voice and video chat" section where it'll list the three devices( camera, microphone, speakers ) and the drop down lists should show what devices your system has available. To my surprise, it does list the USB camera and microphone but I have not tested this yet.

    Looks pretty good so far.

    • there is a "Verify your settings" link in that "Voice and video chat" section and clicking that link expands to show you a video window of what your camera is seeing, a mic level meter and a sound/speaker meter. The mic meter should move when you tap the mic or talk and there's a link to send a ring sound to your speakers to test that.

      on my system, all 3 test passed. Well done Google but too bad none of the setup details were mentioned on the page.

  • Easy enough to install .deb files even without alien.

    Load the deb file into file-roller. Extract the data.tgz and control.tgz files. Move the files in the data.tgz file to their right places and run the postinst script from the control.tgz file.

    Hmm, seems Google installs a daily cron job to check to see if there is an update for their plugin. Nice of them to do, but I'm not sure I'd want software updates until I decide to do them.

  • using the alien utility
    alien -r google-talkplugin_current_amd64.deb
    creates google-talkplugin-

    rpm -i google-talkplugin-
    a few dependency issues : is needed by google-talkplugin- is needed by google-talkplugin- is needed by google-talkplugin- is needed by google-talkplug

  • I think it's silly that one of Google's communication products doesn't work on their communication OS. It's especially raw now that Fring and Skype are splitsville.

  • In the old days (yesterday) when I was using Empathy's Jabber/XMPP to do remote desktop control and file transfer, this was built in. Now how can I help gram-ma out?
  • Just type: alien --to-rpm google-talkplugin_current_i386.deb

    At least, this worked fine for Mandriva 2010.0 on a Dell mini 9.
  • Not being able to video chat on my linux box is what finally pushed me over the edge and I bought a Mac Pro workstation.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"