HOWTO: Instant Messaging in GNU/Linux: Gizmo

The last instant messaging application I’m going to look at is a relative newcomer to the scene. Gizmo has come out of nowhere and has taken on Skype head-on. I’ve already looked at Kopete, Gaim, and Skype, so where does Gizmo fit in to this group?

As mentioned in the intro, Gizmo falls into the same category as Skype. Gizmo doesn’t provide any way to connect to the ‘main’ IM networks such as MSN or Yahoo. Rather, like Skype, Gizmo is a network unto itself.

There’s a part of me that’s a little annoyed that people who develope IM clients still don’t get it. It’s 2006 dudes, we don’t want to be divided anymore. Everything (almost) is moving towards openess but Skype and Gizmo seem to be oblivious to this. That seems to have worked for Skype thus far, but that’s largely because Skype was the only one doing what they were doing. As more upstarts like Gizmo come on to the scene, a demand for inter-network connectivity will grow.

Anyhow, onto Gizmo. I found that the client itself looks a lot more polished than the Skype client. The clumsiness of the Skype client has been long lamented in the GNU/Linux community.

The IM client seems to work fine, but since I don’t know anyone else that uses Gizmo it was a little hard to test. The telephony application is certainly more responsive than Skype. Hangups are accomplished with an efficient snap and the test calls I made starting ringing right away and had pretty good quality. One neato feature Gizmo has is a ‘Map it!’ button. I used it while making a test call and you can seem from the picture that it got me right (Calgary) and presumably the other party as well. It was a test recording call, though, so I couldn’t ask to confirm. Gizmo has a lot of SIP type functionality that may appeal to some users, but I’m focusing more on my standard IM and odd phone call type of use.

Charge-wise, Gizmo-to-Gizmo calls are free. A Gizmo CallIn number is significantly cheaper than a SkypeIn number, but a SkypeIn number comes with Voicemail. I don’t see any mentioon on the Gizmo site about voicemail. I just received a voicemail, therefore I guess Gizmo has it! However (I just discovered this) Gizmo has built in call recording! Something that podcasters are really looking for.

Outgoing calls via Gizmo’s CallOut feature is comparable in cost to Skype’s SkypeOut system.

So there you have it – four IM clients that may do what you need. Each has their strengths and weaknesses so what’s right for me might not be right for you. At the very least be assured that you can use all of the major IM networks on GNU/Linux and get some Internet telephony love going as well.

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