Score one for open source peer-to-peer VOIP: GNU SIP Witch 1.0

Some folks have half-jokingly said that Skype is a good fit for Microsoft because both companies like proprietary technologies. There’s certainly some truth to that. Even though both of these companies enjoy great numbers of users, they are far from being proponents of open standards and technologies.

That’s why it’s important to spread the gospel of an open source project such as GNU Telephony:

GNU Telephony is a project to enable anyone to use free as in freedom software for telephony, and with the freedom to do so on any platform they choose to use. We also wish to make it easy to use the Internet for real-time voice and video communication, and in fact for all forms of real-time collaboration. Finally we wish to make it possible to communicate securely and in complete privacy by applying distributed cryptographic solutions. Our goal is to enable secure and private real-time communication worldwide over the Internet that is free as in freedom, and is also free as in no cost too!

Over the weekend the project released GNU SIP Witch 1.0, the first stable release of GNU SIP protocol provisioning and peer-to-peer call server. It’ll also be used in the “anti-Skype” open source project, GNU Free Call (covered here previously).

The acquisition of Skype by Microsoft has made some people nervous about the future of the popular VOIP service. This is exactly why open source projects are important and deserve our support.

The official announcement:

May 14, 2011 (Bayonne, NJ). We are distributing today a 1.0 release of the GNU SIP protocol provisioning and peer-to-peer call server, GNU SIP Witch. GNU SIP Witch is developed within GNU Telephony and has been selected for use in the GNU Free Call project. This will provide a stable release that we will support for existing applications while we actively develop GNU Free Call services.

GNU SIP Witch is available as part of the GNU project. Stable releases will also power a web site later this summer to provide initial worldwide secure calling services for free directly to the general public for use in conjunction with any ZRTP enabled standards compliant softphone applications and SIP devices. GNU SIP Witch can be used to deploy private secure calling networks, whether stand-alone or in conjunction with existing VoIP infrastructure, for private institutions and national governments.

GNU SIP Witch is distributed as free software, that is, it is licensed using the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3 (or later), explicitly to provide others the freedom to use, modify, learn from, redistribute, and participate in it’s continued development, and can be obtained in source directly from A number of GNU/Linux distributions already distribute GNU SIP Witch in binary form for easy installation. GNU SIP Witch is cross-platform and can also be built on Apple OS/X, BSD systems, and for Microsoft Windows. Future releases will also support Android devices for use in GNU Free Call. Our services and applications are intended to offer the benefits of software freedom on all common computing platforms.

GNU SIP Witch is a free software project and is being developed by volunteers from around the world. The Free Software Foundation and the GNU project provides technical, infrastructure, and organizational support for GNU SIP Witch development. Future work will focus on delivering GNU Free Call services such as self-organizing peer-to-peer calling networks directly to the desktop and mobile devices of users worldwide.

In conjunction with this release, the GNU Free Call project is distributing an initial release of our technological assistance package for common computing platforms by providing our switchview desktop client for use with GNU SIP Witch on your local machine. In the future TAP will enable multi-platform personal encryption, include further support for desktop and mobile secure calling, and provide other basic and common computing services missing on some platforms.

About the Free Software Foundation:
The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users’ right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software—particularly the GNU operating system (used widely today in its GNU/Linux variant)— and free documentation. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software. Their web site, located at, is an important source of information about GNU/Linux.

About GNU Free Call:
GNU Free Call is a project to develop and deploy secure self-organized communication services worldwide for private use and for public administration. We use the open standard SIP protocol and GNU SIP Witch to create secured peer-to-peer mesh calling networks, and we welcome all participation in our effort.

Contact Information:
Haakon Eriksen – Project Coordinator – haakon.eriksen at
David Sugar – Project Architect – dyfet at
Mailing List – Participation – sipwitch-devel at



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