Over the last few months a lot of effort has been put into getting Empathy up to scratch as not only a chat client, but also for use as an audio and video conferencing client, the long term goal being to support all the major instant messaging based videoconf systems in addition to stalwarts such as SIP. Being free software enthusiasts we have of course been especially keen on combining the open protocol of XMPP, used by Jabber and Google Talk, with a set of free video and audio codecs, namely Speex for audio and Theora for video.
Theora RTP being a bit special meant we had to wait on the integration of Farsight2 into Empathy for this to work, but now using our eminent stack of GStreamer with Farsight and Telepathy, this now works on my computer as shown by the screenshot above. It requires the very latest versions of everything, and there are still some bugs that need hammering out, but all in all we are very close to reaching the goal. So once the relevant versions of Empathy and the underlying libraries have trickled out into the distribution ecosystem over the next months, we will finally have fully working XMPP based Speex+Theora video conferencing working out of the box between all Linux and Unix systems. Empathy supports doing audio calls with Google Talk, and video calls with the Nokia N810 devices over XMPP if you install the relevant H.263 encoders and decoders for GStreamer. We’re still working on support for the new GMail Video Chat plugin, which initially supported H.264 SVC, although even though it now also supports H.264 AVC we can’t get it to decode streams created by the x264 encoder.