Feedback from France
Jean Elchinger wrote to us arguing that promoting signal is not a good idea. Instead, he proposed the idea of linphone for encrypted voice calls. Hackers.mu decided to evaluate linphone, and see if we could recommend it to Internet citizens in Mauritius.
What is Linphone ?
Linphone is a VOIP application that relies on the SIP protocol. Optionally, it supports encryption. However, this is not enabled by default. You can use linphone over wifi or even across 3g/4g networks.
We grabbed linphone from Google Play Store. The installation went more or less smoothly. We had to create a SIP account, and wait for the registration mail. Once you confirm by clicking on the link in the mail, it takes a few minutes until your account is usable. [linphone could have implemented a "WAITING for account activation" instead of saying "account deactivated". We found this slightly confusing]. Compared to signal, it takes longer to get up to speed. The advantage of linphone is that you can use the same client, as it supports MAC OS X & Linux.
Encrypting our voice calls
As we said earlier, linphone is closer to a VOIP client, and does not enforce, encryption by default. This requires users to go to settings > network > media encryption and selecting one of the options available.
We are waiting for other hackers.mu to create their SIP account to test the voice quality. This will be done in a future blog post.
Source code quality
When talking about online security, one of the first things hackers.mu does is to look at the source code, and see how well designed is the code. In the case of linphone, so far, we find the code to be quite good. We did suggest improvements to the randomization functions, and hackers.mu submitted a patch to the linphone developers. Geeky details here.
Recommendation for the masses ?
Will hackers.mu recommend linphone to Internet Users in Mauritius ? We could recommend it to technically savvy people who distrust Google. However, we feel that the UX & account creation process could be simplified further. Right now, signal is much more user friendly, and thus more suitable for massive user adoption.