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Linux Gets Google Voice, Video Chat

Plug-in compatible with Ubuntu, other Debian-based Linux distributions released two years after Windows and Mac versions.



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Google's web-based voice and video chat service, a long-time staple for users of Windows and the Macintosh operating systems, now is available to Linux users.

The free plug-in supports Ubuntu and other Debian-based Linux distributions. RPM support will be coming soon, said Tristan Schmelcher, software engineer, in a company blog.

This capability was users' top video-chat request, he said. "Excellent news," commented Umar Faruk, a web and graphics designer from Tamilnadu, India, on the Google blog.

Other feedback included requests for the source code and compatibility with Jingle. "And where is the source code?" asked comment-writer Dodji Seketeli, a freeware software developer in Val d'oise, France.

It took Google almost two years to develop and release the Linux capability; the company unveiled video chat for Windows and Macintosh in November 2008. Now Linux users can video chat directly from Gmail, iGoogle, and Orkut, according to Google.

Previously, Linux users may have used another service, such as Skype, to chat with Windows users. Based on proprietary software, Skype is a free telephony application that lets users place calls and chat over the Internet. Skype users can chat, instant message, and video chat with other Skype users.

Google Talk mobile also is available for an array of smartphones, including the Palm Pre, Blackberry, iPhone, and Android.

Google continues to fine-tune its communications tools. In June, the company simplified its video chat feature by adding easy-to-find icons to initiate video, voice, or group chats.