User guide

Getting Started

You just downloaded Linphone on your smartphone, tablet or computer? Great! But what happens now ? 

Why do I need a SIP account?

Let's go through the basics: before being able to place calls to any number or SIP address worldwide, you need to have a SIP account, which looks like: sip:my_username@my_voip_provider.

  • I want to contact other SIP accounts (e.g. other Linphone users)

You can either use our free SIP service to create a Linphone account (configurable through our app Assistant), or purchase a SIP account from a VoIP operator.

Linphone accounts created with our free SIP service can make audio and video calls, send instant messages and share files to other Linphone users. Of course, our free SIP service supports push notifications, which means that you can receive incoming calls and messages even if Linphone app is in background mode or not running.

However, note that if you use our free SIP service to create your Linphone account, you will only be able to reach people who have a SIP account too, and not standard phone numbers.

  • I want to contact standard phone numbers (classical PSTN calls)

If you want to call standard phone numbers in a classical PSTN call, you have to purchase a SIP service from a VoIP operator. It is the VoIP operator's role to transform a pure internet VoIP call into classical PSTN call, thanks to a set of machines called gateways.

Linphone is a general purpose SIP softphone that is not bound to any operator. Because it is compatible with SIP, it can work with any VoIP operator using SIP (most of them use SIP, the most notable exception being Skype). Linphone.org is not affiliated nor recommends a VoIP operator in particular. We invite you to select a VoIP provider in your country by browsing the web, comparing rates, etc…

Note that you might have a SIP account included with your internet line subscription: it is the case in France for clients of the free.fr internet provider, who is powering the freephonie.net VoIP network.

HOW TO CREATE A SIP ACCOUNT WITH LINPHONE'S FREE SIP SERVICE?

To create a Linphone account, you can either :

  • use the account creator (Assistant) directly in Linphone :

On iOS and Android, the Assistant is accessible through the "menu" button, in the upper left corner. On Linphone-desktop (Mac OSX, GNU Linux or Windows), it is located in the "help" menu. 

You can register with your phone number only, or with a specific username and your phone number. In this case your phone number will be linked to this username and your contacts can either join you with your username or your phone number.

If you use Linphone on your smartphone, we will automatically send you a SMS with a validation code. On tablets and computers, you can also validate your account with your email address.

Enter a username, a password and an email address. A confirmation email will be sent at your email address. After having clicked on the link to validate your account, you wil have to configure this newly created Linphone account in Linphone app.

Go to the Assistant : on mobile platforms, through the upper left corner menu; on desktop platforms, through the Help menu. Click on "Use a Linphone account". Depending on the information that you gave when you created your account, you will have to enter either your phone number, or you username and password. 

And that's all. Once the Assistant has completed, Linphone should say something like "Registered" and/or a green light.

I HAVE A SIP ACCOUNT FROM SOME-VOIP-COMPANY, WHAT DO I DO?

If you purchased a SIP account from a VoIP Provider, go to the Assistant (see above) and click on "Use a SIP account". You will have to enter at least three things:

  • Username
  • Domain
  • Password

All this information should be provided to you by your VoIP operator during signup process. For your information, username and domain form your SIP identity when grouped together, like an email address: sip:my_username@my_voip_provider

Sometimes, VoIP providers might also require to setup the "Proxy" field. This happens when the domain is different from the proxy. 

And that's all. Once the Assistant has completed, Linphone should say something like "Registered » and/or a green light.

You can now place calls.

All other settings are for advanced users or geeks who want to play with the software.

Learn more

What is SIP ?

SIP is a protocol for establishing Voice over IP calls. It is an open standard, published by the IETF organisation, who made the vast majority of internet protocols. It is inspired from e-mail and http. The following section describes the basic principles of SIP from the user's standpoint, and how to make SIP calls.

Direct SIP calls in local network

Just enter sip:<hostname or IP address> in the SIP url bar of Linphone to place a call to another Linphone running in your network.

This also works on the public internet, provided that the two machines have public IP addresses or appropriate firewall rules.

Internet calls through a SIP proxy

On the public internet, because of dynamic IP addresses, mobility or firewalls, direct calls are not really usable. That's why the concept of SIP proxy exists: the proxy is responsible for routing calls to whatever users' IP address is. VoIP operators are deploying SIP proxies on the internet to get SIP calls routed for their subscribers.

In a first step, the user has to subscribe to a service by choosing a username (sometimes a number) and password. Your public SIP identity is then sip:my_username@my_voip_provide. This is the address that other people can use to reach you using SIP.

Then, by configuring the SIP client (such as Linphone) to go through the proxy, you get a public SIP address on the internet, in the same way as you have an email address. Other people who subscribed to this operator can be reached by simply typing their username or phone number.

The routing of pure internet calls is a service that is often free. Linphone.org is powering a free SIP proxy service, you can register here.

For more information, see the "Getting started" section above.

Calls to normal phone numbers

Most of VoIP operators provide attractive prices to place VoIP to PSTN (= classical telephony) calls, through their proxies and gateways. You could then call anybody in the world from your favourite Linphone client, by simply entering his/her international phone number. The SIP username here becomes a phone number.

For more information, see the "Getting started" section above.

Choosing a voip operator

The Linphone project is not affiliated with any VoIP or telecom operator, thus we do not recommend or promote any of them in particular. By typing "voip operator" in your favourite search engine, you will get hundreds of answers. You can refine the search by country to get more pertinent answers.

Linphone is using the standard and well known SIP protocol. As such, it should be compatible with any VoIP operator using SIP for its network.