Edit: I’ve received a couple of very helpful comments recently, so I’m making minor edits to this post to serve it on the front page of the site. Thanks to Troy and Grip for answering a couple of questions for me. I would be happy to join Grip and anyone else interested in providing proper GNU/Linux support for this wonderful device. That way, we can bypass MagicJack tech support and virtual machines altogether.
Wow, it’s been far too long since I’ve posted. Apologies for the delay; hopefully this post will be useful for you.
recently got myself a MagicJack and a local phone number to tie in with it. Unfortunately, the MagicJack website has been claiming to release GNU/Linux drivers and binaries for a couple of years donkey’s years now and tech support is absolutely useless, so I’ll assume we will probably never see a GNU/Linux version of the MagicJack software.
Having said that, I have noticed, upon reading various forums and by connecting the MagicJack device to my machine, that the hardware is detected by Ubuntu. The lsusb program reports:
“Bus 007 Device 003: ID 06e6:c200 Tiger Jet Network, Inc. Internet Phone”
That’s the MagicJack. So perhaps, with a little bit of hacking, the drivers and software shouldn’t be too difficult to produce by the free software community? If anyone is interested, I’d be happy to join such a project. I know for instance that the MagicJack can serve as a dongle in order to make calls through Ekiga (but one cannot use a telephone handset to make or receive calls, only a microphone/headset attached to the computer). So it may not be as daunting a task as initially thought?
In any case, my current solution is to use VMWare Player to run a Windows XP virtual machine. I first tried VirtualBox, but unfortunately, the call quality is quite bad; VirtualBox provides very fine grained control over USB devices but I think this is detrimental for MagicJack usage. In any case, VMWare is the preferred option for flawless call quality. I can connect my MagicJack and let Ubuntu pass the device through to the virtual machine, whereupon the software installs or starts up. Call quality is excellent and my test callees have not been able to tell that I’ve been calling them from a virtual machine. Here are the steps to get your MagicJack working under Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx:
1) Install VMWare Player (it’s free, even though VMWare asks for all kinds of information…I’m not really sure if EVERY field in the signup form needs to be “required”).
2) Create a new Windows XP virtual machine and install Windows (I cringe every time I catch myself saying or typing “install Windows”).
Can’t receive incoming calls?
3) Here’s the key: in your virtual machine options, ensure that your networking type is “Bridged” and not “NAT.” When I used “NAT”, the virtual machine shared my Ubuntu machine’s IP address, and I was unable to receive incoming calls. When I used “Bridged” and the virtual machine received its own IP address from my router, incoming and outgoing calls worked perfectly.
4) I adjusted my power settings in the Windows XP Control Panel to “Always On” and I also disabled the screensaver (if you’re like me and haven’t used proprietary legacy operating systems in a while, the screensaver options are located in the Properties window that you can access by right-clicking on the Desktop).
If you experience VMWare hard-lock issues after plugging in the MagicJack, it’s probably because you rushed and double-clicked the “MagicJack” icon on the Windows XP desktop. Don’t. Just plug in the MagicJack and enable it for use in the virtual machine. The MagicJack software will start automatically.
There are guides that suggest blacklisting the “snd-usb-audio” module in Ubuntu; unfortunately I have an external USB sound card that needs this module, and I didn’t have to do it when I followed my suggestion above.
If hard locking continues, disable the sound cards in the VM. That might fix the issue for you. There’s no need to enable sound cards if you’re using the VM purely for MagicJack. It’ll also prevent annoying Windows sounds from occurring.
Now I can have the VM minimized all day and my MagicJack will work fine.
A Windows Virtual Machine is Not a Long-Term Solution
Still, I’m putting it on record that I despise this solution. The hardware is detected by Ubuntu, and I’ve seen whisperings of the details of the TigerJet hardware. If I were better at writing drivers, I would.
If people are interested in joining together to make the MagicJack work natively under GNU/Linux, please let me know via the comments and we can set up a project. It’ll give me a chance to learn about driver programming while I’m at it. I bet we can get it working with Ekiga or other softphones too.
Note to MagicJack: Just because your device works beautifully and has loads of wonderful features for a great price does not mean you can get away with sub-par technical support. Your tech. support is absolutely awful. Either get people who actually respond to questions, or create telephone tech support. I hate this LivePerson chatting nonsense. I’d rather call tech support during business hours than waste my time with 24/7 online tech folks who have no idea how to respond to any question that isn’t already in the FAQ.
Furthermore, please give us the truth about the GNU/Linux support. If you’re not going to support it, say so. If you are, give us a real timeframe (your
FAQ says “first quarter of 2010″ FAQ now says that you expect to offer support “in the future”). It is now almost the fourth quarter of 2010 the third quarter of 2011.
Your product is a good one. Stand behind it and develop a proper GNU/Linux interface and you’ll see your sales skyrocket. Do not discount us as a negligible minority. The number of free software users is growing by leaps and bounds every day.
And for f*ck’s sake, explain the different voicemail options somewhere. I have no clue what the difference is between “Unavailable”, “Busy”, “Name” and “Temporary Greeting”, or how I can switch between the different voicemail modes.
Edit: Troy’s response to the voicemail issue:
“This REALLY Should be in their FAQ but here’s what the Tech Support explained to me regarding the “Unavailable”, “Busy” and “Temporary” greetings:
Users should record their outgoing voicemail message under the TEMPORARY greeting, as neither the Unavailable or Busy greetings are actually functional in Magicjack’s voicemail system yet. Any message recorded under those two will not matter or be heard by the caller. Apparently it is there for when they enable more features in the future.”
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