openSUSE 11.2 Pidgin: Google Talk Audio and Video Support

After realizing that I should be able to have audio and video support working with my google apps user account and google talk I set out on the dagerous mission of getting it to work under openSUSE 11.2. Unfortunately, it will not work "out of the box" using the standard packages and repositories. The main error that would occur would be one of the following depending on which packages you were using:

  1. Can not receive incoming messages and pidgin would hang/crash/freeze
  2. Starting a call would create an "error starting conference" or some such message
  3. Call would just be dropped.

The main reason(s) for this is that the farsight2 package is too old. In order for this to work you need to have farsight >= 0.18 which requires gstreamer >= 0.26. Since openSUSE ships with gstreamer 0.24 and farsight 0.9 (or something like that) you will need to get some newer versions of gstreamer and compile your own copy of farsight. Before we begin there are a few additional things you should know.

Pidgin uses gstreamer for it's audio video requirements. If you want to configure you devices use the gstreamer-properties application to setup your default devices. You can try using the built-in Pidgin Audio/Video plugin but I had limited success with this. Additionally, I also used the GNOME repository for a newer version of pidgin as well as a few of the extra pidgin related packages you can find there. You should also test to see if farsight and gstreamer are working. My guess, since you are reading this post, is that it isn't working. To verify the status run the following command.

gst-inspect-0.10 fsrtpconference

If you do not get anything back your farsight is not installed correctly or you do not have the appropriate version. At this point you should download the farsight2 source code for version 0.18 or greater as we will be compiling it soon. Next add the packman repository to yast and upgrade/change all your gstreamer packages to the packman versions. I also installed the gstreamer-ffmpeg package but I don't know if this is required. If you don't know how to do this you might not want to attempt the remaining steps.  Finally, in my many google searches it is worth noting that the minimum requirements are the gstreamer plugins (good/ugly), libnice, and farsight2 but packman has everything except farsight2 I believe.

Now that you have upgraded gstreamer to the packman version which should be greater that 0.26 you can extract the farsight2 code and install it.

./configure --prefix=/usr --libdir=/usr/lib64
sudo make install

Now lets check to see if our farsight is working correctly.

gst-inspect-0.10 fsrtpconference

If everything is working so far, start up pidgin and try to make a google talk video/voice call. Make sure that you have gone to gstreamer-properties and set and tested all your default settings. If you don't this likely won't work.

I have had random crashes on pidgin when ending a google talk call but I haven't done any debugging on this yet. Just figuring out how to get it to work at all was a huge undertaking and took many hours of trial and error.

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