In this post, I’ll show you some popular free softphones that you can configure and register to your CCNP Collaboration home lab. We are going to study the following free softphone models:
- IP Blue VTGO-PC
- Counterpath X-lite
- Express Talk
IP Blue VTGO-PC
VTGO-PC is in my opinion the best of the free softphones for Windows that are available out there.
Here are the prerequisites to configure the VTGO-PC free softphone and register it to CUCM:
- One computer, with one NIC card,
- a CUCM server up and running,
- the IP Blue VTGO-PC Multilab software,
- a LAN connection to CUCM
- download a copy of VTGO-PC free softphone and start playing with it. In my opinion, I found the demo version to have all necessary features for the CCNP collaboration track. The only drawback is that each call does not last more than 2 minutes. But hey, this is only a lab environment!
CUCM Home Lab Topology
Here is the topology we’re going to work on:
We have a CUCM server installed on Vmware. I set the network card in Vmware to “bridged” mode. The IP address of the CUCM server is 192.168.2.250.
I am going to configure the VTG-PC free softphone with IP address 192.168.2.6. It will use the physical interface card to get to CUCM and register.
I am assuming that you:
- either have manually configured a phone on CUCM, or
- you have set the CUCM auto-configuration feature.
Installing IP Blue VTGO-PC Multilab Softphone Software
Installing the software is a straight-through process. However, you may encounter an error like this:
An error has occurred while applying security settings. Users is not a valid user or group
This may happen if you are using a non-English version of Windows. This is a Windows error message, and what it is trying to tell you is that the group Users is missing.
I has a french version of Windows and I got this error message, altough I had a users group. However, in French, the users group is called “Utilisateurs”.
So what you need to do is:
- create a group named Users (case sensitive)
- add your computer account to this group. This step is necessary to have access to the VTGO-PC Multilab folder. Otherwise, you’ll get access denied.
Once VTGO-PC software is installed and if you opted for a shortcut on the desktop, a desktop folder called Multilab is created. It contains eight pre-built instances of the IP Blue softphone:
Let’s configure one instance of the VTGO-PC softphone. Double-click on phone instance number 3 from the folder.
A softphone launches:
The phone instance number appears on the upper line:
Configuring the VTGO-PC softphone
The VTGO-PC softphone is not configured yet. We’re going to assign the following parameters:
- MAC address
- TFTP server address
- Phone type
- network interface
- IP address
Access the settings by clicking on the Tools button:
click on Settings
The Settings page opens. We’re going to change the default values. First, we change the IP address of the TFTP server and point it to the IP address of the CUCM server:
Set the MAC address. You can put any hex string, given it is 12-character long, and without any separators:
Choose the phone model. IP Blue VTGO-PC Multilab allows you to choose from a bunch of 79xx phone modelsI choose the Cisco 7911 phone model:
Set the NIC card that will be used by the softphone to connect to the CUCM server.
Set the IP address of the softphone. The IP address can be left for default so the softphone takes the IP address of the NIC card. Otherwise, you can set it to a different value, given it can reach CUCM:
The softphone is registering to the CUCM server:
Finally, the phone is registered to CUCM and has an extension of 1002:
A good thing about VTGO-PC softphones is, once you tweak all the settings and you close the phone instance, everything is stored. At the next boot of the softphone instance, all the settings are restored.
CounterPath X-Lite Free Softphone
X-Lite is the second in the list of free softphones that we are going to download and configure.
In order to get a copy of the Counterpath X-Lite softphone for free, register on the Counterpath website to receive the download link.
Preparing CUCM to Register the X-Lite Softphone
Create a Third Party Phone Security profile.
Choose the Type Third Party SIP Device (Basic).
Enable Digest Authentication.
Create a local user account. Set the password and PIN to any value you want. But pay attention to the value you set in User Digest Authentication. This is what you will use for authenticating the SIP phone.
Create a SIP phone on CUCM with type Third-party SIP Device (Basic).
Set the MAC address to anything unique. The important fields are:
- Onwer User ID
- Device Security Profile
- Digest User
Add a line to the device.
Create a DN 1003 and then configure Device Association.
Select the SIP phone and associate it to the end user.
Set the primary extension for the end user.
Configuring the X-Lite Free Softphone
Now to the X-Lite phone. Launch it and go to Account settings. Have settings like in the screenshot below:
- User ID: the phone DN
- Domain: the CUCM IP address
- Password: the same as entered in End User page
- Authorization name: the SIP Digest User account
After you hit OK, X-Lite shows that the account is enabled. At this point, the phone is registered and is ready to make and receive calls.
Let’s dial another DN to see if it works:
The line 1000 on the other phone rings.
Ekiga: The Funniest Free Softphone
The third one we are going to study among the list of the free softphones is Ekiga. It is nice, light and has been around for a while. Learning to integrate Ekiga to your CUCM could help you learn how to register a SIP softphone in general.
First you need to download the Ekiga Free SIP Softphone
Setting Up Ekiga
The main menu is like this:
Go to Edition -> Preferences
Go to General -> General Settings and deactivate the setting “Activate network detection”
Then from the main menu, go to Edition -> Accounts
Account -> Add a SIP account
Make settings like the following screenshot. Note that my computer is French.
Name: any name you want
Host: the IP address of CUCM
User: the phone extension you want to assign to this phone
Authentication ID: this is the digest user that we will configure on CUCM. This is important
Password: digest password. This is important too.
Delay: leave to default.
After you hit OK, you will get an error message. That’s fine because we have some work to do on the CUCM side.
Setting up CUCM
Creating a Phone Security Profile
In Unified CM Administration, go to System -> Security -> Phone Security Profile
Select Third Party SIP Device (Basic)
Create a Phone Security Profile similar to this one:
Make sure you check the Enable Digest Authentication.
Creating a user
Go to User Management -> End User
The User ID field will be later used by the phone instance. So set it something you can remember.
The next four fields are plastic surgery settings. However, Digest Credentials and Confirm Digest Credentials are important.
Creating a SIP phone instance
Add a new phone: Device -> Phone -> Add New. In the phone type, choose Third Party SIP Phone (basic).
Here are the minimum fields:
- Device Pool
- Phone Button Template:
- Owner User ID: the same as the User ID created above
- Device Security Profile: the Phone Security profile we created above
- SIP Profile: Standard SIP Profile
- Digest User: the User ID created above. This is important.
Associating a directory number to the phone
In the Phone Configuration page, under Associated Information, click on Line  and add a directory number to it.
In the Directory Number configuration page, set the SIP phone as an associated device.
Associating the phone to the user
Go back to User Management ->End User
Select the user you created earlier. Scroll down to Device Information, and associate to it the third party SIP phone you just created..
Now you are set. Go back to Ekiga softphone and check the status of the account. It says “registered”
Unfortunately, I can not make calls to and from it because it keeps on getting a bogus IP address 169.254…. I tried many times to change it through the Ekiga configuration assistant but it seems not to commit the changes.
The client still gets the bogus IP address.
Express Talk Free SIP Softphone
With Ekiga, I encountered difficulties calling between Ekiga softphone and IP Blue softphones because of the weird IP address.
So I searched for other free softphones on the Internet and found Express Talk.
One nice thing about Express Talk is the log text that scrolls down, below the phone screen.
First, download and install Express Talk. There is a non-commercial version you can use for your home lab.
Follow all the steps as in the Registering As A Third-Party SIP Softphone To CUCM paragraph .
Then, comes the client settings.
Setting up the Express Talk SIP softphone
Follow the screenshots to have a configuration that works.
At the end, check if the phone is registered on CUCM, with a LAN IP address:
Look, my SIP softphone is calling my SCCP softphone!
With all the free softphones we have seen above, you can build a decent pool of IP phones in your home lab. I don’t know yet if they do work on Windows 10, because I only tested them on Windows 7. Of course you will have a tendency to prefer one softphone to another, just like me. So which one is your favourite?