In (K)Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr, the Twinkle softphone application is somehow packaged wrongly so that due to missing dependencies, Twinkle cannot start up in graphical mode. Until a corrected package is released, you can resurrect Twinkle by using the version from Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. To do that, perform the following steps:
1) Add the Ubuntu 12.04 package sources to the system. For this, add the following lines to /etc/apt/sources.list:
## Ubuntu 12.04 for packages to be installed from older release due to bugs
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise restricted main multiverse universe
2) Exclude these packages from the default update mechanism – packages from here should only be installed on special request. Do this by adding the following lines to /etc/apt/preferences (create the file if it does not exist so far):
Pin: release a=precise
3) Install twinkle from Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Precise Pangolin by issuing the following commands:
apt-get install twinkle/precise
This forces to install the twinkle package from the just-added „precise“ package source which actually is Ubuntu 12.04. If you had installed twinkle before from Ubuntu 14.04, apt-get will warn you that you are going to downgrade the package. It might also install some further libraries from Ubuntu 12.04. Not that the command will output the version number of the twinkle package which is actually chosen by selecting the „precise“ package source (note that below German localisation is given):
Version »1:1.4.2-2.1« (Ubuntu:12.04/precise [amd64]) für »twinkle« gewählt.
After that, twinkle should be startable again. It is now the older version which works without problems – and has the correct dependencies so that the graphical interface comes up.
4) After having installed the old version, you have to fix it so that subsequent „apt-get upgrade“ commands do not overwrite it with the (broken) version from 14.04 again. For this, add another entry to /etc/apt/preferences:
Pin: version 1:1.4.2-2.1
Note that we pin the package to the version which has been output by the „apt-get install“ command above.
By using the /etc/apt/preferences file, we have the great advantage that all package management frontends obey the pinning. Locking a package e.g. in synaptic will not influence the apt command line tools.
5) Finally, apt-get might complain about some auto-installed packages which are not needed any more. These are libraries needed by 14.04’s twinkle which are not needed by any other package. Remove these with
After all these steps, you have a working twinkle again and you had not to tweek the package management out of its limits.
Three months later…
After installing twinkle this way, I used it for about six weeks. Unfortunately, it became more and more unstable, probably due to updated libraries or other stuff, which moved my system more and more away from precise’s environment. When my twinkle crashed in three of four attempts to answer an incoming call, I finally moved away from it. Now, I am using sflphone, which became usable after some updates of Trusty Thar. Unfortunately, it massively lacks documentation, I cannot find the command-line client and the desktop integration is far away from the state I had with twinkle.
All the other VoIP soft phones of Ubuntu and even beyond are unusuable – either due to technical incapabilities or due to even worse integration into my desktop – bear with me, but I’d like to answer a call purely by keyboard and not pushing the mouse all over the desktop.
Over all, the state and quality of VoIP softphone clients on Linux is rather unconvincing, even in 2014…