Open Source duel: Kontalk vs Signal

Well, I can’t think of a way to send push notifications to an Android device wthout GCM – Signal uses it, Kontalk does and so does Conversations. But nevertheless there is a huge difference between the Google dependency of Signal on one hand and Kontalk on the other. Signal doesn’t work without the Google Services Framework installed on my device. For me it sounds ridiculous: I have to run proprietary Spyware on my smartphone in order to use an open source messenger which claims to be privacy-focussed. But Kontalk can be used on a device without any Google software installed.

The problem here is that Kontalk still has to many bugs and anti-features (e.g. voice messages) to be a serious alternative to Signal… However, I think that many users of Signal are advanced Android users and are able to limit the impact of Google with XPrivacy, like I do. And Moxie Marlinspike (the main developer of Signal) says that in the future, he’d like to have Signal Google-free, but they don’t have enough resources to do that now.
And the main objective of Signal is to prevent mass surveilance in an easy and user-friendly way, not to satisfy “crypto-nerds”, as they stated in the Signal forum.
But I agree that it is not good that Play Services have to be installed to run Signal… :confused:

Can you elaborate on this? In what way do you consider voice messaging to be an anti-feature?

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I agree, it’s all about mass surveillance, not targeted spying on single persons. And in order to fight mass surveillance we have to find a balance between security and ease of use. That’s the reason for transmitting hashed phone numbers for example as Kontalk (and Signal) does: it weakens security to a certain degree but makes life much easier for users.

So I have no problem with such trade-offs, but I’m scared about how much Signal is interwoven with Google (you remeber the NSA programm PRISM and Google`s role in it, right?). Using Google Cloud Messaging for push notifications is not my concern, it’s quite harmless and unavoidable, if you want push notifications on Android devices. But you can get Signal only via Google’s Play store. It works only if you have Google Software installed on your device (a version offering WebSocket instead has been abandonned by Moxie Marlinspike months ago, so the Google dependency will go on and on). For me the straw that broke the camels back was the moment, when I applied for beta-testing the desktop-version (an extension of Googles Chrome browser): They didn’t ask me for my e-mail address but for my Googlemail adress. WTF!

So far it’s just facts, but allow my some speculation on top. Open Whisper Systems the organisation behind Signal is owned by Moxie Marlinspike’s company Quiet Riddle Ventures LLC. I wouldn’t be too much surprised, if he sold this company one day to Google. It would be just coherent.

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@tetris4 Sorry. I wanted to say “missing features such as voice messages”.

No need to apologize, I was just trying to understand. I guess you are actually referring to voice calls, because Kontalk can send voice messages just fine. :wink:

How do you send voice messages?? :open_mouth:

Just open a chat.
Beside the input field is a microphon icon. Just press and hold it to record a voice message.
This message will sendet immediately after you have finished.

Or use the paperclip on the top of the chat window. There choose “audio”. Now you can record a message and check it before you send it.


@badger: I think the need for a GMail-addres is to allow only certain (logged into Chrome) people to access the closed beta, which is now unecessary because it is acessible to everyone now. But I really do not understand why OWS made the Desktop version to be a Chrome-App and not a Java-App or a native program…
I did the trick with installing Chromium, an open source Chrome alternative which can run Chrome-Apps as well.

All in all, I don’t know what to think of Signal. On one side, it’s a easy to use and (at the moment) relatively secure, well-designed messenger with lots of features, but on the other hand Moxie’s decisions to stick with Google all the time really makes me want to puke. :confused:

Don’t get me wrong, they just asked me for my Gmail account (which i don’t have) in order to regsiter for the beta test, it definitely isn’t necessary to use the Chrome extension. I only wanted to illustrate how much Google focussed they are. Scary.

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After discussing a bit with @Stefan via Kontalk voice messages about Kontalk and Signal, I my opinion is the following:

Signal is the better messenger, and while Kontalk goes more in the direction of security Signal goes more to usability which is more important to the average user.
BUT: Moxie Marlinspike, the founder of Signal, has very strange and (for me) unreasonable opinions regarding F-Droid and Open Source.

Now I came up with the following solution: Open Whisper Systems should employ @daniele_athome as main Signal developer instead of Moxie and everything would be fine! :wink:

Yeah, and my opinion is that if Signal would invest all their innovation back under the umbrella of the XSF we would all live in a happier world.

Oh, and an idea of mine: The XSF should issue something like a “mobile messenger label” that sets a standard that can compete with proprietary and non-libre networks (i.e. an extended XMPP core).

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My opinion is that Signal must have an option to work without GMS (aka Google Play Services).

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It is difficult to compare Signal with Kontalk on many levels, as the resources are ofc massively different. But wouldn’t this discussion better fit under this thread? I don’t see the point of starting another one. If you agree, I will move this there.

Afaik, and please correct me if am wrong, Signal has nothing to do with xmpp. Unless you were making a bold request for them, or referring to Kontalk.

You can for now use Noise, a fork of Signal from Copperhead OS. They provide an f-droid repository.

But lets keep this related to Kontalk. :wink:


Please give me a link to Noise.

@Buranek there is actually a beta version available right now without GCM

@tetris4 Yeah, I think @Stanzi raised enough attention! :wink: You can move it. :slight_smile:

I thought that Signal is simliar to Whatsapp in that regard, since they share the same encryption protocol. So yes, I was making a bold request! :wink:

Regarding Signal, F-Droid and a non-GCM apk:

You can add the Copperhead repository on fdroid and refresh, you will then see Noise as available:
Have in mind this is built for CopperheadOS specifically, so it might give you issues. It works fine here (custom CM12.x) for now but without voice/video calls.

@Stefan Interesting, I had not idea about WhatsApp implementing xmpp, thanks for pointing it out.

Error 404. Real link:

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- Uses non-free translation platform

- Requires CLA to contribute translations


+ Uses free translation platform

+ No CLA for translations

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