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FGCom vs. alternatives

FGCom is a realtime voice communication system specially designed for FlightGear.

FGCom vs. alternatives

Postby Darkriser » Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:14 pm

As a newcomer I really wonder why people prefer various alternatives (especially Mumble) to FGCom?!?

At first glance FGCom seems to perfectly simulate the real-life radio communication (frequencies, range-limited coverage,
controlled through aircraft's cockpit radio). As I learned recently, event a 'global' frequency (122.75) is available....which is simply perfect!

But a simple look at http://flightgear-atc.alwaysdata.net/ shows that Mumble is simply more preferred.
What's the main motivation to use a third-party tool if we have a built-in and realistic tool designed specially for FG?
Does it lack anything, or?
I've read all the related wiki articles, but haven't found any details about this....

Thanks for clarification.
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Re: FGCom vs. alternatives

Postby PINTO » Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:13 pm

There's also the FlightGear Discord server: https://discord.gg/cPTy5WH

I very much so prefer Discord.

Personally, FGCom is buggy, and when it does work it's often unusable due to how quiet other aircraft are.
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Re: FGCom vs. alternatives

Postby PH-JAKE » Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:24 pm

FGCom suffered from (extensive) service outage, when the sole FGCom server operator moved away. Up till then it already had reliability issues, prompting people to seek other ways to setup comms. When mumble.allfex.org was made available people jumped to that and never looked back. Personally I appreciate the realism FGCom can provide, although I'm not sure about the service quality at this time.
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Re: FGCom vs. alternatives

Postby Darkriser » Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:05 pm

PINTO wrote in Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:13 pm:Personally, FGCom is buggy, and when it does work it's often unusable due to how quiet other aircraft are.

PH-JAKE wrote in Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:24 pm:FGCom suffered from (extensive) service outage, when the sole FGCom server operator moved away. Up till then it already had reliability issues, prompting people to seek other ways to setup comms.

This should be definitely clearly stated on the wiki to avoid confusion.

I'm very sad to hear about the problems, because I really like to fly as realistic as possible and FGCom would add an extra layer of realism.
Any chance/plans for improvement?
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Re: FGCom vs. alternatives

Postby mickybadia » Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:42 pm

I cannot resist trying to revive some realism after a post like this, whether through FGCom or anything else...

There were indeed issues with FGCom in the past. Some were already mentioned like reliability (it used to be a single home PC running in a volunteer's home), some not: tricky installation (used to be a side-running prgm as well), CPU load problem, and some form of personal fight over it as well. At the time rather an outsider myself, I witnessed that these unfortunate elements all together created a lot of frustration that gradually made people turn to the easy and stable third-party solutions, sadly at the expense of the quest for realism.

It all happened while I was integrating FGCom support in my own contribution ATC-pie, hoping to add to the MP experience. You mention a few good reasons to opt for it, and I saw at least two more near the top of the list:
- realistic comm loops with "PTT deafens sound" behaviour, IRL you cannot talk over one another
- for ATCs and controlled sessions: ATIS recording, looped over and tunable from FG cockpits in an integrated fashion

So in terms of features, FGCom did deserve preference to me, and in terms of service I believe that the issues it had disappeared over a year ago. It is hard to tell if it supports load since there is hardly any, but every time I check it still works perfectly. It even has this radio voice effect that adds to it; chat rooms make you feel too near the others.

But to answer completely, there are design flaws and obsolete facts about it:
- algorithm: you in fact connect to the nearest phone-booked <airport, frq> pair available that matches your tuned frequency, so there are occasions where stations are wrongly out of reach
- protocol: as I understand it, Asterisk is now rather deprecated
- data sync: frequency updates result in broken phone books if not updated everywhere (incl. server)


Darkriser wrote in Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:05 pm:I'm very sad to hear about the problems, because I really like to fly as realistic as possible and FGCom would add an extra layer of realism. Any chance/plans for improvement?


This is free software, so the solution is to propose one. I happen to be considering this, so if you or anybody is interested we should eventually team up and talk. The only thing is that I will not want to work for any solution bringing less than what FGCom offers already.

As I said on the "devel" list in November, I see two more features we should try to integrate:
- direction finding on radio signal reception;
- separate "land lines" for ATC coordination.


PINTO wrote in Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:13 pm:I very much so prefer Discord.

To build my own awareness of these things, may I ask why?
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Re: FGCom vs. alternatives

Postby PINTO » Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:01 pm

Regarding discord, it's actually moderated, the chat history is kept between sessions, chat channels and voice channels are separated, servers are free (meaning I can create a new one whenever I want), banning someone from the server actually keeps them banned (in other words, dealing with trolls is easy), the user interface is cleaner and easier, there's and iOS client, bots are a breeze to set up, and I'm sure there's a host of other reasons I'm not mentioning. And Discord is going to be rolling out screen sharing and video calling. The only large feature that mumble has that discord doesn't is 3D positional audio, but that doesn't even matter with flightgear.

Feel free to join the FG discord channel and check it out. No client download needed.
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Re: FGCom vs. alternatives

Postby Darkriser » Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:58 pm

mickybadia wrote in Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:42 pm:(look above)

A very detailed statement about FGCom and its status.
Although not very positive one, but truly explanatory. Thank you.

Just to add, if I had the power (and knowledge), I would (at least try to) contribute to revival of FGCom.
I simply love the way it works (from pilot's view, of course).
Is there someone to talk about it? Because at the moment I know absolutely nothing about FG source code, how it is organized, etc...
I'm C/C++ developer, but never contributed to an open-source project.
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Re: FGCom vs. alternatives

Postby Johan G » Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:14 pm

Darkriser wrote in Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:58 pm:Is there someone to talk about it?

Yes, mainly on the developer mailing list.

Darkriser wrote in Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:58 pm:[...] at the moment I know absolutely nothing about FG source code, how it is organized, etc...

Regarding the FGCom code in particular you can browse it through at SourceForge.

As for the rest of FlightGear, you can browse through the code on the SourceForge project page. The main parts of FlightGear are as you maybe have seen the aircraft, scenery, executable and a bunch of various configuration files (of which two or tree holds the main settings).

While I have not built FlightGear myself I know that the executable is built from two interworking pieces of software SimGear (more or less a library) and FlightGear. Basically only the code necessary for the run time flight simulation is in the latter. The bunch of configuration files (and some documentation, mostly for aircraft developers) can be found in FGData.

Though it reflects very old code you may get some overview by looking at api-docs.freeflightsim.org/.

Darkriser wrote in Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:58 pm:I'm C/C++ developer, but never contributed to an open-source project.

First off at least skim through the GNU General Public License, version 2 (GPLv2), as that is what FlightGear uses. There are a lot of misconceptions floating around. Some misconceptions seen on the forum from time to time are that open source != copyrighted and that one can not sell copies of GPL licensed software.

I can strongly recommend looking at the Google Tech Talk How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People (And You Can Too) (55 min YouTube video) by Ben-Collins Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick.

In the long run (and more from a philosophical point) it might be good to read The Cathedral and the Bazaar (CatB) and Producing Open Source Software (POSS).
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Re: FGCom vs. alternatives

Postby Michat » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:42 pm

The reason we are on Mumble it was de facto decided 10 years ago.
Was Zexe pilot from Japan, and me (I expent 5 years in FG KSFO explaining newbie people how to configure FGcom via chat --generic=socket,out,2,127.0.0.1,16661,udp,fgcom, we used to live on 122.750 ).

Was Zexe that realizes mumble exists, he told me and we try it, and it worked out of the case with excellent sound and pilot list on screen. It was fastastic, as we expent to many chat efforts to grow community in KSFO, only the advanced users of Windows 2% were capable to configure advanced properties for fgcom, because we should to explain how to do it via fgchat and then newbie should restart fg.

Hour after hours, even month later when they installed new FGreleases, we should to repeat mantra for properties. Or send them a tiny url to a video how to configure fgcom.

It was really hard to grow community with FGCOM out of FG defaults, pretty hard. Anyway we did a good job cause we increased number of historical users. I did love FGCOM, but no more we'll suffer the torture of the radio check, low volume, property check, server fail, broken up restart or repeat for infinite time that unicom is 122.750.

We move to mumble, Sexe provided the dns.free and the pc. Then it's neighbour provides a server, for 3 years ( we grow a plus respect when FGcom ). Zexe moves to Tokio.

We were rescue by user Dacer who takes the relay, providing fast server and dns from gibraltar/cadiz, In 6 years nobody ask what is fgcom. There were problem (Micky Ditto)
Dacer become father. And we move to allfex who is supporting the charge.

So it was a defacto decision Zexe and me we move to mumble. For obvious reasons our customer community centre moved to mumble, where is easier to do.


Al least FGCOM is a Radio. It was more than that, and we couldn't support that situation for more time.

Almost I cried when I saw FGCOM integer on FG. How many efforts we expended on set-up. The integration occurred in my opinion 6 years late.

However is welcome as still is the FG Radio. But the sound still pretty low. So wear headphones like a pilot is recommended. I use to listen to prague radar :)

I think also a french user has hacked his mumble to run on FGRadio stack frequencies. Should be definitive if we have that on FG.

Still FGcom is the main alternative if you want radiostaking.

Cheers
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Re: FGCom vs. alternatives

Postby PINTO » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:49 pm

Don't get me wrong, I never would've been this active in flightgear and mp if it weren't for Michat and Mumble. And mumble does work great - I just prefer discord because it's easier for my community. If I ever decide to start ATCing, it'll be over the mumble server.

But if there was a reliable in-sim voice-over-comm-frequency, I would absolutely love to use it. FGCom is just unusable as it is.
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Re: FGCom vs. alternatives

Postby Johan G » Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:59 am

Some posts about a FGCom compatible mumble plugin were split off to the new topic FGCom-mumble.
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