If you’ve ever played a game with a group of friends, you’ll know that being able to communicate often results in superior performance, especially in games where cooperation is required. Windows Home Server provides a solid base for running your own Voice Chat server.
For many of us, TeamSpeak was our first voice chat application. Among the MMO crowd, Ventrilo seems to have become the de facto standard for group play, though some clans/guilds continue to use TeamSpeak. Another solution from the Open Source realm is Mumble and it’s server counter-part Murmur.
Since installation of each of these is fairly well documented, I’ve chosen to simply highlight the resources you’ll need to get started. None of these provides our wonderful ease of installation most add-in’s have, nor do they provide configuration options through the WHS Console.
The TeamSpeak server can be obtained from the TS Downloads page here. In addition, since we don’t want to require the user to be logged on all the time, you should grab the dedicated service file.
As of June 2, 2009, the Downloads page doesn’t list a download for the service executable. It is still accessible on their site, however they strictly forbid direct linking to their downloads. To get around this, simply click the link for the latest server download. When presented with the agreement, rather than clicking on “I Agree”, copy the link address and paste it into your URL bar. Add _service to the file name so it looks like: /server_windows_service.exe
Hopefully the TeamSpeak developers fix this little problem soon.
Simple directions are provided for installing the TeamSpeak service here, aside from the incorrect download instructions.
Please note that TeamSpeak’s license allows for non-commercial use. Review their FAQ before assuming use outside your friends and family is permitted.
Ventrilo installation is similar to TeamSpeak, however the installer includes the necessary files to run it as a service. After installation on your WHS, you simply run the Install menu option found in your start menu under VentSrv->Service. Note that the service does not automatically start after install. You can start it manually through the Services administrative tool found in your start menu.
Ventrilo’s public version allows for a maximum of 8 connections before requiring you to purchase a license or more likely service from a hosting provider.
Installing and configuring Murmur is a bit more complicated, but well covered here. Setting it up as a service is documented by the installation page here. There is a small error in the installation document step 5 referring to “Murmur Demo” where the previous instruction is to create an entry entitled “Murmur”. Simple ignore the Demo portion and use the Murmur entry found there.
Both pages can be overwhelming if you’re new to editing configuration files and registry entries. The results are pretty good, however, since you have an open source license, rather than it being proprietary and/or restrictive. Mumble also provides an on-screen overlay within certain games.
Each of these packages has advantages and disadvantages. TeamSpeak has a fairly restrictive license, however it has a built-in web interface that allows you to configure your server to meet your needs. Ventrilo has a limit on the number of users before you encounter licensing restrictions and requires you to edit an INI file by hand, however it does install as a service a tad bit easier than TeamSpeak. Mumble/Murmur are open source, however the installation and configuration tasks are a level of complication above the previous two options.
One of the biggest drawbacks to each of these is a lack of integration with the Windows Home Server Console. A problem hopefully some adventurous developer would be willing to step forward and fix.