Help/Advice requested.

Some people I am working with want to set up a "chat app". Currently I don't use one, but others with whom I would like to "chat" are already using Signal, so that seems to be the obvious choice.

So far so good.

But one person who I would like to be in the new group says that he hasn't been able to get Signal to work.

Apparently Signal claims it wants/needs to send an SMS, but can't.

As yet I have no other information, but does that sound familiar to anyone?



Is this something people have seen before? Is this something people have fixed?

I have options:

(a) Abandon having this person in the group;

(b) Help this person fix the problem;

(c) Abandon Signal and use something else.

I would appreciate any feedback people might have.

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Calling @rysiek ... I think you might have some advice or input into this.


@rysiek In particular, people have told me that the Signal desktop is not as friendly or usable as Telegram's.

Do you have any comment on that?

@ColinTheMathmo @rysiek I can confirm the Signal desktop client is not as reliable as I would like; I don't have experience with the Telegram desktop client. I have to restart the Signal desktop client about once a day because it mostly-silently stops sending messages (there is an indicator the message was not sent, but you have to look for it). I'm running the client from flatpak on Debian.

@bremner I might just have to go ahead and start using it and see what happens. Without more experience I'm reluctant to recommend it to people as "the thing to use" without both personal experience and multiple recommendations.

CC: @rysiek

@bremner FWIW, I've read about electron, but still don't really understand the important implications of "it's an electron app". People seem to take it for granted that that makes everything clear and communicates everything the listen needs to know, but for me it really doesn't.

I live in a weird technology hinterland of knowledge and experience. When people interact with me they end up assuming I know vastly more than I do, and ...



@bremner ... then they are confounded when I don't understand something that they assume is obvious, based on what they think I know.

Then everyone is confused.

(2/n, n=2)


@ColinTheMathmo @rysiek it's customised version of chrome basically. So it using the same underlying tech (JavaScript) as most webapps, but there is no latency of sending things back and forth to a server. In practice it feels just like a heavy-ish GUI app. People who are fussier about GUI (e.g. Mac users) probably notice more rough edges, but I don't have much basis for comparison. My other GUI app is a browser.

@ColinTheMathmo My suggestion is for you to give a try at XMPP. It works on the browser, on the PC (Gajim) and on the smartphone (Conversations installed freely through F-Droid). Try the server for your account

@dani I'd love to do that, but in this case it's not really an option. My 91 year old mother already uses Signal, as do others in my family. There's no way I'd get them to convert to XMPP, even though I think it's potentially a good option.

I'm having enough trouble getting close colleagues to switch away from FFB and WhatsApp.

@ColinTheMathmo Sending an SMS with a code is the usual procedure afaik. I remember i had to try several times until i got registration working.

@maikek The usual procedure for what?

The question I'm asking is if people have seen the problem where Signal says it's trying to send an SMS but can't. I can believe that it wants to send an SMS for some sort of authentication, but what might make it not possible for it to do so?

So that's what I'm asking ... have people seen this go wrong before?

If so, what did they do to try to fix it?

@ColinTheMathmo @maikek

Not with Signal, but with other apps, that have asked for a mobile number to log in via SMS, and then pushing you to install the app, when my mobile was so old that it couldn't even install, never mind run.

So, yes it sounds familiar, but more details needed before troubleshooting can begin. :D

@BillySmith In this case it's apparently the app already installed on the phone that is then failing configuration or initialisation because it's failing to send an SMS.

But yeah, more information needed before troubleshooting can begin properly. I was just wondering if other people have seen the problem.


@ColinTheMathmo @maikek

I've seen similar from a mate who repairs phones, and gets a lot of app questions. :D

It might be the Allowed Permissions that the app has been given when it was installed.

It might be worth checking there.

Possibly a fresh install would clear this up...

( Troubleshooting phones is like fixing Windows boxen in the late 90's... 🤦‍♂️ )

@ColinTheMathmo @maikek

I'll ask him if he's got any idea's, apart from the Uninstall/Re-Install dance. :D

@BillySmith That's super helpful, thanks. I've now installed Signal on both my Android phone & my Linux box. Some bits were slightly odd & I can see him tripping up, but more info would be helpful.

Tomorrow I'll take him through the full "Uninstall, Install from scratch" process very slowly while on a video call. That might sort it. I think he's also been under some serious misconceptions I don't fully understand, so going through the process from the start will almost certainly help.


@ColinTheMathmo the signal server said it would send an sms but i didn't get it. Several times i got the message, but the code didn't work. I remember, i was able to choose a call instead of a text, is that still available?

@maikek I don't know if that's available. All I've been told at this stage is that installation or configuration or something was failing because it said it wanted to send an SMS but was unable to do so.

So it sounds like it's failing at an eve earlier stage than you're referring to, because you're talking about it claiming to have sent an SMS, even if it didn't arrive.

@ColinTheMathmo yes, you're right. I hadn't realised that not being able to send SMS was an error message by signal.

@sparky It might be unreasonable of me, but I'm instantly repulsed by the motion-sickness-inducing "bouncey bouncey" of the opening graphic.

And having browsed the open page multiple times, I still can't work out what it's actually like. Lots of buzzwords, doesn't answer my questions.

Probably I just need to use it to see how utterly *WONDERFUL* it is, but first impressions are "Urgh".

At the moment, your recommendation is the only real positive I can see.

I'll put it on the list.

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