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236 comments

Sky .NET (3, Interesting)

BmlA (2179336) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184320)

I don't think Linux developers understand the problem. Once again. It's not about the technology underhood or that the protocol is open. The fact is these things need to be able to call to the "real world" and be able to receive calls from there. Basement geeks probably don't understand it, but that's what most normal people use Skype for. It will also need clients on tons of mobile phones AND it needs to be able to be used with Skype users. Now that Microsoft owns part of Facebook they will probably start using Skype too. You won't win this just because your application is "open".

Re:Sky .NET (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184458)

Did you just try to bring facts into the freetard world?
Oh, silly, you.

Re:Sky .NET (4, Insightful)

metageek (466836) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184472)

Absolutely!
It is indeed the very large user-base of skype that makes it so valuable (associated with its protocal closeness). Not only that but also the skype-in service which allows me to be able to answer my calls wherever I am in the world. I didn't see that service in the comparison. Even though there may be similar SIP-based services out there, they are unlikely to have all the characteristics of skype. So for now, a true substitution of skype would consists of several packages.

I use skype for a bunch of things, not just skype-to-skype, but sending SMS, calling out to "real" phones, and last but not least skype-in. The latter feature means that I cannot get a substitute. So for now I keep using skype, if it disappears from Linux I will have to use it on a VM. It is a killer app, and it is worth all the 8.5 billion that MS paid for it (really much more useful than office).

Re:Sky .NET (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185410)

I just want to second this; I've been looking for a Skype replacement for about a year now, and the only thing I can find that will get me a softphone with a real number is Google Voice. While their web version works well, the lack of a client hurts. Even if I do find something that works, getting it to work with my phone sets (USB adapter) is going to be tough. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Re:Sky .NET (4, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184494)

Here's the current situation:
- Email works everywhere. There's no "Microsoft email vs Google email" problems. You have an email account, you can send and receive email from other users with an email account. It's all compatible, world-wide.
- Instant messaging doesn't work everywhere. AIM, MSN, ICQ, SMS... all incompatible. It's a mess.
- Voice calls doesn't work everywhere. Skype, Google Voice... all incompatible. It's a mess.
- Video calls doesn't work everywhere. Skype, Facetime... all incompatible. It's a mess.

If we can't even agree on a standard for even text messaging, forget about voice calls and video calls.

What we need to do is agree on a standard that can do all this: text messages, files transfers, audio calls, video calls, from one to multiple users for each of those.

Re:Sky .NET (4, Insightful)

metageek (466836) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184564)

You are right, but there is a timing for an open standard be successful, and skype just managed to get so widespread usage that any open standard will be sidelined as long as skype does not want to play ball. I'm afraid to say that this purchase was a bright move from the Redmond dinosaur, perhaps there are still people there with brains...

Re:Sky .NET (4, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184722)

You are right, but there is a timing for an open standard be successful, and skype just managed to get so widespread usage that any open standard will be sidelined as long as skype does not want to play ball. I'm afraid to say that this purchase was a bright move from the Redmond dinosaur, perhaps there are still people there with brains...

I think the VoIP standards were available before Skype made it big. Heck telephony over the internet was around since hte early 90's, even encrypted (PGPfone anyone?).

No, the reason Skype worked was it ... just worked. No crappy port forward configurations in the router, no dozens of firewall settings need to be changed, etc. It. Just. Worked. You started it up, it ran.and connected.

Sure NAT and STUN are hacks, but they do work through most firewalls just fine, and Skype's architecture ensures it can get through firewalls easily enough.

Moving to IPv6 isn't a solution - it's not like everyone's going to run IPv6 without a firewall. And convincing Joe Average to figure out how to configure their router to let IPv6 through for their SIP phone... not happening.

Hell, Apple, release the FaceTime specs already as well - it too Just Works(tm) without firewall configuration.

Re:Sky .NET (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185244)

I think that's because of two reasons:
1- it's hard to make money while being open. Huge investments are required (development, hosting, deals with telcos...), and by definition you get no lock-in. I'm not sure how anyone can do all that, especially since most of those are up-front costs, and still hope to make money or at least convince investors to fund the start up. Few companies have the money without need for anyone (Google comes to mind)
2- proprietary does move faster. Apart from Google seeming to be able to move Android along quite fast, most other open specs lag behind their proprietary equivalents. And fragmentation is rife: HTML, Javascript, Linux... take forever to implement new stuff, and tend to do so in multiple, incompatible ways, that do plug the gap in the mean time, but tend to persist once the official spec is out.

There's a SIP client for my phone. I never could manage to get it to run (admittedly, I spent no more than 3hrs tring). Skype came pre-installed and Just Worked. I'd love for IM, video/audio calls to be "open"... I'm not holding my breath.

Re:Sky .NET (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185508)

What we need to do is agree on a standard that can do all this: text messages, files transfers, audio calls, video calls, from one to multiple users for each of those.

Unfortunately it doesn't help if we agree a standard. We also need to get enough people using the standard for it to be a viable competitor to Microsoft. All the people I want to call abroad are on Skype and will stay on Skype unless they have a reason to move. And none of them consider "It's Microsoft" or "There is an alternative" to be a reason to move. They'll stick with what works for them.

Re:Sky .NET (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184502)

You won't win this just because your application is "open".

True, but you also can't win unless it is.

Re:Sky .NET (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184652)

There are no "Linux developers" involved, most of those programs work on other platforms and have nothing special to do with Linux or with "Linux developers" lack of understanding.

Re:Sky .NET (4, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184832)

I don't think Linux developers understand the problem. Once again. It's not about the technology underhood or that the protocol is open. The fact is these things need to be able to call to the "real world" and be able to receive calls from there.

Curiously, I have never done so. I have only used Skype for calling other Skype users, including video calls and conference calls. It's an attractive value proposition when transatlantic rates would apply to regular calls.

Basement geeks probably don't understand it, but that's what most normal people use Skype for.

What does "normal people" mean here? I'm middle-aged and married with teenage kids. We own our house, cars, etc.

It will also need clients on tons of mobile phones AND it needs to be able to be used with Skype users. Now that Microsoft owns part of Facebook they will probably start using Skype too. You won't win this just because your application is "open".

Maybe not, but interconnectivity is a requirement for any solution which hopes to "win", or even to endure in the game. Consider regular telephony or mobile telephony. It does not matter whether your equipment is ancient Bell stuff, or whether it's a GSM or CDMA cellphone: they all interoperate seamlessly. That's what's needed from Skype and from anything else which hopes to compete. And Skype won't get there unless it opens up. When it opens up, there will be interoperable alternatives.
The walled garden approach does give a first-mover advantage, but this can later turn into a handicap.

Re:Sky .NET (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184926)

What does "normal people" mean here? I'm middle-aged and married with teenage kids. We own our house, cars, etc.

You're posting on slashdot. This precludes you from being normal.

Re:Sky .NET (3, Interesting)

mortonda (5175) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185354)

What does "normal people" mean here? I'm middle-aged and married with teenage kids. We own our house, cars, etc.

I think that refers to people who *don't* read slashdot. :D

Re:Sky .NET (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36185654)

What does "normal people" mean here? I'm middle-aged and married with teenage kids. We own our house, cars, etc.

I think that refers to people who *don't* read slashdot. :D

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who classify people into two kinds, and those who don't.

Re:Sky .NET (1)

lvangool (1393983) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185744)

How exactly does being interconnected and generally friendly to your adjacent systems require you to be open? Skype is perfectly interconnected (it runs on everything) without being open.

Re:Sky .NET (1)

rcamans (252182) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185750)

Wait a minute. A geek says he wants to use Skype? Oh, man, I just got an image of some geek mutant tard in his basement doing a Skype video call with anyone... GROSS.. (Shiver), Just the thought goes way past giving me the creeps, and the images that come to mind...
I am going to need years of therapy for that one.
Can you just imagine? SEEING slashdot regulars? Oh, man, we need fed regulation to limit nasty lookers/losers from using Skype video...

Re:Sky .NET (2)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185076)

Any open SIP client can indeed send and receive calls to the real world, through the PSTN, using services from a variety of companies.

Re:Sky .NET (1)

Spykk (823586) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185204)

In the "real world" people use a phone when they want to call someone else on the phone. They use skype when a phone call isn't feasible.

Re:Sky .NET (1)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185238)

I disagree. Google Voice - although non-free - gives you a phone number that can map to your google talk account, and Google Talk servers are federated. This makes XMPP and Jingle a viable competitor to Skype with features analogous to Skype-to-Skype and Skype-In. You just need to be able to "Talk out" - which you can do from the Gmail interface. Call and video quality are comparable as well.

Jingle needs clients on more platforms, but I can see it as a viable competitor to Skype.

Re:Sky .NET (0, Flamebait)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185362)

Not to mention this is a PERFECT example of why MSFT should NOT support Linux users! I mean here it is, the program works just fine, MSFT says they'll continue to support it, and what happens? "ZOMG teh M$ pwns it, we must switch NOW!"

I mean why the fuck should MSFT bother keeping the thing running, especially when Torvalds annual 6 month kernel screwing means you have to keep a cadre of developers working on NOTHING but keeping the Linux client going, when every Linux zealot is gonna be screaming from the rafters to have the thing removed?

In the end it is just another perfect example of why NO proprietary company should support Linux ever. Those that simply want an alternative OS have been pushing out by the zealots, who believe anything that isn't "free as in freedom and beer!" is the devil and must be destroyed. In the end you have a teeny tiny market controlled by zealots that have made it clear if MSFT gave away candy and beer they'd be standing by the cart throwing it into the ditch to keep anyone from being "poisoned" be teh evil M$, so why bother? That goes for Photoshop, games, hell anything that refuses to hand over any and all code, they simply don't want you there, so why waste the effort?

So I predict this will be a classic self fulfilling prophecy. The zealots will push for its banning and/or removal, it will require constant updating because from the kernel on up Linux shifts around more than any OS BAR NONE, and the Linux users, what few there were, will drop off the face of the earth, because they would rather deal with some half baked PITA mess of a "solution" rather than let ANYTHING owned by "M$" anywhere near their system, so MSFT will see the money is being pissed down a drain, quit supporting it, and all those like the Nichols troll (who is right up there with Thurott on the Windows side when it comes to trolling) will say "See? I TOLD YOU teh M$ would dump you!"

So enjoy throwing out something that works for a half baked royal PITA simply because its "free as in freedom!" Linux guys, but don't bitch when no proprietary company will touch you with a 50 foot pole, or that the "must haves" like Skype and Netflix won't run on your OS. You brought it upon yourselves.

Re:Sky .NET (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185694)

Not entirely. I have no need or desire to use Skype to call landlines or mobiles, or vice versa; but I do need to call other Skype users and they me, and to conference-call them.

What the developers have missed is that we need a single way to create a SIP ID, a single global directory, and a single global ID/addressing format. Until this is addressed, SIP is a dead duck.

Already Neglected... (1)

steevven1 (1045978) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184332)

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have always felt neglected as a Linux Skype user. The Linux version of Skype has perpetually been in beta, and it has always had less features than its Windows counterpart.

Re:Already Neglected... (1, Insightful)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184674)

That's, in large part, the fault of Linux not having a lot of standard features that Windows and Mac have. By that, I mean there are 20 competing technologies for things that are standard on Windows or Mac.

The fact that you can replace your GUI with something else is great, from an end user perspective.. but terrible from a developer perspective. You have to have a base set of features you can rely on, and LSB isnt' anywhere close to that. Take, for example, desktop compositing. This is something that a developer can count on to be there, and have a single API, both in Windows and MacOS. In Linux, it might or might not be there, and if it is there, there might bet half a dozen different API's.

You might say "That's what dependancies are for", but many things are mutually exclusive. If you already have Beryl installed, then having a Compiz dependancy is pointless.

Re:Already Neglected... (3, Informative)

dr.newton (648217) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185710)

I have felt the same way, but I think it's a blessing.

On linux, the UI has remained simple and usable, whereas on other platforms everyone gets to be guinea pigs in the develoers' horrible window-management experiments, and cruel abuse of white space.

Do we really need it? (1)

mogul (103400) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184384)

As the introvert geeks we are, do we really need it at all?

Re:Do we really need it? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184438)

As the introvert geeks we are, do we really need it at all?

Do you use Linux for work? Remote work?

Re:Do we really need it? (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185416)

That was my thought, I'm not sure where I'm going to be working next, but it's definitely possible that my next job will involve the use of skype on a regular basis. In my personal life I rarely use the phone for actual talking, usually it's checking the email, looking up information or texting, but I do have voice service and use it from time to time.

Re:Do we really need it? (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185574)

I'm working at a place where I have to co-ordinate with somebody in another state. We're using Skype and here's a few reasons: (note: It is not my intention to imply that these features are exclusive to Skype.)

- Video chat- We do communicate a little better when it's more face-to-face than over the phone or via text. It does audio or just plain text chat, too.
- Screen sharing- We can show each other what's going on on our desktops, lots of what we do is visual so that helps.
- File xfers
- Clients for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and all the features still work- I've heard it works on Android too but I personally have not seen that.
- No Firewall BS
- Encryption- Supposedly the Skype connection is all encrypted, including with file x-fers. That makes our overlords happy.

Hopefully this clarifies why I asked about remote access.

disarmament celebrations world wide, life goes on (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184404)

we knew the genuine native human spirit would ride up to meet the need. so long glowbull warmongerers from every corner of the rapidly heating globe. see you at the play-dates. the penguins are preeminent assets to all of us

Everything was said here before. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184424)

The article seems to be a Readers Digest of the /. discussion we had here when MS bought Skype. OK, there is some cool technology available, but none of my contacts uses anything compatible to it.

5 Alternatives nobody but /. has heard of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184426)

Facetime. SRSLY BRAHS.

You can laugh now, but Apple's going to release it as an "open spec". And it's actually going to be interoperable across multiple platforms.

And it has a shot in hell of being interoperable with Skype (& Facebook, if rumors have any truth).

Say what you like about Apple's "walled gardens," but remember that they're also the ones who drew the line on Flash, and have been pushing HTML5 as an alternative.

None exist. (5, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184428)

The entire VoIP/video chat market is a cesspool of junk. I'm talking about all platforms, all manufacturers. Skype is the "least bad" of the very few even notable pieces of software. However, let's not pretend Skype wasn't terrible in every incarnation except the Windows client, and even then still buggy or poorly designed.

The current Skype client for iOS, Android, and Linux sucks. The current OS X client is very poor. The Windows client works most of the time at least until the next software update and then all bets are off.

So what does that leave us with? Live Messenger? Facetime? Neato.

Please be quiet about Google Talk. It doesn't support 1/16th of Skype's vital features, and it doesn't even support video in the desktop client. Plus the few telephone options it does have are US only.

I'd love to see this market seriously shaken up. I want to see massively better business apps that can replace your entire Cisco telephone system, and personal apps which make the teenage girls drool (since I assume that is what Live Messenger is aimed at).

Re:None exist. (1)

muuh-gnu (894733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184630)

> It doesn't support 1/16th of Skype's vital features, and it doesn't even support video in the desktop client.

I never undestood why Google from the beginning refused to build video into the client. As I remember, the party line back then was that video was "bloat", and that they did want the GTalk client to remain "simple". And it remained half-assed. And then they gave up any further work on it. No video, no Linux/Mac versions, no conference mode, nothing. Half a decade passed and all they had to offer wasa a half-assed, non-competitive windows-only client. For how much they neglected their own telephony during the last 6 years, I would have been more surprised if Google ended up buying Skype instead of Microsoft.

Because the desktop is history for Google (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184992)

The official platform for Google Talk is not Windows or Mac, it is GMail.

The GMail Google Talk client is the one with the most features. Which makes sense, considering that it will be the client their ChromeOS runs.

Now that Android supports native video in Google talk for both 2.3.4 and honeycomb, I expect a renewed push for video in all Google Talk clients. However, I also never see the desktop client matching the GMail one for features.

Re:None exist. (4, Informative)

SuperQ (431) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185484)

http://www.google.com/chat/video [google.com]

Best part is it you can voice/video chat with non-google users including non-google jabber servers with Empathy

http://live.gnome.org/Empathy [gnome.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jingle_(protocol) [wikipedia.org]

Re:None exist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184656)

make the teenage girls drool (since I assume that is what Live Messenger is aimed at).

How did you know I named my cock "Live Messenger"?

Re:None exist. (1)

pherthyl (445706) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185152)

>> The current Skype client for iOS, Android, and Linux sucks. The current OS X client is very poor.

Skype for iOS works great. What do you want? Skype for Linux is a bit clunky, but not bad considering how small that market is and the fragmentation. Same goes for Android (fragmentation making development difficult).
The OSX client works great. The 5.x series is essentially up to par with the Windows client.

Re:None exist. (2)

BiggyMcLargeHuge (1460305) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185262)

dude... what color is the sky in your world? My family uses skype constantly on a variety of machines without any issues. A few linux machines, several macs, and the rest windows all work together flawlessly.. so I have no idea what cesspool you're wading around in, but over here, everything is hunky-dory and hey.. it's free.

Re:None exist. (2)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185498)

Gmail chat supports video on the desktop via a browser plug-in, even in Linux. If you have some aversion to using your browser as a client, Pidgin nominally supports video calls over Google Talk, although it causes a crash in my admittedly outdated version of Pidgin.

Re:None exist. (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185770)

The entire VoIP/video chat market is a cesspool of junk.

Amen.

I had a Nokia N800 a coupla years ago (wonderful machine, pity Nokia screwed it up), and I ran Gizmo, got myself a Gizmo ID, even paid for some external call connectivity (first and last time I ever needed to). I also installed Gizmo on my laptop and desktop.

Crap all round. Dire interface. Crackly, stuttering voice no matter how good the bandwidth. As others have said, the reason people use Skype is it works.

MS linux support (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184442)

Does Microsoft currently support any products that run natively in linux?

Re:MS linux support (0, Troll)

BmlA (2179336) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184478)

Why would they? Linux users aren't exactly the best customers - they want everything for free and even still they bitch about everything.

Re:MS linux support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184808)

As opposed to Windows users who just steal it or just use the nag-ware version in perpetuity.

If MS can't make money off of Skype, and they won't, it'll just become part of the Windows distribution. The 21st century Outlook.

Re:MS linux support (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184944)

Except when they voluntarily pay more than Windows users for the one of the few decent, paid applications that run on both.

Re:MS linux support (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185118)

Well, I'm a Linux user and I paid money to Skype to be able to call and receive calls from landlines and mobile phones.

Re:MS linux support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184482)

There are several on the enterprise level vas (quest authentication services), system manager, very little on the end user level though.

Re:MS linux support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184514)

CentOS?

Re:MS linux support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184798)

CentOS runs natively IN Linux? I guess if you mean a VM, all on x86 architecture. But then, anything runs "natively" in anything on x86 by that definition.

When will peaple learn .... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184450)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Session_Initiation_Protocol
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.323
If we are going to ignore all these standards we might as well box IETF ...
ALSO: http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2141282&cid=36082128

Re:When will peaple learn .... (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184772)

SIP and H.323 are fine, but they are only part of the issue. Codec's are a huge problem. The free (as in no license required) codecs are bandwidth hungry.

The real issue though, is one of configuration. Using a strict SIP or H.323 client means the user has to understand issues like addressing, ports, etc.. This is fine for geeks, but end users want a point and click, it's done kind of system. That means having a central service that not only provides default configurations and service, but address books, and more importantly, doesn't allow just anyone to connect and voice spam the shit out of them.

Open systems are prone to spam, closed systems have a lot more control over that. That is, most likely, why Google voice doesn't allow sip connections (they did at first, then turned it off).

Re:When will peaple learn .... (1)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185002)

In my experience, the codecs are fine. The NAT stuff is definitely still an issue for the average user, but it's one that can be solved. I think it would have been solved satisfactorily by open SIP clients by now, except that support certain badly NATed clients, you need to proxy calls through a server (or a P2P protocol), which is a more open-ended problem than just included protocol support in your client.

Re:When will peaple learn .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184776)

Yeah, when will people learn: Don't put network addresses inside the data streams. FTP still exists as a brutal example of what not to do, but SIP makes all the same mistakes and then some. If you are familiar with the intricacies of ISDN, H.232 might look sane, but nobody else will touch it. When everybody else fails so completely, then there's plenty room for a proprietary protocol implemented by a closed source software: Skype.

I sincerely hope that Microsoft makes Skype unviable for many people and the pressure to create a true substitute will result in an open protocol that isn't designed by morons.

There are no true alternatives (2)

PARENA (413947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184454)

I work from home, in another country, at 1500 kilometers distance from my colleagues. Sure, I could TRY to convince the company to switch to a completely different application that is incompatible with skype, just because I want to use Linux. Or ask my relatives who also live that far away, to do that. But somehow I don't see it happening...

Re:There are no true alternatives (1)

losinggeneration (797436) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184614)

You misunderstand the technologies at play here. It's not that other clients are incompatible with Skype, it's that Skype decided to turn its nose to the standards already established to effectively lock in users. Obviously it worked. If they were using standard SIP technologies this would be almost no story here.

Re:There are no true alternatives (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184750)

But if they used standard SIP technologies they wouldn't be where they are, because people would be having problems getting through their NAT routers. Skype took off because they made it easy to set up; SIP just doesn't have that.

Re:There are no true alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36185706)

Agreed. I hate to say it, but SIP works fine for my desktop sip phone in a static, arranged situation. I couldn't imagine trying to make sip work as an "always just works" video chat client.

Re:There are no true alternatives (1)

PARENA (413947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184826)

But it is a bit of a story for exactly the reason I put there. How are the few Linux users going to interact with "99.99%" of the Skypers out there that use Windows if Microsoft does decide to drop Linux/Mac support? It's lovely that there are "plenty" of applications that run on Linux and use SIP, but that doesn't help me get into touch with all those Skype users. Another concern would be the Skype API. Right now, I have Skype running but I hide everything (thank you KDE, for making this possible). Kopete has a plugin that can (if I got that right) 'intercept' the Skype chat windows. The windows still exist, I just don't see them thanks to kwin and such. Also, Kopete lets me use Skype's audio (and video I believe, but never use it) chats. So, I use a jabber server, my google talk and skype all from Kopete. I'm betting that if they do put some effort in a Linux client, they won't care about that API and I'll end up really having to use 2 programs again. Which with Skype for linux is a pain as it doesn't have tabbed chat windows. >_ Well, let's see what happens over the next few months. Hasn't taken MS very long to take the already failing Nokia to a new low point, see how fast this will go with Skype (for Linux).

Re:There are no true alternatives (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184990)

Nokia is failing in the same way as Microsoft is failing. They're having trouble keeping up with nimbler rivals but they are still immensely profitable. Just because they're not doing well in the US market doesn't mean they're about to go bust. Far from it.

Re:There are no true alternatives (2)

PARENA (413947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185106)

I know they don't do well over there, never have. However, this Dutch news article: http://www.nu.nl/internet/2518951/nokia-ziet-marktaandeel-verder-krimpen.html [www.nu.nl] says Nokia's market share is now down to 25%, the lowest since 1997. 30.6% a year ago. Symbian? 27.4% and in 2010 that was 44.2%. Well, with Windows Phone or whatever it's called, everything will improve. MS last year: 6.8% and now 3.6%. I so loved my Nokias ever since my first one in 1999, never bought any other after that. Except now, I have my Android phone.

Re:There are no true alternatives (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185220)

I agree that those programs are no true alternatives, not until all my customers, my coworkers and my friends start using them. They'll stick to Skype and so must I. If they'll stop developing the Linux client and make the current one incompatible with the other ones I might even have to buy a Windows netbook only for it. At least I'll test web apps with IE9 outside a VM. I guess I'll become a heavy user of Synergy [sourceforge.net]

By the way, I definitively switched to Linux at the time of Skype 4, with that big bad full screen interface and I don't know if things went for the worse or for the better since then. The Linux client looks like the old minimalistic Windows interface and has a better feeling. It's a matter of personal tastes.

Re:There are no true alternatives (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184770)

I work from home, in another country, at 1500 kilometers distance from my colleagues. Sure, I could TRY to convince the company to switch to a completely different application that is incompatible with skype, just because I want to use Linux. Or ask my relatives who also live that far away, to do that. But somehow I don't see it happening...

I have a secondary, small desktop box specifically for applications where a Windows environment is required, like your situation: Skype, MS Office Suite, Adobe Acrobat Pro (the real deal, not the reader), MSIE for any web site that seems to be behaving oddly with FF on Linux (including 99.5% of my bureaucratic overhead), etc. My primary workhorse is a Linux box, but because of job-related issues, I am inescapably tied to the Windows experience.

Re:There are no true alternatives (1)

PARENA (413947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185010)

Actually, I only needed IE every now and then before. I have (insanely enough) 3 virtualbox environments: XP+IE7, XP+IE8 and WIN7+IE8 which will become IE9. However, as my job has changed from web developing to quality assurance, I start up VirtualBox rarely anymore. Don't need MS Office (document distribution within our company is usually PDF and I personally use ODF and not getting complaints as I don't have to deal with clients). So for me it's fine at this point. And I have the Skype 2.2 RPM put aside safely, but if MS changes stuff too much (or stops supporting Linux at all), that RPM is going to stop working at some point. My next machine (please loud obnoxious huge midi tower desktop machine, STOP WORKING!) will be a 15.6" laptop which I will use as the secondary screen, I guess, using my 22" inch monitor as the primary screen. But it looks like having to run virtualbox just for skype at some point if the proverbial shit hits the fan.

Apple's Facetime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184462)

The FaceTime protocol is partly based on numerous open industry standards.

And yes, that includes H.264 and AAC. Whole industries are based on these standards, just get a cash pool going, get the damn required licenses and get with the program already.

Off-topic: Windows Video Client (1)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184474)

Does anyone know of any good free video conferencing software for Windows? Skype recently decided to charge for video chatting with more than one person at time.

Re:Off-topic: Windows Video Client (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36185000)

Does anyone know of any good free video conferencing software for Windows? Skype recently decided to charge for video chatting with more than one person at time.

Oovoo allows for up to three people for free I think. Beyond that, it is also a charge.

Doesn't matter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184488)

I don't care what it does and what program is best.

If my friends and colleagues are on network A, I need to be on network A. I don't want B, C, D, or some client that can go on B and D together. I need A.
A Skype replacement either needs to connect to the Skype network, or it needs to somehow switch everyone else to use it.

Pick up the phone... (1)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184498)

Established technology, not tied down to a single manufacturer, large user base, mobile and desktop clients exist...

Re:Pick up the phone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184590)

And audio technology dating back to when my grandparents were kids. The audio quality of the legacy phone system is miserable. I'll take Skype for the sound quality any day.

Re:Pick up the phone... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184618)

Precisely. The use cases for which VOIP makes more sense than a conventional land line are vanishingly small.

Skype does have some advantages over conventional operators in certain niche areas where Skype can be more price competitive.

Raise your hand... (1)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184640)

...if you've had someone ask you with a straight face "..if you know of a good voice chat application for mobile phones."

Now, I know that this can be asked seriously in a specific way (ie, SIP specific, or "free" or whatever) but it still seems to suffer from a large amount of irony.

right on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184524)

yeah! Bout Time

And anther street shill drives trafic to a adsite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184546)

Step right up ladies and gents, see the show, only a pence. Please, please click on an ad.
I've given up trying to adblock all the crap on the site hosting this article. Thats 87 blocked items. And that doesn't include the annoying carousel.

Empathy and Google Talk / Chat / Voice (2)

tchernobog (752560) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184548)

The only downside is that there isn't a client for this. Instead, Linux and Mac users need to install a Google Talk video and voice plug-in to their Web browsers.

Actually, this is not entirely true. I've managed to get my Skype account deleted definitively exactly today, but I'm using Empathy 3.x since a couple of weeks to make daily voice and video calls. Video is actually a bit shakey, but voice is okay. This is for the on-line VoIP part. There have been pointers that Empathy might be estended to support landline calls too, it's just matter of time.

Re:Empathy and Google Talk / Chat / Voice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184632)

You can do VOIP (also called SIP) calls. Install the telepathy-sofiasip package and you are set!

Ekiga? Don't make me laugh. (3, Informative)

cos(0) (455098) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184562)

With a heavy heart I have to say that Ekiga is a piece of junk. I say this without any exaggeration.

For a while I've been trying to avoid Skype and get my family to use Ekiga. (My family already runs Linux.)

I've been trying to get Ekiga to work in various environments for at least three years. I've tried on two Linux end-points, two Windows end-points, and mixed. It works maybe 10% of the time -- and even then, not for long. Other times, the two participants cannot see each other online -- or can, yet cannot send messages to each other. When one side calls the other, the call looks like it's going but nothing happens on the receiver's end. Or, it immediately resets on the sender's end.

The biggest public argument against Ekiga -- lack of interoperability -- was never an issue for me! My family was ready and eager to use the latest (2.x, later 3.x) Ekiga. Yet my diehard open-source ways greatly failed this time.

Yes, both sides are behind NAT. That's the way of life. Skype works on today's Internet; Ekiga doesn't. End of story.

Re:Ekiga? Don't make me laugh. (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184742)

Same here, I haven't tried Ekiga in a while, but when I tried it, it always was kind of garbage, hard to setup, didn't work half the time and when it would worked the sound quality was awful. The only good voice chat thing I have seen so far on Linux is Mumble, the sound quality is amazing, you can have conferences with multiple people, etc. It is a fantastic tool, the only big show stopper with it is that it is more IRC with voice then it is a Skype replacement, so setup and use isn't exactly easy.

Re:Ekiga? Don't make me laugh. (1)

Bryan3000000 (1356999) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184824)

Apparently Ekiga uses a NAT traversal method that is not recommended and has proven not very robust. Most likely that is the issue. I've been looking at Jitsi, which used to be SIP Communicator, and it seems solid.

Useless (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184594)

All of these "alternatives" are pretty much useless to anyone who used Skype to call land-lines overseas from a country other then the US.

Sure, there are million and one of peer-to-peer "chat" apps, ranging from text only to full video. But its all pointless if the other end has just an old plain telephone and the going long-distance rate is $4 a minute.

That is why Skype is a huge deal for a lot of people. Software "openness", while very nice, does bring very little to the table where the functionality is controlled by international deals with telephone companies.

And no, SIP is not an alternative either. This kludgy junk-pile of a "protocol" is so NAT unfriendly as to make it functionally useless for anyone who does not want to maintain their own Asterisk server complete with a commercial, fixed IP address.

Re:Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184738)

I've configured asterisk and used linphone and ekiga. I agree with you. SIP is ok in an internal network but it won't help much with calls over the internet. A random WLAN at an airport for example often only allows outgoing TCP connections to ports 80 and 443. There's no established standard on how to have SIP work in such a setup. You can run your own relay server and route all your traffic with openvpn to it but most people don't have such an option unfortunately.

Anyways, Google Voice seems to work with pidgin and empathy. Google offers relay servers that listen on port 443. Have you hit networks where it doesn't work?

Ekiga (Former Gnome Meeting) (1)

fjin (36284) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184642)

Is Ekiga [ekiga.org] really unknown for most of the users?
It has Linux and Windows versions available.

Re:Ekiga (Former Gnome Meeting) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184720)

It seldom works though, and it's a bloated piece of shit.

Jitsi (4, Informative)

Bryan3000000 (1356999) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184718)

I've been checking out the http://jitsi.org/ [jitsi.org]. It used to be SIP Communicator, but has added support for all common IM protocols. It does video calls and desktop sharing over SIP and XMPP. The only disadvantage I can find is that it is does not work with ekiga.net (because ekiga.net uses a not-recommended method of NAT traversal).

Jitsi seems to be developing quickly and has proven rock-solid for me in daily use.

Blink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36184756)

for a Skype-like teleconferencing app without video: Blink [icanblink.com]

Self Profiling prophecy. (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36184910)

Microsoft buys Skype.
Linux users ditch Skype
Microsoft sees very little Linux Skype usage so drops it from development.
Linux user assert their fear that Microsoft will drop all Linux apps it purchases.

Re:Self Profiling prophecy. (0)

darkgrayknight (1679662) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185172)

...Naturally. Seems like whenever Microsoft gets close to anything Linux, the Linux community rails against Microsoft. It is a wonder Microsoft does anything with open source and Linux. I'm interested in seeing where Skype will go now that Microsoft controls it. They might improve it enough to make video calls a standard experience across the world. If only telecoms could get with the program and provide decent Internet connections with less restrictions.

Re:Self Profiling prophecy. (1)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185686)

I would be surprised to see MS drop Linux support so quickly, especially with the Android market share growing at the rate that it is.

On the other hand, it's not hard to imagine a future with millions of cell phone users Skyping each other...on WM7 phones.

To be continued...

Missing the point (2)

InsaneLampshade (890845) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185390)

People use Skype because other people use Skype.

How can anyone believe any of these are viable alternatives if they don't connect to the Skype network? Do the proponents truly expect everyone currently using skype to suddenly switch to one of these "alternatives"? I think not.

All the while most people are using Skype, most people will continue to use Skype.

Dear IT World (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 2 years ago | (#36185402)

Get rid of all that garbage surrounding your articles and stop unnecessarily breaking tiny posts across multiple pages. The very IT crowd that is your core audience hates that shit.

alternative? what alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36185790)

if MSFT is diligent about their $8.5 bn, they would kill skype for Linux in due time - skype as of now lets Linux be a much better alternative to windows desktop. If they kill skype for linux and say, mac, they can establish windows desktop at-least with a specific breed of users who use computers just for the long distance voip audio/video calls.

fwiw,
if Google does not release a stand alone client for linux (like the gtalk client on windows), gtalk will not quite become "the" alternative for linux users - I am surely not going to leave a browser session open signed into my gmail just to do google talk voip audio/video calls - thats a huge security risk for me.
ekiga,empathy et al - lacks ease of use, not quite there yet imo. skype is/was easier for my parents to use, they have been using skype on linux for years now.!
What's left? - jitsi (http://jitsi.org/,http://twit.tv/floss162 ) - LGPL stuff still its infancy - but if it evolves right, that'd be swell.

In the meantime, I gingerly continue to use skype - as my contacts are currently on skype, is supported by a myriad of devices, and above all, works on my linux desktop - not sure for how long though.

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