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Skype VoIP Software Released For Linux 251

pmf writes "Skype Technologies has just released a free beta version of their software for Linux. Skype is well known P2P VoIP technology that, according to them: '...is addressing all the problems of legacy VoIP solutions: bad sound quality, difficult to set up and configure, and the need for expensive, centralized infrastructure.'"
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Skype VoIP Software Released For Linux

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  • Spyware (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:32PM (#9487514)
    Seeing as how this is from the Kazaa people, are we to expect spyware in this product?
    • Re:Spyware (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrwonton ( 456172 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:35PM (#9487565) Homepage
      Seeing as how this is from the Kazaa people, are we to expect spyware in this product?


      Always expect spyware. The question is whether we'll be pleasantly surprised.
      • Re:Spyware (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Linux users have no reason to ever expect spyware. Hopefully this never changes.
        • Re:Spyware (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ohad_l ( 683421 ) <lutzky.gmail@com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:51PM (#9488540) Homepage

          Why the hell should we not be expecting spyware? Spyware is indeed extremely improbable in open source software, but here's a great example - Skype - of an application that is not open sourced. Linux does not inherently make spyware impossible - it's just that most software that is used with Linux is open-source, and therefore easily freed of spyware.

          Skype could indeed contain spyware. We can and will probably use the flexibility of various firewalling and sniffing utilities to block it.

    • Re:Spyware (Score:3, Informative)

      I have Skype on my computer for Windows and have not had any spyware on my computer from its installation. I check my computer daily to make sure no spyware is loaded on from Skype.

      I can tell you that if the one for Windows sounds this good, quality wise, then the one for Linux should be better. It freakin sounds like the person you are talking to is in the same room with you. It also uses minimal bandwidth, anywhere from 4kb to 10kb for a single conversation and 10kb to 20kb for a conference call. It
      • Re:Spyware (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Now tell us, why exactly should the Linux version sound any different or even better than the Windows version if they're expected to be compatible?
    • Re:Spyware (Score:4, Informative)

      by Octagon Most ( 522688 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:40PM (#9487642)
      In case you were wondering...

      From the FAQ:
      Q: Will Skype for Linux beta be made available as open source code?
      A: No.

      So don't expect any potential spyware to be sitting there in the code for you to look at.
    • Re:Spyware (Score:2, Funny)

      by Murf_E ( 754550 )
      how long before we get skype lite and skype lite resurrection
    • Re:Spyware (Score:5, Funny)

      by starflt ( 720425 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:03PM (#9487896)
      [JARRING CHORD]

      Nooooobody expects spyware! Our chief weapon is surprise. Surprise, and Internet Explorer exploits... Exploits and surprise. Our two weapons are surprise and Internet Explorer exploits... and uncaring users.. . Our *three* weapons are surprise, IE exploits, and uncaring users... and an almost fanatical devotion to an annoyance-marketing based business model. Our *four*... no... *Amongst* our weapons... Amongst our *weaponry*, are such elements as surprise, IE exploits... I'll come in again.

    • Re:Spyware (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rexdude ( 747457 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:29PM (#9488256)
      The guys behind this are the ones who *invented* Kazaa and the FastTrack protocol-they later sold it to Sharman Networks, who are the ones who added the spyware. There's no spyware in this-their website boldly displays this fact, instead of burying it under legalese.
    • Seeing as how this is from the Kazaa people, are we to expect spyware in this product?


      Unless they added it in the Linux version -- no.

    • I would think so.

      The funny part is in the legal information they specifically bar you from ditributing such software via their service.

      You also indeminify them against repsonsibility for any such infestation should any other user break that guideline.

      And, if you really think you got a legal leg on them, think again, you'd have to pursue such a claim in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which, unless the legal strata has changed, means your basically trying to paddle up a river of shit with your bare ha

  • skype == spyware (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:32PM (#9487516)
    please read the EULA.
    • is this the first known spyware for linux...?
    • If the parent poster is accurate (which I have no idea about), then why is this on slashdot? Just because it's for linux doesn't make it good.
      Sounds like this product is only beer-free.
    • Thankfully you don't need to be root to run this version, so the damage will be relatively limited when compared with MSFT installations running crap under the Administrator account.
      • Re:skype == spyware (Score:5, Informative)

        by bersl2 ( 689221 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:50PM (#9487767) Journal
        /home/bersl2/.gconfd
        /home/bersl2/.gconfd/saved_s tate
        /home/bersl2/.gnome2_private
        /home/bersl2/. qt
        /home/bersl2/.Skype
        /home/bersl2/.Skype/bersl 2
        /home/bersl2/.Skype/bersl2/config.lck
        /home/be rsl2/.Skype/bersl2/profile256.dbb
        /home/bersl2/.S kype/bersl2/index.dat
        /home/bersl2/.Skype/bersl2/ config.xml
        /home/bersl2/.Skype/shared.lck
        /home/ bersl2/.Skype/shared.xml
        Those are the only files I found that it could have modified or created, unless it has some kind of way of changing the associated times on files. So it's not permanent.
        • Re:skype == spyware (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gl4ss ( 559668 )
          changing associated times on files? like, using touch -t time?

          and it's not like you can know what the program does by just looking at the filenames. if the eula gives them 'permission' to listen to your calls i'd be a bit wary...

          besides. the company uses fuckin assholistic spyware, that's reason enough to not use their software that isn't really the only solution in the world.
    • Re:skype == spyware? (Score:4, Informative)

      by FatalTourist ( 633757 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:55PM (#9487817) Homepage
      I did. They have changed the EULA [skype.com] since people were upset about the 'third party software' part. It doesn't seem as evil now, but I'm still so wary that I haven't installed it yet.
      • The interesting part from the EULA does not seem so bad. Except if they change it again with the next version of course.

        (c) The Skype Software and Services may be incorporated into, and may incorporate, technology, software and services owned and controlled by third parties. Skype emphasizes that it will only incorporate such third party software for the purpose of (i) adding new or additional functionality or (ii) improving the technical performance of the Skype Software and Services. Any other third part
        • I can see the argument now.

          End User: What the fsck is this Adware doing on my computer?!

          Skype: We needed funding to add new features and/or improve the technical performance of the software. In order to get this funding, we included Adware into the software. Perfectly legit by the EULA's terms.
          • Or even:

            Skype: We felt that the added feature of pop-up advertising would be beneficial to our users, so we included third party software which provides this feature.

            EULAs are worthless in these cases. Those few times I need functionality that isn't adequately provided by open-source software, I make sure to thoroughly check the reputation of the company providing the closed-source alternative. Needless to say, after seeing the havoc wreaked by Kazaa on the computers of friends and family, I will never e
    • Re:skype == spyware (Score:5, Informative)

      by katsushiro ( 513378 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:52PM (#9488551) Homepage
      Just a note, I'm fairly anal about spyware/adware. I have AdAware, Spybot S&D, and SpywareBlaster on my Windows PC, and I keep them updated on a daily basis, and scan the computer before and after installation of just about any program, not to mention on a weekly basis no matter what.

      I've been using Skype on my Windows PC for aboout 3 weeks now on a pretty regular basis to talk to some friends, and so far, it's worked pretty much as advertised, no complaints here, in fact, I'm pretty pleased with it, especially compared to previous VoIP programs I've used before. In that time, before and after installation and updates, none of my spyware scanner programs have detected any spyware, at least, none that I can trace to it. So, so far at least, the 'No Spyware or Adware' button on their website seems to be legit.

      Dunno about the Linux version, but I figure it's pretty much the same way. And the fact that they were willing to change their Linux EULA over spyware concerns gives me a bit of faith in them. Sure, it's from the same folk as Kazaa, but at least so far, it doesn't seem to have fallen into the same trap as the official Kazaa client.
    • I did not read the EULA, but they have a large sticker proclaiming NO ADWARE OR SPYWARE.

      None of the spyware finder programs i've had on my computer have ever warned me about spyware form skype.

      Skype is also encrypted at each end, whcih makes me feel a bit better, even if few details are disclosed.
  • by jamonterrell ( 517500 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:32PM (#9487517)
    The most information I've found is that the software is made by the makers of KaZaa, who is notorious for trying to make money off of P2P. Does Skype have a business plan? Is there spyware/adware/malware? Anyone know?
    • by andymar ( 690982 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:47PM (#9487731)
      Is it not allowed to make money off p2p ? They have a business plan, in about 10 days they will release a new version where you can call from Skype to a regular phone at competitive prizes. You need to buy a headset from one of their partners. Why so many critical posts, there is not any spyware in Skype, at least not yet. I think it's great that there is a native Linux version, and not all programs for Linux have to be GPL. We need popular programs for the Linux desktop, and this is one of them. The programmers have said that one version of Skype will remain free for ever, but some more advanced features will cost money.
      • Is it not allowed to make money off p2p ?
        It's perfectly fine to make money off of p2p, no one said anything to the contrary.

        They have a business plan, in about 10 days they will release a new version where you can call from Skype to a regular phone at competitive prizes. You need to buy a headset from one of their partners. That's a nice service to offer, and could be implemented without breaking the spirit of free-software, but it worries me that they might push advertisement for this service so ha
    • If this is truely P2P, are there measures in place to help prevent eavesdropping? Do parts of the voice data route different ways, so one node would have a hard time picking up enough of the voice data to be useful? Is the voice data encrypted?
    • Does Skype have a business plan? Is there spyware/adware/malware?

      No one has detected any spyware or anything that contacts ad servers etc in the Windows version.

      The business plan:

      "During the beta period Skype is free and helps us to refine and improve our product. Eventually, some features and services of Skype will require a paid subscription or prepayment. Our ambition is to keep the basic functionality of Skype (PC to PC calls) free forever. More information will be provided once our beta program is
  • by fiji ( 4544 ) * on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:33PM (#9487531)
    Before you download and configure this, test your connection [testyourvoip.com] out so see if it can handle VoIP. You can also play with different codecs to see if one is better than the other over your connection.

    -ben
  • Another thing the Linux platform has thus been missing: Spyware.

    I highly doubt that the guys who made Kazaa have taken some great leap into the world of moral business. Bastards.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:34PM (#9487537)
    Skype is hype...

    * Skype is proprietary.
    * Skype is using a proprietary protocol that no VoIP carriers/providers will be using.
    * Skype has better sound quality? Let me laugh, it just happens that Skype is only able to do audio, so all your upload can be devoted to audio.

    OK, Skype is a nice toy for Windows users. For Linux users, there is GnomeMeeting (http://www.gnomemeeting.org) and Linphone.
    • Yes, that may be so - but if you're a linux user wanting to talk to lots of friends who just happen to use windows, its ideal!

    • And ultimately, its objective will entail the creation of the very kind of centralized monstrosity its owners complained about.
    • Skype is proprietary

      So? So were most cablemodems until recently. VoIP is a new technology to the consumer market, it will take a while for one or two standards to settle, and when they do, just like most things like DVD formats and Cable modem protocols and such, firmware gets upgraded and no one cares. Besides, so their proprietary, what di you want to do, take your hardware and move to some other linux-native VoIP provider? Wait...there aren't any.

      Skype is using a proprietary protocol that no VoIP

      • So? So were most cablemodems until recently. VoIP is a new technology to the consumer market, it will take a while for one or two standards to settle, and when they do, just like most things like DVD formats and Cable modem protocols and such, firmware gets upgraded and no one cares. Besides, so their proprietary, what di you want to do, take your hardware and move to some other linux-native VoIP provider? Wait...there aren't any.

        No excuse, sorry. There exist OPEN standards, PUBLISHED standards out there
    • Look, the big deal about Skype is the fact that it... Get this: WORKS! It works through dial-up. It works through broadband. It works through most proxies and NATs due to it's centralized servers.

      Those are the real advantages. Get behind a proxy server and then try any other VOIP 'solution'. Of course, they're going to have to pay for all this somehow eventually...

  • Uhhh.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Asprin ( 545477 ) <.gsarnold. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:34PM (#9487538) Homepage Journal

    Sez on the linked page this is from the same folks that brought you KaZaa!

    Great. The folks that introduced spyware EULAs to file sharing now want to handle your phone service. OSS or not, can they be trusted to provide any more free downloads?
  • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <splisken06@email . c om> on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:34PM (#9487551)
    Windows, Linux and Pocket PC, but nothing for OS X. Where's the logic in that?

    I guess Amiga is next in line.

  • How about the FWD? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Milo of Kroton ( 780850 ) <milo.of.kroton (at) gmail.com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:34PM (#9487552) Journal
    Free World Dialup makes a good product which I find is better and is the superior option of choices. You can find this with the Google searches for terms like Free World Dialup with the quotes surrounding.
  • One-up on Skype (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigberk ( 547360 ) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:37PM (#9487588)
    Skype claims P2P but the voice has to go through at least one hop, so the latency is pretty poor and you need other (hijacked) nodes. Check out this VoIP system [sysdesign.ca], which has low latency, direct peer to peer communications even through NAT on both sides. Oh, and blowfish for encryption so good... it may be illegal in your country!
    • Re:One-up on Skype (Score:3, Informative)

      by nacturation ( 646836 )
      Here's a choice quote from the PDF you linked to:

      Appendix A. Final VoIP Software

      Please see CD-ROM for the complete software application.


      Huh? Got a download link? BTW, Skype only sometimes requires your call to go through another node such as due to firewall issues. Most of the time, after negotiating the connection, it's a direct connection.
    • Latency poor? It's practically instant across Sweden at least. Did you even test this software?
    • You obviously have never tryed skype.

      It slaughters anything i've heard for latency. Teamspeak cant even come CLOSE.

      I was on the phone with a friend halfway across the country, and also on skype..the latency was -maybe- 1/4 of a second.

      Try stuff before you start knocking it.
  • by deutschemonte ( 764566 ) <(lane.montgomery) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:37PM (#9487593) Homepage
    In related news, the baby bells have tapped the RIAA for their team of lawyers to start tracking down individuals that are using their communication networks and are not paying access fees like other phone companies do to operate over their lines. Then they will sue them until everyone gives up computers and goes back to taking the needle of the record so they can ring up the operator for the klondike 5 number of their friend down the street. I can't wait.
  • by Schlemphfer ( 556732 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:38PM (#9487608) Homepage
    For me, Skype is one of the last products that's keeping me tied to an XP box. Your performance may vary, but I've found that the quality of calls I make anywhere in the US is significantly higher than what I get through a regular phone line (assuming both parties are using broadband.)

    Overseas, I've had less luck. From my place in Central NY, my Skype calls to a friend in Amsterdam are generally intolerable, although he reports that it works fine when he talks to his brother in Philly. I've had poor but acceptable connections using Skype to talk to a friend in Madrid.

    Voice quality has continued to improve slightly with each new release of Skype. But for me, the verdict is Skype is sensational within North America, and barely tolerable or outright unusable for calling overseas.

    Still, I wish everyone had broadband and Skype. Even without taking the fact that it's free, it just sounds measurably better than standard long distance calls within the US.

  • by Octagon Most ( 522688 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:38PM (#9487610)
    At this point Skype for Linux is being offered without the SkypeOut service that allows calls to go to any telephone, not just other Skype users. Still, it's great to bring new platforms and more users onto this system. Bring on the OS X version!
    • by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:49PM (#9488519)
      At this point Skype for Linux is being offered without the SkypeOut service that allows calls to go to any telephone, not just other Skype users.
      At this point Skype for ANY platform is being offered without the SkypeOut service that allows calls to go to any telephone, not just other Skype users.

      Come July 1st, they'll open their comp to phone service. Wether or not that'll be in the Linux version then, is anybody's guess though.
  • >Technical Questions
    >
    >Will Skype for Linux beta be made available as open >source code?
    > No.

    TY, HAND
  • by miradu2000 ( 196048 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:40PM (#9487639) Homepage
    Since OS X offers an X11 window manager, and runs on BSD - could this be made to run on OS X? Does anyone want to try to get it to work, and make a predone binary/package for those who are less technically inclined?

    Or will skype release the final version on both OS X and linux? How hard is this cross-os coding?
  • Calling out (Score:5, Informative)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:41PM (#9487652) Homepage Journal
    From the FAQ [skype.com] SkypeOut (what enables to call external phone numbers) is not enabled for the Linux version, and that could be what makes it worth, or different from other available solutions.... or is something common and widely used?
  • Vonage? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JessLeah ( 625838 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:41PM (#9487653)
    Isn't this one of the two clients supported by Vonage?
  • by ciryon ( 218518 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:45PM (#9487705) Journal
    One of the best uses for VoIP is using it with small portable devices like PDA's. It seems Skype is available for PocketPC, but will this release also work on Linux-based handhelds like the Zaurus or Opie/Familiar-loaded iPAQs ? If so, I'll seriously consider replacing my Tungsten C.

    Ciryon
    • Do you get decent quality using wireless VOIP? I use a wireless D-Link 660W card in my Pocket PC handheld and with SJPhone the quality is pretty poor. That's just within my LAN holding conversations with other wired or wireless nodes. The delays and breaks were unbearable. And my LAN utilization only averages between 1 and 3 percent.
      • I use Apple's iChat for audio and video-chat and it works perfectly. I've never heard better sound or seen better picture clarity in any other solution. And yes, it works without any problems what so ever wirelessly.

        Ciryon
    • No, it will not, it is proprietary 86 compiled code. So this will not work in an ARM or XScale unless you get the source, port and recompile... =/
  • linux86 ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:47PM (#9487734)
    Where are binaries for other than x86 archs?

    Linux is more than just x86...
  • by PktLoss ( 647983 ) * on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:50PM (#9487770) Homepage Journal
    I like Skype, I just wish my girlfriend didn't sound like a robot half the time.
    • It sounds like her text-to-speech software is failing half the time. Upgrade her to a better text-to-speech processor.
      Let me know if that helps!
    • You realise that saying that on /. is setting yourself up to be the butt of a few jokes?
      • I hadn't actually...

        The problem is real, depending on the phase of the moon she comes through in a jagged-stuttery-roboty voice, ocasionally with some lag. I don't know if it's a bandwidth issue or what. She has resigned herself to re-installing the software daily to keep in touch, which seems to help somewhat.

        It's good to know that I will be able to keep in touch with her once my new linux machine arrives.
    • Oh, so they do have an Amiga version out!

      Thanks, I'll be here all week..

  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:53PM (#9487792) Homepage
    What a great business plan.

    Just below the level of audibility, you get a breathy feminine voice telling you she "digs geeks who buy ."

    Media-shifted Spam. My bleeding ears.

  • incompatibility (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flex941 ( 521675 )
    If they make skype interoperability plugin/module for Asterisk [asterisk.org] then I might reconsider the usability of this product.
  • skype is a cpu hog (Score:5, Informative)

    by truffle ( 37924 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:13PM (#9487989) Homepage

    Just mentioning that skype is a cpu hog. This matters because it means it's not great for playing recent video games.

    A great alternative is teamspeak [google.com] which lets groups of players talk. Another alternative (I haven't tried this one) is Ventrillo [ventrilo.com].

    Skype is great if you just want to use your computer for wireless chit chat.

    I might as well plug the Jabra BT250 [jabra.com] bluetooth headset while I'm at it. Wireless headset with up to 8 hours of talk time. I use this plus teamspeak to give me the freedom to wander my house and not loose contact with my gaming buddies. It also works nicely with my powerbook and my cell phone.

  • I think the trouble here is that the guys who came up with KaZaa are not the ones currently owning it.

    KaZaa works pretty darn nice for what it is.

    KaZaa originally didn't ship with spyware, its just the current owners who do that. :p
  • Connection hijacking (Score:4, Interesting)

    by panurge ( 573432 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:17PM (#9488050)
    In my limited testing of Skype it's managed to suck out all my bandwidth...on one occasion it appeared to be using about 80% of processor (AMD64-3000). Since when I have given it a miss.
  • I'm not going to try the proprietary Skype from a company that has installed spyware in the past, but when I do try out a comparable Free program I'll have two problems:

    1. I've never tried to use the microphone port on any of my soundcards under Linux, or when I have it hasn't worked.

    2. I don't own a headset for my computers. (obviously related to #1).

    I would guess that most headsets that plug into soundcards are going to work regardless of O/S, but I see that there are USB-based headsets as well. So
  • Cheap Bastards (Score:5, Informative)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:38PM (#9488367) Journal
    Nothing beats the ease of setup and use of my new VoIP phone with Packet8. $49 set up fee and they sent me a DTE.

    Plug DTE into power, hub and my cordless phone base station and I had dial tone.

    They assigned me a local number, so it is a local call from my office.

    Free calls worldwide to other Packet8 scuscribers. Unlimited calls in US/Canada for people with regular phones. $20.59/month and that INCLUDES all taxes.

    I get to use my cordless phone and speaker phones. I can take the DTE with me and my phone number follows me.

    Oh, and Packet8 just introduced *real* E911, for the paranoid among you. (Note: If you take the DTE travelling with you and then call 911, it'll claim you're at your address on file -- back home.)

    Father's Day alone saved me the $20 in what would have been LD charges.

    For those that love the software phones, Vonage supports one that has a Linux client as well.

    And VoicePulse will allow you to set up your own Asterisk server, hook in and use them as a PSTN gateway.
  • FreeWorld Dialup (Score:5, Informative)

    by 4ginandtonics ( 455958 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:40PM (#9488403)
    As someone else mentioned - FreeWorld Dialup is a great way to go for voip:

    - standards based
    - Free
    - Windows [xten.com], Linux [sourceforge.net] and pocketpc [sjlabs.com] clients available
    - Call 800 numbers and more [freeworlddialup.com]
    - Call to/from vonage customers [192.246.69.231]
    - get free phone number and have people call you [ipkall.com]
    - Get a wisip phone [pulverinnovations.com] (WiFi SIP) and you have the closest thing to a IP mobile phone you can get.

    FreeWorld Dialup [freeworlddialup.com]

    I'm currently running windows and ipaq (pocketpc 2002) clients fine. And calling my home vonage service - no problem!
  • What's the point? I was just having this discussion with my brother-in-law the other day, and between us we couldn't figure out why anyone would want to use software like this, rather than just using Vonage and getting a VOIP phone. Come to think of it, why have a land-line at all these days?

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