Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 3rd Nov 2009 19:54 UTC, submitted by poundsmack
Internet & Networking We waited a little while with this news, because we wanted official confirmation from Skype before jumping on the internet bandwagon. It's official now, so here we go: Skype has announced that it will release its Linux client as open source. A little late, but welcome nonetheless.
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It is nice to begin with...
by DeadFishMan on Tue 3rd Nov 2009 20:05 UTC
DeadFishMan
Member since:
2006-01-09

Even if they never open up the protocols, just having the chance of looking at the source code of the client alone will help developers to fix the parts of the code that don't play ball very well with Linux/*nix' userland and give some insight that will allow the development of new and innovative ways of using Skype - as in the service.

I am really looking forward to it!

Reply Score: 5

Skype Encryption Stumps German Police
by tobyv on Tue 3rd Nov 2009 20:17 UTC
tobyv
Member since:
2008-08-25

German police should be happy.

Reply Score: 1

unoengborg Member since:
2005-07-06

German police should be happy.


If having the source makes much of a difference when breaking an ecncrypted message, skype need a better encryption algorithm.

The strength of the crypto algorithm should be based on something that is mathematically hard to undo even if you know how it was done.

Reply Score: 5

jokkel Member since:
2008-07-07

Skypes crypto uses standard methods: sha, rsa, rc4, aes and so forth.

Reply Score: 1

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

With the source free, the encryption is very likely to close any backdoors or bugs and adjust quickly to future changes in cryptology.

Reply Score: 1

malu Member since:
2009-03-31

Except the part that they intend to open-source (the UI) likely does not involve the crypto code...

Reply Score: 3

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

The usual process. Read article, read comment, post, read other comment that clarifies only the UI being released. Since it will still rely on the closed API behind it, it also won't adress the outstanding true 64bit build.

Reply Score: 3

cycoj Member since:
2007-11-04

Except for the part that Austrian police indicated that they have no problems listening to conversations and several other indications that there is a backdoor which allows certain parties to listen in on skype. Have a google, another reason to use an open VOIP protocol you can be sure that there are no backdoors.

Reply Score: 2

Good
by jgagnon on Tue 3rd Nov 2009 20:18 UTC
jgagnon
Member since:
2008-06-24

Because my last several attempts to get Skype working on Linux have failed miserably. :p

Reply Score: 1

RE: Good - similar here
by jabbotts on Wed 4th Nov 2009 17:13 UTC in reply to "Good"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Maemo Linux; it works like a dream though I miss the video support (N810 process or probably the limitation).

I'm looking forward for a native Debian 64bit build to apear. The skype site provides only ubuntu 64bit .deb which actually requires 32bit libraries rather than true 64bit coding.

Thank You Skype. Hopefully the distributions include it quickly.

Reply Score: 2

Is the Skype protocol on Linux complete?
by bousozoku on Tue 3rd Nov 2009 21:04 UTC
bousozoku
Member since:
2006-01-23

Is there as much to the protocol on Linux as there is on Windows or even Mac OS X?

If so, becoming open source is a good thing for the client. If not, it's mostly a waste of time for someone to make it pretty or make the interface as useful as those on Windows and Mac OS X.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Lengsel
by Lengsel on Tue 3rd Nov 2009 21:07 UTC
Lengsel
Member since:
2006-04-19

Good, so this means we can finally get an open version of Skype into ports to actually be able to use!

Reply Score: 1

Protocol parts?
by AlexandreAM on Tue 3rd Nov 2009 22:17 UTC
AlexandreAM
Member since:
2006-02-06

Please excuse me, but I'm short on time to RTFA.

Does anyone know if the protocol parts will be in the open code, too, or if they'll release it as a closed library accessed by the client itself?

I, for one, would actually welcome a complete-yet-closed library implementing the complete protocol to be used by whatever IM system I want.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Protocol parts?
by chekr on Wed 4th Nov 2009 05:40 UTC in reply to "Protocol parts?"
chekr Member since:
2005-11-05

Please excuse me, but I'm short on time to RTFA.

Does anyone know if the protocol parts will be in the open code, too, or if they'll release it as a closed library accessed by the client itself?

I, for one, would actually welcome a complete-yet-closed library implementing the complete protocol to be used by whatever IM system I want.


So you're you are too lazy to RTFA but you want us to answer your questions...

did your slave escape or something?

Edited 2009-11-04 05:46 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Protocol parts?
by AlexandreAM on Wed 4th Nov 2009 22:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Protocol parts?"
AlexandreAM Member since:
2006-02-06

Unfortunately the slave is on vacations. New rules of slavery are weird these days.

But no, I wasn't "lazy" of RTFA, I was on my way out and I'd surely forget to come here later. Having a Notification E-mail pop in my box would remind me to check this later.

Thanks for your reply, anyways. It didn't answer the question, but it at least triggered the Notification E-mail I was expecting.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by sbenitezb
by sbenitezb on Tue 3rd Nov 2009 22:27 UTC
sbenitezb
Member since:
2005-07-22

Screw them. Without access to the protocol to implement a viable 64bit alternative or make it available to different architectures, then it doesn't count at all. They just want a Linux version developed for free so they don't have to pay programmers to do the job.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by sbenitezb
by Kroc on Tue 3rd Nov 2009 22:36 UTC in reply to "Comment by sbenitezb"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

It’s called 'getting other people to create value for your brand' and it’s pretty common these days.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by sbenitezb
by tomcat on Thu 5th Nov 2009 08:31 UTC in reply to "Comment by sbenitezb"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

Screw them. Without access to the protocol to implement a viable 64bit alternative or make it available to different architectures, then it doesn't count at all. They just want a Linux version developed for free so they don't have to pay programmers to do the job.


What's wrong with that? Don't you like working for free?

Reply Score: 2

Protocol will NOT be opened
by Sodki on Tue 3rd Nov 2009 23:17 UTC
Sodki
Member since:
2005-11-10

The only thing that is going to be released under an open source license is the UI code, not the protocol code.

Reply Score: 4

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

'scuse me.. gotta go fetch from between the rocks they where dashed on.

Skype; allow full source so we can get your app running natively on 64bit systems. You'll gain more users leading to paying customers.

Reply Score: 2

A lightweight Windows/Mac client too?
by Morph on Tue 3rd Nov 2009 23:41 UTC
Morph
Member since:
2007-08-20

Let's hope the code can be used to make a small, lightweight, unbloated client for Windows and Mac also. The newer 'official' versions are just getting worse and worse...

Reply Score: 2

jokkel Member since:
2008-07-07

The Mac version is fine thank you very much. While version 4 on Windows really is an abomination.

Reply Score: 1

ONLY UI!
by kragil on Wed 4th Nov 2009 00:34 UTC
kragil
Member since:
2006-01-04

Not the whole client will be open source. It will be an open source UI that links to big closed source library.

A small good start, but don't call it "Linux Skype Client To Go Open Source" it just isn't. And they mention other platform also.

Reply Score: 5

RE: ONLY UI!
by sakeniwefu on Wed 4th Nov 2009 02:33 UTC in reply to "ONLY UI!"
sakeniwefu Member since:
2008-02-26

Why not open the protocol so that we also do the porting for them?

IMO, they are stupid because of one or more of the following reasons.
1- Their protocol is easily exploitable and they know it but do not want to fix it.

2- Some of their code is patented or stolen from some third party and they don't want to pay for a license and now for the violation as well.

3- They don't want to make money.

All the money Skype makes is from their accounts. Open clients that work on any platform means more users/use ie. more money. Why do they hate money so much?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: ONLY UI!
by elsewhere on Wed 4th Nov 2009 06:05 UTC in reply to "RE: ONLY UI!"
elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

2- Some of their code is patented or stolen from some third party and they don't want to pay for a license and now for the violation as well.


Or, how about, they don't actually own the code and license it for their client? Meaning, they don't have the legal right to open it...?

For some inexplicable reason, when eBay bought Skype, they, apparently, didn't actually acquire the protocol. They license it from the original owners. There's somewhat of a lawsuit going about that right now.

It's not unusual. Software and hardware vendors often license code for their products, that doesn't give them the immediate right to open the code when the "community" demands. Just look at Intel, with all their open source embracing goodness, and the Poulsbo fiasco. Business is as business is.

Having said that, I doubt Skype would open that code, even if they could. Their business is built on that obfuscation, and nobody has been able to commercially replicate it to anything resembling the same success. You may as well demand that Google publish their PageRank algorithm, so that the "community" can help fine tune it for them.

The benefit to the linux community will be that they can incorporate Skype-compatibility into their client of choice. The benefit for Skype is a potentially wider user base. Quid pro quo.

I'm sure everyone would love it if they opened up their protocol completely, but the linux community needs to quit snapping at commercial organizations taking baby steps towards recognizing the advantages of OSS collaboration. Users adhering to the four freedoms in their choice of software should be shunning Skype anyways, but for the pragmatic side of the community who utilize Skype, this is a small win. That's not a bad thing.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: ONLY UI!
by jokkel on Wed 4th Nov 2009 14:49 UTC in reply to "RE: ONLY UI!"
jokkel Member since:
2008-07-07

Profit is the answer. Skype makes money and wants to continue to do so with their services.

Reply Score: 1

lame
by pooo on Wed 4th Nov 2009 03:28 UTC
pooo
Member since:
2006-04-22

There is already an API for accessing their backend which they are not open sourcing anyway. The part they are open sourcing is known to be complete crap.

I think all that is happening here is that they are abandoning linux development all together. Hopefully there will be some interesting stuff in the code they release so I can simply get an empathy or pidgin plugin and do away with the skype UI all together.

Reply Score: 2

GTK2 interface now possible
by darknexus on Wed 4th Nov 2009 04:40 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

At least we can now link directly to the protocol library instead of going through Skype's client, which means a GTK2 interface could be created. With QT still being inaccessible this would be really great, or even better a fully-integrated plugin for Pidgin that doesn't need the Skype client to be running. Does anyone know, also, if the audio data is output by the library or by the client? If by the client, we could finally have Skype and Pulseaudio integration.

Reply Score: 2

RE: GTK2 interface now possible
by malu on Wed 4th Nov 2009 06:13 UTC in reply to "GTK2 interface now possible"
malu Member since:
2009-03-31

Creating a Pidgin (libpurple) protocol plugin using this will not be possible, since their core library will be closed source...

Reply Score: 1

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Creating a Pidgin (libpurple) protocol plugin using this will not be possible, since their core library will be closed source...


Um, you've heard of shared objects, aka libraries, right and that you can link to them? It won't matter if the protocol is closed source since the plugin could just link to it. This has already been done with the official Skype client, and that was closed source too. The big difference here is that the protocol could be used without the actual Skype client running.
So, it's not impossible. You might wish it to be impossible, but wishes don't make facts.

Reply Score: 2

malu Member since:
2009-03-31

Well, the GPL contains an exception regarding linking to system libraries, which may be GPL-incompatible.
I doubt "libskype" would count as a system library.
Maybe building a glue library using a GPL-compatible licence that also allows linking to non-free libraries would work?

Reply Score: 1

RE: GTK2 interface now possible
by toast88 on Wed 4th Nov 2009 09:05 UTC in reply to "GTK2 interface now possible"
toast88 Member since:
2009-09-23

If by the client, we could finally have Skype and Pulseaudio integration.


Skype 2.1 has perfect pulseaudio integration, just use a pulseaudio version more recent than 0.9.16 better 0.9.19. I am running this on Ubuntu Lucid (which is virtually still the same as Karmic) with pulseaudio and it works like a charm. I can even use my bluetooth headset. If your pulseaudio version is 0.9.15 or older chances are bad it will work well. For me, Skype never worked without crashes and sound problems until PA 0.9.16.

Adrian

Reply Score: 1

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Skype 2.1 has perfect pulseaudio integration, just use a pulseaudio version more recent than 0.9.16 better 0.9.19. I am running this on Ubuntu Lucid (which is virtually still the same as Karmic) with pulseaudio and it works like a charm. I can even use my bluetooth headset. If your pulseaudio version is 0.9.15 or older chances are bad it will work well. For me, Skype never worked without crashes and sound problems until PA 0.9.16.

Adrian


Thanks, I wasn't aware of this. Very good to know, and encouraging at the same time. If one commercial vendor is finally recognizing that Pulseaudio is the future of Linux audio, whether we like it or not, perhaps others will follow and we can have an end to sound issues... until, of course, someone else comes out with a different audio layer that every distro rushes to adopt ;) .

Reply Score: 2

vivainio Member since:
2008-12-26


Thanks, I wasn't aware of this. Very good to know, and encouraging at the same time. If one commercial vendor is finally recognizing that Pulseaudio is the future of Linux audio, whether we like it or not, perhaps others will follow and we can have an end to sound issues...


Nokia also recognized this. N900 (the new Maemo phone) is using pulseaudio.

Reply Score: 2

Too little, too late...
by Eruaran on Wed 4th Nov 2009 08:06 UTC
Eruaran
Member since:
2009-01-25

I've been playing with the preview of Google's Wave for a couple of weeks now and I love it. Our company will be implementing its own Wave services as we already know that it will unify our internal communication and collaboration in a pleasant and productive way. We will be able to dispense with software tools that are, by comparison, fragmented and cumbersome. One of those is Skype.

Reply Score: 2

v Comment by thewolf
by thewolf on Wed 4th Nov 2009 09:06 UTC
Worthless
by r_a_trip on Wed 4th Nov 2009 09:40 UTC
r_a_trip
Member since:
2005-07-06

Skype is not even throwing us a bone here. It's more like a few tiny scraps of left over meat.

Ooh, an open source UI. Whoop-dee-doo! So Skype outsources the development of the GUI to the community of FOSS developers.

Meanwhile, they have no intention of freeing the protocols. One has to wonder what the ultra secret sauce is. If the protocol is specified, would it be too easy to set up competing VoIP to land line services with the Skype protocol? This is where Skype pulls their money from. Are they so insecure over the quality of their own offering, that they hide behind lock-in to sustain their business?

It feels like a marketing stunt. Look, we have some Open Sauce too!

Meanwhile they are keeping the walls intact, afraid they lose the only real value in Skype, the huge mass of locked in Windows users who use Skype for VoIP. Windows is where Skype began and here they gobbled up a large group of users, who are used to dealing with closed programs over which they never have control.

Let's be honest, would Skype be a necessary evil on Linux and Mac, if Windows users were predominantly using an XMPP client with libjingle? There are better options out there, but they are only useful if you can use them to contact the persons you want to communicate with.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Worthless
by chekr on Wed 4th Nov 2009 10:17 UTC in reply to "Worthless"
chekr Member since:
2005-11-05

Skype is not even throwing us a bone here. It's more like a few tiny scraps of left over meat.

Ooh, an open source UI. Whoop-dee-doo! So Skype outsources the development of the GUI to the community of FOSS developers.

Meanwhile, they have no intention of freeing the protocols. One has to wonder what the ultra secret sauce is. If the protocol is specified, would it be too easy to set up competing VoIP to land line services with the Skype protocol? This is where Skype pulls their money from. Are they so insecure over the quality of their own offering, that they hide behind lock-in to sustain their business?

It feels like a marketing stunt. Look, we have some Open Sauce too!

Meanwhile they are keeping the walls intact, afraid they lose the only real value in Skype, the huge mass of locked in Windows users who use Skype for VoIP. Windows is where Skype began and here they gobbled up a large group of users, who are used to dealing with closed programs over which they never have control.

Let's be honest, would Skype be a necessary evil on Linux and Mac, if Windows users were predominantly using an XMPP client with libjingle? There are better options out there, but they are only useful if you can use them to contact the persons you want to communicate with.


Before criticizing go to google and search for skype + joltid and educate yourself

If you have found a way to open source the intellectual property of others please do share!

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Worthless
by r_a_trip on Wed 4th Nov 2009 15:20 UTC in reply to "RE: Worthless"
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

Before criticizing go to google and search for skype + joltid and educate yourself

I know about the stupid fact that Ebay bought a brainless chicken. I don't care if Ebay or Joltid owns the guts. The guts are rotten when it comes to Linux support. Skype barely works.

Skype is a horrid piece of software that should have died in favor of open technologies ages ago. The only reason it still exists is the inertia in the userbase.

About going to Google... I'd love to, but too many people keep insisting I waste my time on Skype.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Worthless
by RshPL on Wed 4th Nov 2009 10:19 UTC in reply to "Worthless"
RshPL Member since:
2009-03-13

Really, is it really that surprising?
Business works by maximizing the possible income and keeping the technology secret is one way to do this.
You really can't blame them if there is no real Skype competition and helping the competition would not be wise from their standpoint.
And if Skype is supposedly crap, why haven't anyone made a competing product to this time? I still can't do voice/video calls with my PSI. It's XMPP that's useless for business needs, the only thing it does well is text messages which have been working perfectly fine with IRC *decades* ago.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Worthless
by darknexus on Wed 4th Nov 2009 14:41 UTC in reply to "Worthless"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Meanwhile, they have no intention of freeing the protocols. One has to wonder what the ultra secret sauce is. If the protocol is specified, would it be too easy to set up competing VoIP to land line services with the Skype protocol? This is where Skype pulls their money from. Are they so insecure over the quality of their own offering, that they hide behind lock-in to sustain their business?
It feels like a marketing stunt. Look, we have some Open Sauce too!

Meanwhile they are keeping the walls intact, afraid they lose the only real value in Skype, the huge mass of locked in Windows users who use Skype for VoIP. Windows is where Skype began and here they gobbled up a large group of users, who are used to dealing with closed programs over which they never have control.

Let's be honest, would Skype be a necessary evil on Linux and Mac, if Windows users were predominantly using an XMPP client with libjingle? There are better options out there, but they are only useful if you can use them to contact the persons you want to communicate with.


Perhaps the question we all should be asking is this: There are several open protocols such as SIP that can do the exact same thing Skype can do, and many SIP to PSTN servers out there. They're all missing something though, competitive prices for their service. Skype has several subscription plans you can choose from, can anyone name a SIP server that doesn't simply have per-minute charges and has something an average customer might actually want? If someone such as Gizmo took it this step further, since they already have their own client that most non-geeks will use and us geeks can use whatever SIP client we prefer anyway, and offered decent rate plans (e.g. $3/month for unlimited service in the US/Europe/name continent or country here), we might have something other than Skype that is open. It's not Skype's fault they can't open source their protocol as there is work from other parties involved, and it's also not their fault that no one else has set up a competitive alternative. If we want something more open, I know I do, then we need to create it and I do not mean the communication protocols or audio/video codecs.

Edited 2009-11-04 14:43 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Worthless
by cycoj on Thu 5th Nov 2009 05:46 UTC in reply to "RE: Worthless"
cycoj Member since:
2007-11-04

"Meanwhile, they have no intention of freeing the protocols. One has to wonder what the ultra secret sauce is. If the protocol is specified, would it be too easy to set up competing VoIP to land line services with the Skype protocol? This is where Skype pulls their money from. Are they so insecure over the quality of their own offering, that they hide behind lock-in to sustain their business?
It feels like a marketing stunt. Look, we have some Open Sauce too!

Meanwhile they are keeping the walls intact, afraid they lose the only real value in Skype, the huge mass of locked in Windows users who use Skype for VoIP. Windows is where Skype began and here they gobbled up a large group of users, who are used to dealing with closed programs over which they never have control.

Let's be honest, would Skype be a necessary evil on Linux and Mac, if Windows users were predominantly using an XMPP client with libjingle? There are better options out there, but they are only useful if you can use them to contact the persons you want to communicate with.


Perhaps the question we all should be asking is this: There are several open protocols such as SIP that can do the exact same thing Skype can do, and many SIP to PSTN servers out there. They're all missing something though, competitive prices for their service. Skype has several subscription plans you can choose from, can anyone name a SIP server that doesn't simply have per-minute charges and has something an average customer might actually want? If someone such as Gizmo took it this step further, since they already have their own client that most non-geeks will use and us geeks can use whatever SIP client we prefer anyway, and offered decent rate plans (e.g. $3/month for unlimited service in the US/Europe/name continent or country here), we might have something other than Skype that is open. It's not Skype's fault they can't open source their protocol as there is work from other parties involved, and it's also not their fault that no one else has set up a competitive alternative. If we want something more open, I know I do, then we need to create it and I do not mean the communication protocols or audio/video codecs.
"

I don't think skype is any cheaper than most SIP providers. I just had a look on their website and the pricing doesn't look really exceptional. The reason why skype is so dominant is momentum. Initially they were the first ones who brought out a client which easily worked through firewalls etc. and which was doing a big marketing push. So everybody went to skype, and now nobody wants to try something else. It's the same with all the messengers.

Reply Score: 2

I don't get your whining
by RshPL on Wed 4th Nov 2009 10:09 UTC
RshPL
Member since:
2009-03-13

Skype for Linux works for me, I have it running 24h/day on two PCs in parallel, both run 100% stable. Granted, it's still the version with ALSA support and I have a hardware mixing SBLive ... but no, Skype doesn't crash AT ALL, in contrast to some open source KDE programs. :o Open source does not imply stability. The only thing I really can complain is disappearing buttons in fullscreen video calls. Overall I think it's a good program with useful UI. I am happy with it getting open so that the minor issues can be quickly resolved.

Reply Score: 2

RE: I don't get your whining
by sorpigal on Wed 4th Nov 2009 11:59 UTC in reply to "I don't get your whining"
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Who said anything about stability? Did the article say "We want better stability, so we're open sourcing the client UI?" No.

Stability, reliability, etc. may be incidental side effects of having many eyeballs debugging code, but it wont necessarily happen. And, importantly, that's not why we like open source. It's as much about freedom as it is about better software!

Not just FSF-style software Freedom, either. The ability to choose a desktop-integrated client is an example.

"Works for me and doesn't crash" isn't the ultimate justification for the existence of a piece of software!

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: I don't get your whining
by RshPL on Wed 4th Nov 2009 14:14 UTC in reply to "RE: I don't get your whining"
RshPL Member since:
2009-03-13

I suppose my comment wasn't geared towards the article itself but rather the general flavour of comments under this article. I'm all for free/(open source) software and I prefer it to any closed software when it delivers the functionality I need (none delivers the functionality of Skype), but reading through comments under this news one could gather what a terrible piece of software the Linux Skype client is, while I think it doesn't do much justice to it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: I don't get your whining
by WereCatf on Wed 4th Nov 2009 14:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I don't get your whining"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

If it were a stand-alone piece of software then it would be ok, I suppose, but in reality it's also available for OSX and Windows. Compared to those "other Skypes" it's just plain horrible. It's a sad thing when a product must compete against itself and fails.

Reply Score: 3

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Offhand, what distribution and are you running 32 or 64 bit?

For me, it works great on Maemo, iPhone and osX proper. On Mandriva it was ok but previous to my using it a lot. On Debian I'm getting no love from the 64bit without dirtying my install with 32bit dependencies. (so, no skype on my desktop)

Reply Score: 2

RshPL Member since:
2009-03-13

OpenSuse 11.1 - one is Laptop 32 bit, second 64 bit desktop. I did nothing special to set it up, just clicked on the RPM files from skype.com :-) Now ,that's a pleasant way to install stuff.

Reply Score: 1

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Good to hear the RPM build is behaving for you. Did you notice if it pulled in 32bit or 64bit dependencies? My go with the Ubuntu 64bit .deb looks like it'll run fine but it's asking to pull in 32bit dependencies which is the point I canceled it.

Being able to double-click packages and have the installer pick them up is a very nice touch for when one does have to download from outside the repositories.

Reply Score: 2