Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 3rd Jun 2011 22:23 UTC, submitted by sawboss
Internet & Networking "One researcher has decided he wants to make Skype open source by reverse engineering the protocol the service uses. In fact, he claims to have already achieved that reverse engineering feat on a new skype-open-source blog. The source code has been posted for versions 1.x/3.x/4.x of Skype as well as details of the rc4 layer arithmetic encoding the service uses."
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Wrong summary and title
by Sodki on Fri 3rd Jun 2011 23:16 UTC
Sodki
Member since:
2005-11-10

The researcher claims to have some success in reverse engineering an older Skype protocol. Good news, I suppose, because it gets us one step closer to the goal, but Skype is already threatening to use big guns in order to stop this.

This means that we probably won't have free software communicating with Skype anytime soon, if ever.

Reply Score: 4

Whats the use, I didn't get it ?
by ramasubbu_sk on Sat 4th Jun 2011 00:06 UTC
ramasubbu_sk
Member since:
2007-04-05

When SKYPE is already releasing the application almost all the platform, including Linux. Then why do we need the same app in open source, I didn't get it.
But I appreciate the hard work to reverse engineer.

Reply Score: 1

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

The linux version is buggy (although to be fair, so is the windows version). It needs some hacked libraries to support my webcam, I'm not sure why since other apps work fine. The streaming video shows up in a tiny window.

These are a few things I'd be able to fix if source were provided.

Plus you could do some innovative things by hooking it up into asterisk.

So, it's not without merit.

Reply Score: 7

hakossem Member since:
2005-07-15

Skype is developed for a limited number of platform: windows, mac, linux, android, ios, wm7. some other platform had their support removed wm6 and many others don't have support *BSD, Sparc, Haiku, ...
Not all platform are equally developed, some are left far behind (Linux).

Having an open source Skype will give the possibility to put skype everywhere. Also it will give access to the full access to the protocol, with its full possibilities, not just what Skype/Yahoo/Microsoft want to give to the users.

Reply Score: 4

panzi Member since:
2006-01-22

Because Skype for Linux is not really maintained, crashes a lot, 32bit Intel only, does strange and annoying things to amarok and is yet another app that needs to run in the background. I want a kopete plugin that you can compile for any platform, is stable and does not interfere with amarok at all! If it's open source and there is no one else that does it, I could maintain it. Maintain. Not reverse engineer the protocol and such.

Reply Score: 5

bitwelder Member since:
2010-04-27

I see at least two advantages:
1) By knowing Skype algorithm, it is possible to assess how secure is its protocol.
2) Skype binaries available on Linux means available on Linux for i386 CPUs, mostly. Having a functionally equivalent source code it would make possible to have Skype on (potentially) all architectures that are used with microcontrollers and various portable devices.

Reply Score: 4

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

When SKYPE is already releasing the application almost all the platform, including Linux. Then why do we need the same app in open source, I didn't get it.
But I appreciate the hard work to reverse engineer.


Something the other commenters didn't mention: now that Microsoft has bought Skype it's very likely that support for most -- if not all -- other OSes will be dropped completely. Atleast Linux support will be dropped like a hot potato, you can bet your ass on that.

Reply Score: 5

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Skype on linux is very buggy, I've heard that Skype on Mac wasn't very good either (people frequently complain about its UI), and with Microsoft on top you can bet that this is not going to change.

Reply Score: 2

Dasher42 Member since:
2007-04-05

Even if a company does a good job of maintaining a good program for all platforms, which Skype only does partially, do you want to have a single point of failure?

If the Amiga had been open sourced, its resurrection wouldn't be a novelty story here.

Reply Score: 2

laffer1 Member since:
2007-11-09

It's not available for all platforms and there is fear when Microsoft takes over it won't be supported on Linux. Consider, BSD, Solaris, Haiku, ... even Linux on non x86 platforms.

Reply Score: 3

ecruz Member since:
2007-06-16

Young man, let's think business. Imagine you and I build a great car, most advanced in the world, and three people have bought it.

Do you believe then, that parts manufacturers must build and stock parts for our car?

Not on your lifetime! Mentioning other OS's like BSD, Haiku (are you in a dream?) is showing some of you people total lack of reality.
Yes, it sounds harsh, but it is the truth. Take some business classes. It will help your life quite a bit later on.

Reply Score: 1

laffer1 Member since:
2007-11-09

I'm not expecting Skype to write a client for other operating systems, but there is demand for such apps even on a small scale.

I don't need business classes. I'll learn to drink more? Seriously, I get the point you're making about profitability, but many people reading this site are interested in niche operating systems. We like unpopular or quirky things.

Reply Score: 1

Reverse Engineered
by Alfman on Sat 4th Jun 2011 00:31 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

I'm a little confused, hasn't it already been reverse engineered in detail?


2006
http://www1.cs.columbia.edu/~salman/skype/

2010
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/07/09/skype_crypto/

From a closer reading, the reverse engineering isn't new, what's new is that they seem to have a working skype clone.

If so, a more succinct headline would be "Skype has been cloned"

Reply Score: 4

Why is VOIP+PTSD so hard?
by Hypnos on Sat 4th Jun 2011 01:26 UTC
Hypnos
Member since:
2008-11-19

Skype made this work simply. Why hasn't anyone else been able to step up to the plate?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Why is VOIP+PTSD so hard?
by darknexus on Sat 4th Jun 2011 05:39 UTC in reply to "Why is VOIP+PTSD so hard?"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Skype made this work simply. Why hasn't anyone else been able to step up to the plate?


It's not that it's difficult, but rather that it is usually expensive. Depending on which PTSD network and country you're talking about, the cost of interfacing with it can be astonishingly high. Though Skype has made this simple and cheap for the users so far (who knows what'll happen if the Microsoft/Skype deal is approved), Skype is not actually a profitable company. They don't have enough users paying for their service to offset the cost of their infrastructure, and the PTSD-related fees are a large part of that loss.

Reply Score: 4

u really dont get it!
by ikidunot on Sat 4th Jun 2011 02:45 UTC
ikidunot
Member since:
2011-06-04

I can't believe what I'm reading.

Skype is not about the software!

It's about the infrastructure.

There is no way known that Microsoft is going to allow every Tom, Dick, and Harry to use their billion dollar system for nothing.

If the OSS community wants a skype equivalent then someone is going to have to spend up very big with no possibility of recouping their investment.

Time for a reality check folks.

Reply Score: 2

RE: u really dont get it!
by Neolander on Sat 4th Jun 2011 07:46 UTC in reply to "u really dont get it!"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

It has already happened. There are several working MSN/WLM clones.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: u really dont get it!
by ikidunot on Sun 5th Jun 2011 09:05 UTC in reply to "RE: u really dont get it!"
ikidunot Member since:
2011-06-04

Look at the service - not just the software. Skype is video chat. Skype can connect to PSTN phones. Skype is not a part of something else. It is SKYPE.

Reverse engineering Skype will achieve nothing positive because the protocol is one part of the whole entity that is Skype. In a nutshell, it's been a complete waste of time from which nothing positive will come.

People use Skype because it provides the service they want and nothing else does.

Skype is a service - not a bloody protocol.

Do you understand the difference now?

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: u really dont get it!
by Neolander on Sun 5th Jun 2011 09:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: u really dont get it!"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Look at the service - not just the software. Skype is video chat. Skype can connect to PSTN phones. Skype is not a part of something else. It is SKYPE.

Alright, so far so good.

Reverse engineering Skype will achieve nothing positive because the protocol is one part of the whole entity that is Skype. In a nutshell, it's been a complete waste of time from which nothing positive will come.

Wrong. Again, let's talk about WLM clones. You want to communicate with WLM users (a service), but you use an operating system that's either not properly supported by Microsoft or not supported at all (in short, anything but Windows and J2ME). In that case, having a WLM clone allows users of other platforms to communicate using the WLM service with other persons using the WLM service.

Same with Skype.

People use Skype because it provides the service they want and nothing else does.

Skype is a service - not a bloody protocol.

Do you understand the difference now?

I already know. The thing is, it is possible to write alternate clients for using the same service. But that requires knowing the protocol. Hence reverse-engineering the protocol is useful.

What is your problem with that ?

Edited 2011-06-05 09:12 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: u really dont get it!
by ikidunot on Mon 6th Jun 2011 01:16 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: u really dont get it!"
ikidunot Member since:
2011-06-04

Microsoft offers the WLM service to their clients and no one else. It is not a public service like the PSTN.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: u really dont get it!
by Neolander on Mon 6th Jun 2011 05:43 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: u really dont get it!"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Sure, but if their clients choose to use different client software and Microsoft doesn't feel like it, it's Microsoft's problem, not the client's one.

You said that reverse engineering had no benefit. I have shown you that, from a customer's point of view, there are benefits. Of course, the service provider's opinion may come into play if it successfully tries to keep breaking protocol compatibility and force clients to upgrade, or if it uses legal power to stop other people from using its proprietary protocol. But in principle, reverse engineering the Skype protocol is pure benefit for Skype's users. At worst they lose nothing, at best they get worthwhile Skype implementations on non-supported platforms. It's a win-win situation.

Edited 2011-06-06 05:45 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: u really dont get it!
by 0brad0 on Tue 7th Jun 2011 00:37 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: u really dont get it!"
0brad0 Member since:
2007-05-05

Microsoft offers the WLM service to their clients and no one else. It is not a public service like the PSTN.


Tell that to the many hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of users not using their clients and a majority of them have no means of running their clients even if they could possibly want to.

Reply Score: 2

RE: u really dont get it!
by ecruz on Sun 5th Jun 2011 02:13 UTC in reply to "u really dont get it!"
ecruz Member since:
2007-06-16

I agree with you. But also, why don't the OSS community comes up with a piece of software, brand new, that has no equivalent in the proprietary world and that everyone wants to use?

I just want them to come up with something new. There is enough brain power there to do it, but overall, copying or reverse engineering is all I hear about.

Japan did that for many years but it did not become successful until they started creating their own work. OSS, is time to begin to think that way.

Even if they reverse engineered Skype, first MSFT will not sit idle by (would you, after you pay 8 billion for the thing?), so reversing it is not happening. Second, if it did happen, how many people outside of the geek world (remember geeks, you are a very, very, small minority in the marketplace) would use it instead of the real thing. C'mon, get real!

Just look at OpenOffice, what's their market share?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: u really dont get it!
by Neolander on Sun 5th Jun 2011 06:30 UTC in reply to "RE: u really dont get it!"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Just look at OpenOffice, what's their market share?

I globally agree with your comment, but this is not necessarily the best example you could pick.

Here, I see OpenOffice adopted more and more around me, by governmental institutions like schools or the police which figure out that they could do something interesting with all that money that MS Office costs.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: u really dont get it!
by bogomipz on Sun 5th Jun 2011 17:32 UTC in reply to "RE: u really dont get it!"
bogomipz Member since:
2005-07-11

The OSS community does come up with brand new things from time to time. Some examples are SSH, MPD, tiling window managers, TeX and LyX. I wanted to mention Emacs, but maybe that's not really true since it started as a set of TECO macros.

Reply Score: 3

So...
by panzi on Sat 4th Jun 2011 02:50 UTC
panzi
Member since:
2006-01-22

So I say it's time something should be done and it gets done? (http://twitter.com/#!/bloodyalbatross/status/73389750672830464)

Awesome! Someone should reverse engineer the Steam Friends protocol.

Reply Score: 2

Microsoft Wrath?
by mfaudzinr on Sat 4th Jun 2011 10:25 UTC
mfaudzinr
Member since:
2008-02-13

I wonder if Microsoft would just let this be. Surely they'd bear their mighty weight onto him sooner or later. And I don't think it's gonna be pretty.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Microsoft Wrath?
by Valhalla on Sat 4th Jun 2011 13:13 UTC in reply to "Microsoft Wrath?"
Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24

I wonder if Microsoft would just let this be. Surely they'd bear their mighty weight onto him sooner or later. And I don't think it's gonna be pretty.


Apparently that is already happening:

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=OTUyNg

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Microsoft Wrath?
by mfaudzinr on Sat 4th Jun 2011 20:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Microsoft Wrath?"
mfaudzinr Member since:
2008-02-13

How unfortunate but it is within their right to do so. On parity feature across all platforms, even on Windows I do find the experience/interface a bit wanting to say the least but serviceable. I've never tried the version on Linux though. I hope Microsoft would not pull the plug on other systems and continue to improve the protocol/software across all supported platforms (Wishful thinking perhaps) but it is necessary so as not to have the need to reverse engineer the protocol/software.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Microsoft Wrath?
by ecruz on Sun 5th Jun 2011 02:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Microsoft Wrath?"
ecruz Member since:
2007-06-16

It is nice to see a poster here that seems to have a clue, not just about the technical aspects of the subject, but also the importance of x,y,z company responsibility and business decisions.

Reply Score: 1

Web-RTC
by Valhalla on Sat 4th Jun 2011 13:52 UTC
Valhalla
Member since:
2006-01-24

I haven't seen this mentioned on OS-News (which is weird since it has made the round on all other tech sites I visit) but Google's Web-RTC is basically offering Skype through your browser, with Chrome (naturally), Mozilla and Opera implementing it. Again it's free (I'm sort of missing mrhasbean's downvoted comments saying 'it's not freee!') and fully open source so it can be picked up by Safari and IE but due to politics it will likely only be available as plugins for those browsers.

http://sites.google.com/site/webrtc/home
http://www.i-programmer.info/news/87-web-development/2517-google-we...

Reply Score: 4

RE: Web-RTC
by Neolander on Sat 4th Jun 2011 16:07 UTC in reply to "Web-RTC"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

(I'm sort of missing mrhasbean's downvoted comments saying 'it's not freee!')

See the bright side of it: his nickname has never been so appropriate =p

Again it's free [...] and fully open source so it can be picked up by Safari and IE but due to politics it will likely only be available as plugins for those browsers.

Well, considering that Apple are busy on their side reinventing video calls in a proprietary way, it's indeed unlikely that Safari would get such a feature. But I wonder : do Safari and IE have such a thing as a public plugin API ? Or are all plug-ins for these browsers written using undocumented APIs that are likely to change at every new version ?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Web-RTC
by ccraig13 on Mon 6th Jun 2011 16:49 UTC in reply to "RE: Web-RTC"
ccraig13 Member since:
2011-05-31

Safari 5 has an extensions framework but I'm not sure how much they let you tweak Safari with it. As far as Apple reinventing stuff goes, sometimes I wish Steve would go back to what he said at the '97 WWDC: Apple doesn't have to be different just much better.

But then again, I like most of the stuff they do different! ;)

Reply Score: 1

Reason for consumers to have source
by Alfman on Mon 6th Jun 2011 01:37 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

This is a bit late, but I just came across it.

http://news.cnet.com/Intels-mantra-Lets-make-a-deal/2100-1006_3-603...

Skype can (and has) deliberately limited some of it's functionality on non-intel processors.

Source code would enable customers to remove those artificial restrictions.

Edited 2011-06-06 01:38 UTC

Reply Score: 2