back to article Skype-on-Linux graduates from Alpha to Beta status

Skype's original peer-to-peer architecture has been bidding the world a long farewell since last year, and another peer just waved goodbye, with the latest Skype for Linux client graduating from Alpha to Beta status. Microsoft's Skype team on Wednesday announced the confusingly-named Skype for Linux beta 5.0 here, and yes, “we …

  1. P. Lee Silver badge

    Question

    Is the TM a trademark note or part of the logo?

    I suspect MS have made a mistake here with the cloud thing. I'm not sure many people use skype-out rather than a mobile phone, which means big infrastructure for little return. These days I use it for international family chat. I can't be bothered with yet another account so just use my mobile phone for (admittedly short) international business calls - I may use skype for the odd teleconference to a freephone number if I'm working from home.

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: Question

      > These days I use it for international family chat.

      WebRTC is your friend, mate ;-)

  2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    What is the benefit putting a cloud in the middle?

    ekiga.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: What is the benefit putting a cloud in the middle?

      MS is not called SLURP for nothing. They'll more than likely grab information on all persons involved in the call and feed it to their Ad Agency Clients. Then you will get popups (different at each end) inviting you to 'click here to get more information on XXXXX. We noticed that you were talking about it just now'.

      Simples really. MS (like most companies) don't do things out of the kindness of their heart.

    2. bazza Silver badge

      Re: What is the benefit putting a cloud in the middle?

      Microsoft's Skype team on Wednesday announced the confusingly-named Skype for Linux beta 5.0 here, and yes, “we have been focused on building a new experience that is in line with Skype’s ongoing transition from peer-to-peer to a modern cloud architecture”.

      Yes, I scoffed at the above also. It was an almost political statement from MS, describing the cloud based architecture as 'Modern'. It's certainly modern, but that in no way means 'better', or 'more reliable', or 'more secure' or 'more private'. Rather the opposite.

      In their defence there is some minor technical merit - for example you didn't want to end up as a super-node on the peer-to-peer network if you had a shortage of Internet bandwidth or cared about battery life.

      To be honest though I think the original, Estonian design was a technical tour de force, and being able to sell it "twice" was commercial genius.

      Having paid so much for it I think MS have to monetise it, which is why they're doing are making these changes. But I don't think it'll work. I use Skype, so do family members, but only briefly once a week to keep in touch. I don't know anyone who uses it in anything like a major way, not for business, not as a matter of course as a way to speak to speak to people. We all just use our mobiles and the vast number of free minutes that comes with the contract / PAYG. Apart from anything else that saves killing the battery life. Who, anywhere, regularly uses anything like Skype, Facetime, instead of making a phone call?

      So Skype is never going to be a source of advertising revenue on the same scale as, for example, Google get from people using Google search or using an Android phone. It's always going to struggle to justify the high price MS paid for it.

      1. gv

        Re: What is the benefit putting a cloud in the middle?

        I've come across quite a few large companies using Skype Meetings or whatever the webex equivalent is called.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What is the benefit putting a cloud in the middle?

          I've come across quite a few large companies using Skype Meetings

          Strange. It's absolutely banned on our large-company internal network, for being a security risk.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: What is the benefit putting a cloud in the middle?

        I've always thought that P2P was an improvement on centralised servers, but there you go, it seems I'm not "modern".

        In their defence there is some minor technical merit - for example you didn't want to end up as a super-node on the peer-to-peer network if you had a shortage of Internet bandwidth or cared about battery life.

        If you had limited bandwidth you wouldn't have ended up as a supernode anyway.

        1. doke

          Re: What is the benefit putting a cloud in the middle?

          Peer to Peer has trouble with firewalls, especially NATing ones. If both ends have a firewall that prohibits unsolicited inbound connections, then PtP can't establish a connection. The work around in some small routers is UPNP, which allows an application to register with the firewall for an inbound pass. However, that is generally considered very insecure, and most corporate firewalls turn it off.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: What is the benefit putting a cloud in the middle?

        "Who, anywhere, regularly uses anything like Skype, Facetime, instead of making a phone call?"

        The woman who runs our local corner convenience shop almost always has her tablet in hand on a video call whenever I'm in there, two or three mornings per week. She's usually chatting to family in other UK cities or in Pakistan.

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Skype for Linux (bottom) merely says it does

    Nothing new here. Same as WebEx - the menus are there, but only "Share Desktop" works correctly on Linux.

  4. Paul

    I stopped installing Skype on Linux a year or so after switching to 64 bit Linux, because Skype was a 32 bit program and you had to install dozens of 32 bit packages for it to work. I also used to use an apparmor profile to stop Skype getting nosy and reading files on my computer it hag no business poking into.

    The web version works fine for chat.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Have a look at Ghetto-Skype. It's basically an Electron wrapper for the web-chat, so you get some of the flexibility of not being in the browser (like notifications in the system tray) without the hellishness of having to run Skype for Linux Alpha^H^H^H^H^HBeta

  5. MartinB105

    Skype has been on the decline ever since Microsoft bought it.

    I've been using Skype on Linux since around 2004, and it worked great back then. Then Microsoft bought it and it's been on a steady decline ever since:

    - Reliability and connection issues.

    - forced use of PulseAudio (PulseAudio causes all kinds of problems on my system. Besides this, I have a good soundcard so I shouldn't need PA in the first place, and I don't know any other apps that require me to use it. I ended up installing a fake PA ALSA wrapper to get around this particular problem).

    - Inability to be in multiple calls at once (this used to be possible, now it holds other calls if you take a new one. If I want to hold the first call, I'll do it myself - at least give me the option!)

    - Inability to conference call between two Linux clients and one Android client (One Linux, one Windows and one Android works fine, but switching the Windows PC to Linux for some reason makes it impossible, although a standard two way Linux-to-Linux call still works).

    - Other odd problems where Skype interferes with some other application while apparently doing nothing else (i.e. no ongoing call); as soon as Skype is closed the problem in the other application is suddenly gone.

    - Terrible quality of the shared screen (resolution so low that it's literally impossible to read screen contents).

    - And apparently, now a complete inability to share the screen at all from Linux.

    I guess this will just speed up our migration to Hangouts.

    1. Steven Raith

      Re: Skype has been on the decline ever since Microsoft bought it.

      Don't forget the complete lack of ability to search recent conversations, nor any local caching of local conversations (that I can find)

      Someone told you something a month ago in Skype chat? Forget looking for it like you can on the Windows and Mac clients. The functionality just isn't there to store anything older than that, and there's no search option, full stop.

      Bloody annoying.

      And if I'm wrong about this, someone say so because I'd be ecstatic to be wrong about this.

      Steven R

    2. Allonymous Coward

      Re: Skype has been on the decline ever since Microsoft bought it.

      PulseAudio causes all kinds of problems on my^H^H any system

      There, FTFY.

      1. Ian 55

        Re: Skype has been on the decline ever since Microsoft bought it.

        Hmm, I don't think I've ever had a problem with PulseAudio, despite its author.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Skype has been on the decline ever since Microsoft bought it.

        i'm sure Poettering's Pulseaudio was the dumbest idea ever, all part of the effort to kill off non-mainstream OS.. or limit their usefulness in the greater ecosystem.

        Avahi, systemD .. Pulseaudio ... i smell a rat.

        Maybe the milky bar kid is secretly working for Redmond - they maybe put him in charge of Skype on *nix wouldn't surprise me.. linux needs to get a grip and get rigd of pulseaudio and stop compiling stuff against it..

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Skype has been on the decline ever since Microsoft bought it.

      when desktop distro's started shipping pulseaudio as standard, i took it as a sign Sabateurs were working in the Linux community, i used to completely remove it, nowadays it's all but impossible to remove Pulseaudio from most distros.. Linux .. becoming more like Win10 or Mac OS everyday.

      if you had a decent soundcard (hardware) Dmix worked perfectly. but no, Change for the sake of it.

      Linux distro people - you NEED to ditch:

      Pulseaudio

      Desktop searches

      hiding options

      bloat.

      Linux distro makers, you NEED to ship by default

      options and customisation and choice. remember that ?

      No.. thought not.

  6. Mage Silver badge

    Web based?

    I don't want to run a web browser for text chat. Currently using 4.3.0.37 on Linux. I can send files, don't get them from windows. The voice and video seem to work, but I don't use them often. The file thing isn't important: Email.

    Also for desktop sharing etc there is Teamviewer?

    A lot of people changed to QQ when Skype on Windows started using 100% on some net books. Unfortunately that only seems to be Chinese on Linux.

    Typical stupidity of MS to rename their own completely different business package "Skype".

  7. John Crisp
    FAIL

    Moving on

    As my PFY commented the other day - the only bit of software we have any issues with is the one by Microsoft..... We've voted with our feet and moved off Skype now.

    Note that you now cannot register with a business email address - they want you to use Skype for Business, and then the hard sell for all their other cloudy crap (mycompany.co.uk was out but it failed to pickup mycompany.eu)

    If you create a private account you don't seem to be able to pick a user name as far as I can see - you end up with some nonsense like live:bloggs4536 and then you don't appear to be able to login with the old linux cient - only via the web page.

    If they want you to use a web page/force use of Skype for Business then there are plenty of alternatives if you just want messaging (which is what we mainly use it for at work). We are using RocketChat now which, although under heavy development, has a lot of funky features that Skype doesn't. Plus the data is all mine, and not slurped.

    Nice job by Microsoft once again. Take a perfectly reasonable functioning bit of kit and turn it into crap. I guess they are only interested in monetising the business side of it and everyone else can go to hell.

    Ah well. So long, and thanks for all the fish :-)

  8. Dr.Flay

    Pidgin users will be wondering what all the fuss is about.

    Why hop from client to client over the years when you can just stick with the same one that supports added protocols.

    Pidgin has OTR/PGP which you can use with Skype to regain privacy.

  9. Adair Silver badge

    I would be interested to know...

    if anyone one here has any useful experience of Ring they would care to share: https://ring.cx/en

    1. Mr. Flibble

      Re: I would be interested to know...

      It's still in heavy development.

      For me it's a toss-up between ring and tox (https://tox.chat).

      They are both promising, and I'm running a relay for tox to help out (and for ring if OpenDHT will behave on my system).

      The major problem on both is lack of caching messages for someone if they are offline. When that gets fixed they will be awesome!

  10. PJD

    When I got sick of not being able to video-conference with more than one person at a time, and when I started getting a blue strobing effect using skype on linux I basically gave up on it and switched to google hangouts - multiple people in video at the same time, screensharing works (including picking just one application to share vs sharing the entire desktop), and it's genuinely OS agnostic.

  11. Cameron Colley

    Are there any viable alternatives for non-technical users?

    I can ask my beloved maiden aunt to install Skype, give her my username, and we can then talk without any more setup.

    I looked at Ring but it involves punching holes in firewalls and the like of which I'm not happy to have to talk through to everyone I may meet who may use it and, in some cases, it would not even be possible.

    As an aside I tried Tox and discovered that the Android client burns through the battery far too fast to be usable the (especially given Android's non-existant task managing abilities).

  12. tracyanne

    Stopped using Skype when Microsoft bought it

    Figured there would be security and privacy issues, and there were.

  13. emperor

    Can I receive calls to my Skype number using Skype for Web Beta? You couldn't do this with Alpha.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This probably allows them to say "see, we are moving to Linux!" with a product set which doesn't cost them very much Windows Server revenue as they are already pushing these Skype/Lync users to O365.

    I wonder how long it will be until Microsoft just tells the non-O365 user base, still running Exchange, SharePoint, etc on prem, that it is O365 or the highway. I have to think the EOL of on prem MSFT productivity products is on the horizon. It is clear that they want people on O365. The only downside for MSFT is that additional companies might get upset and move to Google, but that is cloud. There is no other viable on prem option... or at least one that people are going to use. If they lose customers to Google as a result of EOL the on prem stuff, they were probably going to eventually lose those customers to Google in any case. I don't see much of a downside for MSFT... so it's probably coming.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too little, too late.. again.

    Well sorry Redmond, too late. Most Linux and Mac users have already pissed off from Skype already.. the death knell was 'round about the time the UI went from being a compact application, to suddenly becoming a huge behemoth with Fisher Price sized UI elements and too busy and huge and clunky, un-resizable interface. not even mentioning the dumb little video clips in chat as i left Skype 5 years ago, before they f*&^ed it up for good.

    Tossers.

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