Skype

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Skype

Postby catgate » Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:02 pm

A number of years ago I was recommended to try Skype. I found, after getting a USB plug in 'phone, I could not play because, being a Luddite, I was at that time still on M$ W98SE.
Some time shortly after that I switched over to Linux and after trying SUSE and Fedora I finally settled on Ubuntu. Quite early on in my Ubuntu apprenticeship I tried Skype but found great difficulty coming to grips with it all (and I didn't really want to communicate with the Australian leg of the family anyway), so I abandoned it.
I have a daughter living in the south of France who has just told me she has just gone on to Skype and I am wondering if I should put my head in the lions mouth again.
This morning I went for a poke about in the corners of the 'net and found that M$ are now the proprietors of this paragon of modern communication and I am wondering about the wisdom of it all, because M$ seems to be synonymous with excessive cost and monumental cock-ups.
I would be more than grateful for any views, advice, recommendations or what-have-you from anyone who has any views, advice, recommendations or what-have-you.
Thanks in advance.
Oh, sod it.
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Postby Bruno » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:44 pm

The owners of Skype did indeed sell to MS, last year I think. However, they put in place a number of caveats. One is that Skype remains sort of a separate entity, rather than being swallowed whole by MS, and another is that it must remain cross platform (development of the Linux client will continue). There is more to the story, such as I think the original owners are still involved with it, you can search the net for more details.

However, like the private company that was contracted to provide telephone and internet in the halls of residence of my alma mater many moons ago, MS may only be obliged to provide the service, it may not be obliged to provide a decent service. There is also the issue to integrating a proprietary standard into your work-flow (for want of a better word). Should circumstances change (they start charging, quality of service falls or new conditions of use come in that are unacceptable to you), you may find yourself unable or unwilling to continue to use Skype.

Alternatives do exist, check out Sip Gate for one. I don't have any experience of it and it doesn't have the brand recognition of Skype, but if you and your daughter is prepared to venture off-piste, this could be a good solution for you both.
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Postby catgate » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:18 pm

Thank you, Bruno, for that.
You have touched upon the uncertainty that I feel about the matter. I am still fairly uncertain how to go about "testing the water" without getting in too deep.
Oh, sod it.
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Postby ajgreeny » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:44 pm

I have used skype for several years, and still do occasionally. At the moment I find that it works well on my ubuntu 10.04, but I've never used it on windows so have no idea if it is better on the M$ platform, and if so in what way.

The biggest problem if you want to use an alternative is that probably 99% of people have heard of and use skype for VOIP so getting any other applications more widespread will be a long, hard,and probably impossible job.

It's a shame that none of the alternatives can also log on to the skype "network" in then same way that many linux IM applications (empathy, pidgin, etc) can do with MSN, etc etc. but I don't think that is likely to ever happen.
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Postby Bruno » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:09 pm

It's a pleasure to help. Having said my piece, I do use Skype, but only rarely, as it isn't very convenient for me: at the very least a mic is required by both parties and the PC needs to be on all the time for people to call (unless you prearrange a calling time). However, some routers are available that can handle VOIP with dedicated hardware, obviating the need to have the PC on all the time.

That said, it is a useful tool for those you want to stay in touch, especially with folk who live abroad, and don't want to rack up a large 'phone bill. I don't see much harm (unless you are with RMS on software freedoms) in trying it out for the purposes of getting the hang of using VOIP, then moving to another provider once you know what is what. However, your daughter may be reluctant to change to a different VOIP provider once you have a working solution in place (if she is not a techie) and that if you use your old Skype account again, the Australian leg of the family will see when you are logged into Skype if that account is still on their contacts list. Also, I can't speak for Ubuntu (I see that is what you are using), but on openSUSE: if you are using the 64 bit version of the distro, you need to locate a handful of 32 bit dependencies that don't get pulled in automatically upon installation of the rpm downloaded from www.skype.com. This is a mild pain but internet forums and HOWTOs on your distros web pages will help here.

In your situation, I'd ask a techie friend or someone from your local LUG to help you experiment (if only to make and test the connection) with setting up either Skype or Sip Gate. I don't know if Sip Gate has a client but I think as it uses open protocols, a programme such as Linphone may act a client. It's great to pilot something first before rolling it out. Good luck.
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Postby nelz » Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:31 pm

Sipgate, and everyone else but Skype, uses the open SIP protocol. Any non-Skype VOIP client on any platform can talk to any other on any non-Skype VOIP network. You don't have to be using the same provider to get free SIP-to-SIP calls.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)
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Postby catgate » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:12 pm

Thank you all for your valuable advice and comments. I am glad I asked before acting. It seems to me that Skype and M$ were made for each other!!!
I have had a look at the "charges" (being a tight Yorkshireman) and without doubt they are as mixed up and confusing as any ISP, Bank or Insurance company could dream up.
The fact that my daughter uses M$ (mainly for business reasons) tends to rule out anything other than Skype, since she is definitly not one for tinkering. From what she said on the 'phone a few days ago I got the feeling that she "just clicked on an S icon" on her new laptop and she was automatically connected (to something or someone).
I feel I may put the entire matter on the "back burner" for a while and see what she has to say in due course.
Thank you again.
Oh, sod it.
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Postby mm tylor » Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:16 pm

I am using skype and I will use it till the my life end. I also thinking to use it on ubunto but I have no idea that is it my good decision or not.
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