Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Skype ramblings

For years Skype has been a second class citizen on my desktop of choice, Linux.

Every new version of skype brings nice new features (usualy years after the Windows version...) but also brings its new share of bugs. The latest skype beta finally sort of fixes audio on my Ubuntu desktop, but brings 2 major new issues. First skype now causes pulseaudio to take 100% CPU once in a while. Second sending video isn't working anymore. My camera is recognized but the video it sends is blank.

Many will say use Windows ! But most programs I run on my computer have no problem being good citizens on my OS.

For a long time I've dreamed of a reverse engineered Skype. I use it only because some contacts use it. Some claims of actual reverse engineering in 2006 never took off. An interesting EADS document, Skype Uncovered, can be found on the web. But nothing new lately.

And in the past months there have been a few interesting news:

This last link had a very interesting quote from Alan Cox (a very known Linux developer):

I would imagine anyone doing so (ndlr: reverse engineering skype's protocol) is keeping fairly quiet - there is big money on offer from the bad guys for skype trojans, intercepts and clients, while anyone on the good side fiddling with it faces jail and harrasment - a fine example of perverse economic incentives.

So here we stand. Skype's business model is based upon non working interoperability. It doesn't allow us to use it a service. It runs all the time on our computers and hides what it does. I don't like that at all. I really hope that this gets replaced by something more open (in terms of standards).

I have a SIP service at home, and I wish I wish my provider (Telio) could let me use the service on my desktop and / or android SIP phone without extra costs. That would solve 50% of my needs.

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