They've deleted Skype numbers from my account without warning. Someone linked my and my wife's account because we used them on the same PC, and refuse to unlink Skype and Microsoft accounts.
I'd love to find an alternative, but given that everybody already has Skype accounts the lock-in is pretty significant.
Don't much like the alternatives Stallman proposes. Using long distance phone calls seems worse than Skype, phone companies have provided governments with even more access to user data than most tech companies.
If your primary concern is open source then mumble/jabber is probably your solution
If you're truly paranoid there's a Mumble port for OpenBSD, though that obviously wouldn't fit Stallman's definition of Free.
Until we moved to Discord. Which has equally good sound quality, a fantastic chat and role system, and the ability for people to just jump into your voice call instead of having to be invited (which was what killed Skype for us, for any number of people over 3).
I'm part of a bunch of guilds for just hanging out and playing video games. But I also moderate two Discord guilds for programming, containing thousands of people.
Discord's pretty sweet, in a way that Skype and Mumble simply can't compare.
We tried Skype which is almost completely broken (used to work fine).
We tried multiple WebRTC solutions like appear.in which only work fine up to three people.
We tried Google hangouts, which worked fine but we didn't like the quality.
Mumble worked fine, but only if people use push-to-talk. Otherwise you get horrible noise. Every scratching goes over the line.
Skype Business supposedly works very well. We don't use it because we don't support Microsoft breaking the regular Skype.
We currently use the audio conferencing feature of (paid) slack. It works extremely well and has great noise reduction.
http://appear.in/some_words_doesnt_matter <- share with whoever, instant video call
But, the boss will see when you're "available" straight from Outlook, which is where he lives. It's not an IM tool, it's (yet another) instrument of workforce control.
Also, despite the rigid security policy where I work, the mac client stores my password in the keychain.
I don't think it's likely to happen any time soon unfortunately.
Regarding Facebook, it still feels weird, I'm not sure I can put my finger on exactly why. I just want to keep "friends" and "business" totally separate.
Once you invest more in working around this by having native clients, it makes sense for your product to do more.
There are a lot of games and software communities that use Discord quite productively, significantly better than what Mumble or Teamspeak have ever allowed for. Just having actual textual channels has made it so dev talk about modding, server administration and all things technical is just a few clicks away. Discords devs do impliment features that are useful for other developers, such as code markdown support. And unlike Skype, you can actually talk to the devs in the official Discord Devs server if you catch them. I'm not an important person at all, and have talked to the CEO and half the teams devs casually.
You can do:
var x = "y";
and it'l syntax highlight. There is a clear roles permissions system, with support for multiple channels both textual and voice, full API support for building bots, and Discord uses their own service for development communication.
Of course its not a one-size fits all, Skype is more business oriented, so it looks more proffessional to use, but Discord is well on its way to be an actually better alternative from a technological standpoint. That sweet P2P video and audio will be great, and they've stated in the past they actually can't host that stuff through their servers, because even just proxying that much video data is way too costly.
slack probably should be able to create a full replacement for lync, (skype for businnes).
I used to think that, too, but with the rise of cloud offerings like Office 365, many orgs are starting to see that running your own servers for Sharepoint/Exchange/Unified Communication isn't worth it anymore.
Honestly, I'd view Skype as malware at this point, the number of exploits is too damn high and it barely integrates with anything ever. It's the kind of integration you'd normally see from a cheap car purchase where the Entertainment System is a iPhone 2 taped to the seats and the trunk smells like dead raccoon.
What part of Stallman's position makes him fine with communicating and encouraging people to communicate using switches running proprietary software?
For that matter, how does he justify using the Internet rather than anything other than community networks running open source routing software?
Richard Stallman is probably a direct descendant of the Massachusetts Puritans, which explains everything. No one ever characterized the Puritans as having a logically consistent ideology.
Seriously, we owe him a very large debt of gratitude for igniting the open source software movement. He is responsible for GCC and the GPL, and he attracted a group of very talented developers around him. Let's cut him some slack.
Switches are OK because they're not computers he maintains himself.
If you have code executing on your machine, you can not control what information that code will take (unless you know that it is 100% safely sandboxed)
And AFAIK, Stallman doesn't spend a lot of time "directly" connected to the wide web, as tracking leads to forcing the user to give information they don't want to give (short random distinct interactions with the internet are fine, as long as they are short enough to not allow for inferences to be made)
People make a name for themselves by taking a strong stand on something, no matter how unpragmatic or unrealistic (and therefore, in my view 'wrong'). I don't doubt that he is intelligent, principled and abides mostly by his dogma (or at least thinks he does), or that he is isn't sincere. Obviously he's made some good contributions as well and so has kind of earned the right to have an outsized opinion. Nor do I doubt that it's important to have a variety of voices on such matters, and that often points raised by these types of people are important for us to consider.
BUT - it's best not to engage these types on ideas because it's really about dogma. It's best to grapple with the psychology of such people, why they chose to be who they are, the self-identity they derive out of having such positions etc..
In a way, these types often serve as good 'devil's advocates'.
If they were even in charge of anything it would be mostly destructive, but they can contribute a lot by challenging accepted norms.
You have to take these guys with a few grains of salt.
In much the same way, in politics, you see some opposition antagonists with some good ideas, representing underserved groups. Though they would make terrible leaders, their opinions should be noted, I think.
For example, I'm not worried about Skype at all - but I was not aware of some of those finer points, and they are worth knowing about.
And assuming he is okay with landline, would Stallman call a cellphone? What if it was a free software cellphone?
It wouldn't be hard, and certainly not a capacity strain, to get some old modems and haul encrypted PCM in realtime across them. Or even to roll your own PSK/FSK standard to transport said PCM over. There's no packet format or anything you're necessarily limited to.
As for cell phones themselves, I can certainly see the threat. Even without going into Batman-esque theories of someone putting malicious software on your phone that activates the mic when it's idle, it's well known that the cellular networks make extensive use of GPS capabilities. With access to an operator's network, it would probably be relatively trivial to build a very detailed history of someone's whereabouts.
I really want to replace Skype with something so I can stop using Google Play. Signal is not an option as it is only available via Google Play too.
This automatically makes me suspicious that either they'll eventually start collecting data, or the service will disappear as soon as they are acquired.
Also they promote Spotify
Given that they were forced to release their Axolotl (aka Signal protocol) under GPLv3+, they try to add some strange restrictions :
"Additionally, if you choose to build an Open Source App, certain restrictions apply, as follows: a. You agree not to change the way the Open Source App connects and interacts with our servers ..."
As I understand I am free to ignore any additions to GPL.
Among the few alternatives available are Google (hangouts) and Facebook.
Stallman waves his hand and mentions Jitsi and Mumble which aren't comparable in features to Skype (Chat + Voice + video + desktop sharing on all platforms including mobile). Jitsi does look promising but not quite complete.
A chat/voice app is like a social network, it has a critical mass so I can't switch unless everyone else does or my alternative is interoperable.
Software being free as in speech is perhaps twice as important to me as it is for the average user, but that still means I'd rather have a polished proprietary app that spies on me, than an unpolished free alternative. Skype is exceptionally bad, so shouldn't be too hard to beat in terms of polish.
I've been using mumble for more than a decade now, and I've pushing it into 3 working places as a substitute to skype, asterix and lync (the microsoft voip solution).
It's not really oriented for 1-1 conversation, which is odd to use at first, but once people start to use channels and the built-in chat you hardly go back.
The latency and voice quality is stunning, even across lousy links. There's simply no match. The built-in mic wizard is also well designed. If people follow the setup correctly, you can have hour-long conversations across the globe with 10 people and it's absolutely fantastic. I work in research, and I've aggressively pushed to do long phone conferences over mumble for exactly this reason.
With some colleagues we even setup some channels that broadcast with PTT, and it's genuinely fun if you're spread across offices. You can decide if you want to participate by joining or not the right hierarchy. This is something is often done for lan parties, but turns out you can find other uses too ;)
Like I said, the main shortcoming is that mumble was never designed for 1-1 conversations as you would expect in skype. We hack it around by creating temporary channels. I've always meant to improve the UI in this regard, but we found that the temporary channel approach has advantages as well [you can invite other people in a call - for one].
With outdated hardware we still manage to hold >100 of conversations over a single server, as basically it's only network bound.
You have a point that mumble does only audio, but fortunately this is what I care the most. We (unfortunately) still have to use other software for desktop sharing, but generally still use mumble for audio.
They require you run your own server (although Discord abstracts that), that everyone know the server details, and that everyone be authenticated for your server in some manner.
They're great for playing video games, but Skype matches up a lot better with what a lot of people use it for – making phone calls.
I'm not sure there's a way around it. Skype is pretty much centralized now. Alternatives using NAT-piercing solutions never worked as reliably for me, and the ID still needs a central directory anyway.
What we ended up doing for flexibility is letting our mumble server open (passwordless access), but speaking is disabled in the root channel, so it's useless for strangers. Secondary channels are password protected, guests cannot join, but teams can set up their hierarchy as they see fit.
When we invite a guest, we just point him to the mumble installer and our server. When he pops up, we drag him into the right channel. No password necessary. It's a fairly smooth experience. Definitely not as fast as a skype group call the first time, but just as good after that. In fairness, this beats pretty much any dedicated conference system I had to use elsewhere.
The channel permissions in mumble are pretty flexible, so there are multiple workflows possible.
The problem with replacing Skype within an organization is that it can't just be better at some things, it needs to at least do all the things. We also already use other software for desktop sharing, and dont call to phones, so that's handled - but the biggest hurdle when evaluating alternatives is to get a good app for 1-1 chat, group chat, 1-1 calls and group calls, that handles persistent groups (e.g per project, recurrent meetings,..), persistent (server based) chats, and does all of this without requiring multiple contact lists for different tasks (e.g one for voice and one for chat would be a complete no-go)
Also, the fear of crap software in a large corporation is zero, and the switching cost would be nonzero, so the alternative would also have to save money through efficiency or provide some other very tangible benefit such as reduced risk of Trojans, otherwise there would never be a switch.
Hangouts is the best candidate I have found yet, but it's google, and not really better than Skype.
This is a "non computer business" so hosting anything would likely be out of the question, as would anything other than a "run this msi and install the app from AppStore on your phone" kind of setup for each client.
I wouldn't want my communication go via exactly those two firms that suck all the data they can out of everything they can get hold of.
I'd consider Signal, Wire, and possibly Telegram more suitable alternatives (all free, and at least as polished as Skype, which isn't saying much... :-)
Switching an organization from Skype I get one chance. It can't have one missing feature or 90% the audio quality or reliability of Skype, the alternative has to beat Skype if I'm to convince anyone to switch. I need to wait until then actually do.
Skype is a horror show, so really like you say anything is better. If video isn't required, Signal is probably the best bet. Would be great actually if Signal supported video as well...
One minute lost by saying you don't want to use Skype might give you the benefit of convincing another person to join you video conference platform choice!
Whats wrong with "Skype for Business?"
To be fair, I don't think RMS would be happy with any of my choices. Discord is open source, but the servers aren't. WhatsApp is proprietary, and owned by Facebook (Skype is proprietary and owned by Microsoft). Signal is only distributed via GCM which is a proprietary platform (F-Droid is blocked).
- "federated instead of decentralized": I believe Matrix's federation implementation qualifies as decentralised. There's some centralisation (homeservers) but not much.
- "its end-to-end encryption is optional": I don't really see this as a problem. If you want it, you have it. If you don't, you don't. Sometimes end-to-end encryption isn't desirable, in a business environment where you need communications to be auditable for example.
It's terrible, and the reason I don't use matrix. While behind ds-lite, the only option I'd have is to run my node on an untrusted location (eg: a rented server).
> "its end-to-end encryption is optional": I don't really see this as a problem. If you want it, you have it. If you don't, you don't. Sometimes end-to-end encryption isn't desirable, in a business environment where you need communications to be auditable for example.
Sure, but in a post-snowden climate, I can't recommend a solution where end-to-end is optional to anybody. The problem is that when it is optional, people will readily downgrade to point-per-point encryption when they experience any issues. It's terrible to give less tech-literate people the option of insecure communication.
It is amazing that Skype still has not been re-engineered and and open source lone released.
> He says "most likely", but even this is not certain.
That is the exact meaning of most likely.
> Simply because most companies we know that have acted in such a way actually were eavesdropping on its customers, one cannot say with certainty that this is a general rule.
It would be plain idiotic to not assume the worst until proven otherwise, especially after everything we learned in the past few years.
If Skype could not eavesdrop on calls, they would most certainly say so when ask —because not saying so would make them look bad. It's then a simple matter of probability theory to deduce that their silence most probably means it can eavesdrop on calls.
Affirming a disjunct is perfectly legitimate approximation in this case.
Check out as a possible alternative:
So your dead account doesn't get immediately compromised and you screw your friends over in the process as your account starts sending out malware-infested links.
glares at the seven or so users in his blocked list, users that jumped ship to Telegram and left their Skype accounts open to exploitation
Is it able to do at least audio calls?
Forewarning that while it supports end-to-end encryption for the chatting bits, the actual audio data is not encrypted. The call request/advertisement can be encrypted though!
P.S. Is today the "day against Stallman" in Hacker News? Come on.
The Open Source movement grew out of a group of pro-Free Software people who felt that Stallman's morality-based arguments were ineffective at convincing businesses to switch to FOSS.
Modern internet companies and countless startups would not exist were it not for Stallman's initial efforts over 30 years ago and his "absurd" view of morality.
Why? It's as reasonable as saying they have a moral failing when they've failed according to my moral view in any other case.
What he means by that is software that allows their users to: use it, study, modify and share it.
He doesn't mean price. If skype would charge a million dollars but still provided those 4 freedoms RMS wouldn't have a problem with it.
That philosophy has brought the world Linux, Apache, WebKit, LibreOffice, Ruby, PHP, MySQL, MongoDB and many other GPL software.... and has obivously influenced the creation of Open Source that althoug are similar in practice their underlying philosophy is different.
* open source, code on github
* e2e encryption (apparently derivative of Signal's Axolotl double ratchet)
* chat/voice/video, and group chats (all encrypted always)
* based in Switzerland
* clients for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, Web
* can sign up with phone number or email or username
* reasonably responsive on twitter
* yada yada yada
I use it on iOS and quite like it, but not that many people on it yet :-/
Since so few people use skype, everybody else has little motivation to use skype, ad nauseum.
Honestly, the only people I've seen that use skype are recruiters. Other than that it seems pretty much dead.
At a previous workplace, Skype and IRC are used (IRC are for mass communication, whereas Skype is more for personal-level communication).
There are voip operators like the italian mtalk that give you free local national numbers, free calls between users of the same provider, but the call is not encrypted.
This have the good thing that anyone can choose the preferred provider, you can receive calls also from "traditional" phones.
A phone number is like a mailbox, it's clearly provider independent, but sadly it's often non free calling between different operators.
"Public agencies exist for the people, not for themselves. When they do computing, they do it for the people. They have a duty to maintain full control over that computing so that they can assure it is done properly for the people. They must never allow control over the state's computing to fall into private hands."
This guy has a lot of faith in government and his treatise actually sounds rather Marxist. History is littered with public agencies that obstensiby exist for the "people," but in fact exist for no other reason than to enforce the power of the state. I don't trust government -- I endure it. Government is necessary in a way not dissimilar to the necessity of colonoscopies.
I can only think of Excel as being the real survivor here. Others, like SoftImage, were a fleeting acquisition. Many more were buried alive.
They only finally disable cmd.exe in the latest update.
.bat files still run.
They didn't buy the company or talent, mind you, just the software.
The only reasonable conclusion: Switch from Windows to Linux.
I'm not familiar with his predictions, so can you give a few examples.
This seemed like a far-fetched dystopia when I first read it. Now, Kindle et al. are not far away from this.
I also remember reading some piece from Stallman on software patents, from the eighties or early nineties. Well before software patent trolls, etc.
And then the scenario stated becoming, if not true, the a helluva lot closer. And the irony of Orwell books being removed remotely from Kindle's in 2009 
was evident and tied into the dystopia feel of it all.
Yeah, it wasn't a software patent, but. It's not hard to see something that's happened before and "predict" it could happen again.
Someone else would've likely done the same thing sooner or later.
The problem now is this rampant hostility towards all proprietary software of any form for any purpose. The FSF is still fighting the same pointless war against proprietary operating systems when the real threat is IoT junk, cars, and medical devices full of unauditable code.
sure, someone else would likely have eventually come up with the concept of free software, but would it have missed the critical mass of the early web? the idea that free software didn't play a large part in the modern technology landscape is just wrong.
You should probably hold a slightly lower opinion of your fellow human. We're rather well-known to go after any possibility of free things, and critical mass was more along the lines of the days of Napster (when, hey, FREE MUSIC!)
> If you think he's crazy about a topic just wait 5 years, you'll admit he's right.
2012 → 2017 : yep after Snowden leaks in 2013 that confirmed Microsoft joined PRISM in 2007, the fear of eavesdropping in Skype does not seem unfunded anymore.
He lays out, reasonably, the conditions under which he will speak. He asks for tea, and Pepsi, not Coke.
Seems utterly reasonable to me.
If you read the riders of actual rock stars, you will find that RMS's rider isn't that extreme. He doesn't even require M&M's sorted by color.
Most hired performers have specific riders that detail exactly what will be provided by the venue/etc. Detailing your interactions as specifically as possible in an actual contract removes ambiguity and prevents mistakes and misunderstandings.
His objection to Coke is a moral one, not one based on taste.
If I am quite sleepy, I would like two cans or small bottles of
non-diet Pepsi. (I dislike the taste of coke, and of all diet soda;
also, there is an international boycott of the Coca Cola company for
killing union organizers in Colombia and Guatemala; see
killercoke.org.) However, if I am not very sleepy, I won't want
Pepsi, because it is better if I don't drink so much sugar.`
This is the worst reason to not use Skype.
The remaining reasons about surveillance etc. are reasonable reasons to not use Skype.
Anyone else find this ironic / hilarious?
What you're asking to do is akin to copyfree (eg BSD) which is a different type of "free".
It really sounds more like you have an axe to grind with RMS himself rather than with the terms of his website.
If the post were GNU Public Licensed, which additionally forces you to release any text that quotes his text under the same license, then I'd be inclined to agree with you.
A nonfree program denies users freedom, which is unjust in itself. Making the ethical issue sharper, for you to use Skype is to encourage someone else to use Skype, which means you're pressuring someone else to surrender freedom as well. This is plenty of reason to refuse to use Skype, but there are more reasons."
How it pains to read such texts.
"Everything that's not open source is evil."