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Volt: Fast native desktop client for Slack and Skype (volt.ws)
140 points by ahstilde 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 63 comments

I want to like this, ever since it was called eul. But features are consistently pushed back which suggests that the dev doesnt have a great handle on what is going on, the availability of mac/linux versions seems consistently misleading, it’s not open source, and it uses icons of services not available (e.g. gmail) in a way that seems dishonest. idk.

I love the idea of this — it consistently baffles me how poorly web apps primarily serving me text perform — but I'd love to see a little breakdown telling me what's been cut out to make it so lean. I mean, maybe it's stuff I don't care about, but on the other hand maybe it's some file integration I use regularly, you know? On the other hand maybe it's a bunch of RAM-sucking junk and absurd text rendering that I'd just as soon do without.

I'd love it if it was open source or at least public in some way considering the security questions. I realize that's a bit of a pony request but it is one of the things I've come to rely on in the community, that someone is curious enough to dig in and relay their findings.

I suspect a big savings comes from not being basically a web browser running a webapp.

Oh for sure. I'm not a developer myself though so I don't know whether there are capabilities you lose such as common libraries and whatnot, and what the trade-offs are there. For all I know it includes or eschews certain javascript that's notoriously bad, or has to reach out to Slack for emoji calls, or whatever. A couple hundred words of documentation on this topic would really help me understand the product better.

Slack is an Electron.js app, meaning in GP's words it's a 'webapp in a web browser' - like running a car engine just to get the radio.

Volt implements the radio alone, without the car, but accesses all the stations you otherwise get by running each one's propietary car.

Interesting back story on why he created the "V" language to develop Volt:

"Originally Volt app was written in Go, but after a couple of weeks of development I decided to re-write it in C for two reasons: easier integration with existing C graphics and UI libraries and much smaller binaries. The app size reduced from ~5 MB to ~100 KB.

C development is not very productive, so I spent two weeks in October 2017 to create a very light and minimalistic language that can seamlessly interop with C. I called it V (the name is not final).

V compiler is written in V. The language will be open-sourced later in 2019."

-- https://volt.ws/lang

While the UI is not exactly polished or anything, it is really refreshing to see someone actually care about efficiency and storage.

Nowadays a simple calculator app takes like 30 or 40 megabytes of space.

More than a little disingenuous. While they advertise that the app supports a number of services, when you actually download the app and try it only Slack and Skype are available - the rest are "coming later in February"

Also it doesn't seem to allow phone calls for Skype which I guess is ok if you just want text messages but not what I use it for.

And it's been "coming later" since at least this time last year when it was called eul.

Ok, we changed the title from "Fast, free, low memory, native desktop client for Slack, Messenger, Gmail, etc."

Even the edit seems misleading; might as well just say "Volt: Fast native desktop client for Slack and Skype".


Perfect, thanks!

They? Maybe 'they' is just a 'lone developer' who works in his spare time on this b/c he doesn't like bloated Electrons. And maybe it's difficult to work for free... -- If I were him, I'd immediately retract the promise to release as open source. Who knows what happens and if Patreon works out? I feel quite a sense of entitlement here.


Developer here. An unexpected surge of traffic => I'm on HN front page again:)

V and Volt got lots of attention 5 days ago. Thousands of people downloaded the beta version and I've been working hard to fix all the crashes and bugs people reported.

I was planning to release the Windows beta by the end of the day. So hopefully Windows and Linux (wine) users will be able to try it out today.

The prospect of a native client for Signal excites me. I've never been a big fan of their electron app.

Yeah, I tried the native Linux app for Signal and while it works its also a huge resource hog. So much so that my machine started swapping when I had a browser open alongside it. For what is effectively AIM + encryption. This is the future that people warned us about back when Node.js was new.

At some point will blink/node need to be expected parts of the operating system to undo this mess?

More likely people will start developing with compiled languages, compiling down to WebAssembly, then still use Electron for the UI end just for the cross platform support.

That doesnt really address what I said. I was saying, the underlying components will need to be built into the OS, for battery life and memory reuse purposes. So you dont end up with 50 slightly different copies of blink/node running at the same time. Blink/node are what are powering electron.

Yep, Signal sounds great in theory but there’s no way I can commit to a service with no client that takes desktop users seriously.

No source, no thanks.

These day no source no trust.

Looks promising. But will only be Open Source in "2021" according to https://github.com/voltapp/volt ... until then it's a root-kit for all we know that people are voluntarily installing.

i'm always surprised by such comments

beside Stallman do people not using anything that contain at least single line of closed/proprietary code really exist?

not every closed source stuff is evil, really

> not using anything that contain at least single line of closed/proprietary code

It's not just that. The existence of source code doesn't mean the binaries are uninfected. You'd have to actually build it yourself from source. And even then, unless you've audited the source, you're still not sure. Of course, you'd have to build that compiler from source (that you've audited) using...? And all that on an OS with libc, libdl etc that you've built yourself.

Don't forget you have to audit the microcode running you're cpu too, and the gate networks executing the microcode, and...

You joke, but wouldn't we have caught SPECTRE or Meltdown a lot faster if someone had?

I do sometimes make exceptions, but definitely not for such crucial applications as main communicator. Plus there are other practical reasons to try to limit yourself to FLOSS than fear of hidden malware.

> not every closed source stuff is evil, really

But how do you know that this closed source software isn't evil? You can't distinguish without an audit by a competent person you trust. Most closed source software isn't audited to a level that I'd deem sufficient for my security.

The problem is even worse: proprietary software has a single owner that can be coerced into including (even targeted) backdoors by state level attackers.

If I really want to run proprietary software I typically try to containerize it or even run it in VMs.

It's better to act as it is, than lament later.

Please read the FAQ. It covers this concern.

I still use https://fluidapp.com/ when I have to log into Facebook from the computer, hopefully, this will replace it!

Looks cool, can't wait for support for the other websites.

Installed this and logged into my Slack, while it was loading messages it crashed. Oh well.

Sorry, it's a really early release. The first public version was released 5 days ago.

For me everything works fine, but this is complex stuff. I'm working hard on fixing things. I wish people would wait a couple of weeks before posting this.

that's why they postponed Linux and Windows versions

Reminds me of Trillian back in the days of AIM and Yahoo! Messenger.

the author seems to be too obsessed with the size. I'm fine with it being 5MB. That's small enough.

download size is the least of mine concern, speed and memory usage matter more.

Installed it and it doesnt redirect from slack auth window. Uses around 300Mb of RAM for this. Going against electron is a massive undertaking!

There are a couple of known memory leaks. They'll be fixed soon, and RAM usage should be 10-20% of Slack's.

Memory leaks? Thats not gonna go well with these HN users. Was rust not fitting for use here?

Looks like a heavier version of bitlbee + a standard IRC client.

Anyone care to compare the two...?

free as in 'free beer', supported by donations

they say they will open the code in 2021

They created a whole language to code this..?

Talking about reinventing the wheel!!!

It only works with Slack, and Skype.

Also used to be known as a browser.

this isn't electron app

You're thinking of Franz.

Is it just me, or does anyone else get a little put off by phrases like "for all major web services."

Who decided which web services are major? There are certainly a number of "major" services that aren't included depending on how major is really defined.

I don't know. I think it's easily understandable what they meant by "major". Like, you've heard and probably used, every single one of the services listed there.

This is not an official definition of the word "major", it's just a list of services the client is compatible with. They're not insulting a race/religion/nationality, it's just a list of web services you have probably used.

It's more so the "all" that I was talking about.

Ah I see, that's actually a fair point.

Major meaning that they're recognisable brand names and used by many companies/individuals perhaps?

Slack, Skype, WhatsApp, Telegram, Discord. You've definitely heard of at least one of them.

Major makes sense to me. All, less so.

Yikes, populism.

What GP is describing is not populism.


I don't particularly care whether I am right. It is what it is. The point was understood.

"for all major web services" sounds a lot better than "the web services we like using", and the only two things I'd consider missing are IRC/steam, and with IRC going the way of the dodo and steam not being a super popular messaging service.

Reports of IRC's death have been greatly exaggerated.

I don't game much anymore but I always keep Steam up to date so I can talk to that one friend who only uses Steam chat...

Steam support probably wouldn't even make a whole lot of sense, since users likely use it for their game library rather than just a messaging service. Unless this app wants to branch out and start competing with game library managers like Playnite.

I imagine that list is decided by the Patreon supporters.

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