Open Source alternatives for Skype

So with Skype — already proprietary software, already dubious — probably going to Microsoft (as I read via Simon Phipps to the Grauniad and Johan Thelins) there’s an extra impetus to find something else.

I’ll just highlight Blink, a Python/Qt4 application for VoiP calls, video and chat (the latter I believe only on Mac and Windows right now, but the application runs on Linux, FreeBSD and I think I had it on OpenSolaris briefly, too) and SylkServer, a SIP server and conferencing solution.

Both are simple to set-up, are packaged for Debian, easy enough to get for other distro’s and give you a complete, Free Software, SIP server and client infrastructure.

It’s easy enough to escape from Skype to an open-standards-based world.

19 thoughts on “Open Source alternatives for Skype

  1. Simple to setup? Yes and no – if it comes predistributed, it’s ok, but I’m having a hard time packaging it. If they only supported something a little more updated than Python 2.5/2.6…
    Apart from that, yes, Blink is awesome.

    • @daniele o yeah .. and it requires specific versions of outdated python packages, too. ok, call it a beast to package sensibly, but it’s easy to just fetch all the python sources and run with that.

  2. It would be awesome if KDE endorsed a way of doing voice and video and promoted it for it’s developers and users.

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  4. It’s one thing to suggest an alternative for Skype. It’s quite another to get family and friends to actually use it. Like Sype, it needs to be no fuss, no muss to install and come with a preestablished infrastructure.

  5. @Jos

    It’d be pretty sweet to have e.g. teleconference meetings for developers, or something. An excellent way to keep up with the times in terms of communication between members of a team, or just teams in general. *Especially* for those who don’t want to, or are unable to travel. It could be useful not only for developers, but perhaps even communication between developers and users (idk, like an interview or sth). Is my thinking to wishful?

  6. There is SFLPhone, an OpenSource SIP phone with a bunch of backends. I used to be paid to work on it, but as there was 0 users for the KDE client, it was not the most motivating job ever. If the mailing list is flooded with 1 million real messages asking to make KDE versions again, I may, but otherwise, I wish them good luck with the Gnome client.

  7. I don’t need free software, I need open protocols.

    I want a Skype alternative that uses an open protocol and has clients for Windows, Mac, KDE, and iPhone. I don’t care if the KDE client is the only open-source one.

  8. I’m also in favor of focusing in Jabber/XMPP, improving whatever needs improvement, and concentrate efforts around this standard, which has great potential, and plenty of clients/libraries/servers/users already.

  9. I found in Google while searching for “Skype alternative” and it’s pretty good. It’s available directly on the web (no download required) and video conferencing is free. It allows up to 4 people in the conferences.


  10. What we really need is a video-chat application. I have found none that works in Linux (and is cross-platform…).

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  12. ekiga does video just fine, if a little buggy. i dont know why more linux s/w doesn’t support video – the v4l api is very very simple and nice compared to that other os.

    sip is better than others because it has massive support from phone service providers for calling to/from normal telephony infrastructure, not just computer-computer calls. and hardware support – e.g. dsl modems with voip.

    given sip, i dont know why anyone bothered with skype in the first place, let alone linux users using legacy s/w like skype.

  13. The main point that is missed out is that Skype can make calls to ‘real’ physical phones effortlessly. This is what Skype is used for by at least 80-90% of its users.

    sadly, none of the alternatives offer anything like that.

  14. Why would 99% of users who use Windows or Mac OS change from using Skype just to accommodate the 1% of their relatives and friends who happen to use Linux?

    The main problem facing Linux is, as always, not a technical one but a market share one. While one company has a virtual monopoly it can force the other players to play catch up and make them look as though they are behind the curve to the bulk of the non technical public.

    For what it is worth I have used only Linux machines since the late nineties and have set up and promoted Linux in many environments. The biggest hurdle by far to the greater adoption of Linux is the reluctance of ordinary, non technical, politically naive users, both at home and in the office, to sacrifice short term convenience for long term ‘freedom’.

    I have lost count of the number of people who say they really like and want to support Linux yet still don’t have it installed as their default OS (if at all) and most of those who duel boot habitually use Windows for day to day use.

    The only people really pushing the boundaries of free OS use are the hard-core wipe-that-evil-Windows-trash-off-my-system-immediately users.

    I’ve wandered a little off the point, but hopefully not too far off.