Skype on JDS...possibilities

Yesterday I learned that I'm an uncle again. I chatted with the proud father over skype. I also tried skype on a recent JDS3 linux build. It works! I've used IchatAV in the past and I know other messaging clients have voice capability, but what impressed me about skype is that it is freely available on Mac, Windows and Linux platforms. This helps maintain harmony in my family which is about 50% Wintel, 45% Apple and 5% other. gcclinux's JDS application list has a link to versions of skype which are compatible with JDS. I sure hope skype is ported to Solaris soon!

If government regulations don't crush peer to peer technology, Skype (and other successful Voice/Video Over IP products) present some wonderful new possibilities. It could reduce the isolation between grandparents who move to low tax areas and retirement communities and the children and grandchildren who must live where the jobs are. Retirement communities might choose to have a shared community skype box. I didn't yet test skype accessibility, but it seems that skype would be useful for people who are visually impaired. For these situations, Skype could be a cross-platform "killer application." A box dedicated to skype needn't do anything else. So why would anyone risk wrecking a good thing by running an bloated, virus-prone operating system?

Here are a couple of quick tips which helped me use skype:
  • The built-in microphones and speakers in powerbooks and iMacs (and probably a few high-end P.C.s) might be too close together. To avoid subjecting the callee to echo and feedback, You should consider buying a separate mike and headphones. Skype has one on offer.
  • Make sure your computer isn't full of adwar, spyware, worms or viruses. One of the machines I called the other day had horrible sound quality, a similar machine at the same household was fine. I suspect the "bad" P.C. must've been running adware which created enough network latency problems to cause skype issues. (Yet another reason to run Skype on an alternative operating system whenever possible!)
  • Make sure your computer is fast enough and has plenty of available RAM. My sister's G3 iMac seems to echo slightly more than my dad's dual pentium striped disk video toaster box.

Update: Well, Skype works on JDS but the Skype GUI isn't accessible. I'm not surprised that a statically linked QT/KDE application is invisible to ATK applications such as Gnopernicus. It looks like it may be possible to bridge from QT to ATK though with this.

Comments:

Brian, Just read your blog on planetsun.org. A little note for you and the good folks at opensolaris. I played with Skype on Solaris with Janus enabled using the static-qt version of skype. It will run, but with no voice, due to the use of gstreamer for sound on Solaris. I believe that if you set up OSS sound correctly on Solaris you would be able to use the voice function of Skype or else porting Alsa to Solaris should achieve voice capabilites for Solaris. Hopefully some of the developers of OpenSolaris will read this, and be inspired to get Skype working on Solaris. Kindest Regards, Dave S.

Posted by Dave Southern on July 25, 2005 at 07:15 AM GMT+00:00 #

That is encouraging news. Maybe OSS could be configured to run skype. I hope it won't be necessary to port ALSA to Solaris. Here's an interesting discussion on ALSA and OSS: I appreciate all of the work you've done to make applications available for JDS!

Posted by bnitz on July 25, 2005 at 07:42 AM GMT+00:00 #

Tonight, Mr. Jim Cramer stated that 'skype' will kill VOIP and advised dumping major TELCO stocks. As SUN depends on TELCO industry income, THIS IS NOT WELCOME NEWS! I have never warmed to 'P2P' network deployments. My reason lie within one word, SECURITY! WAP, WEP and PPTP (with variants) cause me concern in an 'unsecure' world.

Posted by William R. Walling on July 28, 2005 at 08:09 PM GMT+00:00 #

A new competitor makes things interesting, but it could create more markets than it destroys (look at FedEx or iStore). Landline only telcos in monopoly markets would be vulnerable, but I doubt many of these exist. I'm not sure if non-technical consumers just assume a new technology will be secure or if they don't care. As a communications medium, Skype is more secure than analog cordless telephones, cell phones (unencrypted FM over UHF TV channels), or even MS Outlook Email. If Telcos move upmarket (e.g. DSL, wifi, GSM...) and if they are allowed to play by the same rules, Skype isn't much more of a threat to Ma Bell than CB radio was.

Posted by bnitz on July 29, 2005 at 03:13 AM GMT+00:00 #

You guys should definitely look at Project Gizmo http://www.gizmoproject.com. There's a good chance that these guys will support Solaris. OBTW, Skype and Gizmo need OSS driver. ALSA drivers will only work with OSS API support. best regards Dev Mazumdar 4Front Technologies (Open Sound System)

Posted by Dev Mazumdar on July 29, 2005 at 04:56 PM GMT+00:00 #

Thanks that is good news, if they need OSS, there shouldn't be a need for OSS, it's just a config issue. Getting QT to be accessible is a bigger issue. Is gizmo GTK? Gnomemeeting is pretty good too and it allows video over IP!

Posted by bnitz on July 29, 2005 at 05:24 PM GMT+00:00 #

P.S. I had a strange experience today, our Irish "summer drought" ended with 2 days of solid rain. I now get a 50 cycle hum and very poor sound quality on my landline, but skype via DSL on the same phone line works fine. Sound quality calling the U.S. over skype yesterday was better than a landline call to a neighbor 1km away. Weird.

Posted by bnitz on July 29, 2005 at 05:28 PM GMT+00:00 #

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