Skype. Everyone’s heard of it. Chances are when you think of video or audio chatting on a computer, Skype comes to mind. Recently Microsoft updated their Skype platform (on everything but Linux). This has caused Linux Skype users to not be able to place calls or use the service in general.
With Skype (Microsoft) dumping Linux users, you might also want to return the favor. Here’s a list of decent alternatives to Microsoft’s ever-popular program. Each one on the list has its own strengths and weaknesses. There are many alternatives to Skype, and this list covers the four most popular.
1. Google Hangouts
The most serious contender to Microsoft’s Skype: Google Hangouts. Hangouts is to Google as Skype is to Microsoft. It’s the search giant’s cross-platform messaging system. You can add your friends and talk to them via instant message on all available platforms. You can also video and voice chat via a web browser.
The reason Hangouts is number one is this: It doesn’t need a client to run, and almost everybody has a Google Account. That’s really the barrier to entry for this program. If you’re looking to get into an audio or video call with friends, you don’t need much. All that’s required to be installed on your Linux computer is the Google Hangouts plugin and a modern browser (though Chrome is recommended). If you have a browser, you can use Hangouts.
2. Firefox Hello
Those who want a viable Skype alternative yet are anti-Google should check out Firefox Hello. It’s Mozilla’s answer to both Microsoft and Google. All that’s required is an installation of Firefox (the default browser on 99% of Linux distributions). Hello itself is powered by Telefonia.
The best part about Hello is that there’s no sign-in required. You can use it just fine without an account, and everything works well. However, it would probably be a good idea to click the sign-up button inside the App. To launch Hello, just click the speech bubble in Firefox.
Meet Jitsi: a free and open-source alternative to Skype that supports video, calling and messaging. All messaging done with Jitsi is with the XMPP protocol and is encrypted end-to-end to respect your privacy. The project claims to also respect your software freedom, as it’s completely open-source via the GNU general public licence.
What sets Jitsi apart from the rest on this list is the fact that it has support for other platforms. Surge, by default it’s preferable that you use the Jitsi XMPP service, but if you’re not a fan of that it’s possible to add your own SIP account information in, as well as add other networks like Facebook, Google, AIM and others. If you’re looking for a feature-filled replacement for Skype, give Jitsi a go.
Tox is an alternative to Skype that is built on the idea that conversations should be private. The project aims to lock out the rise of government monitoring systems and provide a private area where users can video, voice or text chat with family and friends. This service is available on Linux via qTox but on all other major platforms as well. Even BSD!
Note: Tox is ultimately a protocol, and thus has other clients. If you can’t find qTox, try uTox.
If you’re annoyed at what Microsoft has done to Skype on Linux and aren’t interested in relying on a company that doesn’t have Linux in mind, check out Tox. It’s not as polished as something like Hello or Hangouts, but it’s still worth your time nonetheless.
Microsoft has never taken Linux seriously when it comes to their products. They don’t see it as a gain. The only real reason that Linux even has a Skype client is because before Microsoft purchased it there was a client. If you’re a Linux user you need to get away from this service as soon as possible.
Microsoft has shown in the past that they have no interest in supporting Linux, and that fact is even more solidified with the latest update to the platform. Every alternative on this list is a great alternative and worthy of taking the place Skype has in your life on the Linux platform.
Do you use Skype on Linux? Are you happy with the update that renders it useless on Linux? Tell us below!
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