Skype. Everyone’s heard of it. Chances are when you think of video or audio chatting on a computer, Skype comes to mind. But there are other possibilities out there, folks, other ways you can digitally chat with people around the globe. And there’s no better platform for talking about alternatives to mainstream software than Linux – home to those who like to take their full PC experience into their own hands.
The following is a list of excellent alternatives to Microsoft’s ever-popular program. Each one on the list has its own strengths and weaknesses, but the general theme here is that you can chat with the comfort of knowing that your data on these apps is safe.
This Android app made its way over to Linux a couple of years ago and has been wooing everyone on the platform ever since. It has a decent approach to privacy, with no access to conversation data and no storing of your data on their servers. It’s completely open source, with open-source encryption of messages and chats.
There are no ads or hidden charges here, of course, and the only thing resembling a caveat is that the person you’re contacting needs to be a Signal user too, and you need to have the mobile version of Signal on your phone, which then syncs with the Linux one.
Just imagine WhatsApp but open source and without the snoopy specter of Facebook hanging over it. Telegram is a messaging, voice and video chat app that does a lot of things right. Its Linux desktop version syncs with your phone, letting you interact with its millions of phone users seamlessly using a keyboard rather than fiddly touchpad.
The voice and video call feature works very well, too. While it doesn’t quite do HD video calls, it’s very good at adapting a bad signal to make sure that conversations and videos remain as smooth as possible.
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. With 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 as well as 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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