Skype Teeters on Brink of Open Source

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Yesterday it was revealed through the unusual medium of a routine Skype customer support call about the availability of the service on Linux that Skype was to be made open source… which seems big news indeed.

skype logo

Naturally, as soon as the wider internet got hold of the information, it ran and ran. The original blog post from Olivier Faurax that got the whole thing started states that when he contacted Skype’s customer support to inquire about a version of the software for Mandriva Linux, whenupon he was informed that,

“We understand that many users cmplain that there is no Mandriva version at present. We are happy to be able to inform you that Skype will from now on be part of the open source community. Therefore Linux developers will be enabled to influence the development of the Skype client for Linux – which will most certainly result in specific versions for the different distributions.”

While the wording is just a touch vague, he was intrigued enough to ask again just what the original statement meant. Faurax received a message to the effect that, “Yes, indeed, the Linux Skype version will become open source in the nearest future.” Of course, this news was an absolute bounty to open source proponents, who saw it as a way for an open source client to compete with services like MSN for video and audio chat.

Now though, things aren’t looking nearly so hot; TechCrunch is reporting that Skype likely won’t be going open source after all, if only because of the danger it could end up posing to its own business model to do so. The word from the Skype blog post on the topic is relatively straightforward,

“Yes, there’s an open source version of Linux client being developed. This will be part of a larger offering, but we can’t tell you much more than that right now. Having an open source UI will help us get adopted in the ‘multicultural’ land of Linux distributions…”

So, in what looks a little like a backpedalling motion, Skype has dashed some of the dreams of the open source community, implying that only the user interface of its new client is to be made open source…

So, with one hand Skype giveth to the open source community, and with the other, it taketh away. I guess I can still dream 😉

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