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Microsoft Software Linux

Microsoft Releases Skype As a Snap For Linux (betanews.com) 166

BrianFagioli writes: While Microsoft has long been viewed as an enemy of the Linux community -- and it still is by some -- the company has actually transformed into an open source champion. One of Microsoft's biggest Linux contributions, however, is Skype -- the wildly popular communication software. By offering that program to desktop Linux users, Microsoft enables them to easily communicate with friends and family that aren't on Linux, thanks to its cross-platform support. Today, Microsoft further embraces Linux by releasing Skype as a Snap. This comes after two other very popular apps became available in Snap form -- Spotify and Slack.

"Skype is used by millions of users globally to make free video and voice calls, send files, video and instant messages and to share both special occasions and everyday moments with the people who matter most. Skype has turned to snaps to ensure its users on Linux, are automatically delivered to its latest versionupon release. And with snaps' roll-back feature, whereby applications can revert back to the previous working version in the event of a bug, Skype's developers can ensure a seamless user experience," says Canonical.

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Microsoft Releases Skype As a Snap For Linux

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Don't install that snap!
  • What is a "snap"? Has the distro-packaging problem finally been solved?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 01, 2018 @11:54AM (#56047879)

      Snaps are containerised software packages that are simple to create and install. They auto-update and are safe to run. And because they bundle their dependencies, they work on all major Linux systems without modification.

      https://snapcraft.io/ [snapcraft.io]

      • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @12:03PM (#56047975) Homepage Journal
        What makes them "safe to run"? Is the software that they run in the container open source and can be inspected? If not, how do you know it is "safe to run"?
        • I believe each snap is sandboxed by default.
        • by duckintheface ( 710137 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @12:34PM (#56048235)

          This particular snap install is NOT safe to run. When you run "snap install skype" in a terminal you get a warning that skype is packaged using "classical" isolation and may escape the sandbox and make unrelated system changes. In order to install, you have to add the --classic flag to indicate you understand the risks. I did not install skype.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          What makes them "safe to run"? Is the software that they run in the container open source and can be inspected? If not, how do you know it is "safe to run"?

          They think it's safe to run because Microsoft said so. You know, just like they said their "operating system" (hahaha) is "safe to run". There's no real reason to believe a word out of the mouth of anyone who works or worked for Microsoft. Also, you know how Skype is used by "millions of users" to make "free" calls? Yeah, well, if you're not paying for a service, you're not the customer, you're the PRODUCT. In the case of Free/Libre Open Source Software, the motivation is generally altruistic. The abi

      • by Anonymous Coward

        In the early days of microcomputing, we used static linking when creating an application binary. The code we wrote would be linked against any third-party libraries, and a single binary containing the application code and the library code would be the result. Life was easy.

        Then there was this huge push toward dynamic linking, with its proponents going on about how it's supposed to use less memory, it's supposed to use less disk space, and it's supposed to allow libraries to be updated easily, and so on and

        • Exacly what I'm feel about all those new package systems.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Why can't we just compile everything from source? That would be perfect for stuff like Skype, where trustworthy crypto is a must.

        • This makes so much sense. Back when RAM and storage space were relatively scarce it seemed the way to go without a doubt. I observed the advantages, but we have since outgrown the scarcity of resources available on modern systems, and a self contained program does seem to make far more sense in this age of computing.

          • by Etcetera ( 14711 )

            This makes so much sense. Back when RAM and storage space were relatively scarce it seemed the way to go without a doubt. I observed the advantages, but we have since outgrown the scarcity of resources available on modern systems, and a self contained program does seem to make far more sense in this age of computing.

            Lolwut?

            Not when my phone keeps running out of space.
            Not when some glorified IRC chat program (Stride) requires 400MB of resident memory to run.
            Not when some idiot replaced perfect good shell scripts with a compiled monstrosity that's 10 times larger in an attempt to shave 5 seconds off a reboot that never happens.

            People are making all sorts of dumb decisions because they think resources are limitless again. They're not. Resources are always limited. The only time things change are when the actual underlying

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot.worf@net> on Thursday February 01, 2018 @02:46PM (#56049371)

          When that proved to be problematic, such as when there were different applications that depended on different versions of the same shared library, we started seeing a move toward this "containerization" nonsense. There are different approaches used, but again they all have one thing in common: they're a complex way of imitating static linking.

          I hope that someday soon the industry at large wakes up to the fact that static linking is just the most sensible thing to do. Yes, the binaries might be slightly larger, but that's well worth it if it means we can avoid "DLL hell" or the "shared object shitshow", and if we can avoid complex package managers, and most important of all, if we can avoid this goddamn "containerization" bullshit.

          Now there may be problems when it comes to certain libraries, because they use highly restrictive licenses like the LGPL that effectively force the use of dynamic linking if you don't want your code to be infected by a viral license. The solution to this is simple: don't use poorly licensed libraries. Stick with libraries that use static-linking-friendly licenses like the MIT or BSD licenses, for example.

          A whole lot of problems would be solved if we stopped with all of this dynamic stupidity and just went back to static linking.

          No, because dynamic linking, even with non-shared shared libraries is still better. Static linking hides important information like library versions which may be important.

          With dynamic libraries, even inside containers, you can still validate the library version to see if it's a vulnerable library. You can run tests against the library to determine if it's vulnerable (just because it's inside a container doesn't mean you can't extract it and test it). This way when a vulnerability happens, you can verify whether or not the copies of the libraries you have are vulnerable since a scanner can go inside containers and check. Users can then either not use the app until it gets an update with a fixed library, try to fix it themselves by replacing the library, use the app understanding its vulnerable, etc.

          When you static link, you lose those benefits - for what? Just to have one file? That's not going ot happen ever - it's why we have containers to begin with.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Etcetera ( 14711 )

          So workarounds, like the various Linux package managers, were created to try to handle the complex dependencies between applications and their shared libraries. This is effectively a complex form of static linking, done by keeping shared library versions consistent with the installed applications.

          When that proved to be problematic, such as when there were different applications that depended on different versions of the same shared library, we started seeing a move toward this "containerization" nonsense. There are different approaches used, but again they all have one thing in common: they're a complex way of imitating static linking.

          Here's the thing though... That wasn't problematic. We have perfectly good Linux distros that provide perfectly good platforms using dynamic linking. We have them at varying levels of stability and long term support: RHEL and its derivatives if you need Enterprise ABI guarantees so that you *don't* ever have a chance of shared library incompatibilities on the platform, and Fedora if you want more frequent updates, although with ABI stability mostly guaranteed within a given annual OS release.

          These two OS's

        • Static linking means a vulnerability in a widely used library means re-compiling every executable and/or waiting for each developer to release a fixed binary only executable, assuming they do.

          Those weren't fun days.

        • I’m afraid you’re confusing idea with implementation. Dynamic linking is great and works well on every major Unix platform as well as a few bygone ones. The Linux implementation is rubbish and it’s the implementation that causes the headaches.
      • The fact that they bundle dependencies are what makes me feel they're unsafe. I can't rely on snap packages to have up to date dependencies.

      • Snaps are containerised software packages that are simple to create and install. They auto-update and are safe to run. And because they bundle their dependencies, they work on all major Linux systems without modification.

        https://snapcraft.io/ [snapcraft.io] [snapcraft.io]

        Ah, so they've recreated PC-BSD .PBI packages for Linux!

        Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! :)

        Strat

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's like flatpak, except just works on ubuntu, because not invented here. Basically.

  • Is it a real application, or is it a slimmed down web browser with the sucky HTML version of Skype?
    • MS recently rewrote Skype to run on ReactXP.

      https://microsoft.github.io/re... [github.io]

      What's that? It's MS's fork of React Native.

      https://microsoft.github.io/re... [github.io]

      ReactXP was designed to be a thin, lightweight cross-platform abstraction layer on top of React and React Native. It implements a dozen or so foundational components that can be used to build more complex components. It also implements a collection of API namespaces that are required by most applications.

      ReactXP currently supports the following platforms: web (React JS), iOS (React Native), Android (React Native) and Windows UWP (React Native). Windows UWP is still a work in progress, and some components and APIs are not yet complete.

      The ReactXP version of Skype runs on Windows 10, iOS, Android and macOS. What about Linux? Well it seems like they support it via web wrapper, like Windows 7 and macOS

      https://microsoft.github.io/re... [github.io]

      ReactXP currently supports the following platforms:

      iOS (React Native)
      Android (React Native)
      Web (React)
      Windows 10 â" UWP (React Native) - in progress
      Other platforms such as Windows 7 & 8, MacOS, and Linux can be targeted using a web wrapper solution like Electron.

      So I think the answer is probably "the latter". Though I use Skype on my Windows 7 and macOS machines and it's ... OK despite being the web wrapper version.

  • LUDDITE Linux can now run snappy app Skype snap! Appy snap apps! Skypes! Snaps!
  • by scunc ( 4201789 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @11:54AM (#56047881)
    Skype is a "wildly popular communication software" in the same way that chlamydia is a "wildly popular" STI. Sometimes numbers alone don't tell the whole story ...
    ---
    "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." -- George Carlin
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

      Sure. If every other person also has chlamydia then your comparison would be accurate. On the desktop Skype is the single most popular video chatting app. What you personally think about it doesn't change that fact or doesn't change the fact the word choice is perfectly fine.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        So just use something else https://askubuntu.com/question... [askubuntu.com]. Just because it is popular does not make it good, which is why the disease reference. Just because it is wide spread, does not mean you don't want to get rid of it. In this case M$ has a terrible reputation for invasion of privacy, corrupt practices, a willingness to install software they know you don't want. So a communications app, ask one question, do you think M$ will listen in or not, now or some time in the future based upon past and curren

        • Just because it is popular does not make it good

          Just because something else is better doesn't mean anyone actually gives a crap. Yeah there's plenty of choices, but I see zero reason to use any of them. Skype does what it is supposed to.

    • by enjar ( 249223 )

      My company uses Linux, Windows and Mac across the enterprise. All of our email/calendar/messaging comes from Exchange/Outlook/Skype. Now if MS would release Outlook in this same format I could happily jettison the Windows VM I run Windows/Outlook/Skype on and not have to put up with its endless bullshit. Mac already has a client for all the MS stuff that people use.

      It's about 6 steps above my pay grade to do anything about this choice, so the chances of swapping out the company's messaging platform for some

    • by Anonymous Coward

      According to the Center for Disease Control, "Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the United States".
      https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stats.htm [cdc.gov]

    • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

      Skype is not super-popular in the home market as it once was.
      I used to have tons of friends on Skype, now the only people on it are a couple of die-hard holdouts. Everyone else, one by one, said they were sick of the Skype client being a resource hog, how finicky and buggy it was, and how "skype sucked" for the last several years. They pretty much all went to either Discord or Telegram.

      I never noticed too much; I always ran a skype plugin for Pidgin. I have no use for video calls, just messaging my friends,

  • Oh hurray... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Junta ( 36770 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @11:54AM (#56047885)

    Now when a security update comes for a core library, now I get to update every single snap instead of just updating the system library...

    Yay for static linking, I mean containers....

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not only that but, with most distros, maybe at most you have 3-4 versions of some libraries/packages just for supporting random Apps. You can logistically keep track of that in case bugs come out and you can also be quite sure that the supplied libraries have been unmodified.

      With Snaps, if you have 120 installed Snap Apps, you literally could have up to 120 different copies of that library and all could be different versions and those versions could be modified within updates thus making even more unique di

    • by rnturn ( 11092 )
      Well, Micron execs probably love static linking, containers, et al.
    • ...instead of just updating the system library...

      Snaps are useful for sampling pre-release software. I was curious about the current state of Kdenlive, as the last version I used was horribly unstable, and saw that they offered a Snap. I downloaded the Snap and ran it, and got to test drive Kdenlive without having to install (and potentially uninstall) the program.

      But that's about the extent to which I like Snaps.

    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      "Now when a security update comes for a core library, now I get to update every single snap instead of just updating the system library..."

      Oh fucking please, as if the goddamned program didn't need a recompiling or update anyways to keep up with the changes caused by the newer library versions either obsoleting or entirely removing functions in favor of newer ones, since nobody these days knows a fucking thing about slow and stable and reliably-present features.

      • by Junta ( 36770 )

        The last several decades or so of software ecosystem shows that yes, indeed bugfix and security updates to libraries happen all the time without requiring dependent applications to rebuilt.

        At least for mainstays of C and C++ application development. People breaking any semblance of compatibility is generally not tolerated in C/C++ (though there are exceptions) and even in the broader software market, people *tend* to be mindful of compatibility (though in the worlds of gems, pypi, npm, et al, yes there are

  • Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Thursday February 01, 2018 @11:56AM (#56047899)

    "While Microsoft has long been viewed as an enemy of the Linux community -- and it still is by some -- the company has actually transformed into an open source champion."

    Wow! Is that straight from the MS marketing slime?

    • Well I guess the first "by some" has shown himself.

    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @12:39PM (#56048297)

      I've been using Linux since slackware c. 1994. I actually have come to appreciate some of the things MS has done w.r.t. Linux - running a development web server under WSL makes my life a lot easier when I have to use Windows for most things anyway. Their development tools are actually really nice, too; the .Net system of being able to write interchangeably between different languages is not perfect, but works really well for most of my Windows development.

      Yet, the marketing speak is absurd.

    • Sometimes people don't want to see how the older free software movement (a social movement which advocates for the freedom to run, inspect, share, and modify published computer software) and the younger open source development methodology are philosophically different (1 [gnu.org], 2 [gnu.org]) and that philosophical difference leads to radical differences on the ground. Objections to raising this difference tend to take the form of trying to make it look like any reminder of software freedom (which open source enthusiasts don

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @12:04PM (#56047981)
    Debian to be specific. It would not work with my friends who use the Windows version of Skype. Skype would connect, but no video, no audio. And no error message of any kind.
    • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @12:18PM (#56048089) Homepage

      Debian to be specific. It would not work with my friends who use the Windows version of Skype.

      You have friends who..... use Windows?

      • Friends don't let friends use Windows.

        I don't have friends that use Windows, I've left those that could not leave Windows. Family members still use Windows and I can't abandon family. I can only support them as best I can until they see daylight.

        • Friends don't let friends use Windows.

          I don't have friends that use Windows, I've left those that could not leave Windows. Family members still use Windows and I can't abandon family. I can only support them as best I can until they see daylight.

          True friends do not let an OS choice affect their friendship unless one of them is in a cult... (grin)

        • "I tried $linux_distro on my laptop, but it couldn't find my audio or Wi-Fi, and when I took it out of suspend, it stayed on a black screen. Others on forums mentioned the same problem without a solution." What's your next course of action for a friend who tried and failed to defenestrate his laptop?

          • What's your next course of action for a friend who tried and failed to defenestrate his laptop?

            Buy an Apple.

            If funding limitations prevent buying a new computer then install VirtualBox and the Linux distro of your choosing in a virtual machine. Make the virtual machine as big as possible on RAM and drive space allocations. Run everything in the virtual machine, with the full screen option. The laptop will simply appear in most every case to be running Linux on the metal. That way Windows is not much more than a hardware abstraction layer.

            Another possible solution, assuming the problems are limite

      • You..... have friends?

        FTFY

  • skype or Skype for Business?

  • Champion? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 01, 2018 @12:17PM (#56048079)

    " the company has actually transformed into an open source champion"

    Really? So Skype is being released as an open source app? No. Windows is being released as an open source OS? No. Microsoft has agreed to stop using patents and fear mongering to extract money from companies using open source software? No.

    So Microsoft is actively working against open source companies and is not releasing its software under open source licenses. How exactly is Microsoft an open source champion?

  • by l2718 ( 514756 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @12:26PM (#56048175)
    From TFA:

    [Microsoft] has actually transformed into an open source champion

    Really? So shere is the source code for this "snap"? In fact:

    1. Compiling your software for GNU/Linux doesn't make you a "champion of open source" just because GNU (and Linux) are open-source (and, more importantly, also Free Software). Releasing your source code makes you open-source.
    2. "Snaps" are the opposite of the Unix philosophy of dynmically linking against system libraries – they are basically statically linked binaries (except that the binary comes in pieces). Instead of the "open-source" philosophy of clean interfaces and interoperability, they embrace a philosophy of tailored interfaces and closed gardens.

    In fact, to the extent Microsoft champions "open source", this open-source is about taking advantage of source code released by others without Microsoft releasing any of its own. When I see Microsoft releasing source code under a free license (say BSD) for a significant program originally created by Microsoft (Skype, their web browser) I will believe them.

    • When I see Microsoft releasing source code under a free license (say BSD) for a significant program originally created by Microsoft (Skype, their web browser) I will believe them.

      Microsoft bought Skype, they didn't write it. The one they did write (Lync, nee Office Communicator, now Microsoft Teams) is completely different.

    • by sad_ ( 7868 )

      "Snaps" are the opposite of the Unix philosophy of dynmically linking against system libraries – they are basically statically linked binaries (except that the binary comes in pieces). Instead of the "open-source" philosophy of clean interfaces and interoperability, they embrace a philosophy of tailored interfaces and closed gardens.

      Great comment, now i finally see the point of snaps. They only exist to facilitate closed source software. If you use open source software there is no need as you can easily make it to run on your system.

  • Sabotage (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gavagai80 ( 1275204 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @12:35PM (#56048251) Homepage

    As someone who actually uses Skype for Linux, I can say definitively that it's a torture device meant to make Linux users experience excruciatingly unpleasant interfaces, Windows ME stability, Windows Vista levels of bugs, and pointless slowness for what is actually no more than a frame around a website. The Skype for Linux from before MS bought it was a far better, more feature-full and reliable product... since the MS purchase it has only been progressively sabotaged. The several years it went without an update were nice, but ever since updates resumed it gets more painful in each release.

  • by l2718 ( 514756 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @12:35PM (#56048255)

    In fact, this is Microsoft trying to support a dangerous undercurrent in the Linux world of walled gardens and insecure vendor-controlled installations.

    If something is wrong in libc, libm, or libgtk Microsoft should get it fixed upstream, not ship their own incompatible version. Do you really trust them to backport every future bugfix after their fork?

  • by NicknameUnavailable ( 4134147 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @12:54PM (#56048451)
    An IM client which spies on me and logs all my conversations for Microsoft without so much as a decent search function for me to view my own archives. There's no reason to use Skype outside of a business environment where you have to do so, there are plenty of open source alternatives and there are plenty of more popular things if you can't get your friends to switch.
  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 01, 2018 @01:05PM (#56048555) Journal

    I wonder if they've fixed the White Screen of Death that the latest version of Skype for Linux in the repos suffers with (start program, receive white screen with basic window controls and nothing else). I've rolled back to an older version and blocked updates for the package to work around it.

  • What,s the real Cost of running MS Skype? Im sure linux user are all watching what its doing, what data its collecting and sending back to headquarters..fill us in..
  • To save people trying to find the link to the official page, here it is: https://snapcraft.io/skype/ [snapcraft.io]

  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @01:45PM (#56048905)

    "Skype has turned to snaps to ensure its users on Linux, are automatically delivered to its latest version upon release."

    Are they also going to release a new snap any time one of the static linked dependencies are updated as well?

    "And with snaps' roll-back feature, whereby applications can revert back to the previous working version in the event of a bug" ...and also previous unpatched versions of static linked dependencies as well.

    I think I like normal packages with shared libraries I can ensure are up to date whenever any app or utility relies on them to run.

  • They won't do anything bad with your data. Promise. Yeah, right! I don't want MS storing all my personal and contacts' information anywhere - they are the least secure mainstream OS in the world. I was a long time Skype user on LINUX. Recent versions want access to all kinds of private data on my system so I have purged Skype from my main computer (LINUX) and my MACs as well. There are plenty of other free, secure, multi-platform and unobtrusive alternatives out there, many of
  • I see the good folk an MS have provided a marketing spin to publish straight onto /. "open source champion", "wildly popular" hardly an independent or realistic view of MS or Skype - there's just a little bit to much hype going on there, maybe now farcebook isn't accepting fake news they thought they could dump some on /.
  • 'actually transformed into an open source champion', 'wildly popular' etc. etc. No. Microsoft has stopped throwing chairs, issuing Halloween memos and is now burrowing into open source with a view to subverting it since open source is a threat to revenue and shareholder value.

    You have to ask yourself, each time, there's some breathy announcement, followed by the shill commentary below it, 'Do I trust Microsoft? For me, the answer is and will remain, 'no'.
  • So I finally went through a major hoopla to upgrade my system so I could run a more recent version of Skype (so mom could keep calling me and get her remote support).
    There was absolutely no reason to update (ok, a system update is never wrong) as the old version of Skype worked just _fine_ (well, after a lot of tweaking) and the only reason it stopped working was M$ throwing all the toys out of the pram and refusing to let the old version keep running.

    The new Skype wont take my camera (Cheese likes it plent

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