Turn Your Computer into a Phone with Skype
Want to use your computer as a full-fledged telephone, and be able to make free phone calls over the Internet or paid calls to any normal number? How about adding more features, such as instant messaging, file transfers and video conferences? How about being able to use it on Linux, Windows or Mac OS X? If these things interest you, you should install Skype.
Skype is a free, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) program, created in 2003 by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. Two years later, eBay acquired it for more than 2.5 billion dollars (plus an unspecified extra amount depending on performance).
As of the beginning of 2008, it has more than 250 million users, both for its free and paid services, in practically every country on earth. When you connect to Skype, in the bottom-right corner, you will see how many other users are on-line at the same time. In my experience, it's usually around ten million, which is a hefty number indeed. Skype derives its income from paid services (including calling or receiving calls from landline or mobile phones, voice mail, call forwarding and so on), but you can use it without paying a cent if you call only other on-line users over the Web.
From Music to TV
Skype wasn't the first collaboration by Zennstrom and Friis, and it isn't their last. In 2000, they created Kazaa, a well-known peer-to-peer file-sharing program. Obviously, they were able to apply the P2P expertise gained there to Skype's own development. Kazaa had plenty of legal problems (similar to those of Napster) because of sharing copyrighted material, mainly music. In 2001, Kazaa was sold to Sharman Networks, which had to face several copyright-related suits. In July 2006, there was an out-of-court settlement, when its Web site seemingly was updated for the last time.
After selling Skype to eBay, Zennstrom and Friis turned to TV and created Joost: a system for distributing video (mainly TV shows) over the Web, once again using the same peer-to-peer technology used on Skype. Joost's development started in 2006, and currently (February 2008), it's at beta. If you want to test-drive this software, however, you are out of luck. For the time being, there are only Windows and OS X versions available. According to some reports, Wine isn't a solution either, though that might change.
Joost will be a free system, supported by advertising, just like traditional TV, aiming for full-screen, high-quality viewing. Though its technology isn't yet mature or fully reliable, it's an interesting concept and free of the legal problems that troubled the original Kazaa. There are some licensing aspects that still need work (most of the available content can be seen only in the US right now), but there's much promise ahead.
The program itself is free, but it's not open source. And, if you like running the best and latest versions of programs, prepare yourself for a disappointment. The current Windows version is 3.6, the current OS X version is 2.6, but Linux is trailing far behind with only a beta, called 2.0. Thus, plenty of features are missing from the Linux version (see the What's Missing in the Linux Version of Skype? sidebar), but Skype still is quite usable as is.
Skype's hardware requirements are pretty modest. You need a 400MHz processor or faster, 256MB of RAM and about 20MB of free disk space. If you want to talk (don't sneer; you can use Skype just for instant messaging), you need a microphone and either earphones or speakers. And, if you want to make video calls, you need a Webcam. Finally, you need to open an account, but you have to install the program first.
Installation should be quite easy. As far as I've seen, it's available for pretty much all distributions, so you should have no problem finding it in your repositories. Because I use Smart, getting Skype simply meant typing smart install skype. In any case, you should check that the version you get is not earlier than 2.0. (To do so, start Skype, click the S on the lower left, select About, and you'll see a window with the version information.) Because Linux lags behind Windows as far as versions, you just might have version 1.4, which would require an upgrade.
If your version is an older one (or if you just want to make sure to have the latest one), visit Skype's download site, and get whatever is correct for your machine. There are distribution-specific versions for Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, MEPIS, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu and Xandros. There also are some generic versions—the “static” one might be best for you.
After the download is ready, open a console, cd to the directory where you downloaded the software, and do sudo rpm -Uvh skype-2-XXX.rpm, and you should be ready.
When you open Skype, if you already have an account and a password, simply enter them to connect (Figure 1). However, if this is your first time ever, or if you just want to create a second or different account, click Don't have a Skype name yet?, and a window will open where you can create an account. Follow the instructions on the screen, and you'll be set (Figure 2). Skype won't allow passwords that are too short, but play it safe, and use a long one, preferably with numbers and special characters.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Released
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
- Google's SwiftShader Released
- Parsing an RSS News Feed with a Bash Script
- SourceClear Open
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide