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Support Free Software? Then Ditch Proprietary IM

There are a few things that I find ironic about most Free Software geeks. They'll support the philosophy of GNU and Free Software until the cows come home, but they'll continue to chat with their buddies over proprietary IM protocols, such as MSN, Yahoo!, AIM, ICQ, Gadu Gadu, Skype and more.

Well, it's time to ditch the legacy IM protocols in favor of Open Standards, such as IRC, XMPP/Jabber, SIP/SIMPLE and others. Of course, this means making a sacrifice to potentially lose friends and family on your roster. However, at the same time, it's an opportunity to advocate Free Software to your friends and family, and encourage them to register open IM accounts.

May 19th has been named Open Discussion Day. This is the day, if you have not already, to ditch your legacy IM accounts for good. As it sits, you have 11 weeks to advocate to friends and family, letting them know of your decision, and what you can do to help them make the switch as well.

Lastly, I'm looking for some volunteers to help me manage Open Discussion Day this year. I'm looking for folks willing to do a little advocacy (marketing, blogging, websites, wikis, etc). If interested, you can find me in our official channel on Freenode, #opendiscussion.

{ 43 } Comments

  1. Jason | February 25, 2008 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    You know I'm game. But then again, that's why you and I have been the only two in IRC for, what, 2-3 weeks? (Until now \o/).

  2. Anonymous Coward | February 25, 2008 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    You want people to trade friends and family over a...protocol? Sometimes free software idealists go too far.

    I suppose I should stop drinking tap water because it's produced by a...corporation, which is trying to Evil.

  3. Jonas | February 25, 2008 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    It's nonsense like this that gives Linux a bad reputation. Or, hopefully, just the hardline FSFers who regretably are often the ones outsiders see. Personally, I will stick to using what works (including MSN, Skype, proprietary nvidia driver, and proprietary firmware for my wireless) and not what is politically correct since I don't see the benefit in limiting my options.

  4. Carl | February 25, 2008 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    i hope we'll all use standards when users won't loose any fonctionnality, such as audio/video conferencing,...

  5. LaserJock | February 25, 2008 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I've only ever used Jabber and IRC for messaging. It's no sacrifice for me as everybody I talk to already uses these protocols. I suppose though it may speak more to my lack of "real" friends than anything. πŸ˜‰

  6. Wolfger | February 25, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Freedom means freedom of choice. Freedom to do what you want. When "Free Software" advocates start telling people what not to use... *that* is what I find ironic! Ability to stay in touch with friends and family is far more important than what protocols people choose.

  7. Tom | February 25, 2008 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree with Wolfger. Closed software limits us, but as soon as our free alternatives begin dictating what choices we can make, then it's no longer a truly free alternative.

    I'm all for open-source, but not at the expense of communication with my family at friends.

  8. Aaron | February 25, 2008 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    @Jason- That'll all change. That channel will be full in no time. πŸ™‚

    @Anonymous Coward- No, I don't want people to trade family/friends for a protocol. I want Free Software advocates to tell their families and friends about Jabber, and encourage them to either 1) switch entirely, or 2) use it in conjunction with their existing accounts. Multi-protocol clients make this easy.

    @Jonas- Nonsense? Hypocrisy is nonsense? People promoting the use of Free Software verbally, then behind closed doors running proprietary software is nonsense? If you trully support Free Software, then you support it at all angles, not when it's convenient. Personally, I find hypocrisy more damaging to the GNU/Linux image than promoting the use of Ogg Vorbis, Jabber, etc.

    @Carl- There are great Open alternatives to audio/video conferencing. SIP/SIMPLE and Asterisk to name a couple.

    @LaserJock- Then, want to help us promote it? πŸ™‚

    @Wolfger- Yes. Freedom does mean freedom of choice. Freedom to chose and do as you please. However, you don't have the freedom to choose your consequences. Because Free Software is not bundled with such restrictive consequences, you are more at liberty to do as you please than with proprietary alternatives.

  9. Jason | February 25, 2008 at 12:26 pm | Permalink


    I'll use AIM, you use MSN. I'll talk to you never!

    (Do you see why we're doing this yet?)

  10. Gryc Ueusp | February 25, 2008 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I still support legacy protocols (MSN, Yahoo, etc) because I still have content (Friends) who still use that protocol. If I give up that protocol, I'll not be able to talk with them quite as often. The solution? Only give out your jabber/simple/irc account information. Pretend you dont have an msn/y!/etc account, that's how big companies get away with not providing support for their ancient products. "We dont sell that. We dont know what you're talking about. Just use this new one."
    In the meantime, I'll continue advocating Jabber, and try and convince my Yahoo and MSN flavored friends to come over to the greener side of the pasture.
    That whole "Use the protocol I use or dont talk to me" just wont work.

  11. Jonas | February 25, 2008 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Hypocrisy isn't nonsense, but not using say MSN just because it has the "wrong" license is. Especially for those that don't particulary care what license a program/protocol/whatever uses as long as it works.

    I agree that those that think Free is the most important aspect of Linux and FOSS in general probably shouldn't use msn and the like because of the hypocrisy, but I'm willing to bet that's a fairly small percentage of the current Linux users and the more popular Ubuntu and similar easy-to-use distros become the freedom-above-all crowd will become exponentially smaller.

    So, for most people it isn't a case of hypocrisy because most people don't advocate and/or use FOSS because of the freedom aspect. At least not in my experience. They use it because it is the solution that works best for their needs. I would use Linux even if it was a proprietary solution, because IMO it works better than both Windows and MacOS X.

  12. Anonymous Coward | February 25, 2008 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    What if I'm one of those people who doesn't think that free software is the solution to everything? It does well at some things, is not so good at other things. Proprietary developments models work well in some places, bad in others. That's what we call a balanced, reasonable view.

    I don't have a problem with AIM. It may not be fully open, but there's really no huge cost to the user because of this. All of my friends are on AIM or MSN. What value is there to me, or even the community, of forcing Jabber? If Jabber is really superior, then its merits can speak for themselves. There's no reason to force it down people's throats, like religion, or MS lock-in.

  13. Aaron | February 25, 2008 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    @Anonymous Coward- No one is forcing it down anyone's throats. This is called advocation. The goal behind it is to show people of the world why Jabber is technically and practically superior to legacy options. I'm certainly not endorsing the forcement of anything, anytime.

  14. phoenyx | February 25, 2008 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    My brother just got an iMac that my mom uses to talk to my daughter over iChat. My daughter (who is three) knows how to use it. My mom knows how to use it. It is a thrill for both of them. Now, my mom barely understands how to check her own email. If I tried to push some other program/protocol on her I know it would never happen. It is more valuable to me for them to be able to communicate.

  15. Fabian Rodriguez | February 25, 2008 at 12:49 pm | Permalink


    Until free software developers of IM software realize functionality like video and voice messaging are not negotiable for MSN, AIM, etc. users, I will keep an account on those networks and actively use them. I will also not lead people to think they have choice and their input will be respected when that is not the case.

    I invite you to read the bug reports and corresponding replies for Pidgin, for example.

    I am now using Skype and GizmoProject, that's as free as it gets in terms of "it works now".

    In all fairness, the resources needed for the average computer user to have video, voice and IM messaging working under Linux are non trivial right now, unless you're using non-free software.

    I'd love to be proven wrong, BTW.

  16. Fabian Rodriguez | February 25, 2008 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    This should help a lot in understanding the current state of voice & video messaging in Linux:

  17. spamllama | February 25, 2008 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with Jonas, Wolfger and Anonymous Coward. The only thing that gets to be a problem within the Free Software community is this sense of elitism that says, I do everything w/o proprietary software, so you should too. You can promote something without limiting yourself to it. I too like my proprietary NVidia driver because its better. I like being able to use Pidgin to connect to AIM/MSN. I could tell all my friends to start using something else, and through time some do... but many just continue to use what they have because its what they have and they don't care whether its better technically, politically or any other way. They just like to open it, have it work and that's it. Another example... a lot of folks I know use their MSN account only because it ties in with their Xbox Live ID. So either I can stop talking to those people (my wife included) or I can choose not to limit myself to only open protocols.

  18. Jason | February 25, 2008 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    It's funny you mention iChat and why it makes AIM better, given that iChat does Jabber, and feels almost identical to AIM. (The only difference is that usernames are like e-mail addresses rather than just names.)

    I would put forward that the learning curve after setting up a Jabber account for you mom/daughter would be MINIMAL.
    The gotcha is, of course, all of your mom's buddies won't be on Jabber.

    Multi-protocol clients ease the migration immensely.

  19. Jason | February 25, 2008 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Also, spamllama;
    You can promote something without limiting yourself to it.
    That's what we're doing. We're promoting something, with the eventual goal being a total migration. However, as I said in the last comment, we understand the migration process, and such a thing does indeed exist.

    We're not saying "close AIM now and never use it again", we're advocating the switch at whatever pace you can. Immediate, migratory, or otherwise.

  20. Jesse Jarzynka | February 25, 2008 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I'm all for Open Source, but expecting people to change because you are is never going to happen. General users switch to Linux either because they try it and think it's better or like that it's free. Until you can make a case against using proprietary protocols because the open ones have better features or they start charging money for them, don't expect people to do it. I'm the biggest OSS advocate out there, but I'm not gonna stop talking to my 250 AIM buddies because it's not open!

  21. Nathan Dbb | February 25, 2008 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Being able to conference people in w/o painful setup is important, and something that gTalk/Jiggle does not do. Also video/voice with automatic level adjustment and echo canceling. Then add a way to leave messages for off-line people.

    Once you have feature parity, then you can ask us to move. Before then, we can't ask our friends/family/co-workers who do not care about free software to switch.

    Features first -- or we will alienate our potential users.

  22. Travis | February 25, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    lol, thats like saying "stop using closed network mobile phones"...

    post is laughable at best

  23. Tristan | February 25, 2008 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    The are two problems with this. The first is, as has been said, for the majority of people staying in contact with friends and family is more important than making a point about protocols.

    The second problem is that Jabber -- and more importantly free software IM programmes -- just aren't up the the level of their proprietary counterparts.

    For example, with the official MSN client I can, amongst other things, supply custom emoticons that appear when I enter a certain string. It's a nice feature, but not only can I not declare my own icons in Gaim, but as far as I know Jabber doesn't have any sort of specification for inline graphics. Certainly I've never seen an implementation that has the ability.

    Then we get to voice/video. As much as some developers want to ignore it, this is a *really* big deal for a lot of users. In any of MSN, Yahoo, AIM, GTalk(!) in Windows, I can start an IM conversation with a buddy and just click a button to "upgrade" to a voice/video call. I can sometimes do this in Kopete (when it doesn't crash), but Gaim isn't on the same planet. And that's after Google released a Free library of their voice/video implementation, and hired Gaim's main developer!

    I'm told I should be using GnomeMeeting instead, which is great, except that the interface is out of the dark ages and it doesn't know about my IM contacts (preferring to manage its own address book).

    The only programme on Linux that come close to doing voice and video the right way is the new Skype beta. And guess what? It's as proprietary as you can get.

    So I'll happily switch to using Jabber, and whatever IM programme you like, just as soon as it lets me do all the things I can do right now. Hell, I'll settle for being able to do the things I could do 5 years ago with the proprietary networks. Wake me up when we get there.

  24. Ploum | February 25, 2008 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Aaron, thanks a lot for this !

  25. Aaron | February 25, 2008 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    @Fabian Rodriquez- Yet, another reason why I don't run, support or endorse Pidgin. Check out the attitude on that bug ticket. This is very common amongst Pidgin developers. In regards to video conferencing, everyone seems to be whining about this, yet there are plenty of Free solutions. Whether or not you can play games, have cute inline graphics, or twitter your buddies matters not. There exist plenty of Free solutions.

    @spamllama- Unfortunately, people resist change, even when it's arguably better from all angles. Just study Dr. August Dvorak and his keyboard layout. Using it because it's all you've used is the same lame excuse to keep smoking and not quit- I can't/don't want to.

    @Jesse Jarzynka- 250 AIM buddies?! I think it may be time to step away from the computer... πŸ™‚ Seriously, I'm not your regular person. When I find something technically superior, as well as philosophical, I make the change. Jabber is technically superior. Think email. ANY Jabber server can connect to ANY OTHER Jabber server. Do this with your AIM.

    @Nathan Dbb- Read my blog, and you'll find plenty of features that make Jabber superior. Maybe I should reiterate them...

    @Travis- I'm glad you got your kicks out of my post. Your comment is pretty laughable as well.

    @Tristan- You surprise me the most. I would expect anyone that blogs OSS as much as you do, would be in my camp. However, since you're not, I'll argue your points. First, YOU need to be the one making the point about protocols. Then, tell your family your reasons, and how they can get in contact with you via IM if they want to. Second, chatting is about chatting, not games, or pretty inline graphics. It all comes down to delivering what you want to convey to family and friends. However, my post is about protocols, not clients. Jabber is more than willing to deliver whatever content two clients want to communicate. The spec is very flexible.

    @Ploum- No problem! πŸ™‚

  26. Tristan | February 25, 2008 at 4:09 pm | Permalink


    Apologies, I should have included my surname. I'm almost certainly not the Tristan you're thinking of -- I don't want to tarnish anyone else with my views! πŸ™‚

  27. Aaron | February 25, 2008 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    @Tristan- My apologies. I should've seen your email, then I would know that it's not one of my close friends. However, my arguments still stand.

  28. spamllama | February 25, 2008 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    @Aaron - I'm really not flaming you... really. But here's my problem with this. You said "Of course, this means making a sacrifice to potentially lose friends and family on your roster."

    This is the problem with the software community's elite. Don't loose sight of why software is made in the first place. No piece of software is ever going to be more important than my friends and family. Now my more technical friends generally have accounts on multiple services, but that certainly isn't all of them.

    You have to remember, things that work for greying, goateed, pudgy white guys like me may just not work for my teenaged daughter. She isn't going to care if its free or anything about the license or source code, she's going to care whether she can paste a picture of Hanna Montana right off the clip board into an IM and send it to a friend at school. Her friend at school needs to be on the same service to receive the message. This friend also cares less about the software source than whether or not to get the pink case for her RAZR phone or a Hello Kitty Blackberry.

    This type of software especially plays to the lowest common denominator in the world of users. You said you would not endorse Pidgin, I am on the opposite end of that spectrum. Its not feature rich, but it sure does connect to AIM, MSN, GoogleTalk, and MySpace at the same time for me. Most of my more technical friends use Google's instance of XMPP anyway, but that's less than half my contacts. Its much more logical for me to support Pidgin being open source by using it than to demand that all my friends either switch to the same service I use or I won't talk to them anymore. I would rather that the OSS software that I use is inclusive of various services than be exclusive away from my family and friends because of alligiance to a protocol.

    Honestly, I thought that was one of the whole points of the OSS world. Be inclusive, be functional and talk to all formats but let people own their software, let people who have the ability contribute and make the platform available to all. If we start telling people what software they have to use, we're no better than Microsoft who tries for force the same issue (for profit though it may be). That is why we alienate out potential users.

    Like you said, people are resistant to change, don't send them running in the other direction by invoking the software snobbery of telling them that they can't talk to you anymore unless its through a specific channel. Like Tristan said, if the software is better and more feature rich to the point where it catches on and everyone wants to sign up because of some magical and compelling reason, then the market will take care of itself. Until then, you can't force what isn't going to happen on its own. Instead the people you're really reaching out to just get annoyed.... which isn't the way to sell something... even if its better - and free.

  29. Jesse Jarzynka | February 25, 2008 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    @ Aaron

    Well that was pretty immature. Just because some of us have friends doesn't mean we spend too much time on the computer. Maybe that's the REASON we do have a lot of friends...and some of us have been on AIM since we were 13 years old.

    Anyways, just because Jabber is "technically" superior doesn't make anyone want to use it. Like I said, until it has a feature that people want to switch for or AOL starts charging money for AIM use, you're gonna have a hard time convincing anyone to want to use it instead of they protocol that everyone else is on. Same reason I'm gonna keep using the proprietary NVIDIA driver, Adobe Reader, and an iPod. They plain work better. You're posts are very shortsighted and naive and you should try having a little more respect for the people who actually read your blog. It feels like were getting scolded by someone at church.

  30. Aaron | February 25, 2008 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    @Jesse Jarzynka- It was a joke. Laugh.

  31. Jason | February 25, 2008 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I don't see how anyone could use an ad-laden IM client. Unless there's something I don't know about AIM nowadays (it has been a awhile)...
    I remember getting bombarded by Victoria's Secret Ads, WITH SOUND(!!!), and that was officially the nail in the coffin. I've never looked back.

    If they got rid of them, I still don't know that I'd use the official AIM client. After moving to anything else, the AIM interface seems so uninspired.

    Also, my trained skimming eyes found something that made me laugh.
    In spamllama's last post, one of the things they said:
    She isn’t going to care if its free or anything about the license or source code, she’s going to care whether she can paste a picture of Hanna Montana right off the clip board into an IM and send it to a friend at school. Her friend at school needs to be on the same service to receive the message. This friend also cares less about the software source than whether or not to get the pink case for her RAZR phone or a Hello Kitty Blackberry.

    And then, to quote myself:
    Do you see why we’re doing this yet?

  32. Tim | February 25, 2008 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    When Google Talk came out I tought this would be game changing. A Google-backed IM client with an open specification for Voice calls. Clearly there would be Linux clients in no time, google would add video and more features and more and more people will adopt it.

    Now, two and a half years later... there isn't a client that really works on Linux, there are lots of half-finished projects but there isn't a single finished piece of software that gives you a decent experience. On top of that Google didn't add any feaures to Google Talk.

    The best VoIP cient on Linux... is Skype.

    Neither Google nor the free software community did anything in the last two years worth mentioning concerning VoIP support for IM clients.

    I am a free software and open standards advocate, but the whole Google Talk/Jingle thing shows, that open standards are not better by default.

  33. Jason | February 26, 2008 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    I unfortunately see a lot of bad deployments coming come Google.
    Jingle, Open Social, Orkut (lol), and the funny thing is that I think it all has to do with 20% time, and the stigma attached afterwards, even if it becomes "blessed" and official by Google.

    What starts out as someone's pet project rarely evolves beyond that (at least for the individual that invented it), and unfortunately it leads to bad things in the core, great 'complementary' things. (The XFN parser thinger that compliments Open Social is great, Open Social itself is not.)

    I don't know if Jingle was a 20% time project, but you're right, it hasn't quite made it out.

    Your post is unfortunately very short sighted, as I have seen great strides being made in the SIP world. It's unfortunate, however, that SIMPLE is supposed to compliment SIP. SIP+XMPP (like GizmoProject pulls off) is freaking great. It's so absolutely well done. Unfortunately, the other hand fell off, the client kinda sucks :P.

    I like SIP, I like what's being done with it. Asterisk, freePBX, the Flash Operator Panel for Asterisk is REALLY superb, Trixbox is going off on it's own, etc.
    There's a lot of good things coming out, and I think all we need now is a rock solid, simple, easy, piece of cake SIP client. X-Lite is almost there, not there yet however. And now that Counterpath took hold, it's slowing to a crawl.

    After the aforementioned piece of cake client comes out, tie people's ISP e-mail addresses, or any e-mail provider that also runs a PBX server (in order to get the e-mail-like addresses), and you have easy, logical, drop dead simple calls to anyone, from anyone, anywhere. (Except in Nations that are dumb and block SIP.)

    The problem is that hosting a PBX server and managing the load is no small feat. It's very VERY significant to your infrastructure. Just like Jabber, I think small groups will lead the charge, before we find a brilliant provider with the ability to roll out the service to the general masses.

    There's something to be said here about the Rails (Ruby) philosophy. "Convention over Configuration." Sane defaults can take you a long way.

    It's funny to think of all these VoIP providers, and the fact that they don't even offer SIP, for seemingly no good reason.

  34. David | February 26, 2008 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Wow, such a diverse viewpoint from so many people. Could it be that all anyone is trying to say is would it not be nice if all of these clients could talk to each other? How would this be possible? Would opening up the source be the answer?

  35. Benjamin M. A'Lee | February 26, 2008 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    A lot of people seem to be missing the point. The idea is not to just stop using proprietary protocols---it's also to convince other people, the peooople who are the reason you still use the proprietary protocols, to use Jabber instead or as well as MSN/AIM/Yahoo (preferably instead).

  36. Vadim P. | February 26, 2008 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Well, I -am- ditching MSN - because their servers were down today, and I couldn't connect. Plus the protocol sucks - you can only bold/italize the whole IM, not parts of it, and the msg limit is tiny.

    Sticking with aim/google chat/jabber combination though - aim isn't all that bad.

  37. Jason | February 26, 2008 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Yes, interoperability is what we're getting at. Open Source is preferred, because anyone can then improve/submit back/etc.
    It's already possible because things like Jabber (XMPP), SIP, and so forth exists. It's already here.

    Think of it this way, would you want to only access some of the internet using IE? And only access the non-IE internet via Firefox?
    No, one browser can (generally) access anything. It's the same thing with IM and Voice. They make multi-protocol clients (Trillian, Pidgin, Miranda, etc.), and in general, technologies such as Jabber really help things along in the communication realm.

    It's the same as e-mail, you don't use gmail in order to e-mail someone else on gmail, your e-mail is ubiquitous in terms of the ability to e-mail anyone, on any e-mail network.
    So why don't we do the same thing with IM?

    AIM and ICQ are going XMPP. Some folks have already connected to it with success. (The server has, however, gone down already, as it was only a test bed.)

  38. Cornel | February 26, 2008 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    "Support Free Software? Then Ditch Proprietary IM". This sounds like "You're either with us, or against us" -'re_either_with_us,_or_against_us

    Are you saying that if i continue to use YM i don't truly support free software? Or what exactly is your point here? That i should spend countless hours of my very limited free time trying to explain my 50 years old aunt and other extremely computer illiterate friends why they wont be able to talk to me unless they install jabber? I really dont get it what's so freaking wrong in using Skype when they are clearly miles ahead of anyone else in voice quality communication.

    I find it ironic that you speak of freedom but try to force others to do something.

  39. Llewelyn_MT | February 26, 2008 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Do not try this at home! It's been done before and it does not work! This is a stupid idea and I speak from my own experience.

    I live in Poland, where Gadu Gadu (abbr. GG) is the main player, or as I say the "Windows of IM" - it's proprietary, and some 90% of people use solely this protocol for IM. The other 10% uses it anyway because of the majority. There's also Skype, but it's nowhere as popular for IM. I don't use it at all. Jabber is next to non existent (including GTalk and one local open implementation).

    I never use Skype, because I don;t need it. I wasn't using GG for nearly a year, but gave up on it recently. Since I got back to the closed IM system I coverted more people to Jabber and I could talk numerous people into trying FLOSS substitutes and/or Linux.

    Jabber will prevail, but not just yet. You have to talk people into using it. Especially in countries like Poland, where a single proprietary IM service has nearly 100% coverage. There are far more Linux users in here then people with active Jabber accounts. We've got GTalk on the light side, hopefully AOL/ICQ comes next. Talk about Jabber, ask about Jabber IM address first, put it in your signature. Evolution, not revolution.

  40. Vadim P. | February 26, 2008 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Cornel: I believe you're taking this issue too far, to the extreme cases where it's not plausible. You yourself can switch, so go ahead. Nobody is forcing your aunt who's computer illiterate to switch - that would be absolutely stupid and pointless.

  41. Jason | February 27, 2008 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    Skype is not "clearly miles ahead of anyone else [...]", because I can almost guarentee that you've never used any other external service that is even remotely as well maintained.

    The sheer number of SIP servers (Asterisk or others) that I've used/called/etc.), and the flexibility therein blows Skype out of the water. I admit, Skype has one thing going for it, it has the user base and it's drop dead dumb simple.

    I will not use Skype anymore, for the same reason we're doing is (yes, I'm beating a dead horse, I know). I refuse to set up an account on yet another service just to be able to talk to someone. I can set up my own SIP server and have the capability to dial PSTN AND SIP addresses. Best of both worlds. Imagine the ability to call anyone, via any medium, given a plain old phone number, or an e-mail-like address.

    Skype does not give you that. Skype gives you a username, or "premium" callout, with freaking broken caller ID.

    I'd be great if Skype opened up in any manner, especially if it did SIP. But that isn't coming any time soon, I'm sure.

  42. del | March 3, 2008 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    If you friends and family really care about you they will change. Why?
    Because they don't care if they use one program or another but it's quite important for you, so if they care about you they will understand.

    Furthermore why do you should use programs they use and not vice-versa? You seem to choose proprietary protocols because you friend tell you to do so. It's not you choice!

  43. Jeff Hankins | October 1, 2008 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    That's right. Many free software users support "open source," meaning they value convenience over freedom. People like this probably don't care about using Yahoo! Messenger or Skype. But the rest of us have a moral standard to uphold, and our ideals forbid us from using these IM clients or even the proprietary protocols they're based on. It is true that using free software is something of a sacrifice, but it is the only way we can truly ensure democracy. There may be free software IM clients which I don't even know about, and we should all work together to support these projects, if not by funding and contributing code, then simply by installing and using them.

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