Skype comes to Linux

Skype Technologies made available a first test version of its Internet telephony application for Linux on Monday, 10 months and more than 14 million downloads after releasing the first version for Windows.

Skype for Linux offers most of the same features as the Windows version. The software allows free, unlimited calls over an Internet connection to other Skype users as well as conference calls with up to five users and instant messaging. However, Linux users can't yet host conference calls using Skype, according to the Skype Web site.

Skype was founded by Niklas Zennström, chief executive officer, and Janus Friis, who also launched Kazaa, the popular file-swapping software. Like Kazaa, the telephony software runs on a decentralized peer-to-peer network. Skype is now available for Windows, Linux and Pocket PC operating systems.

Skype for Linux supports both Gnome and KDE desktops and should run on all Linux distributions that have glibc 2.2.5 or greater and Qt 3.2 or greater, according to the Skype Web site. The software has been tested several Linux distributions, including SuSE Linux 9, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java Desktop System Release 2.

For Windows, Skype is available in 20 languages. The Linux version currently is available only in English, but other languages are coming soon, according to Skype. The Skype Linux beta code will not be made available under an open source license, the company says on its Web site.

During the beta period, Skype is free. Eventually, some services will require a paid subscription or prepayment, the company has said. For example, Skype is working on a service called SkypeOut to allow users to call regular telephone numbers. SkypeOut is expected to be a paid service and is due soon.

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