I just lost my mind and decided to try loading Skype on the laptop running Ubuntu. Well, I didn't really lose my mind, but curiosity got the best of me. Perhaps the Linux version is a bit better than the Windows version?
I searched the Synaptic Package Manager, and didn't find Skype, so I had to download it from the Skype web site. It installed ok, appeared to start normally, and the one contact I am still interested in on Skype showed up as "Away", which is already better than the Windows Skype can do, since it generally shows him as not being online, regardless of whether he is or not. Unfortunately, that was where the good news stopped.
When I finally found the "Options" menu, and changed some of the settings to increase privacy, then clicked "Apply", Skype crashed. Sigh. I started it again, and saw that the changes had not been saved. I made the same changes, and this time "Apply" didn't crash it. Then I noticed that my friend was now showing as offline - although I am sure he is not, he's still shown as "Away" on Gizmo5 - so they obviously still have the Skype Presence bug in the Linux version as well. That's not a big surprise, since I suspect that particular bug is in their vastly overloaded "SuperNode" system.
So, it's back in the trash bin with Skype, where it belongs, on Ubuntu as on Windows.