Introduction

Skype is proprietary software that allows you to make calls over the Internet using your computer. Skype uses semi-decentralized peer-to-peer technologies, so your calls do not go through a central server, but through a pool of dedicated servers. It uses its own proprietary communication protocol to achieve this. In addition, all communications are encrypted from end to end so that others cannot listen in. The Skype software is free to use, but it is not free software; the source code is proprietary and not available for modification.

General information about Skype can be found here at, Wikipedia. The official Skype website is Skype.com

SkypeEthics gives information on why some users do not use Skype.

Open alternatives Softphones using open protocols include Ekiga and Twinkle.

You need a working sound input and output configuration in order to use Skype. Most modern computers have sound output out of the box, but you need a microphone (or a headset, while you are out shopping) for the input. In order to broadcast video, you'll need a webcam - see SkypeWebCams.

Links to detailed information about Skype issues on Ubuntu can be found in the Resources section below.

Installing Skype

Users of 64-bit Ubuntu, should enable MultiArch if it isn't already enabled by running the command

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386

Since Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx), Skype is part of the Canonical partner repository. To install Skype add the Canonical Partner Repository. You can do this by running the command

sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://archive.canonical.com/ $(lsb_release -sc) partner"

Then install Skype via the Software-Center or via the Terminal.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install skype

It is highly recommended to use the package provided in the Canonical partner repository, not the one distributed from the skype website, as the skype website currently points users to the wrong package for 64-bit systems of Ubuntu 11.10 and above.

Running Skype

To start Skype, choose Applications->Internet->Skype. It usually takes a minute or two for Skype to get started, and you may think that nothing is happening, so be patient.

When the Skype window finally opens, sign up (if necessary) and log in to your Skype account. Test your configuration by selecting the Echo / Sound Test Service contact (if not there already, add contact echo123) and clicking on the large green button at the bottom of the Skype window. If the connection is made and you hear a voice, your sound configuration is fine. If you cannot hear a voice, see the troubleshooting section below.

Adjusting the camera in Skype

The Linux Skype client, while it seems to set reasonable defaults, does not offer any significant way to adjust brightness, contrast, backlight compensation etc. If you are using a uvcvideo based device (see lists at Linux UVC driver and tools) a handy way is to use the guvcview utility, which opens your webcam and allows you to fiddle with the common settings. These settings (mostly) remain when you close it and open a Skype video preview (in the Options | Video Devices menu) or make a video call. (Note that you cannot have Skype and guvcview reading the camera video stream at the same time.) Install the "guvcvideo" package in the normal way for this.

Or, if you want to tweak settings live during a preview or call, use the "uvcdynctrl" command-line utility (package has the same name). For example, in a terminal:
    uvcdynctrl -s 'Backlight Compensation' 7
will increase the backlight compensation to 7 from its default value of 0. To see a complete list of the possible settings for your webcam, do
    uvcdynctrl -cv

You can also use "guvcview" in a control-only mode to adjust camera settings during the call. To do so launch guvcview with the -o switch:
    guvcview -o

Troubleshooting Skype

If you need help with troubleshooting Skype please take a look at the following page. TroubleShooting Skype

Reporting Skype Bugs

Despite Skype being offered in Ubuntu through the Partner repository as a service to Ubuntu users by Canonical and Skype (a division of Microsoft), it is not considered a part of Ubuntu. Because of this, filing Skype crash reports for processing on Launchpad by Apport Retracing service is unsupported. If one attempts to do this, they will receive a message noting:

Problem in skype-bin
The problem cannot be reported:
This is not an official Ubuntu package. Please remove any third party package and try again.

If you have found a bug in Skype, you are welcome to file a bug report on Skype's bug tracker https://jira.skype.com/secure/Dashboard.jspa.

See Also

External Links

Skype (last edited 2014-03-11 10:39:58 by larsnooden)