May 9, 2010

Skype for Linux

Filed under: linux — SiKing @ 8:11 pm

Skype Aid
When you compare the features of Skype-Windows with Skype-Linux, you probably get the impression that the Linux version is the ugly child in the family. At some point last year Skype was even removed from all the Ubuntu repos. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find an alternative for video chat to Windows users – please reply to this post if you have an alternative. If you do go with Skype there will be problems, and not all of them have a solution – you need to accept that right from the start!

Most bugs and forum posts on Skype recommend that you install the latest version. Right there, notice that Skype-Linux has been in Beta since August of 2009. When you click through to the download page, the next thing you will notice is that you need at least Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid) / Mint 6 (Felicia). If you are running Mint 5 (Elyssa) / Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy), like me, I guess you are SOL. I do not think it is possible to find the previous version at, you will have to go someplace else. 🙄

Next come all the video problems! In Skype go to Options (Ctrl-O), and under Video Devices there is a Test button. Click it and see what happens.

video does not work outright

If you went with Felicia / Intrepid (or later), chances are that the Test fails – at best you get a lot of video static, at worst you get nothing. I did not have this problem on Elyssa / Hardy with the earlier version of Skype. After some amount of Googling, I found this:

Skype does not work well with newer version of GSPCA Webcams driver (Linux Kernel >=2.6.27), possible workaround:

  • Ubuntu 32 bit: install “libv4l-0” package and launch Skype with: LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/ skype
  • Ubuntu 64 bit: install “lib32v4l-0” package and launch Skype with: LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib32/libv4l/ skype

I am now on Mint 9 (Isadora) / Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid) and this fix does seem to pass the test! In order to make this fix permanent for all users on your system, do the following:

  1. Open an editor, and enter the following:
    LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/ /usr/bin/skype
  2. Save the file in your home with the filename “skype”.
  3. Open up a terminal, and switch to root (sudo bash) and run the following:
  4. cd /usr/local/bin
    mv ~/skype .		# move over the text file you just created
    chmod +x skype		# give the text file execute permissions
  5. Now try launching Skype from your menu, and run the video test again. It should pass.

video crashes when launched in chat

Yes it does. There is only one solution that I have been able to find somewhere on the Skype fora:

  1. Get the other party to start their video first. If the other party is also on Linux, I guess you’re screwed.
  2. On your end, in the video window, there is a pulldown menu. In that menu select “Double size”.
  3. You are now able to launch video from your end.

I have no idea why or how this works!

A few seconds into the chat, the doubled video window will freeze up, and the top 1/4 (so the original size of the video) will basically take over and continue to work. 😕 A few seconds after that, the top left corner (not the entire active area, but about 20% of it) will turn into a dead white block. There is no known fix for any of this. If I am wrong please reply to this post!

When you’re done with the chat, make sure that you hang up first. If the other side disconnects first, Skype on your end will simply crash.

Update 13/05/2010:

Just had a chance to try all this out live. I am now running LM9 (U10.04) and Skype is in the repos and I am using that one! It is suppose to be version, but the About page looks different than if you download the same version from So I do not know what other changes there are.

All the stuff in the “video does not work outright” section above still holds true.

I did not have to have the other party start their video first, and I did not have to double their video reception screen, and Skype still works as expected.

So far have not been able to confirm any of my other claims from above: the freezing of doubled screen, and the white block. But both of those are very minor issues compared to the other stuff.



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    Comment by best voip phone service — March 1, 2012 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

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      Comment by siking — March 2, 2012 @ 9:31 am | Reply

  2. Thanks SiKing for posting that. I have heard of the video for linux fix in the past but never actually saw the full command.
    I will pass this along to a friend that was having skype problems.

    Comment by Rothgar — May 11, 2010 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

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