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Skype 4.0 for Linux (skype.com)
234 points by Intermediate on June 14, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 112 comments

Ooh! Ooh! Does it have the new Conversation Ads feature?


I, for one, cannot WAIT to see these new ads, which Microsoft describes as "content that could spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users."

Isn't that great? Ads are now "content." And the motivation isn't to make a bundle of money on ads, it's to "spark conversations."

Add this to the craptastical user interface and built-in backdoor eavesdropping, and it's plain to see that Skype has a bright future ahead!


I'm inclined to agree with your points, I always preferred the linux client over the windows one, but skype just gets on my nerves recently. My team has switched to mumble for meetings and stuff and we find it immeasurably better. Plus, channels are a much better method for general collaboration than the outdated concept of conference calls.

what do you use for a mumble server? I would happily choose this if there were an easy to use free version like skype.

We use the murmur server on a linode, so it's totally free (if you have a linux server already). Just "apt-get install mumble-server" on ubuntu server.

Still have to use skype for external calls and stuff, but for internal comms we love it so far.

Isn't the "murmur" server that comes from Mumble free to use?

I know it's not free, but you can easily find fully managed mumble hosting for $4 month (for up to 10 people connected at a time). It may not be completely free, but it's pretty damn close.

I use µMurmur from the OpenWRT project.

And mumble should get even better in a future update when it switches to Opus which combines their current CELT codec with, relevantly, Skype's SILK for better low-bitrate speech encoding.

Just tried it .. works pretty flawlessly for me, very impressed.

There aren't any adverts so far ..

How else could they possibly justify spending $8billion on it?

Skype has been a disruptive technology within the phone industry. Combined with Microsoft's mobile operating system and perhaps a hardware partner such as Nokia, it is quite possible that we may say mobile "phones" that completely bypass the current established carriers.

To put it another way, how often are most people away from a WiFi network when they make a call? Or more importantly, when they access a data stream with their device? $8 billion for Microsoft is not a significant amount when it comes to purchasing growth, and the article isn't about Facetime for Linux.

At least I will much more often be with a phone with no WiFi access than within WiFi access with no computing device except a phone. And if I have something other than a phone available, I'm really not going to use Skype on the phone. The old Linux version of Skype wasn't the most brilliant piece of software ever, but even it is so far ahead of the phone versions of Skype that it's not even funny.

Does Skype run decently on any phone platform? I know the Android version will drain the battery dry faster than playing a 3D game and will not reliably receive calls even when running in the foreground. And it's my understanding that the WP7 version requires so much memory it doesn't even run on all WP7 phones, and will not run at all in the background making it totally useless.

At this point the idea that Skype + mobile would be some kind of a killer combination worth billions seems like a total pipe-dream. The only real-world effect it has is to kill Nokia faster due to mobile operators hating Skype, and not wanting to be aligned with MS.

Having at one time worked in a Fortune 100 company, people take a lot of calls on their mobile phone while sitting at their desk. Those plan minutes add up.

Like most Microsoft products, the big fish is enterprise, not consumers. The 3D game comparison is somewhat misleading.

As an aside, the current version of Windows Phone was developed prior to the acquisition of Skype. Closer integration in future versions would not be unexpected.

Ah, right. I forgot about the silly American idea of the receiver paying for a call instead of the caller. My experience with Skype is that it's very rarely used for making phone calls to normal numbers, but used all the time for long-distance / international calls with somebody expecting that call. There's very little benefit to using a mobile terminal in a case like that.

My point about battery life might not have been well made. It's not that games are an alternative to Skype, but that it's just absurdly power-hungry. Even more so than the apps that you'd expect to be the real hogs. My Nexus S usually goes 2-3 days between charges. If I leave Skype running in the background, it's drained in less than 8 hours.

Controlling that largest VoIP network in the world might well be valuable to MS. But to date I just haven't seen any evidence of it mixing well with mobile phones.

no ads in this client, on any screen, presumptuous one. next time look before you embarrass yourself.

To be fair, I wasn't presuming anything. While I applaud the release of the Linux version, I was merely trying to show that Microsoft's stewardship of Skype seems to be headed in a rather unsavory direction.

How are advertisements unsavory? Is this same opinion of yours applicable against google, for the ads on it's search engine?

Just curious. I've never had anything against ads personally unless they're intrusive -- or that my data is being bought & sold to show them. Not that I trust $vendor to keep that data private, but showing me the latest advertisement for some movie coming out next week isn't going to ruin my experience. Youtube's advertisement implementation for example, I find intrusive & frustrating as it literally displays over top of the content and returns on every video you watch.

Until skype starts strapping a pepsi logo to my partner-in-chat's face, I'm content.

If it helps keep skype around longer, kudos. I enjoy using the app.

It's not the advertisements I find unsavory — it's the spin. Rather than just say, "We will be introducing a new type of ad that we hope users won't find too intrusive," they instead refer to the ads as "content" and spin them as conversation starters.

I agree that ads have their place, particularly in a free product or service. But since you brought up Google, I'm not sure we should be holding them up as an example of how to do un-intrusive advertising:


Google doesn't portray its ads as content.

right that's why they don't show right above where the actual content of search results is displayed....oh wait...

I think your definition of "content" is too expansive in this context. Just because it's on the page doesn't mean it's content. Skype/MS saying that the presence of in-line ads will foster conversation is much different than sponsored or side results in Google SERPs.

He meant the ads are in line with the content. The fact that it's an ad is certainly highlighted but it is intentionally subtle.

They aren't interspersed except at the page level. It's not the same thing.

I don't know how Google show up for you, but when I do a search for a term such as "cars" I get ads that appear very similar to the actual search results at the beginning and end of the same list. In fact all the high contrast features are identical between the two, and it is only the lower contrast features that distinguish the ads from the results.

How are advertisements unsavory? Is this same opinion of yours applicable against google, for the ads on it's search engine?

When you search Google, it uses Google's servers and web index.

Skype uses other user's bandwidth to route calls.

Leeching other people's bandwidth and also advertising to you while doing so, stings.

(Yes they have directory services and development to pay for, and yes they have infrastructure, for POTS-integration, but on the other hand, POTS-integration isn't free, it's already charged for separately on a service-use basis).

Microsoft has been working to make Skype only use Microsoft's servers for a while now. I believe a lot of Skype data is going through these servers already, and since no users can become new supernodes any more, some time in the future all the data will go through Microsoft's servers.

I too find advertisements in general unsavory.

to be additionally fair, the Skype interface was heading in a downhill direction well before the Microsoft acquisition.

Wow. Do you post dickish replies much? You seem good at it.

The best thing about how big skype is is that they have to maintain backwards compatibility (hardware skype phones that can't upgrade) so you can use whatever old version you want and it has to be supported by them. Which means you can stick to the old version which works fine without having to suffer through the new and "improved" glitzy version that is popup crazy and wants to hog all your system resources for what is essentially a chat program.

> they have to maintain backwards compatibility

Well, no they don't. They can drop any legacy client whenever they wish. Microsoft could even try to make it sound like they're doing a good thing by removing unmaintainable legacy stuff they inherited from Skype.

Microsoft is not really required to maintain backwards compatibility with Skypes legacy stuff. It is possible they updated the Linux client for exactly this reason; update what you can, depreciate the rest for the good of everyone else.

Well, I suppose they can identify exactly what version (and machine/OS) the client is using and specifically block old PC apps if they wanted to.

> old version which works fine

And has a bunch of security holes.

Which specific ones do you mean?

I can't use Skype because I have an iPhone 3GS which doesn't have the latest iOS (available only on iPhones 4).

So I don't really get your point.

Not sure what you're talking about, iOS 5.1 is out for the 3GS and even iOS 6.0 is supposed to be coming out for it. Maybe you only have a 3G?

I'm pretty sure i have skype working on a iphone 3 non-gs, anyway.

Skype worked fine for me in Jan 2012, last time I used my iphone 3G (ios 4.2.1).

Voice/chat only, of course, because of missing front camera.

Actually on Android the video chat works without a front facing camera present.

You should probably stay on 2.2 beta....

1. Skype 4 require download 95 additional packages for ubuntu version (all marked i386 even if you using amd64)

2. I am not sure but giant ads probably included too [1]

[1] http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/06/skype-...

It's actually a 32-bit binary, so the amd64 debian package just lists all the i386 dependencies explicitly. Bummer.

$ file /usr/bin/skype /usr/bin/skype: ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), for GNU/Linux 2.6.15, BuildID[sha1]=0x3223447b98867e62fbed258aa0da4f2281ab6f11, stripped

On Fedora (17 here, 32 bits) replaces the old package without installing any extra stuff.

I haven't tested it deeply, but looks like runs smoother than the previous (quite unstable) version.

The point was that skype has no x86_64 version. So if you have a 64 bit install (random aside: I hope you're on an Atom netbook and not running a 32 bit linux on a desktop/laptop) it will pull all the i686 versions of its dependencies.

This probably works now on Ubuntu, which has finally rolled out a multilib implementation (that I haven't kicked the tires on yet).

This a i3 M370, but I run a 32 bits OS because I got tired of running 64 bits with applications with no support for 64 bits (read: Flash browser plugin and Skype).

After some time I've found that there's no real advantage for me on a 64 bits OS for a laptop (ie. I have only 3GB of RAM, performance looks the same, etc).

Flash has been X86_64 compatible for a while now...

  sh-4.2$ rpm -q flash-player
(rpm query on openSUSE Tumbleweed)

  sh-4.2$ file /usr/lib64/browser-plugins/libflashplayer.so
  /usr/lib64/browser-plugins/libflashplayer.so: ELF 64-bit LSB shared object, x86-64, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked, stripped

Choppy sound (if not completely broken depending on the audio codec), crashes (I got core dumps daily), absurd CPU usage and made Firefox unstable.

I'm not a heavy flash user, but after 6 months I was really frustrated. The 32 bits version works great in comparison.

I apologize for the digression, but what's wrong with running 32bit linux on a desktop/laptop?

Apart from it being a measurably slower architecture (15-20% is typical) and the only sane way of dealing with large memory machines? (Laptops with 8G are routine today, and require a PAE kernel on i686). Refusing to upgrade is the reason that products like Skype continue to refuse to support 64 bit targets.

Just try it. Chances are you won't even notice the difference, except that your battery will last a tiny bit longer if you do compute-heavy stuff.

Tried it couple years ago and the only thing I noticed was that it used more memory (almost twice as much as 32bit IIRC). So I returned to 32bit and am still using it, with PAE kernel so I can use all 4 gigs that I have right now. I really don't feel a bit responsible because Skype refuses to support 64bit.

Another reason that I keep 32bit is portability, as I have quite a peculiar setup: I keep my Linux on a removable HDD, and boot off it on several different machines, which may or may not support 64bit. (So I don't have to tow my laptop to work and back every day.)

You can run a 64 bit kernel, with a 32 bit userspace BTW, this lets you access all the memory on your machine.

Personally I'm waiting for debian multiarch to switch, since I have no desire to reinstall everything from scratch. If debian multiarch did not exist I might have bitten the bullet, but since it does, I can wait a bit for it.

Of course. Even better (best of both worlds, really) would be to run a 64 bit kernel with an x32 userspace: https://sites.google.com/site/x32abi/

But those are still bleeding edge options for people comfortable with tinkering with their systems. I was speaking to the simple choice of i686 vs. x86_64 in pre-cooked systems.

This may surprise you, but every laptop and desktop that I own has a 32-bit processor in it.

How many years has it been since AMD released the Hammer architecture? There was actually a recent post on the LKML that mentioned this.


At this point, I see no reason to run a pure 32 bit userspace. There are no real advantages. The performance impacts are minor, and most people are over 4 GB (or should be).

As to your point 2, I've heard multiple times now that this Linux version does not include the in-conversation ads.

On Ubuntu the dependencies were already installed by the old version, so I could install this new version without anything else required.

My old amd64 version do not require that much dependencies only coupe of packages... and thats it..

Here list of my dependencies for skype 4:

bluez-alsa:i386 glib-networking:i386 gstreamer0.10-plugins-good:i386 gstreamer0.10-x:i386 gtk2-engines:i386 gtk2-engines-murrine:i386 gtk2-engines-oxygen:i386 gtk2-engines-pixbuf:i386 ia32-libs ia32-libs-multiarch:i386 ibus-gtk:i386 lib32asound2 lib32gcc1 lib32stdc++6 libaa1:i386 libaio1:i386 libao4:i386 libatk1.0-0:i386 libaudiofile1:i386 libavc1394-0:i386 libc6-i386 libcaca0:i386 libcairo-gobject2:i386 libcairo2:i386 libcanberra-gtk-module:i386 libcanberra-gtk0:i386 libcanberra0:i386 libcap2:i386 libcroco3:i386 libcupsimage2:i386 libcurl3:i386 libdbus-glib-1-2:i386 libdv4:i386 libesd0:i386 libgail-common:i386 libgail18:i386 libgconf-2-4:i386 libgdbm3:i386 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0:i386 libgettextpo0:i386 libgnome-keyring0:i386 libgomp1:i386 libgtk2.0-0:i386 libgudev-1.0-0:i386 libibus-1.0-0:i386 libidn11:i386 libiec61883-0:i386 libjasper1:i386 libmad0:i386 libmikmod2:i386 libnspr4:i386 libnss3:i386 libodbc1:i386 libpango1.0-0:i386 libpixman-1-0:i386 libproxy1:i386 libpulse-mainloop-glib0:i386 libpulsedsp:i386 libqt4-designer:i386 libqt4-opengl:i386 libqt4-qt3support:i386 libqt4-scripttools:i386 libqt4-svg:i386 libqt4-test:i386 libqtwebkit4:i386 libraw1394-11:i386 librsvg2-2:i386 librsvg2-common:i386 librtmp0:i386 libsdl-image1.2:i386 libsdl-mixer1.2:i386 libsdl-net1.2:i386 libsdl-ttf2.0-0:i386 libsdl1.2debian:i386 libshout3:i386 libsoup-gnome2.4-1:i386 libsoup2.4-1:i386 libspeex1:i386 libssl0.9.8:i386 libstdc++5:i386 libtag1-vanilla:i386 libtag1c2a:i386 libtdb1:i386 libunistring0:i386 libvorbisfile3:i386 libwavpack1:i386 libxaw7:i386 libxcb-render0:i386 libxcb-shm0:i386 libxft2:i386 libxmu6:i386 libxp6:i386 libxtst6:i386 odbcinst1debian2:i386 xaw3dg:i386

Yeah, I forgot to tell that I'm using the Ubuntu x86 version, not the x64 one.

I'm on Arch Linux and installing skype4 from AUR has no dependencies that the skype package from multilib didn't...

Must just be Ubuntu ^.^

The new version of skype is in the official repositories. Just installed it and it looks good so far.

that and the fact that Arch rocks!

Maybe you should consider that a Ubuntu problem...I use Arch and only one additional package is required.

Debian 6.0.5 installed without any additional packages also, it was a straight replace.

edit: amd64

Did hell freeze over?

I've been waiting for an update to the Linux Skype client for years. Years!

Of course, if I have to install a ton of i386 packages or have big ass ads all over the place I think it's not worth the effort.

Is it too much to ask to give paying customers access to just a lib that can be used in other GUIs? :(

I think the future is WebRTC, it's an open standard and the browser is one of the most ubiquitous software you'll ever run. I don't use Skype much, but I have friends using Skype, MSN, Facebook, gchat (I still haven't used hangouts). All these services requires registration and sometimes a specific software to communicate. I wish that by the end of the year it won't matter what service you're using, you'll just send a message like "Hey let's talk, click on this link"

Curious question, is there any good open source application out there supporting voice and video? Possibly, multiple people as in G+ Hangout?

On linux Empathy, Gajim, Jitsi, and Pidgin all support audio and video chat. I believe they're all interoperable with each other and with the video chat in gmail.

I think that Jitsi (formerly named SIP Communicator) supports audio and video chat on Windows and OS X as well. I don't think that any of these projects support video conference calls yet, but it's on the "near future" section of Jitsi's roadmap.


Great stuff, thanks for the tips.

Clicking from the linked article to get to the download page, the download is still for 2.2 :-/ Anyone got a direct link to the 4.0 page?

ED: The English version is 2.2, the American version is 4.0...

For non-americans, use the american link: http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/on-your-computer/l...

Worked fine for me, file dl-ed from http://download.skype.com/linux/skype-ubuntu_4.0.0.7-1_amd64...


Edit had to install 6 deps using gdebi; when I ran the app it crashed before authentication completed and took down my desktop session on Kubuntu 12.04.

At some point, Skype announced that it would open-source the UI part of the Linux client, allowing people to implement whatever interface they wanted.

I guess that was before they were bought by Microsoft.

You can communicate with the Skype client over DBus, which allows you to replace a lot (although not all) of the UI with something else. Two examples:

http://code.google.com/p/skype4pidgin/ https://github.com/technomancy/dotfiles/blob/master/bin/skyy...

The protocol is incomplete (the "native" Qt UI isn't built on it), but it is at least documented on their dev site.

There's also https://launchpad.net/~skype-wrapper/+archive/ppa but it's buggy and still requires you have the main Skype window running.

Arch Linux AUR packages available at: http://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?ID=60059

I have tested it; works great!

The community Skype package has been updated to Skype 4 now, so no need for the AUR. http://www.archlinux.org/packages/community/i686/skype/

It still says try skype 2.2 beta on the page, but when I download it, I get a file called skype-debian_4.0.deb :)

I'd rather run Skype inside its own virtual machine, with ads blocked by restricting network access. Since a full Linux distribution can be obtained for free, this could help enable that.

Since Skype is one of the slipperiest applications out there in terms of network access, I'd imagine ads could be served by any node in the network.

I find it sad that Skype has evolved to be MSN Messenger-replacement, there were so many good alternatives. At one point MSN was even usable-ish, as you could choose whatever client you wanted. With Skype, not so much.

I'm switching a lot between OSX and Windows, and sometimes even Linux, and the clients are totally different on each platform to the point where it get's hard to use. And don't get me started on that Android-client they have made, total utter garbadge.

>> the clients are totally different on each platform to the point where it get's hard to use.

I've been annoyed by this too, how hard is it to keep the UI somewhat alike, at least between the desktop applications?

Anyone know if the version in the Debian Skype repo (http://wiki.debian.org/skype) will be updated?

It has been already updated in Arch Repos. I see no reason Why Debian would block it.

I meant if anyone knew whether Skype had any plans of updating the repo since it's owned by them (http://download.skype.com/linux/repos/debian/), or whether they intended for people to just use the provided packages.

They used to have a statically-linked version available for download; where did that go? It's the only one that didn't crash on my Debian testing system.

Just happy that M$ is showing more love of Linux. I never thought a new version would ever get out!

Do you think they heard my comment yesterday (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4107759)? Thanks for finally deciding to provide me with new Linux software. I'm also super excited about seeing more meaningless ads ... but where were you when I needed you?

I'm actually a bit surprised that you're even trying this since it seems to be a well-proven fact that Microsoft can't make money on search or ads. And if you needed additional revenue, did you ever consider asking people to pay you for your service?

As an interesting aside, Skype's move to using super-nodes that are controlled by them is also useful for the change to an advertisement supported business. Can you imagine how hard it would be to share ad revenue with regular users whose computers had been promoted to super-nodes simply because of bandwidth capacity and their up-time numbers?

Just opensource the damn thing. It would profit them far more than anyone else.

I'm curious to see your numbers on that.

opensource-> fewer bugs -> more users -> more satisfied users -> firefox style extensions or even an "app store" -> code improvements -> support for more platforms -> praise of the world's hacker community

The missing bit of that is the actual profit. The praise of the world's hacker community does not pay off the mortgage. On the other hand, if it's open source, anyone can compile a client which doesn't show their ads, and give it away.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love Skype to be open sourced. But I can see why they haven't done so.

Actually, it looks like a lot of what you're referring to has been possible since fall of last year. See: http://developer.skype.com/ Skype now has an enhanced API and plugin architecture that allows exactly the type of firefox extensions that you're referring to. Unfortunately, the underlying communications protocol remains closed, and so requires a binary that appears to only work on 32-bit systems (not to mention ARM). I'm actually OK with them keeping the communications protocol closed-sourced, but they need to provide binaries for a greater variety of architectures if they really want this program to work.

Is that really compatible with FOSS?

If you want to call somebody's claim out as bullshit, call it out as bullshit, please stop with the passive aggressive [citation needed] shit, it is extremely obnoxious, does not contribute to the discourse, and becoming very common in the comments here.

I encourage other users to down vote these style of comments, and up vote explicit reasoned replies.

It's a pretty bold statement to say that Skype would profit from being open source, I'd say a citation is well in order. If you want an example of aggression (more blatant than passive) then you only need look at your own post.

Not bad. Not close to Skype for Windows, but that's not a bad thing. Plus no ads.

I'm primarily an Ubuntu user (Unity or XFCE) and use a secondary Windows 7 laptop with Skype as a communication device.

I've moved as much as I can over to Jingle via Empathy, but so far when I haven't been able to avoid Skype I've found the Android client much preferable to the old Linux one.

Can't wait to try this! But I'm on my mac at work atm. I'm worried they've bloated the interface and made it horrible like they did with Skype 5 for mac...has this happened?

so far it seems ok to me, it hasn't got the super huge interface like on mac & windows, apart from the call window it largely looks the same.

The rpm package has a bug: It has a bunch of translation files that conflict with the older skype version.

So remove the old version of skype first before installing the new one.

Can't run two instances at the same time. Complete deal breaker for those of us that use a personal account and a professional one.

Create two user accounts and run one instance in each? This is Linux...

true. And in case you see "No protocol specified" when running skype from user account xyz, try running "xhost + SI:localuser:xyz" first

skype --dbpath=~/.otherskype

Ubuntu 12 and Fedora 17 are the latest versions of Ubuntu and Fedora but apparently not supported according to the download distribution list. (s/11/12/, basic idea remains -- only old distros are listed)

It would be more accurate to say seemingly instead of apparently. The nuance is that the description in the download list implies that only the old distros are supported, but actually at least on F17, the F16 package still works. Why on earth they would release a 32-bit package but not a 64-bit package in this day and age, however, is a mystery.

Have you tried the actual packages?

The download page is confusing. I believe it should read "Fedora X or later". Previous package was for Fedora 10 I think, and I've been using it since Fedora 12.

EDIT: typo

Unless I'm mistaken, the latest version of Ubuntu is 12.04

It works like a charm!

It's a trap.

Obtrusive conversation ads coming to a Skype-for-Linux near you in 3... 2... 1...

What kind of codename is "Four Rooms for Improvement?" (what they called this release)

Non-authorative suggestion: 1995 movie "Four rooms" and the phrase "room for improvement"

I think it's a play on "room for improvement" involving the version number.

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