Build a Skype Server for Your Home Phone System

Build this Skype server to provide 24/7 phone service through regular phone handsets in your home—and save a bundle of money in the process!

For those readers who are security-conscious, and don't trust Skype as an application, building a Skype server has an added advantage. By placing the Skype server on your Internet connection outside your firewall, you gain the peace of mind that should a hacker break in to your server, or compromise Skype somehow, then as the server interfaces with nothing more than a copper phone line into your home beyond the firewall, any damage will necessarily be contained and limited to the Skype server outside the firewall. Worst case is that you'll need to do a reinstall on your Skype server, and perhaps, a better job of locking it down from a security point of view so that it can protect itself. Indeed, if your firewall is sufficiently restrictive that Skype won't work on the inside, then placing your Skype server outside your firewall is the only way in which you can take advantage of Skype's phone services.

Working Out Your Savings from Using a Skype Server

Phone bills have a lot in common with taxes. Both are mind numbingly complex, and both take a lot and give little in return! To help work out your potential savings from switching to Skype for your phone services, in whole or in part, I've written a spreadsheet that simplifies the process and can be downloaded from the Elpis Web site (see the on-line Resources).

You should factor in the cost of building and running a Skype server into your savings analysis. Running costs will depend on the machine that you choose to use in order to run Skype 24/7. An old clunker of a machine may consume so much power that it would be worthwhile to build a new machine in the long run. As always, run the numbers and make some decisions.

Let's look at the cost of running a small Skype server 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Without a monitor and other peripherals to guzzle power, a small modern computer typically consumes between 50W and 100W. If your cost of electricity is $0.10 per kWh, then the annual cost of running your Skype server is between $44 and $88. These are just ballpark numbers and you'll no doubt do your own, but it does show that the cost of running a Skype server 24/7 is not insignificant. (Cost = power consumed in kW x 365 days x 24 hours x cost per kWh, where a power consumption of 50W is 0.05kW and 100W is 0.1kW.)

Resources for this article: /article/8644.

Andrew Sheppard is the author of the book Skype Hacks (ISBN: 05-9610-1899) published by O'Reilly (, and the editor of Elpis' Skype Power User Magazine for Elpis Publishing Limited ( He can be contacted at



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Can you comment more on the

ctran2's picture

Can you comment more on the SkypeOut/SkypeIn of Gizmo? Or links?

Why use skype instead of asterisk?

WhizzMan's picture

Everywhere people setting up PBXes for home or office use, using asterisk. It is open-source, uses open standards and is free to use. Why would I want to use a closed source application that will not support a lot of telephone hardware if there is a very good open-source alternative that is used in thousands of business telephone exchanges around the world already?

Skype Server on windows XP

Zen's picture


Can a Skype Server be built on a Windows XP box?


Set up a Skype phone system using PrettyMay

Jacky Fu's picture

If you have a Windows XP box, check out PrettyMay Call Center for Skype which is a Skype Based PBX software for Windows.

Skype/Telbox on XP

dave's picture

Neat project and well documented!
I am running the Skype/Telbox setup with my XP laptop. Runs 24/7 and gives access to the landline and Skype phones. Our rural location will lose power ocasionally but the laptop and BBU batteries do hold up for a few hours. The laptop is a P3 and occasionally the CPU has a problem keeping up with the virus scanning etc. and drops out Skype.
Maybe it is time to try out my Ubuntu laptop on Skype.
Has anyone got the Telbox working with Ubuntu yet?

Command line

Henry's picture

Um ... maybe I'm missing something, but how does this work if you don't want to keep your linux box (in my case FC4) logged in to the GUI? In other words, can Skype be invoked from the command line? I hate the thought of having my server logged into Gnome much less hooking upa monitor and keyboard to it. Plus if the box is ever cycled I wouldn't want to have to load up Skype again manually.

Is there a way to do this from the command line?

Command line respose

Sanzone's picture

Hey Henry, very good questions. Wish I new the answer, did you get one? I would like to know, I want to build one that is command driven also?


Anonymous's picture

Why leave it logged in? create a service and it will run in the background under a service account

Skype-to-Phone USB adapter

imageek's picture

Where would i get one of these? Is it named exactly like that? Thanks for any repsonse


steve's picture

Build the server, got skypemate working and skype on REDHAT.
How do you do speed dial. Linux skype does not have speeddial alocation.?????


Milktoast's picture

I'm trying slackware 10.2 now but the SkypeMate will not install.

The instructions are not very clear... install this/install that... usually an RPM or something and there is not much documentation on the web about SkypeMate.

I hate that the instructions in LJ are usually based on REDHAT... not everyone uses that crap... how about trying a source install once in a while... e.g. Slackware.

Sorry to rant but this really bugs me.


Anonymous's picture

You think RedHat is crap? Slackware is dead man, even Debian has better more often updated packages then Slack. Sorry, don't agree with you on that one...
If you really think you should make some waves talking smack about other Linux distros, use Debian and then we're talking!


Doctor Who's picture

Not me.
I just implied that RedHat isn't a mainstream one. Debian contains too many you must do this, you must do that. Slackware doesn't care if you do not set up a mail service straightaway, or even if you don't need X windows. They even gave up Gnome not long ago.

Especially since the good people at Skype now tell me they are indeed looking into working with Slackware, to test things out. Given time even they will come around.

Debian on the other hand won't. We're lucky that its still considered relevant for other platforms.

And when was the last time you even looked at Slackware? It evolves slowly. Like you humans do.

I also see you replied to my other self. I Strongly suggest that you take the time to try out Slackware 11.0. It may even work for you.

I keep time in a TARDIS. What is that thing on your wrist doing?

I keep time in a TARDIS. What is that thing on your wrist doing?

Gentoo baby Gentoo!

x3nos's picture

I'd rather be compiling. Ha ha.

You would, would you?

Anonymous's picture

You *really* would prefer compiling?

Skypemate on Slack

Ioannisb's picture

Hi there!!!

Did you find any solution about Skypemate on Slack?
I have the same problem!!!!
I even mail to the programmers that wrote it ....... but there's no answer...

I have "easy bluebox" voip box and I cant make it work....


Skypemate on Slack

Harry's picture

It's been a few months. I'm wondering if anyone has had any luck using skypemate on Slack 10 yet?


Skype on Slackware 10.2

Leo Whiteway's picture

Actually I have changed from Slackware 10.2 to Vector 5.1.1
Vector is a derivative of Slackware.
I have Skype running and quite well. It was not a problem. I just installed it.
I do have a problem and that is that I can't seem to make it ring when I get a call. Very annoying but if I am near the computer and see the little box come on and it tells me I have an incoming call, I can answer. The other thing that works is I can see if I have missed a call and then can return the call.

ringer equivalence

Juan's picture

The Skype adapter's ring voltage generator can only drive one telephone's worth of load. It is incaple of driving the wiring in your house with multiple phones connected. The writer of the article obviously
has never actually built this. It works but only if all your phones are wireless. I have been running my phone system this way for a over a year.

Skypemate on Slack

Harry's picture

I've had more time to play with SkypeMate. I give up on getting it to work under Slackware 10.2. I ended up using strace to figure out what was going on. To make a long story short, SkypeMate is written for Fedora Core 3. Additional packages will need to be installed and/or upgraded for SkypeMate to work under Slackware 10.2. Example: dbus needs to be installed, gcc needs to be upgraded to 3.4, extra unused mixer devices need to be removed (/dev/mixer3), etc.

At this point, I've pretty much given up on Skype and SkypeMate. Now on to Asterisk.


SkypeMate on Ubuntu LInux

Lonetree's picture

so much of comments and discussion on RH, slackware etc. why isn't anyone taling about ubuntu? I have tried this on ubuntu but it seems that it didn't work at all, anyone of you has done this before?



repetty's picture

With Fedora Core being so closely related to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, has anyone tried this with RHEL or CentOS?

Skype for Fedora3 installs and launches on CentOS4 without error. I've downloaded the SkypeMate software, also for Fedora3, but it insists on have the Skype-to-Phone adapter in place before proceding with the install.


Reliability of Phone vs Cable connection

Anonymous's picture

While I have had both Cable and phone I have found that the cable can go out for days on end but the phone will only be out for a few hours (longer if the wires are down). Anyone going this way should be prepared for the possibility of no phone or internet for days on end.

Where and when do you live?

Anonymous's picture

I haven't had my cable internet go "out" for like 4 years.... I do live in a big city, but still....

Cable Can go away for toronto big city.

Anonymous's picture

Hello ,

I just remeber in last month, It went out for 10 hour cable connection.