Skype for Linux: Where's the R-E-S-P-E-C-T?

We Linux folk are the reliable early adopters of innovative applications like Skype who have done a disproportionate amount of work to make it popular. The gift horse we've gotten in return is a usable but much less feature-rich version that is years behind the other platforms. We're missing key features like sending SMS (argghhh!!!), video snapshots, the ability to import contacts from Yahoo and Gmail, a better UI and much more.

Now Skype 4.0 beta is available but only on Windows. Version 4.0 offers many new innovations, such as a much improved GUI (the Linux version will feel even more archaic), easier-to-use video calls, money sending, Skypecasts and more.

I contacted Skype what their plans are for Linux. Here is Skype's reponse:

Skype's Mac & Linux teams are both working closely with the Windows team and are monitoring feedback on this Beta release along with them.

Skype will take what is learned from this Beta release (which is not about new features, but is about a new user interface) and incorporate it into future product releases for other platforms.

I hope this helps shed some insight into Skype's product development process.

In response I put in a query to find out when the Linux and Mac versions will be available, but to be honest, I am not optimistic, given Skype's history. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the fact that Skype has a Linux version. I just think that after all of the support our community has given to Skype, that we deserve the most current and feature rich version.

Now only if every Linux user Skyped the company at the same time... ;)


James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Older versions of Skype for Linux

dudster's picture

I am having trouble with Skype 2.1 beta... Will not run on Open Suse 11.3. Does anyone have an older rpm handy?

I am angry with Skype team

Aaqil Mahmood's picture

I also want skype 3 or 4 for linux :(

i am bored with 2.

skpe for linux

turgut's picture

I think the only person that was working on Skype for Linux has graduated, and left for better things.

How else do you explain that there is a lag of several years between its windows counterpart and linux?

Many ways

Mark W's picture

I like others find it just plain rude that Skype behave the way they do, using the linux comunity when it suits them and not giving back when it doesnt.

But it seems to me that we should be clear on this - we do not control them, but we do have choices about what we do.

I think its time that an environment for running the windows executable Skype on linux was developed. A good start could be the Skype video phone which uses linux under the hood, and which is allegedly open source.

To be honest, I dont feel bound by unreasonable terms of service, and I feel that a closed protocol is unreasonable in this day and age. Yes for hardware phone telephone systems ther is and was no choice, but things are different now with softphones, and I for one demand that choice.

Look what happens then, no worries about skype scanning your machine, a chroot environment comes for free! Then we could make things like a Skype interface to other VOIP protocols. By using windows dlls and libraries it could be possible even to offer alternative clients.

In fact I think the reason that Skype are so strange about Linux is because they are worried that a linux client would facilitate this. But I think it will happen anyway, they will not suceed in keeping their monopoly.

my linux skype issues

Anonymous's picture

skype install was VERY HARD for both my eeeBuntu eee-pc, and Unubtu intrepid x64.

I went through many audio drivers and hacking on the eee-pc, and the audio performance
is still choppy (buffer underruns?). I at least hope that the appliance Xandros
skype install somehow works better.... it better be clean on the eee-pc based videophone product!

I had a lot of trouble with a lot of sites giving instructions for a 64-bit install.
the medibuntu package eventually installed and ran, but no sound support.
I went back and installed every alsa/oss package I could find, then it started working.

But the old GUI is problematic. My windows contacts all have the "conversations" tab on the gui,
and easy access to sporatic text messages. not so on LINUX.

Yes, 32-bit will run on 64-bit linux, but even for a professional software developer
like me, the install can be very challenging. A native 64-bit install will be much easier.
Perhaps even documentation stating, in prose, what drivers we will need would be nice...
not just hacking. assuming that skype has a package for our distro is a bad idea.
Give us the prose we need to just install Skype executables, and figure out what else
needs to be present to run on our distro.
Then the community will provide packages, instead of Skype only providing the product
as LINUX packages themselves. a win-win in my opinion.
Just tell us skype requirements, and distribution maintainers will create the .deb's, .rpm's...

This pattern is used by many popular LINUX packages.

I need a better skype for

thatyskie's picture

I need a better skype for Linux OPENSUSE 11.0.
Now i have the 2.0 version, but i need ba better! When comes the 4.0 version for linux? I need it now!

Improve on voice and video features

Anonymous's picture

All i want in a skype 3.0 for linux is improvment with the voice and video. The UI could use some touching up but I like it small and simple. No need for an over bloated app like the 4.0 on M$. Hopefully the skype guys read some of this. I doubt it but whatever.........

I run Skype on my Ubuntu box

Kabatology's picture

I run Skype on my Ubuntu box and a find it very necessary. I was pissed off by the fact that sending sms was not possible including other rich features that the windows version has, but i got a solution to sending sms with Skype 2 for Linux -> They really don't have respect for Linux users. Skype-Windows is on version 4, Skype-Linux on version 2

community developed skype

Rodrigo Salinas's picture

What about a community developed version of skype? Couldn't we as a community develop a nicer gui or even a better version of the skype client, it could be a carbon copy of the windows version, or it could be our own improved version. There could be more than 1 version, just like messenger clients, there are now a tonne of clients for messenger out there.BTW the client for the wengo out there is preeety nice, could someone port it to skype?

I disagree with the article

Anonymous's picture

I'm very glad that the linux version lacks some features of the windows version. Why? Because they're unnecessary and bloated. Sending money? What the hell? Few people ever need that and it has nothing to do with IM or VOIP whatsoever, so thanks for not putting this in the linux version. Same for those stupid games and other useless crap that you can install. The linux GUI is *much* cleaner and easier to use than the windows version, so in my opinion the linux version is not behind, it's *ahead*!

Skype is a corporation like

minhaaj's picture

Skype is a corporation like all others. It is bound to hunt money like other greed mongers. Don't be shocked about that. We are here to stay though. Linux IS the future. These cheap tricks won't help already dwindling windows.

no 64 bit support

Anonymous's picture

I haven't run a 32 bit Linux on a PC in years.
Skype has never released a 64 bit Linux version.
I use Skype much less these days....

Not a problem

Anonymous's picture

The 32-bit version runs on 64-bit linux just fine. So what? Admittedly, it might be less performant this way, but it works.

There's also 64bit version

MeanEYE's picture

There's also 64bit version of skype for linux... I lost the link but with some digging am sure you'll be able to find it...

improved GUI?

Daniel Kvasnicka jr.'s picture

Improved GUI? I sincerely _hope_ this new 4.0 UI will _never_ make it to the Linux version. I love the way they keep the Linux version UI simple and more minimalistic. Yeah, I'd like to see more coherence in terms of feature sets, but that can be done without making Skype's UI a christmas tree...

what about GIZMO?

Anonymous's picture

as I know, Gizmo is using SIP, what it is(?) an open standard ( By the way, Gizmo is supported for several distros, and even for my N800, and (I need to try it) seems to support the camera also. I have found interesting that you can have all your IM accounts setup into Gizmo, and of course the same functionality that Skype offers: PC to phone calls, conferencing, local phone numbers even in my country(!)and free Gizmo to Gizmo talk.
But, and here is the point, it is not free software. As the public phone network is not free either, so what we need to do is to show companies the address we are intended to take in the medium-long term: I have quited my skype account and I am now inviting all my friends to use Gizmo. Then we will show how we expect things to work, but I agree that is not a good choice to just isolate yourself and not use anything that is not free. I believe in a free world, and I think this is a way to get there. Opinions?


When will someone reverse-engineer it?

Epicanis's picture

Or alternatively, put enough pressure on skype to open up a SIP or IAX gateway, much as AOL is rumored to be adding an XMPP gateway to AIM.

Friends dont let friends use proprietary closed protocols

Jean-Marc Liotier's picture

Skype is not Free Software : you cannot change it, examine it for errors and security holes, or use it except with their permission and on their terms. You can’t trust your communications to Skype, even if it is convenient and popular.

Skype's protocol is only used by Skype, not published and not implemented by anyone else. You cannot make it interact with anything but the Skype client. You cannot combine it with anything else to make it more valuable. You cannot have a client more suitable for your needs as the official Skype client is the only one allowed.

With hundred of implementations of SIP, IAX and other open protocols; and with E164 and others to identify users, I cannot understand why anyone would use Skype.

Who in their right minds would use a proprietary and closed network ? Just say no ! We, as consumers, are aware of the benefits of an open standards based networks. We have a duty to make the right choices and explain them to the people around us. That begins with telling our contacts that we are not available on AIM, Yahoo, MSN, Skype & co. Interoperability is not enough - only standards and open networks will do !

I know I sound like a an extremist zealot. But this is an important battle. What we have today exists only because TCP/IP, SMTP and other standards prevailed and made the open Internet. The next generation of services depends on an IM system. It may be XMPP, it may be SIP based IMS infrastructures - whatever. But please don't let it be a bunch of closed systems such as Skype.

Market inertia

Anonymous's picture

As I recall, they were the first to offer a truly free (as in no additional cost over your ISP connection) voice on internet service. And, it's just a free download - no special hardware to buy. As such, they have huge market inertia. One person I know said to me "My business contacts use it, so I have to, as well. And I don't want to use anything else."

you're not well informed

freechelmi's picture

We used open sourced VOIP apps long before skype came. It's silly to think skype saved the world of VOIP. for me they kinda ruin it. Let's hope VOIP apps will become as standard as email apps in a few years .

Unfortunately lots of people

Anonymous's picture

Unfortunately lots of people do not think that far. They just want what is convenient in the short term. It's now up to the community to create a reasonable free and open alternative to compete.

Tin Foil Time

Yonah's picture

You should not a cellphone or telephone, ever. It's not open source, you aren't allowed to go down to your local PBX and check for security holes, and you can't use it as you wish without abiding by the terms of your local phone or cellular provider. You can't trust your communications provider, even if it's convenient and popular.

Don't want to use Skype, AIM, MSN, or any other service/protocol not defecated out by the FOSS community? Then don't. Sit down, shut up, and go away. The ironic part is that there isn't anyone that would really want to talk to you anyway. You aren't a zealot, you're a paranoid fool.

Right ...

Andrew P.'s picture

... as J. Edgar Hoover, former director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (1935-1972) reportedly said, "If you don't want it known, don't use the phone."


Artem S. Tashkinov's picture

Cannot agree more.

Sometimes I just wish all open source zealots to shut up because it's nothing wrong that [high] quality proprietary software exists.

Nothing wrong with proprietary software ?

Jean-Marc Liotier's picture

Indeed there is nothing wrong with proprietary software - provided that it is interoperable so that other choices may exist. Skype is not interoperable with anything. Do you want to talk to whoever you want regardless of what software your correspondent chooses ? Or do you want to talk only to people who run the same software as you ?

When you have choice, choose.

Jean-Marc Liotier's picture

Indeed the PSTN is far from ideal. As you say, the PSTN cannot be trusted and I refrain from discussing sensitive matters over it. We have tolerated it so far because there were not many attractive alternatives. But they are increasingly credible : IMS infrastructure is the carrier's current move into "everything over IP" - and consumers are moving in the same direction albeit in a more decentralized way whenever they can. The general public will soon understand (with help from eager service providers of course) that voice is just another service that runs on top of an Internet connection. And understanding is the first step toward freedom.

And I am not going to "sit down, shut up, and go away" : you may value freedom less than I do and you may hate my preach but that will not stop me from showing my friends the way, even if they only begin to understand how large the stakes are.

If you think I am paranoid, then think about the world of disconnected walled gardens that might well have been - the world of iMode, Minitel, AOL, interactive TV & co that the corporate world of the eighties was presenting as the future. In fact, if Internet pioneers had the same naive feelings as you, you would not even be able to comment on this article because it would not exist. Think about it.

Paranoid fool?

Anonymous's picture

Or could it be that he/she is one of many Linux users growing tired of being exploited by greedy, parasitic corporations who don't return anything back to the community except leavings and other trash. FOSS involves contributing and sharing. Skype is one of several products who glad-handed the Linux community until their product was golden and then told them to take a hike. So Microsoftian of them.

better paranoid than naive,

Anonymous's picture

better paranoid than naive, I think :)

I do not like an idea, that

Anonymous's picture

I do not like an idea, that an application based on a closed protocol could contain some sort of backdoors, which would allow third-party "wire tapping". I am a strong supporter of open protocols with strong encryption, as I see that people has their right to have a privacy, although some governments feel that people must give up their privacy for the common good, as they would state it nicely.

Also, I don't like that Skype doesn't provide a working API that would allow it to be integrated with other messenger applications.

This closed protocol-approach prevents also implementing Skype for other systems eg. embedded platforms.

Best Reply Ever.

Anonymous's picture

Best Reply Ever.

They don't have alot of

Anonymous's picture

They don't have alot of linux users since we
hear reports of skype scanning the user's machine.
In windows, hey, who cares, but in linux skype is
not a good citizen. chroot jail for skype is a big,
but hard to fathom need. Once that is fixed then
maybe we'll think about installing it, and then maybe
we'll bug skype for a newer version.

Even Linux users have to

Anonymous's picture

Even Linux users have to talk to regular human beings and my mom doesn't know what a router is. She doesn't know if her computer is NAT'ed and what port redirection is. On the other hand she can double-click setup.exe, then do next, next, next, finish. I can even walk her through creating a user profile and logging in.

Same thing applies to my sis-in-law or my bro. We all live one continent apart one from another.

Try setting up the same people with a SIP phone. You'll have a hard time having a voice only conversation and forget about having them configure video.

OpenWengo came too late. There's no way any of my Skype contacts will switch to something else because they now have their own contact lists and they don't see any benefit in switching to Wengo (or other). Skype works and they know how to use it.

I agree with the fact that Skype for Linux is way behind its Windows or Mac counterparts and I did feel the frustration and growing anger when waiting for the Linux version to support video conversations. That's why while waiting for the Linux version to catch up I learned to use Asterisk.

Now that I have my own Asterisk box I don't use SkypeOut anymore, but I am stuck with Skype for video conferencing, because that's what everybody I know uses too.

Not true

Cappy's picture

Skype only scans firefox's config for its proxy settings. Stop spreading old FUD that's not true.


Anonymous's picture

not sure what you talking about

been running it on my ubuntu 8.04 for 4 months now

And I don't run it because

Anonymous's picture

And I don't run it because it is proprietary software. Empathy with it's voice calls to Jabber (and Gtalk) users does it's job quite well. Soon Kopete should also support voice calls.

John Thomas

John DoGoode's picture

Linux totally ROCKS. Wish I would have made the switch years ago!