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!

One irritating feature of Skype is that it must be running on a computer for you to make and receive calls. That is, when your computer is off, Skype doesn't work. Moreover, when you run Skype on the computer you use day in and day out, Skype's performance (call quality, reliability and so forth) can suffer if you are doing other things that deprive it of the runtime resources it needs.

My solution was to build a Skype server that provides 24/7 phone service with the minimum of hassle and fuss. By dumping your regular phone company and taking back control of your home phone wiring using a Skype server, you will have not only a phone system with nearly the same capabilities as before—indeed, in some ways better—you will also save a bundle of money! In my case, I save a little less than $700 US each year (this year, next year, and the year after that, and so on), or about 82% off of my old phone bill.

Using a Skype server plugged in to the existing copper phone wiring of your home means that you can lift a receiver anywhere in your home, at any time, and get a regular dial tone. Incoming calls either from Skype users or regular phones ring all handsets throughout your home. Basically, you can make Skype behave like a regular phone line, but at a tiny fraction of the cost.

You have three choices when building a Skype server: buy a new computer, build a new computer or convert an old machine you have conveniently at hand. This article shows you how to build a new computer from scratch to act as a Skype server. However, whichever path you take, the configuration is the same and is covered in this article.

Skype is not an all-or-nothing proposition, as you can mix and match Skype with your existing phone system, and run the new alongside the old in parallel. That way you have the comfort of having a regular land line and, at the same time, reap the benefits of Skype, such as free Skype-to-Skype calls, and long-distance and international calls at very low rates. This is the approach this article takes, and the configuration you should be aiming for should look something like that in Figure 1. Keeping one of your regular phone lines neatly sidesteps issues such as 911, 411, regular fax and alarm system monitoring (make sure the regular phone line you keep is the one used by your home alarm).

The setup shown in Figure 1 also simplifies the configuration of your Skype server a good deal. Indeed, making multiple instances of Skype run under Linux to support multiple phone lines is another article in itself!

Figure 1. Using a Skype Server to Replace an Existing Regular Phone Line

Build a Skype Server

Whether you buy, build new or piece together a Skype server from computer parts you have at hand, you must first make sure that what you end up with will meet Skype's minimum software and hardware requirements, which are:

  • Fedora Core 3 (Skype also supports SUSE 9, Mandriva 10.1 and Debian 3 or newer. However, Linux support for Skype add-on hardware is presently extremely limited. In the case of the SkypeMate software used in this article, it is limited to Fedora Core 3 only).

  • 400MHz processor.

  • 128MB of RAM.

  • 10MB of disk space

  • OSS-compatible sound device (or ALSA with OSS-compatibility layer enabled).

  • Broadband Internet connection.

Pay particular attention to the fact that these are minimum hardware requirements for a single phone line. If you scale these requirements in proportion to the number of phone lines you want your Skype server to support in the long run, you won't go far wrong. You might even want to build in some margin for future expansion. Skype is advancing at a phenomenal rate, with each new release bringing new features and improvements to existing features. All of this new functionality must surely come at the cost of increased hardware resources.

For my Skype server, I decided to build a new machine that would be small, both in terms of its physical size and its power consumption (as it runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year). The specification, and cost, of my Skype server is shown in Table 1. Remember, a Skype server needs no mouse, keyboard, monitor, CD-ROM or floppy drive—other than at the time of its configuration.

Table 1. Typical Cost of Building a New Skype Server from Scratch

ComponentCost (US)
IN-WIN BT610P.180BFU2 Black steel MicroATX computer case, 180W power supply$39.99
BIOSTAR M7VIG400 MicroATX motherboard with AMD Duron 800 mobile CPU $69.00
OCZ value series 512MB (2 x 256MB) 184-pin unbuffered PC 2700 DDR SDRAM $43.75
10GB Hard disk drive (used—salvaged from an old system)Free
Skype-to-Phone USB adapter (Figure 2)$43.90
Linux operating systemFree
Total cost$196.64

Figure 2. A Typical USB Skype-to-Phone Adapter

Building your Skype server requires that you assemble it from the parts. I won't cover the nitty-gritty details as there are plenty of on-line resources to help you in this task; for example, there's a step-by-step guide to building your own PC at PCMechanic.



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Franchise Directory's picture

This is great information! It's not just helpful for a home phone setup, but also a small business!

About Skype Server

Mobile Broadband's picture

Thanks for your detailed tutorial about how to build skype server for home phone system. This helps to save our lot of money. Thanks for your idea. Very useful to go through.
3g mobile broadband

can't get my handsets to ring

Allen's picture

Have skype and skypemate running on XP with Skype to phone adapter. Can't get the adapter to make my handsets ring. I'm having to set the ringer to the laptop speakers. How can I fix this?

Ringer solution

sciman's picture

What they don't tell you is that the Skypemate can only ring the low voltage "electronic" pizo ringers like those found on cheap phones. The box cannot output the high voltage MaBell ringing voltage needed for "real" magnetic coil bell phones like the phone company uses. One workaround solution I have found is to buy an external electronic ringing box like those sold on ebay for about $5. They are so loud you can hear it all through the house.

Everywhere people setting up

Anonymous'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? indonesia directory

Video Converter For Mac

Anonymous's picture

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Got to be kidding me.

Anonymous to Anonymous's picture

Sense your obviously deranged saying that most people travel with a MAC laptop. Sense there are 20 PC based laptops to every MAC laptop your data is wrong. I'm not sticking MAC because i own one two as well for my web design company. But business class systems well never bow down to MAC. and MAC will not relinquish its byte on being to centralized and none upgradeable. So in the future get your facts straight before you babel your mouth about something you obviously have no clue about.

SINCE you obviously are

Anonymous's picture

SINCE you obviously are deranged and do know how to spell, do not knock other people if you have the same fault. Many people have have Macs, and you said you even had one TOO. So in the future, before you babel your mouth about things, make sure you at least can spell correctly.


certifiablygeek's picture

"have have"?

dump skype for other good VOIP

Anonymous's picture

There are many VOIP providers. They offer very competetive VOIP services, eg nynetfone. I hate to use PC for call-in or call-out. Simple solution, dump skype, for other better VOIP

automatically starting skype

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for this post Andrew. I decided I too would try to take charge of my landline overcharges, and why not do it with Linux. I have never used Linux, but I am trying anyway. I made pretty good headway except that I can't figure out how to get skype to start automatically when the computer starts. I set up Linux to log in automatically. That was easy (this Linux stuff is awesomely easy compared to Windows!). The issue I have is with skype. In step # 5 it reads:

"Make sure Skype starts automatically at login (select Skype→Tools→Options→Privacy, and then check the box opposite Remember my password). "

The problem is there is no such option to remember my password in the skype (Beta) version I downloaded. I am sure you can see the issue this raises should the computer ever need to restart (such as after a power outage). If skype does not start automatically, my phone will not either. Do you have any suggestions around this conundrum?

Thanks again for this article.

Dr. Dave

Canadian users can also use

Anonymous's picture

Canadian users can also use You get a free VOIP line with a Canadian DID and a $50 one-time fee will buy you SIP credentials for your account! I love it!

siptosis skype bridge

skypeman's picture

If you have an ATA or Asterisk setup, you can connect to Skype using a skype bridge like siptosis.

skype-to-USB adapter?

Linux Tutorial's picture

What make and model of the Skype-to-USB adapter are you using here? I have a skype account and have been just using the skype program on Linux. I want to purchase a USB adapter so I can connect regular phones to my Skype account, but I don't know which ones are supported in Linux? I found a a few of them on and such, but not sure which ones to use, as I don't know which ones are supported in Linux. Thanks!!

Server for skype

smenp3's picture

How to do if I have in my home the same line for Ethernet and for phone ?

Alternative Solution

Anonymous's picture

Vasuntu is a VOIP PBX. It offers connectivity to the PSTN and internet world. It also has a Skype channel. Vasuntu is acronym for Voiceone, Asterisk and Skype on Ubuntu.

More details ->

IS this VIOP Pusher a Salesman or what?

Anonymous's picture

As I try to follow a thread here on this site every other reply seems to be about paying for VOIP service. It is growing old. Please you may prefer VOIP but this site isn't for your preferences it's for those trying to install Skype and going with Skype as an alternate landline service while keeping a landline for emergency calls. Please Stay off here. You aren't going to switch people who are already working on this or chose Skype over VOIP. Or worse like some of us tried VOIP and didn't enjoy the experience at all.


Ondeugd's picture

But there is simply not enough current there to cause a fire, electrocute you, or do anything really bad....

Ah, those good old memories!

Ever licked a 1.5 volts battery to see if it had some juice left?
...when I was younger so much younger than today...

After all those years I can still taste the 100+ volts pushing the current through my tongue while stripping the insulation from the live wires with my teeth when the phone rang... :-)

What is the Point of this POST? How to be Stupid !!!!

Anonymous's picture

Hey in 1968 my father died in Billings Montana when he took far more than the line he was trying to recover in voltage. There had been a storm to take the power out and he'd sent a novice out to turn off the juice to the line. However said novice didn't know what he was doing and later my dad died. They figured the line had built up not 10 times more juice but mega times that and so your "When I was younger so much younger than today" song I heard the same story at the time from other men who had worked with my Dad and did same job as him saying hey they all had taken a volt now and again as a choice to get the job done. Don't ever and I mean ever be so stupid. You don't know what is on that line including a phone line during a storm or perhaps even some thing that's gone wrong and back juice has built up. And lucky for you to remember Dad doesn't have that luxury. I've been shocked on several occasions over the years and it's a wake up call every time to get something fixed before it happens again. What was your point by the way in even making this post....?

I've been working with phone

Anonymous's picture

I've been working with phone wiring for quite some time now, and just want to point out one tiny misconception. You say, "Your phone wires are powered by the telephone company; that's why your regular telephone works during a power cut. Now, even if you've had the phone company disconnect you, your phone wires may or may not still have electrical power." That is true, nowadays the phone company often does a "soft disconnect" which actually leaves power on the line (and, in some cases, even dial tone BUT you are limited to calling 911 and the telephone company business office).

But then you add, "Consequently, you must be careful not to short the wires when cutting them. Even a momentary short can be bad news. This can happen if you cut two or more wires at the same time (step 1)." For 99.9% of users, that's nonsense. The current is limited by the phone company and you can directly short out the line for hours on end without harm. The phone company computer might notice and take you offline, but will recheck at regular intervals, so once you clear the short you'll usually get dial tone back within a few minutes. But there is simply not enough current there to cause a fire, electrocute you, or do anything really bad.

There are a couple of exceptions to that. If you are served by a rural (non-Bell or former GTE) company and you live in a rural area, there is a small chance that you might encounter subscriber carrier equipment that puts a higher than normal voltage on the line (or, conversely, a much lower than normal voltage). And if the line happens to ring while you are cutting into it, you could get a momentary poke. But in my entire lifetime I've never heard of a single person getting electrocuted by touching a telephone line, and the only times I've heard of phone line involvement in fires is in the rare case where a phone cable and a high voltage electrical cable come in contact outside your home (which will probably fry your telephones first).

So then you add, "The solution is simple, cut only one wire at a time (step 2). As you cut wires, you should insulate their exposed ends with electrical tape (step 3)." Well, if you are going to assume that you might be unlucky enough to be cutting into a wire during a ringing cycle (which should not happen anyway if the number's been disconnected), then what you want to guard against is electrical shock, not shorting the line. In fact, shorting the line would be a good thing because it would cause the ringing to stop! The better advice would be to use cutters with insulated handles, or wear a rubber or plastic glove while cutting the wires. And note that even if you do get shocked, it will probably only cause an involuntary arm movement that might cause some physical injury (if your arm hits something sharp, for example) but you'd have to be about the unluckiest person alive for it to trigger any type of lethal event.

I only mention this because there is enough bad information about telephone wiring on various web pages. Phone wiring is more similar to doorbell wiring than it is to home electrical wiring, in terms of the voltages and current involved. Yes, ringing voltage does average 90 volts but even then the current is limited, however if you want to avoid that then cutting one wire at a time is actually worse than cutting the whole cable at once, unless you are taking care to also insulate your body from the individual wires.

Oh, and one other hint: Dipping the end of the cut wire in a tube of silicone sealant and then letting it dry works better than trying to wrap electrical tape around such small wires.

Re: .

video converter for mac's picture

Anyone going this way should be prepared for the possibility of no phone or internet for days on end.

what about a server running

Anonymous's picture

what about a server running magic jack

Magicjack is absolute crap. And they're evil too....

Anonymous's picture

I bought a magic jack thinking, 'How bad could it be?' well not only does it not work half the time, if you check the EULA you'll be shocked. You agree to give up all of your information, to have your web surfing tracked, to have any software be installed without further knowledge, etc. And that is only part of it. There is no customer service. You can't call or get help of any kind.

Do yourself a favor and get rid of magicjack. Hopefully it will die in a fire...

I love my magicJack

Anonymous's picture

I had no trouble with customer service and the call quality is excellent. At first it was a bit flakey but after running through some set-up tweaks with the customer service it has worked flawlessly ever since.

Try the online chat to get a customer service rep quickly on your case. It may take 10 minutes or so to run through all the tinkering but it's worth it and you will realize the full value of your magicJack investment.

I have a suspicion that most complaints about magicJack stem from not going through customer service for the 'extra' configuration or from lack of bandwidth, not sure that DSL will cut it. I have my internet via cable and can stream movies and make magicJack calls at the same time with no issues.

magic jack

Anonymous's picture

I tried magic jack and it's bad because:

1. When your computer is off you can't receive calls.
2. They didn't have a local phone number for my area. I'm in Rochester, NY, and the closest they had was Batavia, NY. That would be a long distance call to anyone calling me.
3. My boyfriend had magic jack and he couldn't use the computer and talk on the phone at the same time (not that he needed to do that very often).

Skypemate for Mac OS 10.4

tbljoe's picture

I'm not very computer savy, but want to use SKYPE on my home phone.
I wonder if any of you have had experience with the Skype-to-phone USB adapter. A popular one has "USB Telbox" on its top?
Will the Skypmate software work with it on an Apple computer: iMac G5, 2.1GHz, and 1.5GB RAM, running OS 10.4.11?

Looking for some encouragement or caution. Thank you.

Yes it will work on ur mac

Anonymous's picture

Yes it will work on ur mac

Now.. how about an additional mod?

Anonymous's picture

Anybody know how to convert it to a PBX type system? Then calls for my kid only ring on one of the handsets..... THAT would be sweet!


Anonymous's picture


adding Extention

Anonymous's picture

Hi Geegs
Can we built extension with this system, I built it and worked well, now I want to make a phone system out of it, with autoatend and voice mail with the Linux box, does any one know how to? is it possible?

An Asterisk server could

Holmes's picture

An Asterisk server could potentially do both at once and is comparitivley cheap, as it is openware.
You would fair better using a SIP provider as opposed to Skype, as Asterisk naitivley supports SIP trunking.
Visit for more info.

Couldn't agree with the vonage people more

Anonymous's picture

Seems to me, $15/mo plus free equip for vonage is the way to go. It's $180 per year for 500min a mo. But you get to port your existing number and have E911, web access to voicemail, etc. Paying $50 to $80 for SIP equipment, then Gizmo wants $99 a year for a phone number that's not ported and 1.9 c/min in the U.S. ($10/mo - $120/year), I don't really see any savings. Actually, I think Skype's a little cheaper, like $100+/year (depending on exchange rates which suck right now) for in/out and unlimited calling. I would rank Vonage highest - U.S. based, hopefully will be around allthough lots of competition, good quality (had them before, now I have comcast triple play which sucks, I will be going back to vonage).


Anonymous's picture

I pay $60 a year for skype and paid $23 (with tax) for a skype to ptsn adapter box that plugs into an old machine I run skype's also a router/firewall and my mp3 server (for the house and all legitimately ripped off of cd's I bought, thankyou very much). That's a lot cheaper than anything Vonage offers. I'm working with software that sets me up as an SIP server bridged to skype's network so I can use any VOIP phone anywhere with internet access. A few more hoops to jump through than with a straight SIP, like Vonage, but cheaper for those of us who know what we're doing.

Agreed [NT]

Anonymous's picture


You don't necessarily have to cut phone lines

DS's picture

You don't have to cut the incoming phone wire. If you have a fairly common telephone connection box on the outside of your house (like this: ), just disconnet the one or two phone RJ11 connectors in the phone box. No cutting; separates your phone line (one or both) from the telco's phone lines; still works.

What else I learned from working with this page: You don't have to connect the Skype-to-Phone adapter at any particular phone jack; any jack will do. Also, on my particular model, the DLink DPH-50U, instead of plugging the phone cable into the Line jack on the DPH-50U, I had to plug it into the Phone jack. Now, all of my house's phone jacks are live for my Skype phone connection, and I can dial out via Skype from any phone.

Thanks for putting up this page! It really got me fixed up.


Anonymous's picture


I'm trying to use my DPH-50U but cannot install SkypeMate as it keeps requesting to "Please plug usb voip phone into your computer and try again.". The DPH-50U stays only in PSTN mode and found now way to move forward from this step.

How did you do to install the SkypeMate in your case?

Tks for your help,

What's the point?

CoreyJRoman's picture

Why would you want to go through all of this trouble just to serve pstn style phones in your home. Here is an easier method...

Take the skype usb to phone adapter and connect it to your computer. Out at your phone service box outside disconnect the main service plug rendering the lines completely free from voltage. Replace all standard phones in your home with cheap cordless phones(or good ones if you can afford) as they do not require line voltage to power themselves. Now on your usb to skype adapter connect one end of a phone extension cord into the adapter and the other into an empty phone wall socket and voila! All of the phone jacks in your house will be hot and ready to use(with a cordless phone). If you need a phone at the jack you connect your adapter to then simply cut the phone cord and wire it into the internals of the wall jack and you will have another usable jack there as well. I have 7 phones in my 2600 sq ft home and all of them have worked fine this way for over a year now. If your service is slowed by computer usage then perhaps your connection speed is too low or you need more memory, faster processor or a new computer.

Not Skype Server

Mike's picture

I would like to note here (politely) that this is not a Skype server. It is a Skype client allowing you to connect multiple phones.

While I really like your project, and I think it really is great, I think it's not a "Skype Server" as much as it is a "Skype sort-of-server-but-really-a-centralized-client"

I will explain a little, because I'm sure some will want to know why. I was looking to run an actual Skype server so I could create local skype accounts to interface Skype-based wireless phones to a local server, for interface with Asterisk/Trixbox for VoIP or even over existing PSTN. I have been looking for nice wireless phones (not USB phones) to use as cordless phones in my office, or on the road where I could access my office server through other wireless services. This would give me a nice little cell-phone sized wireless phone at many locations, which could connect back to the office, and dial out on our already-cheap VoIP providor (not Skype tho). I have noticed that Skype is still more expensive and has more user-intervention, so ... there's my thought.

Anyway, still, great project and very nice to see. ;)


I know this thread is old, but...

Jason's picture

Truth be told, it's's also a bridge between two very different types of networks. To the skype network, it is a client. To the PTSN network inside your house (yes, technically, it is a network) it is a server. It provides multiple users with remote access to a service it is running, which is the definition of a server. It does not matter that that service happens to access another server through client software in order to do so.

Great Work

Max's picture

This was a well though out project and something to be proud of I actually started building the same project using your post thanks.

just get vonage. its a lot

hacker not cracker's picture

just get vonage. its a lot more cheaper, reliable, and easier to install!

What's the point?

Max's picture

I totally fail to see the point of doing this with Skype. There are so many cheaper and more reliable options that would require much less work. Just get a little ATA and sign up for deep-discount SIP origination and termination. You'll get better results, use less equipment, have a less technologically fragile arrangement, and be able to switch vendors whenever you feel like it.

"Just get a little ATA and

Correiasim's picture

"Just get a little ATA and sign up for deep-discount SIP origination and termination. You'll get better results, use less equipment, have a less technologically fragile arrangement, and be able to switch vendors whenever you feel like it."

Which Deep-discount SIP would you recommend?

r u MAX from pal ?

ANDRO's picture

r u MAX from pal ?

Nice project - but an unlocked ATA + LES.NET is less hassle

Fred Snertz's picture

Nice project, and you should be proud (heck, I didn't know Skype for Linux was for real).

But you might be better off purchasing an unlocked SIP-based analog telephone adapter, then getting an account with one of the following:
- Gizmo (
- Les.Net
- Nufone.Net

Get an unlocked Sipura or Grandstream SIP ATA at

I'd have a hard time justifying the cost for hardware, maintenance and upkeep for a modest Linux server just to run Skype, especially when a wall-wart-powered ATA does the trick quite nicely. After all, many of us gave up on our full-bore Linux routers in favor of Linksys-style router/switch equipment long ago.

Plus, SIP is an open protocol. Skype is a proprietary/closed protocol AFAIK. Why not extend your "open" thinking to your telecom standards as well?

I've been very happy running my Sipura SPA-2000 with Gizmo and/or Les.Net for months now. I've got a "peer" (like SkypeOut) as well as a local DID (like SkypeIn), and it's CHEEEEEEEEEEEEAP!


Michele's picture

Tell me more about what you have the peer and DID for?

What I'm understanding is that you hook up the voip phone to your house phone jack. Correct? Or do you hook it up to your computer so you need the computer on?

Then you use or gizmo which is a cheaper version of vonage. Wouldn't you have everything you need then? Why do you need the peer/DID?

Fred Snertz

Michele's picture

Could you explain to me what you do with the unlocked SIP? I'm not sure how it works or what the application is to avoid the VOIP or Skype?


Dear Fred Snertz, I see the

david su's picture

Dear Fred Snertz,

I see the article "Build a Skype Server for Your Home Phone System" at and see your post "Nice project - but an unlocked ATA + LES.NET is less hassle" to suggest to use SIP-based ATA can do a better thing.

I'd like to make contact with you for your questions.

It is much appreciaed if you can reply to my email, so we can make a connection.

Thanks & regards,
David Su

for Canada also check out

Anonymous's picture

for Canada also check out Brama Telecom - this guys will also give you dirt cheap phone line with all the features included

I'm in Canada, eh?

CarlB's picture

I'm in Canada, eh? and agree that or another pay-as-you-go SIP provider is likely to be a far better alternative to Skype. It's not just a question of eBay's refusal to comply with existing standards; Skype charges far more than, and many others, they also don't offer any Canadian inbound numbers (DIDs).