Ubuntu 12.04: Skype

Skype is a communication essential for my system because I have co-workers who use it.  There are plenty of alternatives to Skype, but none of them interact with other Skypers.

Although there are no desktop alternatives, there is one online tool that you can use — http://imo.im. It is a great alternative, but it is not integrated with your desktop.

Currently, Skype works for the most part.  I have trouble with it crashing periodically.  The crashes seem to coincide with changing networks.  For example, if I connect and disconnect from a VPN, I find I am offline even though the icon is green.  I am not sure if I just notice it then or if the connection change triggers it.  The worst part is that I can’t tell that it has crashed until I try to Skype someone and it says it can’t send the message.

So, here’s what I went through to install Skype…

I downloaded Skype from their website:

http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/on-your-computer/linux/

Since I have a 64-bit installation, I chose to install the Ubuntu 10.4+ 64-bit version.  Make sure that you choose the one that matches your operating system.

Restoring Skype

I restored the ~/.Skype directory from my backup to preserve my Skype history.

Notification Icon

By default, Skype will not show by the clock, and you may not be able to open it while it is running.  You can turn that on with this command in a terminal window:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist "$(gsettings get com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist | sed -e "s/]$/, 'Skype']/")"

Note: If you have already started Skype at this point, you can run “unity –replace &” to make the change take affect.

Testing for Sound

To make sure your calling works, call the echo123 user.  It will give you a chance to speak for a few seconds.  Then, it will play what you said back to make sure that both your speakers and microphone are working.

Skype Wrapper

I used OMG Ubuntu’s post as a resource to install the Skype Wrapper.  I used the command-line to add the repository and install the wrapper:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:skype-wrapper/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install skype-wrapper python-skype

Starting on Boot

Now, I want Skype to start automatically on bootup.  That way, I don’t have to worry about forgetting to start it and being unreachable.

Open the Startup Applications Preferences program (Unfortunately, it’s not in the Gnome Control Center):

Next, click the Add button and enter the details.  The important part is entering “skype” for the command.

Now, you should have it in your list:

Actually, I noticed that with Unity, that my Skype notification icon would not show.  If I were to kill and restart Skype it would not work.  So, I decided to write a little script that will give other things a chance to boot, and then, start both Skype and the wrapper.


#!/bin/sh

sleep 15s
skype &
sleep 5s
skype-wrapper &

You need to make sure that the script is executable:

Then, I changed my Startup Application to that new script.

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