Skype for Linux 2.0 – with Video support

Skype has released a new Beta version of it’s VoIP client for Linux. The new release comes with video support.

For the first time every Linux’ Skype client now features full video support. With this feature the Linux client catches up with the Windows and MacOS client. The most important features listed in the changelog are:

  • feature: Video.
  • video feature: Video Devices options dialog.
  • video feature: Video Accept/Decline dialog.
  • video feature: Full-screen video.

Binaries are already available for several distributions like Fedora and OpenSuse. Unfortunately there is no Fedora 8 package yet, but the Fedora 7 package might just work.

Since this is a Beta release there are still several bugs, and some of them might spoil the fun for several users:

  • Using uvc webcam driver with new Logitech cameras can cause a split video effect which does not recover until you restart video.
  • Using uvc webcam driver with ATi fglrx graphics card driver results in a memory leak and potential crash currently.
    gspca webcam driver can crash sometimes during webcam initialisation (which can also happen during the call).
  • Using a display driver with only a single Xv port means you can only see video in one direction currently.
  • Using a display driver with no Xv support will not work at all.
  • ATi fglrx driver versions before 8.42.3 may crash your X server and lock up video during the call.
  • ATi fglrx driver version 8.42.3 may crash your X server and lock up video at the beginning of the call.

The last two ones are in so far interesting that it means you shouldn’t try the new Skype with fglrx drivers of any version. Also, I’m not sure what the third point, “only a single Xv port” means and how many ports an average Linux system has. On the other hand, I do not even have a Web Cam currently so I don’t care just right now.
Still, with VideoOnSkype working I might buy one soon.

33 thoughts on “Skype for Linux 2.0 – with Video support”

  1. Wow, that will be the first time we have both video and audio in a im application 😀 That was something linux really lacked and i hope open source messengers implement it soon, since it’s already old news for every other platform.

  2. Yes and why please is there a kopete logo at all in a no kopete thread?
    aren’t allowed to use the skype logo? well, guess that’s one of the downsides using such software…

  3. @patcito: I’m aware of that. Thing is you cannot force your friends to use it, especially when they’re studying in other countries and their parents are too unfamiliar with computers to be willing to learn other programs except from what they know and shows their child’s face in it. Mainstream is a fact and it won’t change so easily, so all I’m saying is I’ll be happy to see audio support in kopete, since it already has video support. Then I will be use it full time and drop any proprietary ties, which I don’t really like but unfortunately there’s nothing realistic I can do.

  4. @patcito
    You are so right. Skype’s protocal is evil. I mean I can understand that even Linux-people want (or have) to use Skype and that they want the same features like Win and MAC but from my point Skype isn’t good at all. The thing that bugs me most: IT WORKS. That is actually the reason why so many people stick with it.
    I have installed Wengo soooo often just to convince my friends to Wengo instead of Skype but man this program is pain in the ass. Hardly runs an installation out of the box. And as long as Wengo has these problems they will not be able to comped with Skype.
    Ekiga is defiantly the best SIP-Clients I know on this planet. But how I see it, it can’t be compared with Skype or Wengo. It is more focused on the Computer Land-Line communication. Version 3.0 (which I’m really looking forward to) may change this but we will see.

    So right know even if I can’t celebrate if a new Skype-Linux Version comes out I can still understand why these features are wanted from everyone.

  5. WishMaster: The planet software is broken for WordPress feeds. The bug is now and fixed, the planet administrators do know that, but they have to update their software. So don’t ask me.

    karsten: Because it’s my way to mark VoIP related topics. And it’s my right to use whatever I want. If you don’t like it, well, it’s your problem.

    patcito: That comment is nuts. Comparing a p2p VoIP application to SIP one is plain stupid. SIP cannot be an alternative to p2p. If you want to battle Skype, implement Jingle support. But unfortunately that never really happened.

    Baumranger: If Wengo 3.0 still sticks to SIP the fundamental problems cannot be solved. SIP is technically very limited as long as you are using IPv4 networks with a lot of NAT. It simply wasn’t designed for such situations, and you can only hack around that limit that much.

  6. @liquidat: first, who cares about p2p? do you think people care about that? plus p2p means giving free bandwidth to skype so they can make money on my back and wasting my bandwidth for skype, no thanks. Also, skype is not 100% p2p, login requires a central server and some big nodes are also required, why do you think it goes down sometimes?

    Second, SIP has been able to work with NAT for years now, that is not a problem it’s been fixed for a long time now (google for STUN and http proxy sip). Plus when all ports are blocked Wengo and others can use http 80 port (skype does the same).

    @others: By the way if you’re looking for a gread VOIP app I highly recommend twinkle.

  7. Used Skype on windows. Worked great.
    Switched to Linux. Worked.
    Tried ekiga. didn’t work.
    Tried wengo. didn’t work.

    Googling twinkle…
    not enough features.
    I do 5 way conference calls. twinkle can only do 3 way.

  8. @ethana2: for conferences I highly recommend freeswitch, it just rocks. I can invite and kick as many people as I want to my conferences and it works with SIP, H.323, IAX2 and GoogleTalk jingle.

  9. @patcito

    This software isn’t like Word/OO.o. I can use OO.o and interact with people using Word. I can’t use Wengo/Twingle/Ekiga and talk to people on Skype. So I use skype instead, because I can’t tell everyone to download something else just for me. As a bonus, skype works while I’ve never had any success with any of those other apps. I don’t care if it would be relatively easy to get them working with my firewall (probably just have to fiddle with port forwarding), it’s still harder than Skype, and I have no time to waste on that.

  10. patcito and Baumranger, besides the obvious “Skype is closed therefore it is evil”, is there anything else about Skype that is breeding such anger in the both of you?

    Skype are doing a lot to support Linux users, and whilst sometimes it may feel like you’re a bit behind, we’re working hard to make sure you have new and exciting stuff as often if not more often than Windows now.

    I can appreciate the ‘all closed stuff is evil’ mantra from the open-source community, but if there’s something else on your mind bothering you, then let’s chat and see if we can work it out.

    skype:andypoo?chat 🙂

    Skype Linux UI Developer

  11. Skype is the only client that works easily and most of the time in Linux. Though, I love Wengo, it takes weeks to even connect. Since Skype is supporting every platform (not much to linux as to windows), it can be accepted. Yes I m worried about it being closed source, but there are not good alternatives right now. Gizmo also supports Linux well.

    andypoo, give us more features as in Windows version.

  12. Just a note on the fglrx front — I’m currently developing on 8.42.3. I do get some occasional X crashes (which locks my video card in my laptop) until reboot at the beginning of the call. But this is occasional. It doesn’t happen every boot-up and seems to have something to do with how healthy the fglrx driver is in that boot-up.

    As it generally happens as the first video call in a boot up, or never in that X session.

    Similarly, I was using older fglrx without issues sometimes. The actual trigger could be different on different cards/systems, so I wouldn’t rule out fglrx as usable for this release.


  13. @Andypoo: The main problem with Skype is not that it’s closed, it’s just that their protocol is not open. So if you want to talk to skype you have to use skype and that sucks, it’s the same reason why I support XMPP. Skype forces people to use skype. I have no problem with gizmo even if it’s closed because I can talk with people that uses gizmo without using it.
    Thankfully, Skype is not going that well, ebay just said that it didn’t mean their target profit so. Plus here in France all the internet providers give a free SIP account to their subscribers so they can call for free and more and more people don’t even need skype anymore and people start installing SIP phones on their mobile (nokia has one included). So I guess Skype is going to get a slow and painful death and it will just be a bad memory in the history unless they go the SIP way 😀

    By the way, OpenWengo and Gizmo needs *zero* configuration behind a firewall, I don’t know where you read that FUD.

  14. @patcito:
    “first, who cares about p2p?2”

    That wasn’t a question about who cares for what but a question about technical designs of protocols. p2p based protocols like Skype’s or Jabber’s VoIP protocol are designed to work behind NAT. It can even work behind several NAT stations – SIP in the contrast was never designed for that.
    That isn’t influenced by the people who care about it.

    “Second, SIP has been able to work with NAT for years now, that is not a problem it’s been fixed for a long time now”

    That’s simply not true. SIP cannot work behind an NAT. But you can use additional services (and in fact, most clients use them) to try to work around that problem. But that only works for a surprisingly small group of users.
    You mentioned STUN yourself and I would like you to actually read what you are advertising:

    It does not enable incoming TCP connections through NAT. It allows incoming UDP packets through NAT, but only through a subset of existing NAT types. In particular, STUN does not enable incoming UDP packets through symmetric NATs (defined below), which are common in large enterprises. […] STUN does not work when it is used to obtain an address to communicate with a peer which happens to be behind the same NAT. STUN does not work when the STUN server is not in a common shared address realm.

    So, to summarize: STUN only works when your NAT router is capable of STUN (and home/small office hardware most often has even a bad implementation of NAT, not to mention STUN support), when you try not to connect with another user behind the same NAT and when there is a STUN server that actually is capable of transporting all the data.

    So, again: SIP is nice, definitely. But it is designed for a specific purpose. And trying to battle Skype with SIP is the attempt to us SIP for something it was never meant to be used for!

    And, before you accuse someone of spreading FUD: get your facts right! Just because SIP worked for you doesn’t mean that it worked for all. And no, it doesn’t magically work for all with STUN just because you think so. SIP and STUN both have very clear limits, and for example the developers of Wengo know about them. You might want to ask them.

  15. Andypoo, I indeed have a couple of questions and suggestions, but as Skype name you wrote “andypoo?chat”, and I fail to find that one at Skype…

  16. @liquidat: funny how you only selected the STUN point, you forgot the http proxy and the use of the http 80 port. With those features, SIP phones can be used behind *any kind of NATs with no extra config*. Skype does use the http 80 port too when it doesn’t find any other. So yes, SIP works behind any NAT configurations and you’re spreading FUD about SIP. SIP is everywhere in the enterprise and telcos, that’s what companies are using when setting up a VoIP platform, not skype. If you think SIP is going away or needs to be replaced you’re really mistaken. And I’m not saying SIP works only for me, wengo and gizmo work for everybody and have been for years, get over it.

    By the way I very much doubt grandma uses double firewall NATs incompatible with STUN but that’s irrelevant anyway as SIP does work with NAT (do I need to repeat that again? 🙂 )

  17. patcito: I didn’t forgot the http proxies or the http protocol itself – because it has nothing to do with the problem I was focusing on: incoming calls.
    Also, I’m not spreading FUD against SIP – I use even RFC’s to make my statements clear, instead of you – I just write that SIP is limited by design. Enterprises use it, of course – because it it designed for such cases.

    But private homes with private, half broken hardware is something entirely else.

    And, btw., I never said that SIP will go away. I just state that it is not suited to battle Skype – because of the design.

    But if you’re convinced that SIP works always and totally fine, that’s ok. But you should at some point start collecting numbers or protocol information to back your statements. Everything else is just ranting and fan-boyism.

  18. SIP is not limited by design, I think you don’t really get what SIP is. SIP is just an initiation protocol, nothing less, nothing more and it was designed to be very simple and it is. As it is very simple, you can easily build on it and add tons of stuff to deal with NATs. Skype probably has the same thing, a protocol to initiate calls and then tons of stuff to work with NATs, the difference is that you’ll never see the details with Skype. And giving a link to an RFC is not a point.
    You say that Skype is for home while SIP not, hmm so you’re saying that people at home use super complicated NAT so they use Skype and Enterprises use zero NAT so they can use SIP? I think it’s the reverse, people at home use no NAT or super simple NAT that any SIP phone can handle.
    You don’t seem to get the http 80 port thing, so let me explain: if you can surf the web, that mean you’re using http 80 port and if your SIP phone can use that it means it will always work as long as you can browse the net. If you don’t believe me then do some google. And this works with incoming calls and outcoming calls.
    By the way, you’re the Skype fanboy, I’m not pro any client, I’m just against closed protocols that should be (and are mostly) a thing of the past.

  19. A SIP client I found quite good is X-Lite.
    Proprietary but worked for me on Linux and Windows, through NAT firewalls on both sides.

    My SIP provider ( even has a preconfigured version for Windows, so a “don’t care about anything if it works” Windows user can use it right away.

  20. @liquidat
    andy also wrote skype: before andypoo?chat, which means skype protocol link. Which is composed using more or less URI grammar. Therefore ?chat is just a clarification that you want to use chat, not call or profile viewer on this nick.
    skype name is then andypoo

  21. @berkus, thanks for pointing out, I figured that one out by myself as well, eventually 😉

    @Kevin on linux I can also recommend Ekiga, I had quite good experiences with it.

    “Skype probably has the same thing, a protocol to initiate calls and then tons of stuff to work with NATs”
    In case you are really interested to know how such things are working and what is known until today: Silver Needle in the Skype and Skype uncovered.
    “And giving a link to an RFC is not a point.”
    I disagree. It is a point. The point of scientific working. The point of showing that you actually read something about the topic, studied it and tried to understand technical basics.
    Btw., both links above, were posted here already over a year ago.

    “You say that […] Enterprises use zero NAT so they can use SIP?”
    I never said that – if you foist something like that again, I will delete the post, understood?

    Enterprise means Enterprise. That means Cisco Routers for several tenth of network connections at the same time. It means Gigabyte connections and several hundreds and thousands of clients. That means a staff of well paid IT professionals.
    Of course they use NAT – but they have reliable machines and people who actually know how to configure them for for example different protocols, etc. And, most important: they have machines where they can install Application Layer Gateways for SIP!
    Most people don’t have that at home I think.

    “SIP is not limited by design, I think you don’t really get what SIP is.”
    Ah, a good one: in contrast to you I do know that SIP uses RTP, and that RTP uses UDP – and that most NATs can’t associate such dynamical opened UDP ports to initialisation calls.
    More about the UDP problem in the next part.

    “If you don’t believe me then do some google. And this works with incoming calls and outcoming calls.”
    The last sentence is the bullshit part: incoming calls cannot work over port 80 (or any other) on a NAT. In fact, in case you are behind an NAT you have to keep the connection through the firewall open by sending single UDP packages in regular intervals (see for example UDP hole punching). Many SIP clients do that, btw.. As far as the Skype protocol is understood it seems that Skype uses that technique as well sometimes, but also uses other ways in case the punching doesn’t work.

    “By the way, you’re the Skype fanboy,”
    Interesting. Were did I ever state that? In fact, if you start to actually read what I write you might be surprised. Search the blog for Jingle.

    Anyway, since both of us think that the other one has as little technical understanding of the topic as a rotten nut we could resolve the problem easily in another way:
    Make a poll somewhere and ask the users in which case they had more problems setting it up and making a successful call: SIP based systems or Skype?

  22. @patcito: It seems as if you only have a very basic understand of networking and how it works.
    When you select to use port 80 in some apps that means it’s for outgoing traffic only.
    If you’re behind a NAT and all the ports are closed unless you forward them to your machine. Don’t mix up incoming and outgoing connections and please do read some RFC’s, Liquidat even gave you the links.

    Skype is just easier to configure (or u don’t have to configure it at all) and has a wide userbase. If you just want to do voice calls there are alternatives, heck, I still use Teamspeak for that and not just while I am gaming but the Skype video support makes me use Skype again.

  23. Pacito seems to be a anti skype extremist…goes off topic to take some cheap shots at people etc…i would just let the frog eating bastard talk to himself and hopefully he would finally shut the hell up.

    Personally if i were paying for a voip program i would go for voipbuster…but we talking about windows/linux conecting here…so the ideal choice isn’t what works for me but for all of us…and for now and probably a good while…skype is the thing to use…just my humble opinion.

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