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A look at Skype for Linux

I remember for a long time that Skype on GNU/Linux systems was a nightmare.

The official application was terrible, and solutions like Pidgin were lacking in some crucial features such as video calling. Thankfully, finally, Microsoft seems to have stepped up their game when it comes to an official Skype for Linux.

Installation

Users can download .RPM or .DEB files from the official website, and skypeforlinux-bin is available for Arch/Antergos/Manjaro users from the AUR.

I have Skype for Linux installed on Antergos, but the officially supported list of distributions is:

Ubuntu 16.04+
Debian 8.5+
Fedora 24+
OpenSuse KDE 13.2+
OpenSuse Leap 42.1+ KDE

 

 

The official website also has some important information about compatibility:

“We have tested with different desktop environments: Gnome, Unity, Mate, Cinnamon, KDE, but keep in mind there are differences between all these environments and some of the things are tightly coupled with the environment you use (e.g. notifications). Also, Skype for Linux Beta currently depends on gnome-keyring and libgnome-keyring0 packages for storing credentials. Both of these packages are installed as a dependency for the Skype for Linux Beta package.”

Notes:

Without the libgnome-keyring0 the application won’t start. If you encounter this problem, make sure this package is installed.
If after each launch the application still asks for credentials this means that either the gnome-keyring package is not installed on your system or that the gnome-keyring-daemon is not started. Make sure these two conditions are met.
On Fedora we’ve encountered a problem with the gnome-keyring-daemon. This problem was seen with gnome-keyring 3.18.2. It is solved in version 3.18.3.
Does Skype for Linux Beta work on a 32-bit or 64-bit system? We are only building Skype for Linux Beta for a 64-bit system. There may be a 32-bit version in the future, depending on the Community interest.

Features

Skype for Linux features all of the usual things, like video and voice calling, group chats, bots, the ability to choose between light/dark themes, screen sharing etc. I won’t proclaim to know every single feature Skype has, but I have yet to say, “huh, I can’t do THAT in Linux…” when using Skype, in comparison to Windows, so I guess that counts for something?

Martin’s remark: Skype for Linux does not support group video charts currently or outgoing screen sharing. Microsoft plans to add these features to Skype for Linux in future versions. Users can run the old version and the new version of Skype for Linux side by side. These are not streamlined however, so that you may notice double call notifications and such.

One thing to note about Skype, is that it is not open-sourced, and Microsoft appears at the present to have no plans to change that.

Final thoughts

Skype for Linux is still technically a beta / preview, but it appears to be fairly stable, well rounded, and has all the features most people would use from Skype, so I must say that its about time Microsoft got Skype done properly for us GNU/Linux users.

 

www.ghacks.net

December 3, 2017

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