What’s new in the Skype for Linux beta

Microsoft is finally moving its latest Linux Skype client to beta and adding the ability to video-conference with other people using the latest model of Skype.

Microsoft has taken its own sweet time with this move. The new version of Skype for Linux went into alpha in July 2016. There were some improvements since then, but they’re not that impressive.

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This new Skype, though, promises real interoperability between Skype for Linux and the rest of the Skype family. And, you know what? It delivers.

The new Skype promises three new features. This starts withcalling updates. These enable you to call to mobiles and landlines with Skype credit. It also lets you make one-to-one video calls from Linux to Skype to users running the latest versions of Skype for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac.

The alpha had enabled you to make video calls to other Linux and Chromebook Skype users, but that was it. This new version let me call cell phones and landline phones with no trouble. The video calls were more troublesome.

sudo vi /usr/local/bin/skype

You can replace “vi” with your favorite programming editor.

  • #!/bin/bash
  • LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l1compat.so /usr/bin/skype
  • #!/bin/bash
  • LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib32/libv4l/v4l1compat.so /usr/bin/skype

sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/skype

Next, you must find someone running the latest version of Skye on another platform to test video-conferencing out. In my experience, video-conferencing will not work if your colleagues are running an old edition of Skype.

Still this is a beta program, so that’s not too surprising.

Finally, Skype’s launcher now shows the number of unread conversations. And a long-needed basic feature is now present: You can see when your online contacts are showing Away and Do Not Disturb statuses.

There are other annoyances. For example, you can’t search through your instant messages logs and “Rename Contacts” isn’t enabled.

Personally, I’m sticking with Google Hangouts for my video-conferencing needs. It runs flawlessly on Linux. If, however, your office has standardized on Skype, this is still a major step forward. Just keep in mind that it’s still very much a work in progress.

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