Skype on Linux: Is It Functional, Or Falling Behind?

Danny Stieben 13-12-2013

Skype, the popular chat service known for its high video quality, has had a Linux port of its client around for several years. However, like a handful of other Linux ports, it isn’t quite the same client as you might find on Windows or Mac OS X.


Is the Linux port of Skype still a functional application, or is it in need of some tender loving care by its developers? Let’s take a look.

First Impressions

When you first download Skype for Linux, you’ll notice that the version is 4.2 (which means it’s finally out of its “beta” phase), which is already quite a few versions behind the Windows counterpart. Numbers may just be numbers, but you’ll notice the difference whenever you first open up the application.

The application is overall pretty basic, where the contact list takes up most of the space. The interface is rather bare, and it also uses very old toolkit – unlike most Linux applications today, Skype won’t necessarily conform to your theme – for example, in Ubuntu, none of the menu options “glow” orange like everything else does. In fact, there haven’t been many updates to the program besides a quick wave of fixes when Microsoft took over. These quick fixes mostly kept the software working: for example, a recent update means there is support for logging in via your Microsoft account rather than a Skype one.


Having a conversation with someone uses a similarly bare window with just a few features. The client is advanced enough to have animating emoticons (although that setting is disabled by default), but even these aren’t kept up to date relative to the Windows version.

The biggest issue that Skype has is with its audio implementation. Although it can correctly recognize that most Linux systems use the PulseAudio server, it does a terrible job communicating with it. Audio problems I’ve experienced with Skype include distorted sounds (including both the startup sound and voice calls) as well as a nonfunctional microphone. These problems occur more frequently than my liking, and I know it isn’t just Linux itself or my hardware: Google Hangouts works flawlessly.



If you go through the settings, you’ll find a similar set of items to configure compared to Windows, and also some that are Linux appropriate. They are arranged like they were in older versions of Skype for Windows, which is acceptable. I prefer this more than how the Windows 8.1 app does it, thou


Again, the point I’m trying to make here is not necessarily to give a tour of Skype for Linux, but rather to show the differences between the different versions. And as you can see, the differences are quite large. Is Skype still a functional client? If it didn’t have the occasional audio issues, then I’d say yes. However, compared to the Windows counterpart, it is seriously lacking. So, while it works (most of the time), it definitely needs to be overhauled to become a great, functional application again.

However, since Microsoft isn’t very fond of Linux, I doubt that would happen anytime soon. In fact, I doubt it so much that I’d just recommend using Google Hangouts from here on out if you don’t already. It simply works a lot better, lets you do group video calls, and gets updated regularly. That, or check out 5 other alternatives to Skype Sick of Skype? 7 Best Free Skype Alternatives Skype alternatives can free you from mediocrity and greatly improve the video chat experience. This article covers eight options. Read More (where Ekiga and Google are the only Linux-friendly alternatives on the list). However, if you are having luck with Skype and would like to stick with it despite its downsides, you can also use a Skype wrapper if you’re using Ubuntu for better desktop integration – but that’s only a skin-deep improvement. It won’t help with audio problems.

What’s your favorite video chat program for Linux? Do you have any hope that Microsoft will overhaul the Linux port? Let us know in the comments!


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  1. Anonymous
    September 12, 2015 at 2:51 am

    Lin-suchs. Ive been using it since 1.3 . I played DOOM with 1.3. I have run eggdrop bots for all of 2.x. Thats 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.4 and 2.6. Now its 3.x now its 4.x its GARBAGE. If torvalds ever dies its OVER, and with Torvalds, Lin-sucks basically shoves crap in some form of use-able kernel that facilitates 3 to 4 major trash userlands with crap desktops, horrible fragmentation, etc.

    and now scum lennart poettering has a replacement for INIT which SUCKS. I used to run solaris and freebsd with EASE, i would have uptimes in the YEARS, 5+ years on a NIS+ server. But now? every F**KING WEEK there is an emergency kernel release. Its loser and stupid and crap. And if we ever traveled to mars with this CRAP we would die before we even got there.

  2. sugar
    January 24, 2015 at 1:35 am

    Hey..Hi :).
    you can't see the profile pics of your contacts directly on the contact list on linux skype (you have to right click each and give the "view profile" ) . That's an huge flaw if you have a long fiends list and need some hint for remember all of them!

  3. RedBaron
    May 18, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Skype for Linux is garbage. It hasn't seen an update in like an year or so. The longer time there are no fixes, the more broken it becomes. Random crashes, random freezes, call brakes up unexpectedly. Latest issue for me a least is when the two parties turn on their video, i get a complete crash of my system and get logged out automatically. It is getting unbareable and soon someone will get hurt if he's around me while I use that piece of trash. Skype for Linux is dead and whoever thinks otherwise might look at the way it is integrated in Windows 8 and all the features it has there. It had crappy support before Microsoft bought it but now you can just forget about it. The sad thing is for example Ekiga, which is advertised as a great alternative to Skype, is broken for Windows. Compiling from source in Windows is definitely not something that you can expect from an average user and even then it doesn't ensure that it will work. Not to mention the typical difficulty even if Ekiga WAS that good (for all operating systems it claims it supports) to actually persuade people to dump Skype and start using something else.

  4. Tux2
    January 12, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I use Skype on both my laptop and my desktop. I run Linux Mint 15 and the only real differences are I use Cinnamon on my laptop and Mate on my desktop. When it comes to audio inside of Skype, on my laptop it works flawlessly every time. On my desktop it sometimes warbles or really breaks up at the beginning of a call, which can usually be fixed by playing something else through the sound card (kind of a weird fix), so I would have to conclude that it's a sound driver/Skype issue rather than a distribution specific issue. There are the random times where it crashes unexpectedly, which is usually accompanied by a crash by one of the other people I'm talking to (so, I'm thinking a bad packet or something is triggering the crash), but other than that it works, so I'm not complaining.

  5. touch of a bit
    January 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Skype sucked, sucks and will suck on any non-MS OS. This is a fact.
    If you find my wording strong, how about stealing system passwords, BIOS data, logins, using machines exactly like malware uses zombies (i.e. remote nodes and computing pools).

    Hats off for a review, it just supported my expectation. They are not fixing anything, trying to achieve anything. Even blackhat (remember, Skype codebase dwells in Kaazaa team legacy, its written by those who wrote the first malware p2p client) won't do that, unless he wrote the software with specific purpose to be a backdoor and thus implements no native version for own OS.

    Everyone aware of Skype true nature should just implement a policy of ignoring ANY requests about Skype. Offer no help, refuse to install, put in on same shelf as a malware.

    Banned it belongs.

  6. Just Me
    December 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    The issue that drives me mad, is that the Smileys are not moving

  7. Emi
    December 17, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    it works fine when I use it... but it doesn't mean I like the sucky Ubuntu compared with windows. don't think Skype for Linux will get something amazing, just look at adobe flash player for firefox... yeah its been a while since they dropped support for it.

    to each its own, but you know... its probably more important to fix android and iOS versions of Skype (besides windows and mac) than trying to fix the silly things on Skype for Linux, because you know... not everyone uses Linux and then Skype.
    in my personal opinion I think like Marija, its a waste of time, I can complain about it in so many ways, and I don't even understand why people even dual boot, other than the stupid though of "oh Microsoft sucks so I don't want to use their product *all the time*". like if Microsoft killed their cats and dogs. of course I still have to run Ubuntu, couple times, because I have to run it through USB key (because the sata connector stopped working on a netbook and doesn't read HDD anymore) I only use it for Skype and the webcam. so I don't know... its just impossible to see Linux being the focus of Skype, it wasn't before and it isn't now, you know... so many distros and this work with this, and this will work with that, and all that, makes it harder to think that.

    • touch of a bit
      January 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Indeed, you are just completely CLUELESS scholar to even THINK ABOUT ANYTHING. How about
      Qt, GTK3
      this is enough to produce a binary that runs one EVERY Linux distro out here for the next 10 years. So do yourself a favor, remove Linux and stay with your comfy infested non-free Windows. Its so nice to have it around, perfect box for trolls and asshats, exactly what they deserve.

    • Emi
      January 10, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      you areally have problems... you should seek for psychological help...

      dont like my comment? dont read it simple as that. Im stating what I experiences and other Friends who would rather remove a Linux distro and install Windows because the troubles you get are less.

      "non free Windows" so what? I have the money to pay it, like others have money to pay cable, phone bills, a new car, a gaming console... in fact, I have paid for more expensive software for my job.... so do you have a problem with that? again, seek for psychological help, because people like you on internet really need it.

      we are talking about Skype anyway, and Skype on Linux doesnt work always right, and you have to download Canonical partner repository to make it work decently since the version you download from the site doesnt work perfectly in Ubuntu 13.10, and then it works decently most of the time, at least I havent had any audio issue.
      "Qt, GTK3, XDG, SDL" well surpriseee, duhh. Skype team didnt use it and wont ever use that... so what are you mentioning that if we are talking about Skype and if its functional or not? they wont make it that way, but then, why would they? not many use Linux and not all the users use Skype, so making an effort like that its pointless when you see the marketshare. but hey you are the smartest person here, so you must know how companies that make software works and the priorities /s

      but hey its funny you TELL ME what to do... like if I cared. again, seek for psychologial help you are so angry about other's people opinions. But guess what I am happy when I use Windows more than when I am using Linux, but thank you for having no life and being of course a non-important angry with psychological problem person.

      • Kimmo Siniluoto
        November 25, 2015 at 6:38 am

        Free as freedom not as free beer. It is not about price. It is just about free software at principle level. When using Microsoft software or anything else non-free software you are no longer free because your computing does not respect freedom. You cannot expect Microsoft respecting your freedom. So I do not really understand why to use Skype then even.

  8. Terry
    December 16, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Linux is continually growing in popularity worldwide while Microsoft keeps leveraging force against the users of their products. More and more people are are finding Microsoft's tactics distasteful. Check out Microsoft's Klassy with a capital K "scroogled" campaign against Google, it's riddled with hypocrisy and misinformation.

  9. dragonmouth
    December 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    "However, since Microsoft isn’t very fond of Linux, I doubt that would happen anytime soon. In fact, I doubt it so much that I’d just recommend using Google Hangouts"

    That puts people like me in a qunandry. I haven't used Windows in years and I avoid Google products and social networks like the plague. I'll have to see if Ekiga is comaptible with Mepis or antiX.

  10. Marija Rukavina
    December 14, 2013 at 5:14 am

    I didn't know people still use Linux. What a waste of time.

    • TekWiz
      December 14, 2013 at 6:49 am

      It's becoming more popular these days. Last year, Ubuntu linux gained a staggering 160% growth in India as there are many students using computers. In fact so popular that Dell started selling laptops preloaded with it. These days as the web replaces more and more desktop applications dependency on windows for the average user is waning. Also Linux doesn't have any known malware or virus problems. Windows computers still quickly become infected and need continuous monitoring and scanning, very unpleasant. As an Ubuntu I feel safe browsing the web and have nothing to worry about... Reference:

    • Christian C
      December 14, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Two million Raspberry Pi's the vast majority of which run Linux OSes:

    • Charlie
      December 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      @ Marija:
      Could you please explain, what "waste of time" means. Is it using a stable and reliable OS or is it sitting in front of a M$-machine that isn't working, showing instead the infamous 'BSOD' and demanding the third 'full reset' during this morning ???
      In the past 20 years I wasted more lifetime with non-working Windows-machines than I did in traffic jams!
      If M$ sometimes will be forced to pay for the unproductive time all over the world attributed to their software, they will go broke within one hour.

    • Danny S
      December 31, 2013 at 11:44 pm

      Linux, while relatively unpopular on desktops, has generally grown in popularity. Value is also pushing Linux to the extreme. Also, in non-desktop environments, Linux absolutely dominates. Android? Web servers? Supercomputers?

    • DexterIsMyHero
      September 15, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      Linux people say the same thing about Micro$oft. What you don't know is your problem.

  11. Tom
    December 13, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    I use it daily to contact my pal in Vienna, Austria. He tells me the audio and video quality surpasses those from his other pals. Don't forget, it's the quality of what is said that has a far higher impact. Something the author failed to even recognize.

  12. friTTe
    December 13, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    could never get to see my facebook contacts like in winedose.
    Dualbooting win8 and Ubu 12.04.3 so might give it another spin

  13. Ray
    December 13, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Skype is fortunately still pretty functional here. I can audio chat, video chat, send text, send animated emoticons -- pretty much anything the opposite end (99% of the time either an OSX or Windows user) would want me to do. It is sad to hear of your troubles, because the problems are, in reality, distribution-specific (or configuration-specific, viewed another way).

    "The interface is rather bare, and it also uses very old toolkit – unlike most Linux applications today, ..."

    The interface is Qt, which is a pretty current toolkit. However, being "desktop"-agnostic, it maintains a consistent look everywhere -- with one exception. The odd variation is a Linux issue, where the native Qt style can change depending on the desktop (on Gnome or Unity, you will not have access to the Oxygen style by default). See for how it looks on KDE with a good font. On Unity, though, the integration becomes a little difficult to achieve with styles alone.

    "The biggest issue that Skype has is with its audio implementation."

    Skype hasn't given me any audio trouble since I haven't given it any Linux-specific trouble, like PulseAudio for instance. It becomes problematic when your distribution is preconfigured to use PulseAudio by default. Layers upon layers of complication to improve user experience has unfortunately not done Linux any good so far.

    At the end of the day, Hangouts is a browser application, and both offerings are proprietary. I have not had any luck promoting free software alternatives to family and friends. It takes mobile applications like Viber (also available for Linux with true 64-bit support!) to convince Joe and Jane to make any kind of "switch".

    • Danny S
      December 31, 2013 at 11:42 pm

      I know that Qt is a current toolkit, but other Qt apps integrate visually pretty well in Gnome desktops. Half the time I don't even realize that the app uses Qt rather than GTK.

      I suppose that PulseAudio might be an issue here, but I haven't really had any issues with it in any other app. I know the sound issue is rather complicated in Linux, and I'd rather not mess with it.

      I'll need to check out Viber though. I didn't know it had 64-bit Linux support.

  14. Zsolt
    December 13, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    I've used Skype under Linux Mint for several weeks recently, then I decided to boot into Windows 7 whenever I had a scheduled conversation with someone on Skype because it was quite unstable. With proprietary AMD graphics drivers, I could barely use my webcam as it often made the X server crash while making video calls. Although when I tried the open source driver, the X didn't crash at all, but Skype did so randomly.

    Otherwise, it would be even better for me as it doesn't have that Modern UI and advertisments found in the Windows version.

    PS.: As for the sound issue, I personally prefer PulseAudio disabled altogether because I've had problems with other applications, too (high latency or clipping sound). Instead, I just use ALSA, which appears to be a lot better.

    • Danny S
      December 31, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      That's not a bad idea, although I've never had a problem with PulseAudio. If the app is coded correctly, PulseAudio works rather flawlessly for me. Or at least, Skype is the only one I have issues with.

  15. smaragdus
    December 13, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I am surprised that M$ hasn't yet killed the Linux version of Skype. When I had Linux long time ago the Linux version looked better than the Windows version and from what I have seen it still looks better on Linux. With the advent of version 4 Skype has become terribly bloated, ugly and inconvenient to use (the compact mode does not help too much). I dislike Skype so much that I use it in emergency occasions only. I prefer Jabber (XMPP) protocol and there are good Jabber clients- for example Psi and Vacuum-IM. I looked at the alternatives you suggest- I have tested all of them and I do not like them that much. ooVoo is so much ad-ridden that is useless. Goober is unfinished (many features simply do not work) and abandoned. Jitsi requires Java and when I tested it, Jitsi had problems connecting to Yahoo. Ekiga is bare-bones and is good only for SIP. I don't know anyone using VoxOx. There is one more alternative- Brosix- which I didn't like that much either. For simple text messaging (besides Jabber) I prefer BitWise (in fact it also provides VoIP support). Since I care for privacy I would not touch Hangouts. Even if Hangouts was not a Google product I wouldn't use it since I do not like browser-based chat.