Skype configuration notes

Skype has rarely worked out of the box for me. And being proprietary and suffering from weak support for Linux, all you can do is engage in trial and error testing until either it works or your patience runs out. What follows are my notes from different installations.

Mandriva 2008.1 Flash x32, Skype 2.0.0.72
dualcore.nmc.invalid

Motherboard is an Intel DG31GL with Intel’s onboard 82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller, using ALSA and the default sound driver, Intel HDA (snd_hda_intel). Webcam is a CIF Single Chip from Pixart Imaging, 093a:2471, badged as Genius VideoCam Ge111, using v4l on /dev/video0. Skype detects the webcam but does not support it. Attempting to send my cam’s video anyway as an experiment crashed the other user’s instance of Skype. (Cam of death!) No workaround for video is known. Headset is plugged into the front audio jacks (orange to orange, pink to pink).

In the Mandriva Control Center (Hardware – Sound Configuration), I disabled PulseAudio. I opened Kmix. On the Input tab, I set the “Front Mic Boost” slider to 50 and insure that it is enabled (the red light at the bottom of the slider should be on; click the light to toggle its state). On the Switches tab, there are two drop-down selection boxes, both ambiguously labeled “Input Source”. I set the second (lower) one to “Front Mic”.

In Skype (Options – Sound Devices), I set the following:

  • Sound In: HDA Intel (hw:Intel,2)
  • Sound Out: HDA Intel (hw:Intel,0)
  • Ringing: HDA Intel (hw:Intel,0)
  • Allow Skype to automatically adjust my mixer levels: No (Not default)

In Options – Video Devices, I set “Enable Skype video” to No.

Press “Apply”, then “Make a test call” to test sound in and out.

Hoping to find a fix for video, I later tried Skype 2.1.0.81-1, but video support on this hardware was even worse. I rolled back to the previous version.

Mandriva 2009.1 Free x32, Skype 2.0.0.72
fw.imc.invalid

Audio controller is an onboard VT1708/A VIA High definition audio controller, using ALSA and snd_hda_intel. No webcam. Headset is plugged into the rear audio jacks.

In MCC (Hardware – Sound Configuration), I disabled PulseAudio. I opened alsamixergui and I set Mic to 39 and Mic Boost to 66.

In Skype (Options – Sound Devices), I set the following:

  • Sound In: HDA VIA VT82xx (hw:VT82xx,0)
  • Sound Out: default
  • Ringing: default
  • Allow Skype to automatically adjust my mixer levels: No (Not default)

Press “Apply”, then “Make a test call” to test sound in and out.

Mandriva 2009.1 Free x32, Skype 2.1.0.47-69mib
fenix.home.invalid

Motherboard is an ECS M935D with SiS AC97 Audio Controller, using ALSA and the default sound driver, snd_intel8x0. Webcam is a Microdia VideoCAM Eye (rebranded as a Genius VideoCAM Trek) on /dev/video0, which Skype detects but does not support. No workaround for video is known. Headset is plugged into the rear audio jacks.

In MCC (Hardware – Sound Configuration), I disabled PulseAudio.

Using alsamixer, play, and gnome-sound-recorder, I ensured that the headphone, microphone, sound recording, and playback work. I set alsamixer settings to avoid distortion. Settings are:

  • Playback – Master: 100
  • Playback – Front: 72
  • Capture – Front Mic Boost: 0
  • Capture – Mic Boost: 33
  • Capture – Capture: 71
  • Capture – Digital: 70
  • Capture – Input Source: Mic

In Skype (Options – Sound Devices), I set the following:

  • Microphone: HDA VIA VT82xx, ALC861-VD Analog Front speakers (front:CARD=VT82xx,DEV=0)
  • Speakers: Default
  • Ringing: Default
  • Allow Skype to automatically adjust my mixer levels: No

Press “Apply”, then “Make a test call” to test sound in and out.

Mandriva 2010.2 One x32, Skype 2.1.0.81-69.1mib2010.1
verdi.home.invalid

This version of Skype did not work for me; skip ahead to the next example to see how I got Skype working.

Motherboard is an Intel DG31GL with Intel’s onboard 82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller, using ALSA and the default sound driver, Intel HDA (snd_hda_intel). Webcam is a CIF Single Chip from Pixart Imaging, 093a:2471, badged as Genius VideoCam Ge111, using v4l2. Webcam works in all tested applications (gstreamer-properties, cheese, ekiga) except Skype. About video, lsmod says:

# lsmod | grep videodev
videodev               36601  1 gspca_main
v4l1_compat            13315  1 videodev
i2c_core               24773  6 i2c_i801,i915,drm_kms_helper,drm,i2c_algo_bit,videodev

Skype’s requirements call for libasound2, a package Mandriva does not have. Checking rpm.pbone.net I am led to believe that Mandriva calls this package libalsa2, which is installed. All other requirements for Skype are met.

PulseAudio was enabled in the system by default (Mandriva Control Center – Hardware – Sound Configuration). Testing PulseAudio with cat /dev/urandom | pacat per Wikibooks I successfully generated white noise, but pacmd sees no samples to test. Launching gstreamers-properties as user showed that for audio input, PulseAudio did not work but ALSA using the ALC268 Analog device (pipeline alsasrc device=”hw:0,2″) did. Audio output was less picky: autodetect, PulseAudio, and ALSA all worked.

Seeing that ALSA works out of the box for input while PulseAudio does not, I disabled PulseAudio and rebooted. Apparently merely logging out and back in is insufficient.

TODO: Better understand PulseAudio and make it work — see here and here. PulseAudio should be working on a modern system, whether or not you use Skype.

After doing so, I ran the usual sound troubleshooting commands and saw:

$ lspcidrake -v | fgrep -i AUDIO
snd_hda_intel   : Intel Corporation|82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller (vendor:8086 device:27d8 subv:8086 subd:d611) (rev: 01)
$ grep sound-slot /etc/modprobe.conf
alias sound-slot-0 snd_hda_intel
$ /sbin/lsmod | grep snd_hda_intel
snd_hda_intel          22685  3 
snd_hda_codec          79935  2 snd_hda_codec_realtek,snd_hda_intel
snd_pcm                76849  3 snd_hda_intel,snd_hda_codec,snd_pcm_oss
snd                    57766  18 snd_hda_codec_realtek,snd_hda_intel,snd_hda_codec,snd_hwdep,snd_seq_dummy,snd_seq_oss,snd_seq,snd_seq_device,snd_pcm_oss,snd_pcm,snd_timer,snd_mixer_oss
snd_page_alloc          7140  2 snd_hda_intel,snd_pcm
$ /sbin/chkconfig --list sound
sound          	0:off	1:off	2:on	3:on	4:on	5:on	6:off	7:off
$ /sbin/chkconfig --list alsa
alsa           	0:off	1:off	2:on	3:on	4:on	5:on	6:off	7:off

I opened gnome-sound-recorder (provided by the package gnome-media) and alsamixer. Using my headphones and microphone, I made test recordings and adjusted the mixer until recording and playback were good. Non-default settings I set were:

  • Playback – Headphone: 75
  • Playback – Front Mic Boost: 50
  • Capture – Front Mic Boost: 50
  • Capture – Mic Boost: 0
  • Capture – Capture 1: 74

In Skype (Options – Sound Devices), I set the following:

  • Microphone: HDA Intel, ALC268 Analog (hw:0,2) (not default; this is the value seen earlier in gstreamers-properties)
  • Speakers: default
  • Ringing: default
  • Allow Skype to automatically adjust my mixer levels: tried both

Press “Apply”, then “Make a test call” to test sound in and out. Sound is distorted à la Darth Vader, matching this bug report from 2009 (!) on 2.0.0.72-1 and later. Until Skype fixes it, bug reporters state that using earlier builds works around the issue. A static build of 2.0.0.72 is available as a generic tarball attached to the bug report cited above, and as a Mandriva RPM from MIB. Which brings me to…

Mandriva 2010.2 One x32, skype_static-2.0.0.72-1mib2008.1
verdi.home.invalid

Hardware same as above, with PulseAudio disabled. All configuration as above except in Skype (Options – Sound Devices) I set Sound In to the non-default “HDA Intel (hw:Intel,2)” and disabled Skype automatically adjusting mixer levels. Audio now works.

Video output works when Skype is run as root with LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l1compat.so skype, so presumably this is a permissions issue. I was unable to resolve it despite seeking help on alt.os.linux.mandriva and the Skype Linux video forum, and I’m not crazy enough to run Skype as root, so I accepted Skype without video.

Linux Mint Debian Edition 201204 amd64, skype-2.2.0.35-1
verdi.home.invalid

Hardware same as above, with PulseAudio enabled. This is the first time I’ve seen Skype, PulseAudio, and hardware all work together out of the box. Video output works when Skype is run with env LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib32/libv4l/v4l1compat.so skype. My preview of video output appears normal, but the other party receives low quality video that appears to be of a low color depth.

Attempting to preload the 64 bit shared object at /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libv4l/v4l1compat.so fails.

Linux Mint Debian Edition 201204 amd64, skype-debian_4.0.0.8-1_amd64
verdi.home.invalid

After obtaining the results above using the Skype version available in the package manager, I upgraded to the then-latest stable version available from skype.com. Results are same as above.

I edited /usr/share/applications/skype.desktop, changing Exec=skype to Exec=env LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib32/libv4l/v4l1compat.so skype. This makes video in Skype work for all users when run from the menu of the any freedesktop.org-compliant desktop environment, such as Gnome, KDE, and Xfce. I then copied /usr/share/applications/skype.desktop to ~/.local/share/applications/, making myself owner. This is not strictly required but is best practice when modifying system-wide .desktop files.

Audio worked, but any Skype sound would stop my media player, which had to be manually resumed afterward. Per the ArchWiki I commented out module-role-cork in /etc/pulse/default.pa. After logging out and logging back in, sound worked as expected: Skype sound would pause my media player, which would resume when Skype sound ended.

Ubuntu 12.10 amd64, skype-4.1..0.20.0-0ubuntu0.12.04.2
ac-coordinacion.ihci.invalid

Hardware is an HP Pavilion dm4. The hardware has a single 3.5 mm socket that does dual duty as headset and microphone, so older style headsets with two separate plugs will require a Y adapter. Alternatively, a standard mobile phone’s handsfree set should work.

The version of Skype available in Ubuntu’s repositories worked out of the box with both audio and video. Opening the PulseAudio volume control applet (in Xfce’s application menu, Multimedia – PulseAudio Volume Control) kills Skype audio, requiring me to close the PulseAudio volume control applet and restart Skype. Microphone and headset volume were appropriate out of the box with “let Skype automatically adjust mixer levels”. On principle I dislike such settings, so I disabled it: headset volume remained appropriate, but microphone level became faint. To adjust it, I opened the Xfce mixer (in Xfce’s application menu, Multimedia – Mixer). In the Capture tab I raised the Capture sliders from the default level of approximately 33% to approximately 80%.

openSUSE 12.3 64 bit, skype-4.2.0.11-suse121.i586
linux-jwro.site, December 2013

Motherboard is an Intel DG31GL with Intel’s onboard 82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller. Webcam is a CIF Single Chip from Pixart Imaging, 093a:2471, badged as Genius VideoCam Ge111.

The recommended package for SUSE was obtained from skype.com. It installed without warnings but apparently without any dependency checking, because I had to subsequently track down and install 32 bit audio and video dependencies. Specifically:

  • Sound did not work properly until I installed package libpulse0-32bit. Once installed, sound worked with default settings and as expected.
  • I had no video until I installed package libv4l-32bit. Once installed, launching Skype from a terminal with “env LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l1compat.so skype” gave working video. I then edited skype.desktop as documented above.
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About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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2 Responses to Skype configuration notes

  1. Pingback: Setting up Skype in Linux | Warren's tech notes

  2. Pingback: Installation notes, Linux Mint Debian 201204 | A maze of twisty little passages

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