Skype has made available Linux Beta releases for several years now. The Linux Betas are generally reliable but never seem to have all the polish and features of the Windows versions. While I’m generally happy using the Beta codes, the lag in features and updates is considerable. Given that the current Linux Beta is at version 184.108.40.206 and the current Windows release is at 220.127.116.11 its easy to see where the company focuses their development efforts. It would be nice if the company spent more time on upgrading their software for Linux, but given the market forces and bottom line pressures, I’m grateful that they offer any Linux support at all!
All of that aside though, there has been a bit of good news lately for Linux users wishing to step up to the latest Skype features. As I reported a few weeks ago with Oovoo, the new 2.6.38 kernel is substantially improved. As a result, some applications run significantly faster in VMWare virtual machines (VM). I’m happy to report that Skype also benefits from these improvements. I’ve tested the latest version of Windows Skype using a 64-bit Ubuntu 11.04 host and 32-bit Windows XP guest. I was using a VMWare Workstation 7.1.4 (equivalent Player version 3.1.4) and assigned the VM 2 2.5 GHz Xeon cores and 1 GB of RAM. My testing was limited, but I was able to install and run Skype without major video or audio problems. While the video did not seem quite as smooth as with a native Windows installation it was adequate for my needs on a 2 party video call.
Even though Skype for Windows now works in the VM, I still find myself opting for the native Linux Betas . Nonetheless, it’s nice to know that I now have the option of using the latest Skype without being forced to maintain a separate Windows computer or deal with dual-booting headaches.
I have yet to try any multi-party video calls with Skype from within the VM. If any of you have tried multi-party video I’d appreciate it if you’d post your experience here. Thanks!