Skype Beta: Phoning and Sharing Desktops

Jan 22, 2010

Skype has released a beta version of its chat and VoIP program for Linux under the code-name Talking Screens. Despite the minor version number change, the software has many new features.

The newest Skype for Linux 2.1 beta 2 includes screen sharing, support for UI styles, and IM quoting, as beta project manager Raul Liive reports in the Skype blog. Other features include localized time formats and spam abuse reporting. A few issues cropped up on 64-bit systems with older libraries, with available workarounds reported in the Skype Developer Zone.

First impressions: thanks to the new UI styles Skype now practically supports Qt decorations natively, although Oxygen styles can lead to graphics problems (broken symbols and reduced text box sizes), depending on the setup; however, QtCurve was error-free on a KDE4 desktop.

The IM quoting function is cute but a bit awkward – it requires marking the text and then having to select an item from the menu. However, the screen sharing function does work well and is useful especially for those needing Linux support from time to time. The screen-sharing function is only available during calls and shows up at the bottom of the call window. It works equally well with Linux, Mac, and Windows clients. The function appears only in the context menu of the call window.

As usual, Skype provides precompiled packages for Debian, Fedora, openSUSE, and Ubuntu, and static binary downloads for all other distros. The actual beta2 version numbering is 2.1.0.81, with the release notes at Skype.

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