Skype on a CentOS 5.3 Thinkpad T61

This will be a short post more of the “strategy for how to make this happen” sort.

If you’ve read my recent posts, you’ll see that I’ve spent my spare time configuring CentOS 5.3 on my Thinkpad T61. For the most part this hasn’t been that difficult, although time-consuming.

Most of the time has been spent having to re-learn what needs to be done to get older kernels like the one used by CentOS 5 (and RHEL 5) to work with various devices like IBM’s internal wireless card and firewire (IEEE1394). The former required Dag’s iwl4965-firmware package (also available in an official Red Hat package for subscribers), the latter my standard practice of installing the latest centosplus version of the kernel.

In getting Skype up and running on Linux the first thing most people do is start installing and configuring their webcam. I know I did. Upon reflection, especially given the challenges I faced with the T61, that now seems a little backwards.

Skype is, after all, first and foremost a softphone, a telephone in software, so audio is actually the first thing you’ll want to get working.

Getting the internal mic on the T61 up and running on CentOS 5.3 is covered in another post.

Once I has that done, I installed Skype from the rpm provided on Skype’s own Linux download page.

Prereqs that had to be installed ahead of this were qt4 and dbus. The package works with the alsa libraries that CentOS ships with.

Firing up Skype after installing, you need to log in to get to the device settings under Options. Under Sound Devices leave everything set to “Default device (default)”. Then make a test call to confirm it’s all working.

After gong through all this you can set up your webcam for use with Skype. Mine is a Logitech Communicate STX usb camera with a built in mic. Because of the difficulty in getting the cam’s mic working under CentOS, I stuck with the Thinkpad’s internal mic and just use the webcam for video. Getting Skype to recognize my webcam requires a full “Quit” out of the Skype app and that a new startup.