Skype users, weigh in. (free Skype to Skype calls)

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by TBO, Feb 27, 2010.

  1. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    This subject is concerning free Skype to Skype calls only.


    • How long have you used Skype?
    • Do you use it less now then you did at first?
    • Have you found any similar, but superior service?
    • What limitations have your found (hardware, bandwidth)?
     
  2. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    I've never personally used it, but I've helped quite a few people set it up. It's an intriguing program. Hardware support seems pretty solid.

    Only similar program I am aware of, is Ekiga.

    IGF
     

  3. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    Thanks.

    I've set it up on a Laptop and Netbook, but need to field test it (I had both running off my wireless and they work).

    My Netbook seems a bit sluggish, but I won't be able to confirm that until I test with someone outside my network. (I may bump it from 1GB RAM to 2GB RAM if video is slow).

    The program was a breeze to set up, and seems to run light. As such, I was wondering if it was "too good to be true".



     
  4. jilverthor

    jilverthor

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    I have made very few Skype to Skype calls, but use Skype to landline and cell phones daily. I have been using it for approximately two months with great success. I know that vonage would be similar but have never tried. My current hardware is a netbook with 1GB RAM. I will run Skype while running multiple other programs (chat clients, internet browsers, excel, ...) without difficulty. My bandwidth is never more than 60kb/s in either direction. If I try to download files or browse the internet while I am talking, I will get distortion but otherwise that is enough.

    ETA: A 60kbps connection is sufficient for video chatting as well though I have only tried once or twice. Most of the time I am using the $3/month unlimited calling plan. It lets me call out but not receive calls.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2010
  5. Toyman

    Toyman

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    I use it all the time because I basically telecommute. I talk often (with video) to the offices in Atlanta. The video and audio are excellent. I've also used to to talk with a person in Denmark (audio only), again, same excellent quality. Never really had any problems at all. As far as I'm concerned it is top-notch.

    I haven't really looked into any other service, but i will say it exceeds the quality I had using a VOIP phone.
     
  6. StuntPilot

    StuntPilot

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    I think skype is a great program.

    Timeframe

    I have used skype for 3 years as a backup to my cellphone. I started with the $30/year plan for outbound only dialing. Skype sent me an offer email for a SkypeIN number, and that cost me $25. I renew every year for about $60 unlimited US calling.

    Usage

    I use skype every day. The sound and video quality on calls are excellent. It allows me to keep in touch with people all over the US. Most of my friends use the free skype to skype video calls, and they love it. I also have a G1 google cellphone, and installed ‘fring’. The fring software lets me send/receive skype calls using my cell phone minutes or for free over WIFI. It is like having 2 numbers on your cellphone

    I also have google voice on my G1 phone too, so I guess I have 3 numbers on the phone. ;-)

    Similar Services

    The only other service I looked at was gizmo 5, which is now owned by google, and not accepting new members. Skype seemed to have the most to offer. I read an article that skype carried over 60% of the phone calls in Europe last year.

    Limitations

    I think the key is well running PC. I have skype on the following:

    Acer 1410 11.6” laptop, Win7 Home, 2GB RAM, 1.4Ghz CPU, Internal Webcam
    HP 1030NR netbook 10.1”, Ubuntu 9.1, 1GB RAM, 1.6Ghz Atom CPU, Internal Webcam
    Dell 531 Desktop, Ubuntu 9.1, 4GB RAM, 2.1 Ghz AMD CPU, HP KQ246AA 8.0MP Deluxe Webcam

    The voice calls on all 3 machines are great. The video on the netbook needs bright lights, the acer laptop is OK, and the Dell desktop is stellar because of the high end USB webcam. When making calls in a public place I use a cheap $8 headset/mic combo from walmart. This cuts out alot of noise.

    Conclusion

    I cannot say enough good things about the skype service. I trust them to make confidential calls for me, and you really cannot beat the quality for the free calls.

    The only caveat is the Linux version of skype is slow to add new features.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  7. Dalton Wayne

    Dalton Wayne Epic mustache Millennium Member

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    How is that different from Magic Jack@
    Oh I see it does video, ok
    Regards
    DW
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  8. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    It also doesn't require an actual phone. It runs off your computers speakers and a microphone(internal or external). It's also free for Skype to Skype calls, or you can use Skype to receive/call regular phones, for $4.95 per month.

    Similar to magicjack, but there are some differences.

    IGF
     
  9. filthy infidel

    filthy infidel 100% Infidel

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    Skype gets the job done. I prefer Google Chat, works even more seamlessly.
    The only problem I've had with Skype is that on occasion it decides to 'optimize' my microphone settings without asking, and makes my side of the conversation mute.
     
  10. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    How much more "beef" does Linux give an Atom powered NetBook over Windows XP?

    As in, would Skype run noticeably better on the Linux version of the machine?

    My EEE NetBook has Windows XP, but I guess I could put Linus on a partition if it made a big difference.

     
  11. StuntPilot

    StuntPilot

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    Try linux from a USB drive on your netbook.

    Download unetbootin for windows to a windows PC

    http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

    Download an ISO image of any linux distro you want to try

    http://distrowatch.com/

    http://www.ubuntu.com/

    Run unetbootin and have it create a bootable USB drive from the ISO image. Boot your netbook from the USB drive, and test it out. It will run a bit slower, but you can see if it meets your needs. Your original machine remains unchanged.

    I like linux on my netbook, since it only has a 16GB SSD drive, and linux runs a bit faster. Skype performance was about the same over XP.
     
  12. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    Hmm, well it depends on which "eee book" you have. A lot of the netbooks have Intel sound devices, and the internal mic doesn't work very well. If you use a mic w/ the "sound in" jack.. it seems to work very well, once you get it set up. My Aspire one runs very well w/ Ubuntu 9.10.

    If you want to try it.. here's what I would do...

    If you have an external CD drive for the eee to boot, download the i386 ISO, burn it to a disk, skip the steps below and boot it.

    If you don't have an external CD Drive, and you have a free thumb drive(2gigs).

    1. Download the "normal" i386 CD ISO(not netbook remix). Should be like 700mb.
    2. Go here, and download "Unetbootin" for Windows. http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/
    3. When the ISO finishes downloading, follow the instructions, do not choose "Ubuntu" from the drop down menu, but click "Disk Image", then click the button and navigate to the ISO file you downloaded.
    4. "REAL IMPORTANT"... Double check where it says "Drive" that your USB drive is selected. Also, the thumb drive will be formatted, so any important data on it needs to be backed up.
    5. When Unetbootin is done unpacking the ISO to the thumb drive and making it bootable, reboot to the Linux desktop.

    Once you're there, your wireless device *should* be automatically detected, and you can simply choose your network and enter your password. Most of them have Atheros devices, which work very well w/ Ubuntu 9.10. If its the broadcom or realtek devices, then trying this from a live Disk won't work, unless you hook up your eee book to the router via ethernet cable.

    Once that is done, post here, or shoot me a PM, and I'll talk you through installing Skype on the Live disk, so you can test it.. If it doesn't work to your satisfaction, then all you've done is waste about 30min downloading files. You can simply remove the thumb drive, boot back to Windows, and format the thumb drive. If it works, then you can decide how you want to proceed.

    IGF
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  13. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    Looks like you were posting as I was.. :)
     
  14. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    Booted from the Disc (had to install boot helper utility).
    Wireless works (on my Netbook right now under Ubuntu.

    Question. I know I can make a USB bootable ThumbDrive. Could I also make a bootable SDHC card? (since this netbook has a SDHC slot, and cards come up to 16 GB.

    Secondly, would running Ubuntu off the thumbdrive or SDHC be "slower" than off a hard drive partition? (again, concerned about maximizing performance for Skype).

    Thx
     
  15. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    I have to run, I'll be back in about 30-40min, and I'll explain it to you.

    I've saw instructions on booting an SDHC card before, but how fast it is, I honestly couldn't tell you, never done it. The CD will typically be a little slower than a thumb drive, in my experience. The Hard drive will obviously be faster than either, but since we just want to test, thats not really an option.

    Back in a few...

    IGF
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  16. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    My netbook has a 160 GB hard drive running Windows XP.

    It currently has just about all the software on it I expect to run, and is using 15 GB.

    It shows 127 GB available.

    Because of this, I'm not oposed to running Ubuntu from my hard drive (partitian) now that I know the wireless will work under Ubuntu.

    My question is how big should the partition be? My planned Linux use would be for Skype, and maybe even Firefox web browsing.
    I don't know if I'd ever get around to installing Open Office (I have Office 2003 on the XP).

    What would you suggest for partition size, 10 GB? Would that give me enough room to play with some Linux based program installs to play/test?
     
  17. StuntPilot

    StuntPilot

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    I had an old Dell XP laptop that would dual boot ubuntu. I made the linux partition 12GB. Ubuntu will then create:

    10GB data partition
    2GB swap file (similar to the virtual memory file in XP)

    Ubuntu comes with most of the software you need anyway, so you should be all set. Plus, the linux partition should be able to see your XP NTFS drives, so you could access your data in a pinch.
     
  18. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    Another question.

    Can Ubuntu be set up to ask for a password when you power on (like Window can)?
     
  19. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    Yes, actually thats default, it just doesn't do it on the Live disk. If you install, you'll be prompted to create a username/password.

    I agree w/ Stunt.. you'd probably wanna go 12-15gigs minimum....

    2gig swap, the rest for data, and that would be enough space.

    Now as for testing Skype.
    1. Open Synaptic Package Manger(Sys/Admin/Synaptic)
    2. Click Settings/Repositories
    3. On the First Tab "Ubuntu Software" Make sure all the boxes are checked
    4. Click the "Other Software" Tab....
    5. Click "Add" and copy paste the below line into the box...
    Code:
    deb http://download.skype.com/linux/repos/debian/ stable non-free
    6. Click "Add Source" ...
    7. You'll get a message saying your repositories need to change, click Reload. It will then start downloading a new index of available packages.
    8. When that is done, click "Search" and Search for "Skype"
    9. You should see a couple of packages come up, one is just called "Skype" Right click that package, and choose "Mark for Installation"
    10. Click Mark, then Click Apply at the top, then Apply again in the next box.. You should then see the package manager start downloading some files, etc.. and install skype. It will be in Application/Internet when its done.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  20. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    I'm ready to just install Ubuntu since it works with my NetBook wireless.

    Even if I still find Skype video performance unacceptable on the Netbook, I'd like to try Ubuntu for surfing/etc. (develop a feel for Linux in case I ever want to install on a desktop).

    I take it I can just use the disc to boot up and install Ubuntu which will ask about partitions?