Despite risking the occasional dirty look from a certain type of linux/FOSS supporter, I quite happily run the (currently) non-free Skype client on my HTPC. I have a webcam sitting on top of the TV and works flawlessly for holding video chats with family and friends.

The problem I initially faced however, was that my HTPC is 100% controlled by a keyboard only. Unlike Windows, the linux version of Skype has no built in shortcut keys (user defined or otherwise) for basic tasks such as answering and terminating calls. This makes it virtually impossible to use out of the box. On the upside though, the client does have an API and some wonderful person out there has created a python interface layer for it, aptly named, Skype4Py.

A little while ago when I still had free time on weekends, I sat down and quickly hacked together a python script for answering and terminating calls, as well as maximising video chats from the command line. I then setup a few global shortcut keys within xfce to run the script with the appropriate arguments.

I won’t go into the nitty gritty of the script as it really is a hack in some places (Particularly the video maximising), but I thought I’d post it up in case it is of use to anyone else. I’ve called it mythSkype, simply because the primary function of the machine I run it on is MythTV, but it has no dependencies on Myth at all.

The depedencies are:

  • Python – Tested with 2.6, though 2.5 should work
  • Skype4Py -  any version
  • xdotool – Only required for video maximising

To get the video maximising to work you’ll need to edit the file and set the screen_width and screen_height variables to match your resolution.
Make sure you have Skype running, then simply execute one of the following:

  • ./mythSkype -a (Answer any ringing calls)
  • ./mythSkype -e (End active calls)
  • ./mythSkype -m (Maximise the current video)

The first time you run the script, you will get a prompt from Skype asking if you are happy with Skype4Py having access to the application. Obviously you must give your ascent or nothing will work.

Its nothing fancy, but I hope its of use to others out there.

Download: mythSkype