The latest stable release of Skype for Linux is now available to install from the Ubuntu Software Center on 12.04 LTS and 14.04 LTS.
Skype 4.3 introduces a new look, improves chat features, makes file transfers more reliable and adds support for newer versions of PulseAudio, the sound server used by many Linux distributions, including Ubuntu.
Since its release back in June, the native desktop client has been available to install using binary and Debian installers from the software’s official website.
Now offered through the Canonical Partner Repository, used to distribute gratis, proprietary and closed-source software to desktop users, this manual step is no longer necessary.
The Most Important Upgrade Yet
News of this addition has a more pressing importance than simply adding a few new features. As announced earlier this year, Microsoft plans to retire support for older versions across all desktop and mobile platforms, including Linux ‘in the near future’.
The update is important as older versions of the Skype client will soon be unable to sign in and access the service.
The result for those unwilling to — or unable to — upgrade is drastic: older versions of Skype will stop working; they won’t be able to sign into, access features of, or connect with users on the service.
Why? Microsoft says they “…want everyone to experience the best Skype has to offer – from enhanced quality to better reliability to improved security – and the newest version of Skype is the way to do that.”
The decision has, understandably, been met with derision and concern from many. But is consternation due? Or are some simply using the enforced obsolescence to feed their own anti-Microsoft bias?
The bigger picture is evident; maintaining a backend service as vast and encompassing as that required by Skype is undeniably difficult and invariably costly. Having to continually refactor changes to allow for legacy holdouts, older APIs and security protocols, limits pace of change and inhibits the breadth of improvements that can be made.
Inconvenience does not always lack merit. Users who update get new features, bug fixes and security patches. Those who don’t, don’t. And since Microsoft is continuing to provide updated builds for most of the affected platforms (barring those that have since become obsolete or unsupported) the move doesn’t seem entirely unfair to me.
How to Upgrade Skype
To install Skype 4.3 on Ubuntu from the software center you must first opt in to the Canonical Partner Repository. To turn this on:
- Search for and open ‘Software Sources’ in the Unity Dash
- Select the ‘Other Software’ tab
- Check/tick the boxes next to the two entries headed ‘Canonical Partners’
- Exit, and hit ‘Ok’ on the software reload prompt
Now, with the repo enabled, you can grab the VoIP app from the Software Center by searching for ‘Skype’. Alternatively, hit the button below to trigger installation:
Already have Skype installed and have the partner repo enabled? Look for a pending update in the Software Updater application or run an upgrade from the command line.