Thursday, 23 April 2009

Making Skype work with PulseAudio in Ubuntu Intrepid and Jaunty

Following my sound issues with Skype on Ubuntu, I did a bit more research and eventually found an excellent how-to article on PulseAudio in the Ubuntu forums. Appendix C explains how to get Skype to work properly and indeed it is a doodle and means there is no need to kill PulseAudio when using Skype! I've tested it in Intrepid and Jaunty and it works a treat. To quote the article, here's how to do it:

Open Skype's Options, then go to Sound Devices. You need to set "Sound Out" and "Ringing" to the "pulse" device, and set "Sound In" to the hardware definition of your microphone. For example, my laptop's microphone is defined as "plughw:I82801DBICH4,0".

You will have to experiment with the different options for "Sound In" until you find the correct one: choose an option, click on "Make a test call" until you find the option that works. On my machine, here's what the option window looks like:

Skype Options, Sound Devices Tab


Anonymous said...

This was extremely helpful thanks a bunch

julio.jacobo said...

It worked!!
Thank you very much.

eduardo said...

GREAT!.. online again!!!

Unknown said...

This worked indeed. Thanks!

dmpeters63 said...

I have Jaunty but I can't get pulse to work. The Microphone setting only allows pulse as an option? I'm also trying this with Skype 2.1.

ANy ideas out there...

Unknown said...

@dmpeters63: if the microphone setting only shows pulse as an option, it probably means that Jaunty hasn't detected your hardware. Have you tried recording yourself using the sound recorder tool? You'll find it in Applications -> Sound & Video -> Sound Recorder. If the sound recorder doesn't work, ask on the forums if anybody can help. Another great resource is the wiki page on debugging sound problems.

Anonymous said...


After recent issues (the configuration seemed to work perfectly until a recent upgrade), I got Skype (version 2.2) not giving any sound out any more. The issue was indeed linked to Skype since other applications (Rythmbox, Audacity, Soundrecorder) did continue to show the global sound system they worked (Pulseaudio, version 1:0.9.22~0.9.21-63-gd3efa-dirty, running by default).
I have been since a few years using Lucid Lynx (Ubuntu 10.04) with a kernel upgraded upto, on an AMD 64 machine with an NVidia do-it-all video/sound coprocessor -ALC888). Considering this, I thought that maybe some recent upgrade was making old Skype not compatible.
I tried to switch to a newer Skype version (4.0) to no better result.
After fighting hours and browsing some tens of pages, I stumbled on the same article quoted in this thread.
The "killall pulseaudio" did my day!
I started being able to see something else in the sound configuration panel of Skype than the "PulseAudio server (local)" stuff and choosing the very first in the list made it work. I got intrepid enough to launch again pulseaudio, reconfigure the sound source/sink/events under Skype to and had the pleasure to see it worked also.
Unfortunately, the thing seems to be both stable and unstable: quitting Skype showed again the same tiny "PulseAudio server (local)"-only list when restarting it with pulseaudio already running :(. On the contrary, killing again pulseaudio before launching Skype and relaunching pulseaudio afterwards (skype already running) would bring you again the better of both worlds :/.
I think thus that the case is not yet closed and there is something yet to be understood. That way, I eventually won't be needing a launcher that first kills all pulseaudio, then launches skype and only then relaunches pulseaudio...

All help welcome.

Unknown said...

I can't comment on Ubuntu 10.04 as I haven't been using that version for a long time now. Generally speaking, newer versions of Ubuntu and Skype do not have this problem anymore. If you upgrade to 12.04, you will have access to Skype 4.0 from the software center and everything works perfectly with that combination.