I run my laptop with both Windows XP and Ubuntu dual-installed. I’m using primarily the Linux, but there are still a few apps that just can’t be replaced hence still having the old MS workhorse taking up hard drive space. One of these, until today, was an up-to-date version of Skype from which I could send SMS messages.
After having a dig, I found an excellent post on the Ubuntu forums that told me about a cobble-on called “Skysentials”. This adds a few functions, basically making use of facilities present in the Windows version of Skype, the main one of which is the ability to register a phone and send SMSs.
First off, full credit for this entire method goes to “grobar” and “ceverett” on the board who, between them, published details to get this thing going. For those who need details, I’m running Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) and my Skype is the latest from the Medibuntu repository, v184.108.40.206.
1. Go to http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=202148 and download just the “tar.gz” file. At time of writing, the current version was 220.127.116.11.
2. Find where you saved the file, right click it and “Extract to here”.
3. Open up a terminal and navigate to the new folder created. Enter the following command:
sudo python setup.py install
5. Find where you saved the file, right click it and “Extract to here”.
6. Open up a terminal and navigate to the new folder created. Enter the following command:
sudo python skysentials.py
If you have Skype running, then the last command will open the Skysentials window.
Now, navigating and running things from the command line isn’t easy, so here’s instructions on setting up an icon or having Skysentials run whenever you load Skype. The first set of instructions is the same for both.
1. Open a terminal and navigate to where you extracted Skysentials.
2. Run the following three commands:
sudo mkdir /usr/local/lib/skysentials sudo chmod 777 /usr/local/lib/skysentials sudo cp *.py* /usr/local/lib/skysentials
This creates a directory in a more sensible place to store the code, makes it accessible to non-root users and copies the code there.
3. Open a text editor you’re familiar with and start a new file. Enter the following code in it:
#!/bin/sh cd /usr/local/lib/skysentials python /usr/local/lib/skysentials/skysentials.py
Save this file as /usr/local/bin/skysentials
4. Back at the terminal, enter this last line of code to set the execute permissions of the script:
sudo chmod 4755 /usr/local/bin/skysentials
If you want to create a shortcut in your Applications menu to run this feature when required, perform the following steps:
1. Right-click on your Applications menu and select “Edit Menus”.
2. Select the sub-menu (from the left pane) that you would like your link to appear in. I went for “Internet”.
3. Click on “New Item” on the top right.
4. Your new shortcut wants the following properties:
Type: Application Name: Skype SMS (or whatever you prefer) Command: /usr/local/bin/skysentials
5. If you like, click on the large icon on the top left and select a new one. When done, “Close” the Launcher Properties window.
Fire up Skype and then locate and click on your shortcut to make sure it works. Skype will ask you to confirm whether you want this application to communicate with it. Make sure you say “yes”.
If you’d like the utility to start up whenever you load Skype, then perform the last set of steps:
1. In Skype, go to the Options Menu.
2. Select “Notifications” from the left, then “Skype Login” from the main window.
3. Tick the “Advanced View” box in the top right.
4. Check the box labeled “Execute the following script” towards the bottom.
5. In the box below this, enter the following line:
6. Click “Apply”.
Test this by closing and then re-opening Skype. The Skysentials window should open up shortly after you log in.
Personally, I’ve opted not to have it fire up at the start as I don’t always need it and it won’t minimise to the tray. Instead, I just open and close it as I need from the main Applications menu. If you use multiple workspaces (I don’t) you could always pop it in there.
It’s an excellent little add-on, but a shame it’s functionality isn’t built in to the current version of Skype for Linux. I’ve mailed Skype to ask when they’re going to bring this version up to date with all their others, but have had no reply. At least this works, and works very well!
Additional step: one thing I found when I’d finished installing it, was that I struggled to get rid of the originally downloaded files. When running “sudo python setup.py install”, files are created by root which you can’t delete normally. I managed to get these into my waste basket and then couldn’t ditch them. Awkward.
If you’ve not managed to wedge it into the wastebasket, navigate to the folder you extracted it to. If you did manage to do what I did and get it stuck in the wastebasket, go to ~/.local/share/Trash/files.
Either way, once you’re there execute the following line:
sudo rm -rf <foldername>
Another additional step: I just spotted that my shortcut icon is no longer working. On trying the command from the terminal, I saw it was failing with “segmentation fault”. On a whim, I ran it using sudo and lo – it worked. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled to no avail.
If you’re also having this issue, then edit your shortcut (instructions above) and prefix the “Command” line with gksudo. Note: not sudo. The former works in the graphic environment and will ask you for your password when you run skysentials. Using plain sudo will achieve nothing and leave you with a seemingly non-functional shortcut.
Annoying having to do this, but I can’t find another way around it. I’m wondering if it’s because I have two versions of Python installed (2.5 and 2.6) although skysentials was configured only with 2.6. The only other change I’ve made recently is upgrading from 8.10 Hardy to 9.04 Jaunty. Could be related but it’s been a while since I used the program.