Installing and Customizing Skype (and other QT apps) on 64 Bit Ubuntu

Posted by on May 12, 2008 in Ubuntu2 comments

Skype. Skype, skype, skype… Say it enough times, and it sounds like a nonsensical sound. Mind you, say any word repeatedly, enough times, and it ceases to sound like a real word and becomes gibberish, randomly rolling between toungue and palate like a peanut in a tin can. Try it. “Flannel” is a great word to experiment with, although after 30 seconds of repeating it, you’ll probably question your sanity…

But anyway, this post isn’t about language, it’s about how I got Skype installed, and customized the look and feel of the GUI. I’ll not bore you with the details on what Skype is, and what it does – most people know already, and most likely found this page by searching for “Installing Skype on 64 Bit Ubunutu”, or some such string. If not, you can check out the Skype website.

First things first – as of writing this post, there is no 64 Bit version of Skype available for Linux. Thankfully, it is possible to install 32 Bit applications in 64 Bit Ubuntu with the correct libraries:

sudo apt-get install ia32-libs

ia32-libs is available through the Universe repositories, which can be activated by going to System -> Administration -> Software Sources and checking the “Universe” option.

Having installed the correct libraries, I downloaded the deb package (generic download page here), and saved it to my Desktop. Since it is a 32 bit application, dpkg requires prodding with the –force-architecture and –force-depends options:

cd ~/Desktop
sudo dpkg --install --force-architecture --force-depends skype-debian_2.0.0.68-1_i386.deb

(The current version is – if you have downloaded a later version, you’ll need to replace the version number in the file name with the current version. If, like me, you’re lazy, you can copy and paste everything up to and including “skype” then press the Tab key… the Terminal will fill in the rest of the file name).

That’s pretty much it. Skype can be found under Applications -> Internet -> Skype.

Since Skype is a Qt application, it is possible to customise the interface using an application called qtconfig. For Completeness I also installed the msttcorefonts package, which installs a few, well, core MS True Type fonts, such as Times, Courier, etc.

sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts
sudo fc-cache -fv

Running fc-cache will rebuild the Font cache to include the newly installed fonts. Restarting X by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Backspace will also do the trick. With this done, I installed the Qt Config application:

sudo apt-get install qt3-qtconfig

To give the Qt applications a “Gnomeish” look, there is a theme called Polymer available:

sudo apt-get install polymer

With these installed, it is possible to run the Qt Config tool from either System -> Preferences -> Qt3 Configuration, or by executing qtconfig in a terminal. The first tab – Appearance – allows us to select the Polymer theme, by changing “Select GUI Style” to Polymer:

The second tab, “Fonts” allows control over how Qt displays text. Skype can be made more readable and friendly, by increasing the font size to 10 Points, and changing the font family to Sans Serif:

Save the changes with either File -> Save or Ctrl+S, exit, and start Skype (or any Qt application) to see the changes.

That’s it!


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