Skype for Linux Alpha from Microsoft gets device settings and a system tray icon


When Microsoft announced the new Skype for Linux Alpha, it made a commitment to update this client every two weeks. Microsoft has kept its promise and Skype for Linux Alpha has already seen some notable updates.

What’s new in Skype 1.2

If you are using Skype for Linux Alpha, you will see some interesting improvements. Skype adds a software repository when you install it, so updates will arrive through the normal software update application on your Linux desktop. Skype for Linux Alpha is now at version 1.2, and a changelog posted on the Skype forums highlights what’s new.

In particular, you can now modify your audio and video devices, that is to say your microphone and your webcam, within the application. This option is a bit hidden, as it is not available in a normal settings window. Instead, you need to join a call, and during the call, click a gear icon that appears next to the microphone icon. You can then choose the devices.

Although you can configure your webcam in the client, you cannot yet participate in video calls. The option to tune your microphone highlights that support for video calls should soon appear in Skype for Linux Alpha. That probably means video calling is almost here for Skype for the web on Chromebooks as well.

Skype for Linux Alpha is essentially Skype for the Web with Linux desktop integration functionality.

Linux users will also find a new option to close Skype in their desktop system tray at Tools> Near the bin, allowing Skype to continue running in the background without cluttering the desktop with a window.

Other improvements include support for HD avatars, the ability to set a mood message from your profile screen, and a more reliable chat service if you’ve been logged in for a long time.

Expect more updates to arrive every two weeks, as Microsoft is working hard to prepare Skype for Linux Alpha to fully replace the old Skype for Linux application.

Some Linux users may not be happy about having a beautified web app, but let’s be honest: it’s impressive that Microsoft is putting so much effort into a Linux desktop app.

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