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  • Summary: Can be made to work via Pidgin Plugin
  • Details


1. Introduction

Skype is not accessible on its own. To use Skype with orca you will have to use the Pidgin Universal messemger and install the Skype4Pidgin for it. Tough accessible when properly configured, the initial configuration is also not accessible. The following paragraphs describe how to setup Skype and the Pidgin to work with each other, there might be needed sighted help for some instructions. There are alternatives to some steps that tend to be more accessible but have the potential to break things on your system, you are warned. Note that Skype nor the orca folks actively support these instructions.

These instructions are compiled from various sources and were discovered by the orca users. See the last section for references.

2. Using Alsa Instead of Pulseaudio

First and foremost you should be using alsa instead of pulse for using multiple sound applications successfully. I achieved this by installing speech-dispatcher and making suitable changes in the synths conf files so that they use alsa.

3. Downloading and Starting Skype

  1. Download the skype deb package from

  2. Use the dpkg utility for installing skype. The icon will appear under the internet menu.
  3. Start skype. you will possibly need sighted assistance at this point.
  4. If this is your first time with the skype client you will have to accept the license. Pressing alt+tab orca will speak the Window title that should be end user license agreement. Beeing on this window, press tab two times and spacebar to accept the license.

  5. wait a few seconds and the log in dialog will appear - you won't receive any confirmation reg. Do the following:
    • Type your username, then tab to the password field.
    • enter your password.
    • Press tab one time to go to the Remember my login checkbox

    • Press space to check it and shift+tab to return to the password textbox.
    • Now press enter to login (the checkbox doesn't activate the dialog default button when pressing enter so you have to go back).

3.1. Getting around the username/password dialog

  • To gett around the username/password dialog open a terminal and enter the following command:

echo "username password" | skype --pipelogin 

You must replace username and password with your skype username and password.

4. Installing and Configuring the Pidgin Plugin

  1. Access the skype4pidgin website.

  2. There are two alternatives to install it:
    • The skype4pidgin deb package that can be installed in debian based distributions with the dpkg utility. It is recomended to install this way if possible.
  3. The provided compiled binaries for 32 and 64 bit architectures (shared libraries). Copy the appropriate file to /usr/lib/purple-2 or /usr/lib/purple/plugins folder whichever may the case be.
  4. Now start pidgin and add a new account. Skype will appear in the protocols combo box. It will only ask for your user name. You can also configure some other settings such as automatically starting Skype if it's not already running.
  5. At this point orca will go silent as Skype is not gnome-based. You will need sighted assistance in order to allow this external plugin to interact with Skype. the "yes" button has to be clicked twice/thrice. Maybe you will also need to restart Orca. See next paragraph for an alternative to get around this inaccessible part.
  6. Your Skype contacts will appear in the buddy list. You can press application key on any of your contacts for performing many functions like text chat and make a voice call. Pidgin will also alert you for incoming calls and you can press accept/reject buttons. At present only voice and text chat functions are available.

4.1. How to get around the authorization Dialog

In this step you will have to edit the skype configuration directly. Change to the folder:


Where $HOME is your home folder and $SKYPEUSERNAME is your skype username. Entering.

There will be a file in here called "config.xml". Open this with whichever editor you prefer. Now, find the API tag, a quick search for "API" without the quotes should get you to it. The tag looks like:


On the next line you should see the following:


Change this to read:


Note the capital P in Pidgin, that's important. If you don't have the authorizations line don't worry, simply paste the above line underneath the line with the API tag, and above the line that reads:


Save the file and exit.

Start skype as described above, it should log you in immediately and you'll here the login sound.

5. References and Further Information

The information on this page and the other Orca-related pages on this site are distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.


Projects/Orca/Skype (last edited 2013-12-28 19:27:40 by WilliamJonMcCann)