Note This page is here only for historical reasons. You probably want to have a look at the merged code.

1. Status

Okay, this exists now, with lots of thanks to vmiklos for his excellent work!!

It’s not in the main BitlBee and it’ll never be for various reasons, but because it’s a plugin that shouldn’t be a problem.

— Wilmer van der Gaast (author of BitlBee)

One day I browsed the BitlBee bugtracker and found this ticket. Then after a while I returned and saw that it was still open. So I wrote it.

It’s pretty stable (one day I wanted to restart it because of an upgrade and just noticed it was running for 2+ months without crashing), I use it for my daily work. Being a plug-in, no patching is required, you can just install it after installing BitlBee itself.

Note You will see that this implementation of the Skype plug-in still requires a Skype instance to be running. This is because I’m not motivated to reverse engineer Skype’s obfuscation layer. (Not mentioning that you should ask your lawyer about if it is legal or not..)

2. Requirements

  • Skype >= The latest version I’ve tested is

  • BitlBee >= 3.0. The latest version I’ve tested is 3.0.1. Use old versions (see the NEWS file about which one) if you have older BitlBee installed.

  • Skype4Py >= Previous versions won’t work due to API changes. The latest version I’ve tested is

  • Python >= 2.5. Skype4Py does not work with 2.4.

  • OS: bitlbee-skype has been tested under Linux and Mac OS X. The plugin part has been tested under Free/Open/NetBSD as well. The daemon part has been tested on Windows, too.

3. How to set it up

Before you start. The setup is the following: BitlBee can’t connect directly to Skype servers (the company’s ones). It needs a running Skype client to do so. In fact BitlBee will connect to skyped (a tcp server, provided in this package) and skyped will connect to to your Skype client.

The benefit of this architecture is that you can run Skype and skyped on a machine different to the one where you run BitlBee (it can be even a public server) and/or your IRC client.

Note The order is important. First skyped starts Skype. Then skyped connects to Skype, finally BitlBee can connect to skyped.

3.1. Installing under Frugalware or Debian

  • Install the necessary packages:

# pacman-g2 -S bitlbee-skype


# apt-get install skyped bitlbee-plugin-skype

(the later from the unstable repo)

and you don’t have to compile anything manually.

3.2. Installing under OS X

  • Install the necessary packages from ports:

Note You have to edit the Portfile manually to include the install-dev target, just append install-dev after install-etc.
# port -v install bitlbee

and you have to install bitlbee-skype and skype4py from source.

3.3. Installing from source

Note bitlbee-skype by default builds and installs skyped and the plugin. In case you just want to install the plugin for a public server or you want to use skyped with a public server (like, you don’t need both.
  • You need the latest stable BitlBee release (unless you want to use a public server):

$ wget
$ tar xf bitlbee-3.0.1.tar.gz
$ cd bitlbee-3.0.1
  • Now compile and install it:

$ ./configure
$ make
# make install install-dev
  • To install Skype4Py from source (unless you want to install the plugin for a public server):

$ tar -zxvf Skype4Py-x.x.x.x.tar.gz
$ cd Skype4Py-x.x.x.x
# python install
  • Get the plugin code (in an empty dir, or whereever you want, it does not matter):

$ wget
$ tar xf bitlbee-skype-0.9.0.tar.gz
$ cd bitlbee-skype-0.9.0
  • Compile and install it:

$ ./configure
$ make
# make install

This will install the plugin to where BitlBee expects them, which is /usr/local/lib/bitlbee if you installed BitlBee from source.

3.4. Configuring

  • Set up ~/.skyped/skyped.conf: Create the ~/.skyped directory, copy skyped.conf and skyped.cnf from /usr/local/etc/skyped/skyped.conf to ~/.skyped, adjust username and password. The username should be your Skype login and the password can be whatever you want, but you will have to specify that one when adding the Skype account to BitlBee (see later).

Note Here, and later - /usr/local/etc can be different on your installation if you used the --sysconfdir switch when running bitlbee-skype’s configure.
  • Generate the SSL pem files:

# cd ~/.skyped
# openssl req -new -x509 -days 365 -nodes -config skyped.cnf -out skyped.cert.pem \
        -keyout skyped.key.pem
Note Maybe you want to adjust the permissions in the ~/.skyped dir. For example make it readable by just your user.
  • Start skyped (the tcp server):

$ skyped
  • Start your IRC client, connect to BitlBee and add your account:

account add skype <user> <pass>
account skype set server localhost

<user> should be your Skype account name, <pass> should be the one you declared in skyped.conf. If you want to run skyped on a remote machine, replace localhost with the name of the machine.

If you are running skyped on a custom port:

account skype set port <port>

If you want to set your full name (optional):

account skype set display_name "John Smith"

If you want to see your skypeout contacts online as well (they are offline by default):

account skype set skypeout_offline false

4. Setting up Skype in a VNC server (optional)

Optionally, if you want to run Skype on a server, you might want to setup up a VNC server as well. I used tightvnc but probably other VNC servers will work, too.

First run

$ vncpasswd ~/.vnc/passwd

and create a password. You will need it at least once.

Now create ~/.vnc/xstartup with the following contents:



Adjust the permissions:

$ chmod +x ~/.vnc/xstartup

Then start the server:

$ vncserver

Then connect to it, start an xterm, set up Skype (username, password, enable X11 API and allow the Skype4Py client), quit from Skype, and start skyped. If you want to watch its traffic, enable debug messages and foreground mode:

$ skyped -n -d

5. Features

  • Download nicks and away statuses from Skype

  • Noticing joins / parts while we’re connected

  • Sending messages

  • Receiving messages

  • Receiving away status changes

  • skyped (the tcp daemon that is a gateway between Skype and tcp)

  • Error handling when skyped is not running and when it exits

  • Marking received messages as seen so that Skype won’t say there are unread messages

  • Adding / removing contacts

  • Set away state when you do a /away.

  • When you account off, Skype will set status to Offline

  • When you account on, Skype will set status to Online

  • Detect when somebody wants to add you and ask for confirmation

  • Detect when somebody wants to transfer a file

  • Group chat support:

    • Detect if we’re invited

    • Send / receive group chat messages

    • Invite others (using /invite <nick>)

    • Part from group chats

    • Starting a group chat (using /j #nick)

  • Topic changes in group chats:

    • Show the current topic (if any) on join

    • Notice when someone changes the topic

    • Support changing the topic using /topic

  • Viewing the profile using the info command.

  • Handling skype actions (when the CHATMESSAGE has EMOTED type)

  • Setting your display name using the nick command.

  • Running Skype on a machine different to BitlBee is possible, the communication is encrypted.

  • Managing outgoing calls (with call duration at the end):

    • /ctcp nick call

    • /ctcp nick hangup

  • Managing outgoing SkypeOut or conference calls:

    • account skype set call +18005551234

    • account skype set call nick1 nick2

    • account skype set -del call

  • Managing incoming calls via questions, just like when you add / remove contacts.

  • Querying the current SkypeOut balance:

    • account skype set balance query

  • For debug purposes, it’s possible to send any command to skyped. To achieve this, you need to:

    • account skype set skypeconsole true

    • then writing skypeconsole: <command> will work in the control channel.

    • account skype set skypeconsole_receive true will make the skypeconsole account dump all the recieved raw traffic for you

  • If you want to automatically join bookmarked groupchats right after you logged in, do:

    • account skype set auto_join true

  • Edited messages are shown with the EDIT: prefix. If you don’t like this, you can set your own prefix using:

    • account skype set edit_prefix "updated message:"

  • The echo123 test account is hidden by default. If you want to see it:

    • account skype set test_join true

  • Mood texts are not shown by default. If you want to see it:

    • account skype set show_moods true

  • Group support:

    • Skype groups are told to BitlBee

    • The usual /invite in a group channel adds the buddy to the group in skype as well (and if necessary, it creates a new group in Skype)

6. What needs to be done (aka. TODO)

  • Notice if foo invites bar. Currently you can see only that bar joined.

  • Public chats. See this feature request, this is because it is still not possible (under Linux) to join_chat to a public chat..

  • Add yasrd (Yet Another Skype-Related Daemon) to allow using a public server for users who are behind NAT.

7. I would like to have support for …

If something does not work and it’s not in the TODO section, then please contact me! Please also try the git version before reporting a bug, your problem may be already fixed there.

In fact, of course, I wrote this documentation after figured out how to do this setup, so maybe I left out some steps. If you needed any additional tricks, then it would be nice to include them here.

8. Known bugs

  • File transfers are view-only from BitlBee. Quoting the relevant documentation: File transfers cannot be initiated nor accepted via API commands. So it’s not something I can add support for, sadly.

9. Screenshots

You can reach some screenshots here.

10. Additional resources

You can reach the Changelog here, and a gitweb interface here.

The Skype API documentation is here if you’re interested. (local mirror)

11. Testimonials

00:56 < scathe> I like your skype plugin :)
It's really working great so far.

Good Job and thank you!
Big respect for your work, i really appreciate it.

Thanks for bitlbee-skype. As a blind Linux user, I cannot use the
skype GUI client because qt apps ar not accessible yet with the
available screen readers. bitlbee-skype allows me to make use of skype
without having to interact much with the GUI client, which helps me a

02:12 < newton> i must say, i love this little bee ;)
02:15 < newton> tried it out today with the skype plugin, good work!
18:10 < miCSu> it works fine
13:56 < seo> i just want to thank you :)
13:56 < seo> for bitlbee-skype
13:57 < seo> it's working very well, so, again, thank you for your work, and for sharing it
22:16 < ecraven> vmiklos: thanks a lot for the skype plugin for bitlbee!
I'm blind and so I have to use a screen reader, in my case Gnome-Orca.
But since Skype is written in QT, while Orca uses gtk+, I have no direct
access to the Skype interface. That's why I desided to use Skyped and
The text console is fully accessible.
Thank you very much.

i love that bitlbeeplugin. big thx for that.

23:47 < krisfremen> thanks for creating this fabulous piece of software vmiklos :)

12. Thanks

to the following people:

  • people in AUTHORS for their contributions

  • Arkadiusz Wahlig, author of skype4py, for making suggestions to skyped

  • Gabor Adam Toth (tg), for noticing extra code is needed to handle multiline messages

  • Cristobal Palmer (tarheelcoxn), for helping to testing the plugin in a timezone different to mine

  • people on #bitlbee for feedback

Back to my projects page.