HOWTO: Record Skype Conversations In Linux

Posted on Fri 17 February 2006 in Dispatches • 4 min read

The purpose of this guide is to show you how to record your Skype conversations for legitimate purposes. Remember to respect your local laws regarding the recording of telephone calls, and to respect your local copyright laws in any recording endeavor.

UPDATE: If you are using Skype 1.3 beta, see below for additional instructions.

UPDATE: This guide is very old and likely will not work for recent versions of Skype. Luckily, someone has prepared a new solution that seems to work well for the majority of people trying it. Unless, your Skype (and Linux install) is truly ancient I recommend trying out Skype Call Recorder, which is a free and open source program for both Linux and Windows. However, the original instructions are preserved for posterity below.

The basics of how to do the recording can be found here. However, since the linked article is targeted to Ubuntu users I will provide a more generic guide.

You will need vsound, sox and lame (for mp3 encoding goodness) to satisfy the dependencies of this process. If your distro does not have a binary build of these, you can download the source from the above links and compile them manually. Don’t fear the command line. :)

Then, simply stop by Twisted Little Gnome and download the skype-rec script. Currently down, see below!

Extract the package to your magical home of choice and open a terminal. Change directories to the directory skype-rec-kraken and run make. The program is now ready to go, but you may want to set options specific to your system to ensure correct execution.

To configure the program, open the file skype-rec in your favorite text editor. There are several variables you can set for your personal options. In most cases you won’t have to change anything so long as you can run Skype by just typing skype on the command line. If this is not the case, enter your terminal command for executing Skype for the $SKYPE option. You may also want to change the default encoding rate to 96 kbps from 128 unless you want to start generating massive files. Save your file and wash your hands.

Now, on the command line (in the program’s directory of course) type: ./skype-rec. If you’ve configured your file correctly, Skype will start. Upon exiting Skype, all your conversations from that session will be converted to mp3 format at the bitrate you chose. It will appear in the program folder and have some wacky name like v00000000.mp3.

Rename the file to something more meaningful and move it to your folder of preference. There will also be two *.au files in that directory. Go ahead and delete them so the program doesn’t try to encode the conversation again. Or you could set the configuration of the program to automatically wipe those files upon completion by setting the $CLEANUP_ORIG option in skype-rec to 1.

Whoo-hoo! Now you can record your Skype conversations without additional hardware, so long as you are running some flavor of Linux. It works beautifully on my SuSE distro. :D

UPDATE: Twisted Little Gnome appears to be down. So I shall host the script here as well, as that is permitted under its license.

Download the script here! Please use the script below.

UPDATE: The above instructions will not work on the Skype 1.3 beta. In order to record off of that Skype version, you will need the new version of the skype-rec script which is available here.

Download the new script and extract it to its own folder. Change directories to the new folder, run make and make install. Then open the file skype-rec.rc in your favorite text editor and edit the options to meet your needs. There are a few more choices in this version, including a stereo remixing of the conversation which I’m still trying to get to work for me (doesn’t work for the Skype beta at least), and ogg encoding, which is a welcome sight. As an added plus, it also converts your conversations as you complete them, rather than rolling an entire session into one huge sound file. :)

After you’ve set all your options, copy the file to your home directory and rename it to .skype-rec.

$ cp skype-rec.rc $HOME/.skype-rec

Please note that you will have to have Skype in OSS mode in order for the script to work, so you’ll lose your shiny new ALSA goodness for your recording session. You can always set it back when you are done.

I’ll continue hosting the old script here, although I highly recommend you upgrade using the new script available over at Sourceforge.

UPDATE: For whatever reason, I still can’t seem to get this script to work since I upgraded to a 64-bit environment, so if you are an early adopter of 64-bit *nix and it works for you, drop me a line so we can figure it out for everyone.