Archive for April 17th, 2009

Avoid Skype crash with video conversation on Linux

There is a recurring problem that (used to) annoy me when I tried to use my webcam with Skype on Linux. Being a proud owner of a

00:02.1 Display controller: Intel Corporation 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device (rev 02)

the number of Xv ports that the display driver (xf86-video-intel) exports to the applications is quite limited:
$ xvinfo | grep ports
number of ports: 1

Yep, only one, not enough to show both the incoming and the outgoing video stream. Skype underlines the problem by printing
Xv ports available: 1
on the console and, most importantly, by crashing whenever I try a full-duplex video conversation.

The workaround I found this evening is quite simple and I wonder why my previous attempts were unable to hit the target:

  1. Establish the audio conversation with the counterpart.
  2. Enable my own video stream: I see the video thumbnail and the peer starts receiving my image.
  3. Disable the local visualization of my video stream: I no longer see the preview, but the counterpart still receives my video. More importantly, the video resource (the Xv port) is still held by the application, so the attempt to show a new video window, in this moment, would crash Skype.
  4. Stop streaming my own video: the peer no longer sees my image. Probably Skype releases the Xv port in this moment.
  5. Ask the peer to start streaming his/her image: Skype allocates the (now free) Xv port to the incoming video, thus showing the counterpart data.
  6. Restart my video stream: Skype remembers that I desired not to see my preview in the current session, so no allocation attempt takes place, thus no crash.

Maybe there are some variations of the algorithm that work as well, but that’s enough for me 🙂 (and this method is almost transparent to the counterpart).

3 comments April 17th, 2009



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