Chapter 1. Introduction

This program allows an ordinary telephone to be used with Skype, through a USB-B2K telbox connected to the telephone at one end, and the USB port of a computer at the other. If a PSTN line (landline) is available, this too can be connected to the telbox, and both services can be used from the same telephone handset.

A table of speed dial numbers permits calls to Skype IDs and frequently dialed telephone numbers to be dialed easily through the telephone handset, without opening the Skype client directly (note that a SkypeOut subscription is required to place calls to ordinary telephones via Skype). Additional features include a customizable ring pattern for incoming Skype calls, volume control settings in the kb2kskype client window, and nifty command line options to assist in integrating Skype with a desktop environment.

The program is compatible with a wide range of Linux systems and kernel combinations, and binary packages are available for easy installation on a number of popular Linux distributions.[1]

A USB-B2K telbox must be connected to the computer via a USB port for this software to work. This particular type of telbox, originally manufactured by Yealink,[2] has been rebranded by several firms as OEM equipment, and may be found under various product names, including:

To communicate with and control the telbox, this software depends on the separately distributed usbb2k_api interface daemon. That utility will be installed and configured automatically when this program is added to the system from one of the binary installer packages.

In most environments, this application should just work. But if you do have problems, or would like to offer suggestions or extensions to the software, your feedback is welcome. There is a dedicated project forum on Sourceforge. A discussion thread can also be found on the Skype for Linux forum. Please feel free to ask for help, to offer suggestions, and make (or better yet, implement!) feature requests that would be useful to others.

[1] Skype for Linux version 1.3 or higher is required.

[2] Users may observe that this program provides functionality similar to that of SkypeMate for Linux (the driver supplied in binary form by Yealink, the original manufacturers of the USB-B2K telbox). This program differs from that product in three respects:

  • Because this program uses a more general method to communicate with the running Skype process (X11 messaging), it can be used on a wider variety of Linux systems.

  • This program can be used to inform other programs when the telephone is offhook, and to control the user's Skype online status using an arbitrary script.

  • This program is free software.