Recording Skype calls on Linux is a very tricky business. Microsoft continually updates the framework of the program, and how other tools can interact with it which breaks existing tools. For years, little programs like Skype Call Recorder could directly connect to the popular VOIP program and record everything but these days it’s not that easy to record Skype calls on Linux.
In this tutorial, we’ll use the recording function in the OpenBroadcaster software. We’ll go this route, as it can simultaneously record audio from a PC microphone input, as well as the PC audio at the same time.
Unfortunately, OBS only records in video FLV (flash) video format, so after getting our Skype call, we’ll need to convert the video to an MP3 file.
Follow the instructions below to install OBS on your Linux PC. Also, make sure you’ve got the latest version of Skype installed.
Record Skype Calls With OBS
Open up the OBS tool and look under “mixer.” It is an audio analyzer that lets you manage the sound volume (in the recording) for both the desktop audio, as well as the default microphone input. The mixer will show how levels look. Mess with these levels by dragging the slider around. Once you’re satisfied with the levels, open up Skype and start an audio call. You’ll notice that as you and your guest talk, the meters above the mixer start to move. Keep an eye on them, and make sure they don’t get too loud.
Look under sources and click the + sign. Add the source “Audio Output Capture (PulseAudio),” as well as Audio Input Capture (PulseAudio).
Note: Keep all other sounds on your Linux desktop muted, as they will appear in the recording and mess everything up.
Click the “Start Recording” button, and let your call go on. Record in OBS for as long as you’d like. When you’re done, click the “Stop Recording” button. When OBS finishes recording, you’ll see an FLV video file with the date in it. The FLV video is your OBS recording. Keep this FLV file in a safe place, as it’s the source file needed for the rest of this tutorial.
Convert FLV to MP3 With FFMPEG
Now that we have the Skype conversation recorded with OBS in an FLV file, we need to convert it to an audio file. The easiest way to do this is with the FFMPEG command-line encoder tool. Chances are pretty good that you’ve already got this tool on your PC. If not, follow the instructions to install FFMPEG on Linux.
sudo apt install ffmpeg
sudo apt-get install ffmpeg
sudo pacman -S ffmpeg
sudo dnf install ffmpeg
sudo dnf install ffmpeg
FFMPEG is a widely used encoding tool and the backbone of a lot of audio and video programs on Linux. If your distribution isn’t listed above and you need to install it, open up a terminal, use your package manager to search “FFMPEG.” Otherwise, visit the official FFmpeg website and learn how to build and install it by hand.
With FFMPEG on the system, the encoding can begin. Open the file manager to /home/, right-click on the FLV recording file, and change the name to skype-call.flv. Renaming will make it easier to write out the title in the terminal.
Next, use the encoding tool to convert FLV to MP3.
ffmpeg -i skype-call.flv skype-call.mp3
When FFmpeg finishes, you’ll see skype-call.mp3 in your /home/ directory.
Next, delete skype-call.flv, now that the recording is converted.
Editing Skype Recordings With Audacity
There are many audio editors on Linux, but for basic editing, you can’t go wrong with Audacity. To edit your newly converted MP3 file, install the Audacity tool.
sudo apt install audacity
sudo apt-get install audacity
sudo pacman -S audacity
sudo dnf install audacity
sudo zypper install audacity
After installing Audacity, open it up and click “File.” Inside the “File” menu, look for “Import” and hover over it. Inside “Import” select “Audio.” Clicking the audio option opens up a file browser. Use it to find skype-call.mp3, and click “open.”
Importing audio, especially long-form MP3 files (like a Skype conversation) could take a while, depending on your PC’s power. Give it a few minutes, and eventually, the MP3 file will be fully loaded into Audacity.
From here, feel free to use the Audacity audio editor to trim and make cuts to your Skype recording. When you’re satisfied with how everything looks, click “File” then “Export audio.” Use the pop-up menu to add ID3 metadata to the MP3 file, and then click the button to start the export process.
Keep in mind that exporting audio files (especially with more than two stereo tracks) can take a very long time.
A Note On Ethics & Legality
While Skype calls aren’t regulated the same way calls over a cellular network are, it may be illegal to record Skype calls unless everyone in the call knows they’re being recorded. Make sure you’re not violating any privacy laws in your country, and let the person on the other end know they’re being recorded out of courtesy.