Build a Skype Server for Your Home Phone System

Build this Skype server to provide 24/7 phone service through regular phone handsets in your home—and save a bundle of money in the process!

One irritating feature of Skype is that it must be running on a computer for you to make and receive calls. That is, when your computer is off, Skype doesn’t work. Moreover, when you run Skype on the computer you use day in and day out, Skype’s performance (call quality, reliability and so forth) can suffer if you are doing other things that deprive it of the runtime resources it needs.

My solution was to build a Skype server that provides 24/7 phone service with the minimum of hassle and fuss. By dumping your regular phone company and taking back control of your home phone wiring using a Skype server, you will have not only a phone system with nearly the same capabilities as before—indeed, in some ways better—you will also save a bundle of money! In my case, I save a little less than $700 US each year (this year, next year, and the year after that, and so on), or about 82% off of my old phone bill.

Using a Skype server plugged in to the existing copper phone wiring of your home means that you can lift a receiver anywhere in your home, at any time, and get a regular dial tone. Incoming calls either from Skype users or regular phones ring all handsets throughout your home. Basically, you can make Skype behave like a regular phone line, but at a tiny fraction of the cost.

You have three choices when building a Skype server: buy a new computer, build a new computer or convert an old machine you have conveniently at hand. This article shows you how to build a new computer from scratch to act as a Skype server. However, whichever path you take, the configuration is the same and is covered in this article.

Skype is not an all-or-nothing proposition, as you can mix and match Skype with your existing phone system, and run the new alongside the old in parallel. That way you have the comfort of having a regular land line and, at the same time, reap the benefits of Skype, such as free Skype-to-Skype calls, and long-distance and international calls at very low rates. This is the approach this article takes, and the configuration you should be aiming for should look something like that in Figure 1. Keeping one of your regular phone lines neatly sidesteps issues such as 911, 411, regular fax and alarm system monitoring (make sure the regular phone line you keep is the one used by your home alarm).

The setup shown in Figure 1 also simplifies the configuration of your Skype server a good deal. Indeed, making multiple instances of Skype run under Linux to support multiple phone lines is another article in itself!

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