[Herts] Making a Skype Photo Frame as a Linux Appliance for my Granny!

Mike - XP Computers mike at xpcomputers.co.uk
Fri Dec 31 18:41:44 UTC 2010

Hi All,

I have a cunning idea developing in my head, but no idea how to complete it!

I want to turn an old laptop into a Linux Photo Frame... but I want to make
one that will allow my 93 year old Granny to also be able to receive Skype
Video Calls!!! It seems to be a logical progression on the "Linux Digital
Photo Frame" idea, but am surprised that I can't find details on the web of
anyone who's made a "Skype Photo Frame" before (unless it is just my poor
Google searching skills!). (Surely some had this idea already?)
She has never used a computer before, so simple = better.

I am thinking laptop screen in a wooden frame (with no keyboard or mouse
accessible). When powered on, auto boots into photo slide show. Skype runs
in the background. She can't call out, only receive calls. When a call is
incoming, she gets the normal skype message on the screen, and it either
auto-answers with full-screen video after a set number of rings, or probably
more likely, has a single button on the frame to answer the call, pause the
slideshow and make video full screen. At the end of the call, the frame
reverts to photo slideshow mode and puts skype into background again.

Damn Small Linux seems to be a popular choice for Linux Photo Frames, but
I've been advised that this would probably be a pain for Skype (due to QT or
something - this is where my current Linux knowledge get sketchy!).

Arch Linux was suggested as an option. I've also dabbled in Mint Linux in
the past, so have some experience with it, which makes me lean slightly in
that direction naturally.

Mint however has many flavours itself. Gnome, LXDE, Xfce, KDE or Fluxbox.

Before I get carried away with the fine detail (which will need considering
at some point), is there good reasons to use one DE over another, because it
handles slideshows, scripting or Skype better/easier than the others, or is
it really likely to just be personal preference, as they will all work? 

I've heard that LXDE, Xfce or Fluxbox are all lighter weight, and therefore
snappier than Gnome (which is the version of Mint I've used previously).

So at this stage, bearing in mind the end goal, the first thing to decide is
which Linux base would you start with? Arch? Mint? DSL? Something else? And

Then I'll need to get thinking about details later. I'm assuming device will
have power cuts / unclean shutdowns, so having some sort of boot image that
loads a runtime in another partition / ram might work well (or something
similar?), in case this impinges upon Linux version choice.

Deadline for completion is End of Jan, as we are emigrating to NZ at
beginning of Feb. Any other thoughts and input would be most welcomed! 

Hope you all have a great New Year's celebration, and 2011 is a good one!


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