Jan 28, 2013

Headless Skype to IRC gateway part 3 - bitlbee + skyped

As per previous entry, with mock-desktop setup of Xvfb, fluxbox, x11vnc and skype in place, the only thing left is to use skype interfaces (e.g. dbus) to hook it up with existing IRC setup and maybe insulate skype process from the rest of the system.

Last bit is even easier than usual, since all the 32-bit libs skype needs are collected in one path, so no need to allow it to scan whatever system paths. Decided to go with the usual simplistic apparmor-way here - apparmor.profile, don't see much reason to be more paranoid here.

Also, libasound, used in skype gets quite noisy log-wise about not having the actual hardware on the system, but I felt bad about supressing the whole stderr stream from skype (to not miss the crash/hang info there), so had to look up a way to /dev/null alsa-lib output.
General way seem to be having "null" module as "default" sink
pcm.!default {
  type null
ctl.!default {
  type null

(libasound can be pointed to a local config by ALSA_CONFIG_PATH env var)

That "null" module is actually a dynamically-loaded .so, but alsa prints just a single line about it being missing instead of an endless stream of complaints for missing hw, so the thing works, by accident.

Luckily, bitlbee has support for skype, thanks to vmiklos, with sane way to run bitlbee and skype setup on different hosts (as it actually is in my case) through "skyped" daemon talking to skype and bitlbee connecting to its tcp (tls-wrapped) socket.

Using skyped shipped with bitlbee (which is a bit newer than on bitlbee-skype github) somewhat worked, with no ability to reconnect to it (hangs after handling first connection), ~1/4 chance of connection from bitlbee failing, it's persistence in starting skype (even though it's completely unnecessary in my case - systemd can do it way better) and such.

It's fairly simple python script though, based on somewhat unconventional Skype4Py module, so was able to fix most annoying of these issues (code can be found in the skype-space repo).
Will try to get these merged into bitlbee as I'm not the only one having these issues, apparently (e.g. #966), but so many things seem to be broken in that code (esp. wrt socket-handling), I think some major rewrite is in order, but that might be much harder to push upstream.
One interesting quirk of skyped is that it uses TLS to protect connections (allowing full control of the skype account) between bitlbee module and the daemon, but it doesn't bothers with any authorization, making that traffic as secure as plaintext to anyone in-between.
Quite a bit worse is that it's documented that the traffic is "encrypted", which might get one to think "ok, so running that thing on vps I don't need ssh-tunnel wrapping", which is kinda sad.
Add to that the added complexity it brings, segfaults in the plugin (crashing bitlbee), unhandled errors like
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "./skyped", line 209, in listener
  File "/usr/lib64/python2.7/ssl.py", line 381, in wrap_socket
  File "/usr/lib64/python2.7/ssl.py", line 143, in __init__
  File "/usr/lib64/python2.7/ssl.py", line 305, in do_handshake
error: [Errno 104] Connection reset by peer
...and it seem to be classic "doing it wrong" pattern.
Not that much of an issue in my case, but I guess there should at least be a big red warning for that.

Functionality-wise, pretty much all I needed is there - one-to-one chats, bookmarked channels (as irc channels!), file transfers (just set "accept all" for these) with notifications about them, user info, contact list (add/remove with allow/deny queries),

But the most important thing by far is that it works at all, saving me plenty of work to code whatever skype-control interface over irc, though I'm very tempted to rewrite "skyped" component, which is still a lot easier with bitlbee plugin on the other end.

Units and configs for the whole final setup can be found on github.