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With Linux I have functioned up to now just using apt-get and modifying /etc/apt/sources.list . I followed the instructions in this blog. I added "deb h ttp:// stable non-free" to sources.list, then updated, then tried apt-get install skype

Package skype is not available, but is referred to by another package.
This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or
is only available from another source

This is probably what I get for using 5 year old blog found on google, but if you all share the right repository I can at least get skype to work. But this is part of a bigger problem I have.

I don't actually know how to install packages I download myself, rather than through apt. For instance, I got official skype site's package downloaded, but I don't know how or where to unpack it, and if I have to do something to ensure my computer uses it. I also have a few other applications and games sitting on my hard drive untouched.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

It doesn't look like the Skype official repos exist any more.

You would need to download it from Skype directly like you have, then use

dpkg -i skype-debian_2.2.0.35-1_i386.deb 

(if you got the 32bit version).

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