Tag Archives: chat

profanity: An XMPP client for the console, irssi-style

I like the looks of profanity, which is a console-based jabber client that follows the style of irssi.


Now, I’m not such a huge fan of irssi that anything that comes along and has a faint resemblance is going to win a pat on the back from me.

profanity has a clean feel and obvious style to it, particularly after working with irssi, and that makes it easy to pick up.

That, and a terse user’s guide and a snazzy home page, are all bonuses in my book. The fact that it’s written in C and could probably stay afloat on a leftover Pentium is another.

I’ve run across enough instant messengers in the past year to know that some of them are quite flexible, and some are quite complex.

profanity needed no more than a nudge from me and my password to get me online and working, as you can see.

I have said it many times, but it bears repeating: A chat client is only of interest if it supports the service you subscribe to.

So perhaps this particular program will only appeal to a slender portion of the listening audience. But even if that doesn’t include you, it’s worth taking a look at. It does a lot of things right.

naim: Not quite due diligence

I’m stuck in that conundrum again, where I have a messenger that I hope to mention here, but I don’t have an account for its particular service.


That’s naim, which I believe should hook up to Aim, the chat service that very proudly touts its 17-year heritage on its website.

Be that as it may, in the past 17 years I’ve never gotten an Aim account. I’d do so now, but the last time I opened an account just to show a client, I never went back to it. And for all I know, it has been expunged as inactive.

All that is immaterial. I’m willing to assume naim works as promised, and give it bonus points for color. ­čśë

But short of actually connecting and using it, I’m afraid that’s as close as I can get.

The sad part is, I know there are more toys like this coming in the N section. So there will be more untestables. ­čśĽ

P.S., I should mention that installing naim gives you nicq, nirc and nlily as well, so depending on your network, this might be the tool for you.

mcabber: Looking good, in principle

I was looking forward to mcabber, assuming of course that I would have plenty to show in a console-based jabber client.


Unfortunately, that was as far as I got. I checked the documentation I could find, to include the highly endorsed but rather sparse built-in help, but for some reason, never got past mcabber’s eternal “Connecting …” message.

As always, I will take responsibility for this shortcoming. I did pare down the sample configuration file at /usr/share/mcabber/examples/mcabberrc, and there’s probably something in there that I set wrong. It happens.

I would like to spend a little more time with mcabber, and perhaps I will again in the future. I see it comes with built-in OTR support, and I think relying on encryption as a default in chat is a necessity in this new age.

Of course, it might take a little time to figure out why it never “connects.” And unfortunately with 800+ applications still waiting in the wings, time is in short supply. ­čśŽ

ircII: The classic, as advertised

ircII is a name that keeps echoing around every time I install an IRC client. Invariably something claims its heritage as, or compares itself to, ircII.

Which made me rather curious to put it to work.


And it’s … well, just as I expected, I suppose. If I stripped away the visual elements of something like epic4/5 or erc, or the colorized arrangements of irssi, or just about any other frill from something like bitchx or frequency or what have you … well, I suppose I’d end up with ircII.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. ircII starts up fine, has most of the command-line options you’d expect, and as advertised, jumps straight into irc.debian.org, and starts spilling the beans.

ircII seems to have a few derivatives available, as evidenced by a quick AUR search. I doubt that list is comprehensive.

A small measure of irony again though: My efforts to build straight ircII in Arch were met with errors. Perhaps one of the offshoots would fare better.

Beyond that, there’s not much I can offer in advice for ircII. It is, as advertised, the classic. Perhaps that’s enough.

frequency: Chat clients abound

I had the word “frequency” in my list of applications, with no notes and no link, which is usually a bad sign. It usually means I either added it in haste, or it’s too difficult to find.

Luckily there is a console-based chat client called “frequency” or just fz, in AUR. And it’s not bad looking.


Apparently designed to connect with EFNet, which I hadn’t ever heard of because I’m not much of a chat fan. The history is interesting though; if you are also oblivious, it doesn’t take long to read.

Points aside, frequency, or fz as it is installed, seems to work without issue. As you can see, I was up and connected inside a few seconds.

This reminds me strongly of bitchx, not just because of the ASCII art, but just because of the general arrangement. I wonder though, if once connected, most chat clients behave the same. ­čśÉ

I do see where frequency supposedly lacks some scripting features; it might be that the author just didn’t get to that point. If you are a fierce IRC fan, it might not be flexible enough for you.

I leave it to you to explore. If you know EFNet and you are looking for a text-only interface to it, this might be preferable for you.

freetalk: Get your jabber on

I’m finding that the F section is quite replete — probably more than the E section was — but somehow a lot of the “applications” I have are just one-shot command line tools.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I enjoy finding full-frame, console applications drawn up with lots of color. Yes, I do like color.

I suppose by those meager criteria, freetalk could be a contender. It will definitely scroll to fill your screen, has a few ascii-drawn images to boast of, and replies appear in color.

So yeah, as far as a Jabber client goes, it could qualify.


freetalk is a very fundamental tool though, and doesn’t seem to have the same pizazz as something like centerim or one of the ekg twins.

Messages are sent by typing out the name (you have tab completion, so don’t worry) and the message, and until you swap targets freetalk will type out the same name again for you. Saves you a little time.

Check deep into the manual for a few fun commands, and ways to personalize the prompt. And while you’re at it, be aware that freetalk can pipe shell output straight into chat, and will drop commands to the shell as well.

As far as encryption goes … I don’t see anything in the manual or elsewhere to suggest it can be encrypted. Sad face. ­čśŽ

Check it out though. It has the svelte feel of a GNU application and enough small tweaks to keep a run-of-the-mill geek happy. Maybe you qualify. ­čśë

erc: Depends on what you already use

Not being a fervent emacs or vim fan, I find things like erc quite entertaining.


“From deep within the gurgling maw of emacs, comes … an embedded IRC client!” Nifty.

I can’t say I’m going to rush out and convert to the Evangelical Church of Emacs as a result, but it’s clever to think you can watch an IRC channel from within a text editor.

erc, by all rights, seems to behave like most other IRC clients, whether that’s irssi or epic* or bitchx or what have you.

And I suppose I should expect that. Client aside, the underlying arrangements for relay chat services are mostly the same, for what I’ve seen.

So the real benefit in using erc over any of the others, is probably that it’s meshed with emacs. Which will save you a terminal window or an extra shell process, if you’re already running it.

Of course, if you’re not a regular emacs user, erc is probably the least appealing of IRC clients, for a similar reason: It will require running an extra application in the background, just to get to erc.

So really, it depends on what you’re already using, doesn’t it? ­čśë

epic4 and epic5: Different, yet the same

Also in the Starting With E and Ending With a Version Number department, here are two IRC clients that are strikingly similar … and yet purportedly different.

2013-10-23-lv-r1fz6-epic4 2013-10-23-lv-r1fz6-epic5

I’m listing epic4 and epic5 both here because they seem to appear as twins in most distros. How different they are might take some close scrutiny.

Just watching those quick gifs probably isn’t enough to make a distinction. A brief spin past the home page isn’t much help either; I couldn’t find a page labeled “What’s the difference between epic4 and epic5?”

I do see, however, that epic4 and 5 are described as “scriptable,” and some scripts are supposedly only workable on one version or another.

So which version you pick might depend on which script you want to employ. I haven’t tested any scripts personally; you can do that and tell me what’s good.

And I don’t use chat enough to really know what’s a good client and what’s a great client. I use irssi on most machines, not because it’s awesome but because it’s what I’m used to.

So if epicX is better, for whatever reason, cue me in. Just remember I’m a casual user. ­čÖé

ekg and ekg2: The original and its revision

Here are a couple of instant message clients for you. One you might find easy and quick to adopt. The other … you might need to be a polyglot.

2013-10-23-lv-r1fz6-ekg 2013-10-23-lv-r1fz6-ekg2

I can’t help you much with ekg, on the left. This one, like adresownik, probably requires fluency in a second language (I am assuming Polish again?) to get started. And unfortunately, for all my talents, this language is not one of them.

On the other hand, ekg2 is something I can approach. It reminds me a little of centerim, which we talked about not-so-very-long-ago. Not menu-driven, but no less accessible for it.

Most controls seem to be command-driven, which makes it similar to things like irssi or barnowl or climm, and shouldn’t be too difficult to handle if you already live life at the command line. ­čśë

I think my quest for a text-based instant messenger that handles encryption may be over. The home page for ekg2 suggests it can handle gpg or rot, but it might take some time for me to get it set up. I’ll update if I do.

As a last note I should mention that ekg2 has a GTK interface; that might be important if you want the flexibility of working graphical or text-only.

I think that will do for now. There’s a long list of software out there, and it can’t wait for me to prattle on endlessly. ­čśÉ

climm: A teeny tiny message client

Here’s a fun little program … and when I say little, I mean little.


That’s climm, which I apologize for, because I almost passed it right by.

See, I mistook climm for another chat client which was aimed (get it? “Aimed”?! Ha! ­čÖä ) solely at the old MSN Messenger. That service closed down this year, which made me think climm was pointless.

I double-checked though, and I’m glad I did, because I was wrong. The climm you see above works great with XMPP/jabber/GTalk and maybe some others.

You can see there I connected right away, and there’s plenty of help to get you started with it.

And color! It has color! ­čśÇ

I didn’t go too far with climm, because again, I need encryption any more for my chat sessions. As far as I know, climm doesn’t have that.

On the other hand though, I was surprised by how small the binary is: a meager 580K or so, give or take. That’s slender. There are smaller ones, but that’s not a heavyweight by any stretch of the imagination.

So there you have it. Try it, if something like finch or barnowl or pork ain’t quite got it.

And what was that other program I was thinking of? Beats me. I can’t remember now. ­čś│