Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Linux Instant Messengers 601

mrAshley writes "This article talks specifically about the antiquated state of the even the best Linux instant messenging software, and generally about the need for software developers to be mindful of younger people, as their social attitudes towards software are going to be much more influential in than any moral or financial consideration. Simply put - People are communal. Don't make a person who wants to use Linux have to leave behind a method or style of communication."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Linux Instant Messengers

Comments Filter:
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:15PM (#13774090) Journal

    I think gaim does a pretty good job, and I've actually converted lots of friends to gaim with no negative after taste. And most love the tabbed interface for multiple conversations in one window. It's nice also to have multiple protocols all available in the one application. My parents now chat with multiple people, in multiple environments, and they're not even aware that's happening. No more splaining that they have to start the yahoo messenger if they want to talk with Uncle Duane.

    There's also the huge value add of no advertising.

    But, I seem never to be able to upgrade gaim, at least not easily. I always have to do an rpm upgrade with the Force option because of "conflicts" with other gaim packages. And the last couple of new releases of gaim won't even install with "Force".

    So, for my money, gaim comes close. Depending on the user, I've found many are okay using gaim.

    As for the "state of the union" in Windows, with the recently announced merger of the Yahoo and MSN protocols (as in, freely communicate with each other), it does appear Microsoft is making its move to get closer to their tipping point to dominate the messaging market. They have some interesting features, none that I can't live without, but probably a good draw for the "hip" young crowd. I find most of the described features annoying, but then, I come from the old BSD/Sun "talk" days. Heck I guess I even come from the old Unix "write" days (get out your history books).

    Let Microsoft add the fluff. But, a cautionary note, if history serves, what Microsoft is doing has the petina of old tricks. Should they manage to climb to the top and snuff out other IM services the way they've snuffed out other competitors I predict they once again will begin charging for what once was free. Or at least start charging for features that used to be free but have become addictive to their target demographic. (Hey, little girl/boy, want some streaming video with your chat?)

    • I've never had a single problem with GAIM, just compile it from source and it works just fine every time.
      • Here is an example of why Open Sourcers are bad.

        (read parent)

        Now, why do you think it's probably an example? "Cyborg Warrior" probably wont figure it out.
        • by ajlitt ( 19055 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:46PM (#13774414)
          I can hear it now (apologies to any elderly nerdettes out there):

          "Grandma, simply unpack the tarball, run ./configure; make, sudo to root, then make install.

          C'mon, don't unpack it in your home directory! Don't you store all of your source-built apps somewhere?

          No, Grandma, you forgot to install the header packages for GTK. But it's so easy! Why do you have to make this so difficult?!

          Fine. Go watch your stories. I'll have it finished by the time Matlock is over."
          • by RWerp ( 798951 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @01:03PM (#13774573)
            Does you grandma install Windows software? I suppose not, so stop bitching about how it is hard for her to install Linux software. She would have enough trouble with other OS-es as well.
    • It's nice also to have multiple protocols all available in the one application....There's also the huge value add of no advertising.

      You got my two big concerns right there. I won't even consider an IM client unless it has those.

    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {}> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:24PM (#13774201) Homepage
      Sounds like whoever packages gaim for your distro is a moron. gaim's developers can't be faulted because someone else is screwing up the packaging.

      I've never had any problem with upgrades or installations of gaim on any of my systems (Gentoo, and I used to use RedHat until 7.3), including the Windows port.

      gaim blows away AOL's standard AIM client in terms of UI cleanliness, ease of use, and features. How the hell is it that the AIM protocol supports aliases for screen names (i.e. foobar43289342 displays as "John Smith") but only third-party clients actually support it? (i.e. aliases ARE saved on AOL's server with your buddy lists, but AOL's AIM client is about the only client out there that DOESN'T show them).

      gaim also lets me strip out all color/fontsize changes from people's IMs. Some people have REALLY annoying color defaults.

      gaim starts far faster than AIM.

      There is one thing (and only one) that AIM handles better than gAIM, and that's when people use nonstandard character sets in away messages. gAIM bitches about a buggy client, AIM will display the away message, even though some characters will look like junk. I only see these away messages once or twice a month though.
    • Your upgrade problem sounds like an rpm issue, not something particular to gaim (although I've never used gaim). I've always compiled everything from source, but recently decided to join the modern world during a distro change; I'm using SuSE and can't seem to get the hang of rpms.

      Half of the rpms I try to install have conflicts or dependency errors that shouldn't be; also, isn't the rpm installer supposed to chase those dependencies for me? Most of the time, the error info given to me by the tool is incons
    • I use MSN Messenger while at work and Gaim at home 100% of the time. It's very annoying when someone tries to nudge you or send you a wink and you have to make that horrible excuse. It's not a good thing, especially when I'm trying to trumpet the Linux platform.

      Gaim's tabbed interface IS great. There are many things about Gaim thats great, but it's interface is too much like AIM and there are a couple of annoyances such as: 1. You can't see your own picture in the chat window. You have to go through two d

    • But, a cautionary note, if history serves, what Microsoft is doing has the petina of old tricks. Should they manage to climb to the top and snuff out other IM services the way they've snuffed out other competitors I predict they once again will begin charging for what once was free. Please help me out here. I am wracking my brain trying to think of a case where Microsoft started charging for something that was once free after they snuffed the competition. Let's see ... Operating Systems, nope, they never
      • Please help me out here. I am wracking my brain trying to think of a case where Microsoft started charging for something that was once free

        POP access to hotmail is the only one that comes to mind, so you're right in saying that MS doesn't use that strategy to gouge consumers in its normal course of business.

        Operating Systems, nope, they never were free (though the service packs and updates have always been free)

        True, but as time has gone (and competition disappeared) the price of a MS OS has gone up substan
  • I thought Linux was for old people.

    In Korea, anyway.

  • by dfn_deux ( 535506 ) * <> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:17PM (#13774104) Homepage
    Gaim and kopete both have all the functionality of the major IM clients. Gaim is available for both windows and linux and also seems to get protocol fixes and other bugs patched much more quickly than the commercial equivalent, trillian...
    • What about voice ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:21PM (#13774152) Homepage
      And file transfers with non-gaim clients ?
      • by cab15625 ( 710956 )
        File transferes to MSN and Yahoo! used to be painfully slow ... to the point where people would cancel on the other end because they lost patience. This seems to have improved a LOT in the recent versions, so if you still don't get good file transfer ... upgrade.

        The two biggest things I've noticed lacking are Nudges and voice/webcam stuff.

        Nudges and can more than happily live without.

        Voice/webcam support was attemted with an offshoot called gaim-vv [] (vv == voice and video). But that project has offic

        • by gujo-odori ( 473191 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:56PM (#13775555)
          I think "officially laid to rest" is stronger than the actual situation. The Oct. 7 announcement states that there will be no more gaim-vv releases but that they are working on merging with gaim and code will (not might, but will) be added to gaim.

          IMO, that's how it should have been done from the outset.

          Veering back toward the the response of so many posters, both here and in the comments for TFA, gaim is pretty good at the basics (better than either AOL's or Yahoo's official clients) and IMO isn't ugly, either. Kopete looks nicer/more Mac-like, but some of its functionality is goofy. I love KDE but use gaim for my IM b/c I just can't stand Kopete.

          The trouble is, the basics aren't enough. The main point of TFA, really, is "Where's the voice and webcam support?" This is a major stumbling block in open-source IM, and it doesn't affect just young people. I'm in my early forties and Linux has been my exclusive desktop OS for over five years. My wife is in her thirties and would also be a Linux user except for one thing: Yahoo Messenger, and specifically the voice/video features, is her number one app (ahead of even email) for keeping in touch with her family and friends overseas. Any platform that doesn't support that doesn't work for her, and that's why we have a Win2K box (Yahoo Messenger on Mac doesn't support voice, either, or I'd buy her a Mac).

          It's all about the applications for a lot of people, and IM is the only area that immediately comes to mind where there is really a huge gap between capabilities of open-source clients versus proprietary ones. People can point to gaim-vv or to gyach-e (Eeeeeeuuuuuuw! Have you ever looked at the source code for that?! I feel the nausea coming on again just from thinking about it. I and one of my staff members tried for three days to get it to build, without success; eventually I ran a binary RPM through alien), but both of those projects are really in their infancy WRT both functionality and reliability. I've tried both and eventually concluded that I was better off just living without those features until they are more stable (they have cute little tricks like making a 2.5 GHz P4 with a gig or RAM go to 100% CPU utilization and stay there when receiving video. This happened multiple times and my only out was to kill X; charming).

          Need a good office suite? OSS has you covered. Browser? Take your pick. The only proprietary browser that's as good as the OSS offerings is Opera, and it also runs on Linux. Email? Same situation? Groupware? Maybe a little rough around the edges, but we're basically there. Security tools? The list is long but distinguished. SQL databases? PostgresQL and MySQL are two of the most popular in the world, take your pick. Development tools? There are probably more OSS tools than proprietary ones available these days, and whether you prefer vi, (X)emacs, or a full-blown IDE, OSS has something for you. This list could go on and on, but I think you all get the point.

          However, turn to IM, and OSS is years behind the times. The author of TFA had it right. I know none of us really like hearing that there's something OSS doesn't do as well as proprietary software, and we especially don't like hearing that proprietary is kicking our asses in some area, but sometimes it's true. This is one of those times.

          Having a world-class IM, with voice, video, etc., is crucial for OSS at this juncture. I hope people who are working on major OSS IM clients like gaim or Kopete are reading this thread and also read TFA and realize how important this is.

          And yes, I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is. If what is needed is to pay gaim developers to get this done in a reasonable time frame, I will donate 50 bucks, which is more than I've spent on software in years. I hope everyone else who wants advanced voice and video features in OSS IM will also be willing to pony up whatever they can afford to get the job done.
    • The writer also seems to harp on the lack of nice appearance in the gaim and kopete interfaces... which AFAICT are totally skinnable leaving their appearance to the user, this article seems like nothing more than a PR statement from a MSN cheerleader...
    • I agree with you. And actually, I prefer Gaim over msn messenger because it has one important feature that msn messenger conveniently ignores - encryption. I think it is more valuable and important thatn pretty looks.
    • Yeah, you're missing something all right. You're missing the truth.

      " Gaim and kopete both have all the functionality of the major IM clients. "

      That statement is just flat wrong. The gaim of today doesn't even have all of the features of the MSN client of 2 or 3 years ago, let alone the latest version.
      RTFA for an explanation.
    • by xDCDx ( 635101 )
      Gaim, while works great and has many features, is horribly ugly on Windows XP, with the new appearance also, but specially so with the classic Windows 2000 visual style. This ugliness makes me feel bad when using it, feeling that I don't get when I use Skype and/or Google Talk, both with [IMO] great interfaces (but these two programs are completely useless outside their small niches). Trillian and Miranda interfazes do not feel completely right either, but they do not feel as bad as Gaim. MSN interfaze is s
  • TNG (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:18PM (#13774118) Homepage Journal
    about the need for software developers to be mindful of younger people, as their social attitudes towards software are going to be much more influential in than any moral or financial consideration.

    Perhaps some of the younger people need to become software developers. This is not meant to be a RTFM comment, just an observation that the OSS community might need to step up its PR with the younger generation. It was nice to see many high school age kids at the BLUG [] meeting last night, but I think we could do more to encourage them.
  • Younger people ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by leonmergen ( 807379 ) <lmergen&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:19PM (#13774130) Homepage

    Younger people ?

    As far as I'm concerned, there are a lot of people out there using instant messengers... my friends, my mom, my dad, people from work, people at college... it's not just teens using instant messengers, it's a huge community using them.

    And yes, I personally miss features like displaying which song you're currently listening too, and heck, since the latest MSN version I can't even see their "mood" anymore...

    And yer yer, I could just ask them, I know... it's just that my friends seem to have a hell lot of fun using MSN, and I'm just happy I can finally show people my MSN icon... I seem to be missing a lot of the fun :)

  • by AEton ( 654737 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:19PM (#13774131)

    Gosh, I really hate the Windows Messenger 7 UI. It's so ugly. I'm going to say something unsubstantiated about vendor lock-in here and never mention it again, because I want to sound hip to teh Lunix.

    Everybody in the entire continent of Europe uses MSN Messenger and most of us just call it -- wait for it -- MSN!

    Did you know that Gaim sucks? Look at Firefox and! Those are much cooler than Gaim. Did you know that ten year olds won't use Gaim because it isn't flashy enough? Lol gaim is so ugly! :( There'll never be Lunix on the desktop!


    --Stéphane Rieppi lives in Belgium and is majoring in sociology at the University of Liège. He has a strong passion for Free and Open Source computing and is working on a thesis about Free and Open Source software seen from a sociological viewpoint.
  • by kingsqueak ( 18917 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:19PM (#13774136)
    No thanks. I'll take the simplicity of gaim to accomplish the given task; relaying a text 'conversation'.

    If you go and bloat it up, for the love of God, be sure to leave an options dialog to disable all the crud so I don't have to be beaten with it.
    • I agree with you about all. When my MSN buddies tell me "oh, bad luck you cant' see my new animated emoticon" I always reply "No, it's good luck I can't see all the billion kitschy animated things that my roommate is always flooded by on his MSN Messenger"

      I also love the clean interface of Gaim. Many friends of mine seeing my desktop or receiving my screenshots told me "oh, what is that cool messenger program with tabs?" when looking at Gaim. Not all, but a lot, love the cleanness of the Gaim interface. An

  • hey, what spin! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChozCunningham ( 698051 ) < ... om minus painter> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:20PM (#13774142) Homepage
    Would one say the same of OSS IM software in general? Antiquated and "un-hip" holds true on the windows side of things too!

    An no, I'm not just talking about how pretty Trillian is compared to GAIM, either. Socialbility as a value has a lot to do with smart UI design fetures, too. Smart preferences, drag and drop, ease of use, and integration of features with other web activity would all help IM's that want to "make it". And yes, GAIM needs a new name. Or spelling.

  • Can't you blame them? they're working against the tide of closed source proprietary development at Microsoft and other companies that like to keep their protocols secret.

    Only when protocols are open will we see true interoperability.
  • by Godeke ( 32895 ) * on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:21PM (#13774151) why we use GAIM to communicate in our company. (Well, except the garbage file transfers.) We have a Jabber server that supports encryption and use that for all of our in-house messaging. This is important as we are a geographically distributed team, we need a secure, reliable chat mechanism to collaborate quickly and easily on code. We don't want or need all the garbage that comes with of IMs, and the fact we can link to other services in GAIM makes it our one stop shopping solution for IMs when we *do* need to talk to someone with a more mainsteam IM.

    Of course, we are professional developers who don't need to send flash animations, pictures or even more than the basic :) :( smiles. But for a corporate solution, GAIM + Jabber makes a lot of sense and I would hate to see it become the playground that MSN has become.
  • by labratuk ( 204918 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:21PM (#13774155)
    I thought "Funny. I haven't seen much inflammatory bullshit recently. I wonder if OSnews have got back into gear again."

    Then I noticed the link. Brilliant.
  • Standardized (Score:2, Informative)

    by geoffeg ( 15786 )
    Gaim is just trying to follow the look of the rest of the linux desktop experience.. antiquated and generally pretty ugly!

    At least gaim isn't as fugly and bloaty looking as the default trillian install. The best, cleanest, most feature-capable IM client I've used is Adium for OS X (which I believe uses gaim's IM library). It gets out of my way, isn't all flashy and has all the things I want (on the fly spell checking, history in new windows, etc).

    (No, this isn't one of those "DUDE! JUST USE OS X! LINUX SUX0
    • Re:Standardized (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomstdenis ( 446163 )
      gaim follows the OSS traditional of functional beyond looks. Though with the recent random disconnects I question that.

      In general though most "linux tools" [which are usually GNU or OSS tools] are written by users not commercial vendors. They write something as pretty as they need it.

      Users expect flashy bullshit because they've been told that that's innovative and "Advanced" and anything else is inferior. This is just like modern gaming. Some games which look really cool *cough* *cough* doom3 *cough*
    • Re:Standardized (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tehshen ( 794722 ) <> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:33PM (#13774284)
      Gaim is just trying to follow the look of the rest of the linux desktop experience.. antiquated and generally pretty ugly!

      Of course it's trying to look like the rest of the linux desktop, it uses the same widget set! Sure, you can use one of the High Contrast themes or Simple or somesuch, and Gaim is going to look ugly that way because that's what you've chosen it to look like.

      Completely different widget sets (MSN Messenger, WMP, Office, usual win32) on the screen at the same time? That is ugly.
  • command line nut (Score:3, Informative)

    by wakejagr ( 781977 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:24PM (#13774191) Journal
    yes, I'm a command line nut, but my favorite is actualy bitlbee, available at []. It's an irc gateway for AOL, ICQ, jabber etc.
    • yes, responding to my own post bad and all. My command line reference makes no sense, unless I mention that my IRC client of choice is irssi. There, don't we all feel better now?
  • Havent read TFA... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:28PM (#13774234) Journal
    ... this really comes to make stronger my previous post []on Novell's linux usuability tests.

    This about the point 3 (How can some computer-noob user Engage in a multimedia chat with some friend (micrphone+webcam+text). There is really no application in the open source windows that has all the functionality that MSN Messenger has this is, to be able to talk, chat and see video when having a conference with other people.

    Some of the answers I got from my previous post stated a set of programs that you could use to get a (more or less useful) similar result. But, the end user will not want that. For them, MSN messenger allows them to do all that with some clicks, while on Linux it would require some RPMing and running 3 applications.

    The other more important thing (and I know... it is not the OSS fault) is the compatibility. See, ALL my contacts use MSN Messenger (all in Mexico), none of them use AOL or ICQ or whatever OSS, so I have to use a MSN compatible client.

    Now, everything could be nice with GAIM, except that it does not support video and audio, and I while I am in UK I love staying in contact with people over there, and why not spending a sunday night chating with friends and having a video conference with my girlfriend (yes, I have a girlfriend, no, not *those* kind of video conference ;) ).

    But, all in all, someone posted on the Y!MSN merging that there are like 3 propietary messenger programs, I dont know if AOL msnger supports audio and video or the others, but I do know it is something that my vanilla Linux distro is lacking of. [now go ahead and blame Microsoft for not releasing a version of MSN Messenger for Linux... (I already do it!!!)]
    • But I can't understand why every Free and Open Source advocate basically snobs IM's. Gaim and Kopete are just not good enough. I mean that their target public (i.e. young people) just won't care to use it

      Well, it is my personal opinion from what I have seen here that the "young people" is not the only sector using this programs. As an example my flatmate he is making his PhD and has some buisness going in Mexico. He use to get into MSN Messenger every other night and video conference with some people back t
      • Re:After read TFA... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Trelane ( 16124 )

        s an example my flatmate he is making his PhD and has some buisness going in Mexico. He use to get into MSN Messenger every other night and video conference with some people back there to discuss work.

        Does he have a special agreement to conduct business via MSN Messenger? Because it's against the Terms of Service [] if he doesn't. (section 1, first paragraph).

        Additionally, he should track what Microsoft does and doesn't do with is "personal information," as outlined in Section 5: quoth the 'Soft:

        If you

  • RTFA and also realize that while it may work for you, most of the time Gaim cannot support file transfers for most users! I am putting this here because there are too many people saying that this works for me to respond to!!
  • by AceCaseOR ( 594637 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:31PM (#13774260) Homepage Journal

    So, young people are concerned with Gaim having a fugly UI. Well, what, precicely, is stopping people from writing an attractive looking skin for Gaim? And if it doesn't support skinning, why hasn't anyone written skinning support into Gaim yet?

    Hell, if I knew C, and any particular artistic talent, I'd do it.
    • You answered your own question:

      "Hell, if I knew C, and any particular artistic talent, I'd do it."

      The people who want that spend all their time being cool, while those of us who just want stuff to work are busy learning C, Perl, etc, etc, etc. The people who can change it, don't care because they are to busy doing other things.

      I'm not trying to rag on you or anyone that isn't a programmer. However, everyone should realize that the VOLANTEERS that wrote gaim didn't nessisarly do it to make it exactly like MS
    • by jmt(tm) ( 197664 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @01:19PM (#13774700) Homepage
      And if it doesn't support skinning, why hasn't anyone written skinning support into Gaim yet?

      No, Gaim does not support skins. If you really want to know the good reasons for this design decision, you could check out [] the developers words on the topic.

  • As mature as Trillian is, it still is unable to support ALL of those annoying messenger specific features, but it's as close as you're gonna get in regards to "meeting in the middle" for all IM networks. The skins are very sexy, webcam/filetransfers seem to work without issue. Overall it's gorgeous when you throw away the default skin.

    Why not go cross platform? Trillian would be great if one was able to us it on Linux, OSX, etc. natively (I've used it under WINE without issue but that's more work than an
  • What a load of FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:36PM (#13774317)
    File transfers usually don't work on Windows either. Generally it's because both sides are behind NAT. It has nothing to do with "Advanced clients". When file transfers do work, the only files you recieve that you can't open on Linux are viruses.

    The only Windows IM client that is worth consideration is Trillian Pro. And other client either has no good features, or is loaded with ads, or both. The state of IM on Windows sucks just as much as everywhere else... Unless you're on a Mac, but that's another story.
  • It's a demographic problem: those who develop the Linux IM programs do it for themselves and their peer group, not for young teens, which they probably don't relate to much.
    The features that would interest young teens don't interest those who have a say in developing Free IM's.

    However, it's true that Linux IM's in general lack good video and voice integration, but that aspect is related to hardware. I'm confident that these features will appear in time, however, as they *are* quite useful. SIP integration i
  • by Remillard ( 67835 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:36PM (#13774324)
    After RTFA, I think the author is missing the point of instant messaging. Strangely enough, it's right there in the name:

    Instant: adj.

          1. Occurring at once; immediate:

    Messaging: tr,

          1. To send a message to.

    It's not instant video chatting, instant flash advertisements, instant voice communications. They are messages. At this Gaim and Kopete work very well indeed. I don't even use the standard MSN, Yahoo, and AIM clients on my WinXP box. It's Gaim and it does everything at once. As far as aesthetics go, Gaim is about as lovely as anything else. Kopete looks as great as you can make KDE look (which is pretty damn good.) In fact, I occasionally turn on the color cycling plugin on Kopete and get lots of positive comments and folks wish they could do that with their clients (just move to Linux!).

    The only spot where I think the author is possibly on-topic is file transfers. More often than not though, this is a function of network firewalls and port forwarding. If there was a mode where Gaim/Kopete could self discover an outside IP address and use UPnP port requests, then I'm sure it'd work phenomenally in our household.
    • No, you're missing the point. A message is more than just a text string.

      I just converted my neighbors 3 PCs over to Linux (Linspire) after two were totally trashed by spyware, virii and worms. He didn't give a damn about anything else other than: web browsing, e-mail, can open Word/Excel document (OpenOffice did it fine), and Java/Flash/PDF. Everything else -- EVERYTHING -- was available to axe. If it worked, fine. If not, it was expendable.

      It worked great. His kids (teenagers) use one of the PCs for
  • Adium X (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChrisF79 ( 829953 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:37PM (#13774336) Homepage
    I'm a mac user and I love Adium X [] and would love to see it get ported to Linux. It's such an easy program to customize, very nice interface, and absolutely free. Just seems like a great fit for Linux in my opinion.
  • A Lame Gaim Claim (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitaldc ( 879047 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:39PM (#13774358)
    "Their interfaces are terrible. Moreover, all you can do with them is write basic IMs."
    From []
    • Tabbed message windows for easy switching of conversations Accounts option allows user to log on as many different accounts at once as desired

    • Transparency support via a plugin for conversation and buddy list windows (only under Microsoft Windows)

    • Aliasing nicknames by real name of user

    • Grouping different buddies that are really the same person into a "contact" [2]

    • Logging conversations and messages supported [3]

    • Buddy Pounce feature pops up notifications or plays a sound when a user changes status [4]

    Gaim supports plugins for RSA and GPG encryption, as well as Off-the-record messaging.

    See GAIM plugins: []
    More info about GAIM: []
  • Just use jabber (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ecloud ( 3022 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:46PM (#13774417) Homepage Journal
    Not sure whom he's exhorting here... open-source developers? Microsoft? Linux is the OS by the people and for the people, so if the people don't add the features that he thinks they want to their apps, then maybe they don't want them as bad as he thinks.

    But tagging along on MS's coattails isn't going to get us anywhere. What is needed is for Windows people to use Jabber; then we can really have interoperability and end the IM wars. And if it doesn't have enough features to make that compelling, then they need to be added. And the Jabber server used to be interoperable with other IM's (including MSN I think), not sure if it still is but that was a really good feature. Hopefully its interoperability includes file transfer. Voice IMO already has a couple of good implentations (asterisk for sure, and then there are skype and some others), and if people think that IM and voice belong together then the IM client could include a SIP client as well. Next they will be wanting video. CUCMe anybody? I remember it working already in 1994, perhaps earlier...why don't we leapfrog for once and get video well-integrated into IM as well?

    As for me, I don't really "get" IM - don't like to be interrupted all the time. Email works just fine, thank you.

    True hardcore Linux users just use talk/ntalk/ytalk, of course. :-)
  • talk baby! (Score:3, Funny)

    by scorpioX ( 96322 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:46PM (#13774420)
    Screw all this fancy IM and IRC crap! talk forever!

    $ talk
    Usage: talk user [ttyname]
  • Gaim Summer of Code (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zephos ( 877875 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:47PM (#13774427)
    I think its ironic that this article made Slashdot at the particular time. Gaim's summer of code had projects ranging from Yahoo Whiteboard support, to better file [] transfers [], to group editing of text files []/images []/music []. Also support for audio VoIP []. There is also a webcam plugin in the works for gaim as well [though I'm uncertain for which protocol(s) they are aiming at. It is for exactly these features that gaim hasn't released a new version in much longer than their normal development cycle. In perhaps a few weeks most of these complaints [as well as many other advantages like dbus and fixed perl interfaces] will be irrelevant.
  • Custom emoticons (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slashdot@ g m> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:52PM (#13774469) Homepage Journal
    A friend in MSN showed me a blue furry creature that looks like a pokèmon, and it was waving "hi", smiling and everything. I instantly clicked on it, and added to my custom MSN smileys. Whenever I say "hi" to my female MSN friends using this custom smiley, they all say "awwww how cute! ^_^ where did you get that?" or something. (love hint: yes fellow slashdotters, girls like all that cute stuff)

    This custom smiley is some kind of social phenomena. Custom emoticons begin appear computer, and the next day they're everywhere because they can be easily transferred between computers.

    For years i've been waiting for F/OSS messengers (for Windows, i mean) to have this custom emoticon feature. And I'm still waiting...
  • Am I the only one who understands where this article is going?

    Linux is a wonderful, efficient, relatively secure operating system, but damned, the UI is fugly on almost every distro. Even the "perdy" distros have UI deficiencies.

    Why does this matter? It works, it's functional, right?

    Short Answer... Yes... Long Answer... No.

    In the ideal Linux world, everyone has discard MS Windows, and they are strictly using open source software... There is no concern over quality of software, no concern over usability, and no concern over closed protocols, software, and formats.

    That's not the case. Most of the world uses Windows, and that's just the way it is. Windows does offer something that Linux doesn't offer in that sense... a relatively consistent (*sigh*) user interface, a relatively attractive (*sigh*) visual style, and relatively easy-to-manage (*sigh*) suite of software.

    Point is, how do you tell an inexperienced Linux user to install a different visual style?
    How do you tell an inexperienced Linux user to install new hardware (think something without pre-compiled Linux compatible drivers)?
    How do you tell an inexperienced Linux user to do most every day things?

    I'm sure I'll get flamed for this comment, but I have used Windows, OS X, and Linux. Plain and simple Linux is not the easiest to learn from a new user standpoint.

    Sure, I'll hear the argument that once you learn, you'll be fine. Explain that to the old persons in my family who don't want to learn. Explain that to the young persons in my family who don't understand why they should learn Linux.

    I am not trying to say the Linux needs to copy every Windows / OS X feature or functionality, in fact I'm quite opposed to this. Linux has a powerful kernel that's being underutilized by a copycat interface.

    Why do the creative minds of the Linux community insist on duplicating Windows. Linux != Windows. Create a new interface. Move into a different direction that what we know now. Here's a novel idea. Forge a new, easier, more efficient way to use a computer.

    Of course, the underlying principle is still this... GAIM is not MSN. GAIM is merely trying to duplicate how classic MSN/AOL/Y! looked and felt. It's been done. Move on.

    I'm not saying that GAIM needs to recreate the annoying Screen Shake or whatever it's called. I'm not saying GAIM needs to recreate MSN/AIM/Y!/ICQ/Google Talk/etc. Do something original with it. Give me a compelling reason to use it. Give me an application that's not bloated (*coTRILLIANugh*). Give me something more intuitive (*coADIUMugh*) but unique (*coDOESN'TEXISTugh*).

    The Linux community as a whole is stuck in this antiquated mindset. Let's move on. It's time to change. Linux doesn't need to be just for elite, make it available and usable (keyword) to the masses.

    But, what do I know?
  • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @01:04PM (#13774584) Homepage Journal

    From TFA:

    What happens when the corporation anybody seems to love to hate, namely Microsoft, release a killer app and of makes it free (as in dollars), but, of course, keeps its source jealously closed? And worse than that, use it to maintain a strong lock-in to the Windows platform?

    OSNews: We don't need no stinkin' editors!
  • by Doctor Crumb ( 737936 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @01:41PM (#13774864) Homepage
    Not sure what version of Kopete he's using, but anything from the past year or so is pretty as can be and incredibly useable, and getting moreso with each release. It has very nice support for MSN avatars, fully customisable notifications, meta-contacts, tabbed chat... and they fixed up all of the bugs that made it hard to use quite a while ago. I agree that the file transfers and webcam capabilities aren't there, but that's not the UI, those are extras.
  • Best? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trejkaz ( 615352 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @07:35PM (#13777714) Homepage
    The article doesn't talk about the "best" Linux instant messenger at all, it talks specifically about Gaim.
  • by bender647 ( 705126 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @11:22PM (#13778971)
    I use bitlbee [], an IRCd that talks to the major IM networks in text format. Access this in irssi [] (any tty irc client will do). Leave it running 24/7 on a server in a dtach [] (or screen []) instance. Attach to it from anywhere on earth. See in the logs the time your buddies came and went, and any messages you missed. Chat from one machine, move to another and continue the conversation. At home on my LAN, I run the trigger [] script, and have it play sounds on all my PCs in the house when I get a message.
  • Well.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:41AM (#13780215) Homepage
    There are a lot of people moaning that IM's in Linux don't support voice, video etc. and I think that quite a few are missing the obvious.

    Firstly, most Linux systems are behind an iptables firewall. This has to be poked and prodded or have iptables connection/NAT helper modules in order to let most video/audio into the computer. Text-based messaging works perfectly without any extra config. More and more systems are behind NAT's, because of the advent of broadband and broadband routers (especially popular now that they include wireless).

    Being behind a NAT can stop quite a lot of this stuff working unless you want to start editing your settings (way beyond the average computer user). Programs like Skype etc. help in that they automatically traverse NAT without any sort of help but things like MSN Messenger can be a pain in the backside. Yes, some routers will support UPnP but let's not even start on the troubles that is likely to cause.

    It then becomes a question, not of why doesn't the IM program do it but of why is it made so damn difficult for the program authors? If it wasn't for closed-source and sometimes closed-spec systems using all different protocols that change constantly, drastically and without warning, expecting connections over all different ports with IP embedded in all sorts of packets, not being able to navigate NAT without some security disaster like UPnP (which has little support in any system other than Microsoft's) and being used less and less in favour of protocols that "just work".

    I've never used video over the internet. It's slow, clunky, bandwidth-hogging, a pain to configure, doesn't NAT very well if at all, needs extra hardware and has all the advantages of a videophone, i.e. none. This is why videophones haven't sold well either, despite being around for many years. Voice is a slightly different issue and can be quite useful and popular (a friend I know uses Skype to phone her dad who lives across the road and my girlfriend is interested in using it to talk to her dad in Kuwait.)

    I mentioned to my girlfriend the possibility of over-the-net communication and she was very keen (currently 70p / minute to phone Kuwait from the UK) but has absolutely no interest whatsoever in video, neither has her computer-illiterate father who would have to set up all sorts of stuff (including getting broadband in a foreign country) in order to get video working, whereas a microphone and a volume setting is well within his knowledge.

    I can't imagine that, as a percentage, many people at all use video. A few more probably use voice but I should imagine (at a complete guess), 95% or more (by connection, not by bandwidth) of IM is pure text. I work in schools and text works over the school networks, voice and video do not. The kids only ever use MSN as text because even at home they can't be bothered to get video working when text needs no configuration. One or two have played with voice but so many of their friends are text-only too that nobody uses it on a day-to-day basis (videophone syndrome again).

    In fact, the only place most teenagers would use voice comms would be inside their games, counterstrike etc., where again it "just works". How many of them use those games on Linux? Zilch. How many people who use Linux would actually use video - only a few and them be geeks who know how to get stuff wokring anyway. How many would use voice? Maybe a few more. In the end, though, Linux isn't mainstream and Linux IM's are constantly playing catchup through no fault of their own.

    There's no point having Linux voice/video IM (an awful lot of development work just to get the tiniest of results) until some standards are adopted by everyone and stablised, there are mechanisms in place to help the packets traverse properly, ordinary people actually start using Linux on the desktop and they start demanding it.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972