One Client to Rule Them All

I Twitter. I Dent. I Blog (duh, you're reading it now). At times I've Plurked, Facebooked, Skyped, and Gtalked. The big problem is that each socialization protocol has its own client. I currently have 2 monitors on my desk and one is almost full of widgets and applications to keep up. I have:

* Twhirl for Twitter
* Pidgin for IM
* Skype for Skype :)
* X-Chat for IRC
* Prism for (not always open)

Basically my second monitor is just a dump zone for apps to keep me connected. I am at least thankful that Pidgin will manage most of my IM accounts (AIM, G-Talk, Jabber, MSN, Yahoo). I also realize Twhirl will manage for me, but it does it in yet another window. Ugh.

The only thing that comes close for me is What I'd really like to see is something like Twhirl support directly. I might be able to actually get some work done on my second monitor. :)

I'm curious, how do you do your online communications?


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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Karolina's picture

I've just ran into your post. You can try plugin for pidgin that handles twiter, and In Ubuntu it is called pidgin-microblog.

check out,

Anonymous's picture

check out, includes mail, facebook, twitter, gtalk

you can use digsby when it

Anonymous's picture

you can use digsby when it finally comes out for linux (i hope soon) it combines IM + Twitter + Facebook + Myspace + mailnotification


jay4400's picture

This new fad called twitter is about stupidest idea I have ever heard.

On topic, I've used Pidgin and Firefox in Linux. I use Pidgin, Firefox, and The Bat! in Windows.

I have one notebook computer. Saves a lot of energy have just one computer and I don't have a need for a desktop pc or home server at the moment. In fact, I've been down that route and I am more productive with just one notebook.

With my notebook I download my mail via pop. I never got on the imap bandwagon. Besides, even with my satellite broadband, imap is a lot slower than gmail so why use imap over the internet?

Finally I must confess, besides firefox I mostly use Vista and The Bat! But that's mainly because I don't like any of the wifi networking tools in Linux. With my T60, they work then they don't work.

When I use Pidgin, I only enable one account at the time. Most of my friends are on MSN.

So there you go, simply kill all those sidebars and other background programs in windows and linux that you are not currently using or going to use in this session.

ps: i have no need for an office suite. i normally use Editpad++ in windows and gedit or that tk notepad in windows and linux.


Jamie Bullock's picture

I think irssi will solve most of your problems and give you generally more flexibility. For example, because it is a CLI client you can leave it running under GNU screen on a remote server and access it from multiple platforms etc.

irssi + BitlBee + twirssi gives you IRC + IM + Twitter

Not sure about the other social networking stuff, there might be plugins for those too... I don't think it will ever do skype!

Only e-mail & browser

Carl Snyder's picture

I only use e-mail & browser. Granted, I have 4 e-mail addresses I follow, but 3 are through Thunderbird (including G-mail IMAP). Otherwise, I communicate through the message boards.


Wintermute740's picture

I'm considering using tircd ( for Twitter, which basically lets you use Twitter via and IRC client. This would allow you to integrate Twitter into Pidgen, cutting out at least one of the clients you use. Someone ambitious enough might consider extending it for use with additional social networking sites.

Pidgin... has extensions for

Anonymous's picture

Pidgin... has extensions for mostly everything.

Here here

Bert Rapp's picture

I have to agree with El Perro Loco and Michael Raugh. All those things are nifty, but I've got work that needs to get done. On top of that, I can't hardly stand the one sided conversations I deal with in real life, why would I want twitter to give me more?

Just so...

Shawn Powers's picture

Just so you don't feel this is a one sided conversation, Hello. :D

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

I feel bad

Bert Rapp's picture

I feel bad I didn't respond to your "hello".

Communication Mediums

eagle_boy's picture

Well I started using Pidgin but the saw that kopete allows me to use a web cam (which I am still to try) so now I use it. And when I really want to be cheap I just use web-apps to mass message friends and family (i.e. Myspace, Facebook, etc.) I guess it just boils down to who and what the message is.

I used to use Twhirl, but

Rami Taibah's picture

I used to use Twhirl, but then it just got too overwhelming with 500+ following, so I switched to Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck gives you the ability to group your friends, so I have a group for friends that I ALWAYS want to follow their tweets.

Also is indispensable for me, got it synced across 7 networks, Twitter, Plurk, FB, Brightkite, and a couple others I can't even remember...

For everything else there is Pidgin :)


erik.wiffin's picture

I don't use half as many protocols as you do, but I've managed to pull everything I use except skype into pidgin.

A combination for sending messages and for recieving updates gives pidgin support (albeit hackish support) for any protocols it doesn't already handle. And all in one window! Lots of tabs, but just one window.

And I don't use skype anywhere near often enough to have it running all the time.


A Hannah's picture

I have roughly the same set up as you do. However on my Windows box I use digsby which covers everything except IRC (and can't do chat rooms in the supported IM protocols). It will eventually (allegedly) be released on Linux and Mac, and hopefully support more protocols and features.


Timmy Macdonald's picture

Am I the only person who opens up the appropriate web page in my browser when I feel like communicating? The one exception is that I installed TwitterFox in Firefox, because constantly checking Twitter was a bit much.

Count me among the Loco, I guess

Michael Raugh's picture

My first thought on reading your list of applets, Shawn, was, "How the frak does he focus on anything?"

Maybe I just have a single-core CPU between my ears. The last thing I want when I'm focused on doing something on my PC is more ways that people can timejack* me. Unless there's someone I specifically want to communicate with, or I'm just idly playing around, I don't load that stuff. If I do want to use Skype, for example, I load the Skype client, have the conversation, and then (gasp!) close it.

There's communicating, and then there's overcommunicating. It may be time for an intervention for you. ;^)


* (timejack: It's like carjacking but more painful because you can never get stolen time back.)

FriendFeed covers quite a

Anonymous's picture

FriendFeed covers quite a few of those.

Remembering McLuhan

El Perro Loco's picture

"The medium is the message".

Whatever the context in which Marshall McLuhan put that phrase, it is becoming painfully evident that, in our Internet age, we are wasting much time with the "medium" and leaving a lot of "message" aside.

Less and less people seem to be reading books, newspapers, magazines... In general, there is no "instant gratification" in reading that kind of things. On the digital media you get the "fun" factor which, incidentally, also distracts from the message - when there *is* one, at all.

So, in my ideal world, all of these so-called "social networks" would disappear simply because people would be more serious about their purpose in life. They could be a tremendous agent of change (see Obama's campaign), but for the most time they are just frivolous ways to waste one's time...

Sorry to rain on everybody else's parade right in my first post of the year, but I can't get any more of that "Twitter is cool" type of thing.


Shawn Powers's picture

people would be more serious about their purpose in life.

I do understand where you're coming from, but the idea of communicating with others, regardless of the format, seems a good thing on many levels. Perhaps for me that's largely due to the type of job(s) I have, but social media and Internet communication has been a HUGE boon to my professional effectiveness. In part, my purpose in life (at least professionally) is indeed to communicate with others.

Now, if I could pick and choose who was allowed to Twitter, then I might have more opinions to throw out. Hehehehe.

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


El Perro Loco's picture

Hey, Shawn, first of all, thanks for commenting back. I always count on Linux Journal's blogs to have an interesting conversation.

Which brings me back to my point. An interesting conversation presupposes two (or more) intelligent people communicating interesting ideas. However, when it comes to Orkut, Facebook, MySpace and their likes, what I see the most is a bunch of empty-headed morons endlessly trying to show themselves to the world. It is just a desperate cry of "people, please love me, I exist and I am sooooo needy!". Not only teenagers who don't know (or care) how to spell, mind you, but also grown-ups (?) in search of self-affirmation as an antidote to their psychological voids.

That was the point I was trying to make. I mean, from a sociological-psychological-whatever point of view.

On the strictly technical side, I agree with you a hundred percent. I am all for standards, and even in "light" areas, like IM and "social Internet", standards would (and do!) make everything much easier.

And, BTW, I only use Skype. Not because it is cool, but because (1) it helps with the phone bills and (2) very few of my interlocutors use Ekiga, IHU, Kphone and others (which I'd prefer, because they are standards-compliant and open-source).

Happy new orbit! :-)


Anonymous's picture

While a lot of ppl on there may be needy and looking for affirmation, most of us are just looking for sex.

Oh, yeah, baby!

El Perro Loco's picture

Well, *that* I can understand...

BTW, you don't happen to be a gorgeous girl, with long sexy legs, looking for some adventure, do you? :-)

The fact that I read Linux

Anonymous's picture

The fact that I read Linux Journal should answer that question for you.


Webmistress's picture

I resent that stereotype :)

Katherine Druckman is webmistress at You might find her on Twitter or at the Southwest Drupal Summit

Auto-reply - sorry

El Perro Loco's picture

I wish there was a way to edit my posts...

In my previous post, the last sentence should read "...I can't *take*...", not "...I can't *get*..."

My apologies.