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GAIM: Fully Featured Instant Messenger for Gnome

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Scott M. Morris

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Posted: 25 Oct 2005

Applies to:

  • SUSE Linux 10
  • SUSE Linux Professional 9.3
  • Novell Linux Desktop

A few weeks ago, I wrote a couple of articles (article 1 article 2) about a great instant messaging client for KDE called Kopete. To do justice, it seems appropriate to also showcase another leading instant messenger, Gaim. Definitely in the forefront, this application has been around for quite some time.

First, let's make sure you have it installed. Open up YAST and search for the package called gaim. When the results come up in the right pane, tick the checkbox next to gaim, gaim-encryption, and gaim-guifications. If gaim-extendedprefs appears, select that one, too. Then, click ACCEPT:

Note for users of SUSE Linux, SUSE Linux Professional, or openSUSE: If you search for this package and it does not show up, you may want to enter some additional installation sources into YAST. A list of installation sources is available here, and an article on how to use them can be found here. Be advised: These installation sources will not work for Novell Linux Desktop or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Next, let's run gaim. Go to the K Menu, then INTERNET, then CHAT, and finally GAIM:

When the application runs, several windows appear:

Look for one called ADD ACCOUNT:

Here is where you are going to put in your different messenger accounts. Gaim supports AIM/ICQ, Gadu-Gadu, Groupwise, IRC, Jabber, MSN, Napster, Yahoo, and Zephyr accounts. Let's start with an AIM (or AOL® Instant Messenger) account. If you don't have an AIM account, you can create one here. In the protocol drop-down, we'll select AIM/ICQ. Fill in the SCREEN NAME, PASSWORD, and ALIAS fields. If you want Gaim to remember your password, tick the appropriate box. Also, if you want to automatically log into this account when you start up Gaim, tick the AUTO-LOGIN checkbox. This information should be sufficient, so we're going to click SAVE:

Your new account will then show up in the ACCOUNTS window:

You can set up additional messenger accounts in this manner. Just make sure that you are using the correct protocol for the account that you are entering.

At this point, we would like to log into the account. In the ACCOUNTS window, tick the checkbox in the ONLINE column:

You will see the SIGNON window appear, and log you in:

Your buddy list then appears. If it is blank, that's because you have no buddies added to your list. Let's look at how to add buddies to your list. Open the BUDDIES menu and select ADD BUDDY. Alternatively, you can press CTRL+B. This brings up the ADD BUDDY window.

In this window, you fill in the SCREEN NAME and ALIAS fields. Select a group where you want to put your buddy. Then, make sure you select the account to add the buddy to. Keep in mind that you can only add buddies to the same protocol as the account that you have. For example, you cannot add a buddy using MSN to your AIM account because they are different protocols. This problem can be fixed by simply creating an MSN Messenger account and entering it into the ACCOUNTS screen.

Once you have filled out this window, click ADD:

If and when your buddy is online, an entry should appear in the buddy list:

To remove a buddy, simply right-click on the buddy and select REMOVE from the menu that appears.

If you add a buddy that does not appear in your buddy list, it may be because they are offline. By default, Gaim does not display these users. To show offline buddies, click on the BUDDIES menu and then select SHOW OFFLINE BUDDIES. Your offline buddies should now appear in your buddy list.

There are actually quite a number of useful actions available from the BUDDIES menu:

One of these options is the ability to view logs. If you have logging enabled, each of the buddies on your list has their own chat log within Gaim. Let's make sure logging is enabled. Open the TOOLS menu and select PREFERENCES. The PREFERENCES window appears. In the left pane, select LOGGING. In the right pane, make sure the LOG ALL INSTANT MESSAGES check-box is ticked. If you have a preference between HTML format and PLAIN TEXT log formats, make your selection here. When you are finished, click the CLOSE button:

Now, you can simply right-click on a buddy's name and select VIEW LOGS to see transcripts of chats that you have had with that buddy:

Earlier, we were adding buddies and setting preferences. To get back to those windows, open the TOOLS menu:

You will see the ACCOUNTS and PREFERENCES options listed in this menu. In the future, I will explore many of the preferences and settings available in Gaim, along with some of the other options available in this TOOLS menu. Until that time, feel free to explore and customize settings as you like.

Gaim is a very versatile instant messaging client. It's been on my desktops for a number of years. If you are in need of a great messenger that is in a mature development stage, Gaim would be well worth a look. It has lots of great features and is very reliable.

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