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Gaim - The Linux Chat Solution

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip
By Jason Jones

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Posted: 8 Nov 2004
 

In the windows world, a wonderful little program was created so people could chat with each other on a real-time basis. Although some employers will disagree, it was a wonderful invention! Many companies have created ?chat? clients. Some examples of such programs are:

  • AIM (America Online Instant Messenger)
  • MSN Messenger
  • Yahoo Messenger
  • ICQ Messenger
  • GroupWise Messenger

These are just a few. Because there are so many of these programs, and they all just happen to be incompatible with each other, many people have 3 or 4 Instant Messengers running on their desktop at a time. Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone made a program that consolidated these programs into one beautiful client? Wouldn't it be even better if that client were available in Linux? Well, my friend, fret no more. GAIM is here to save the day.

GAIM is a tool that does just that. It combines all the major instant messenging protocols into one nifty program. It will handle just about any protocol you throw it, in fact -- from Yahoo to Zephyr to Jabber to MSN to GroupWise to Napster and on and on and on.

It also supports such features as sending images and files, chat logging, away messages, emo-icons (smileys), blocking, IM Icons, and a myriad of other goodies. Okay, enough of the features.. Let's figure out how to install, configure and use it.

installation

This one isn't hard at all. In fact, there's a very good chance you've already got it installed. To find out, press ALT-F2 and type gaim in the resulting dialog box. If you press enter and it tells you it can't find the program, then you don't have it installed. If a neat little box pops up, then you're ready to go on to the configuration.

If it's not installed, you simply go into YAST, click on Install and Remove Software button. In the dialog box that pops up, enter gaim into the search field and press enter. ?gaim? should come up in the search results. Check the box, and click Accept. If any dependency issues come up, simply accept them and go on. When you're through installing gaim, follow the instructions in the preceding paragraph.

configuration

Before you can use GAIM, you have to have some pre-existing accounts with any or all of your favorite instant messenger services. You can use almost any Instant Messenger (IM) service you wish. An example of a website used to sign into AOL IM is http://www.aim.com.

After you have IM account(s), and you run gaim, you are greeted with a couple of nice little windows.

  

These are the windows you'll use to log in to your IM accounts. The window to the left is used to log into one account, the one to the right is used for multiple accounts. If you only see the one to the left on your screen, simply click the Accounts button and the other window will pop up.

Because the window to the right can do both one and multiple accounts, I'm going to use it for the configuration in this tutorial.

Click the Add button in the accounts window (the one above to the right). You'll see a new box open up that looks like this.

Click the protocol drop-down menu and a list of IM protocols appear (figure 4).


figure 4
  

Put in the correct information into the Screen Name and Password fields, and click the boxes you want. If you want it to automatically log you in every time you load the gaim program, click ?Auto-login?. If you want it to remember your password for you, click ?Remember password?. When you're done, click Save. When you do, you'll notice your information appears in the account box.

Now, simply continue clicking add until you've entered all your accounts, then then press all checkboxes under the ?online? and you'll be connected!

After you're successfully connected, another box will pop up that contains all of your buddies / contacts. If you've just created a new IM account somewhere, this box will most likely be blank until you add IM buddies.

In order to chat with someone, you simply click on their IM name, and in the resulting box, type the message you want to send and press enter. Your message will be sent and in a matter of seconds, your buddy will receive it.

I've used gaim for over a year now and it has quickly become the most feature rich IM program I know of. The gaim developers usually release a new version of gaim every three weeks. It is not necessary to download the new releases every three weeks, but every once in awhile, there will be a new version of gaim you can install through YAST. I recommend doing so, as it usually contains bug fixes and new features you'll most likely enjoy.




There are so many features in gaim, it is an article in and of itself, so keep your eyes open for new articles on how to make the most of your gaim client!

Happy chatting!


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