Want to chat on Linux? Better have Empathy - gHacks Tech News

Want to chat on Linux? Better have Empathy

The Linux operating system has gone through a number of "default" chat applications. From the earlier text-based chats like zicq, to the later Gaim, then to Pidgen (still in use), and now (and, hopefully, finally) GNOME has settled on Empathy.

Empathy is a messenging program built upon the Telepathy protocol which is based on Gossip. With the help of Telepathy, Empathy can easily communicate with other GNOME applications, for a seamless, integrated desktop experience. Empathy supports: Multiple protocols, file transfer via XMPP and local networks, voice and video support, limited IRC support, conversation theming, sharing of location, conversation logging, and much more. In this article I will walk you through the installation and setup of Empathy.

Installation

Empathy is quite easy to install. But before you go on with the attempt at installing, you should first check your Applications > Internet directory for the Empathy entry. If it's there, you need not bother with the installation. If it is not there, continue on with this section.

To install Empathy follow these steps:

  • Fire up your package management system (Synaptic, Ubuntu Software Center, gnome-packagekit, etc).
  • Search for "empathy" (No quotes).
  • Select the Empathy entry and mark for installation.
  • Click Apply to install.

No you will find Empathy in Applications > Internet.

Adding your first account

When Empathy is open click on Edit > Accounts to open up the accounts editor. In this window follow these steps to create a new account:

  1. Click the New button.
  2. Select the type of account you want to create from the drop down.
  3. Click the Create button.
  4. Enter the credentials for the account you want to create.
  5. Click the Connect button.
Figure 1

Once you click the Connect button you will be immediately taken to the main window (see Figure 1) where your buddies (if you have any) will all show up.

Figure 2

Empathy should behave precisely as you would expect it. After you create your account(s), one of the first things you can do is edit the personal information for each account. You can change your alias as well as your account avatar for each account you have configured. To do this click on Edit > Personal Information which will open up the PI Window (see Figure 2). You can change the information for different accounts by selecting the account to change from the drop down. To change the Avatar, simply click the icon button and locate a small image to use.

Connecting to IRC rooms

You can do away with your IRC client by using Empathy. To connect to an IRC room follow these steps:

  1. Click Edit > Accounts
  2. Click the Add button.
  3. Select IRC from the account type drop down.
  4. Click the Create button.
  5. Select the server from the network drop down.
  6. Enter any credentials you need to enter.
  7. Click Connect.
  8. Close the account creation window.
  9. Click on Room > Join from the main window.
  10. Select IRC from the dropdown.
  11. Enter the room name you want to join.
  12. Click Join.

A new window will open dedicated to your IRC chat room.

Gotcha

One of the issues you might come across with Empathy is that you can only send files to buddies on Jabber, Google Talk, and People Nearby services. All other accounts are out of luck.

Final thoughts

Empathy is an outstanding chat client that can be used for multiple and various services. Give it a try and you'll find yourself never going back to your old client.

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Comments

  1. happy pidgin user said on January 27, 2010 at 4:05 am
    Reply

    This article doesn’t say anything about why Empathy is better than the others clients and a comparing had been more fair.

    Lets start by analyzing your statements:
    “Empathy can easily communicate with other GNOME applications, for a seamless, integrated desktop experience”
    The crude really is that Empathy can communicate only with ONE application from gnome that’s it.

    “Empathy supports: Multiple protocols, file transfer via XMPP and local networks, voice and video support, limited IRC support, conversation theming, sharing of location, conversation logging, and much more”
    you said about limited IRC, but you didn’t say about that file transfer only works in XMPP and that’s it and much more the then end, doesn’t had to be there because Empathy doesn’t have more things.

    To be fair i don’t understand why so much attention on this poor client, i believe is that ubuntu ships it and because is a part in GNOME, but pidgin is 1000% more superior that this.

  2. jack said on January 27, 2010 at 5:07 am
    Reply

    GNOME is migrating away from Pidgin as their default client. They are doing this for the Telepathy framework which will allow all GNOME-aware applications to be able to seamlessly communicate to Empathy.

    This is all forward-thinking on the GNOME developers part.

  3. Dotan Cohen said on January 27, 2010 at 8:40 am
    Reply

    > The Linux operating system has gone through a number
    > of “default” chat applications.

    Linux is not an operating system.

    Linux has never had a default chat application.

    Perhaps you are confusing Linux with Gnome, or with Ubuntu?

    1. jack said on January 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm
      Reply

      I know, Linux is not an operating system. Linux is a kernel on which applications and a desktop environment are overlayed. In that same vein, what would you call the Windows kernel? That kernel never gets mentioned – it’s just Windows (or the Windows kernel).

      This is part of the problem with Linux gaining acceptance. The average user doesn’t care that Linux is a kernel. When they hear Linux, they hear operating system. I think at this point in time, it’s safe to say the majority of people have adopted the term “Linux” to mean an operating system, not a kernel.

      But technically, yes, you are right in correcting me there. ;-)

      1. LinuxLover said on January 28, 2010 at 2:08 am
        Reply

        It doesn’t matter that they see Linux as a kernel, or whatever. Linux is an OS that has lots and lots of choices. Is that good enough? KDE, Gnome, XCFE, LXDE, Windowmaker, Fluxbox, Afterstep, IceWM…

        Technically speaking, though, it’s a kernel. When speaking of what’s default, you should either point to the distro or the UI, though. It may be default in Ubuntu or in Gnome, for instance, but it’s not default in Linux…

  4. Nebulus said on January 27, 2010 at 12:09 pm
    Reply

    In my opinion, Pidgin is far superior than Empathy.

  5. happy pidgin user said on January 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm
    Reply

    “GNOME is migrating away from Pidgin as their default client”

    Pidgin was never a GNOME application but rather a GTK application. Are you sure you know what are you talking about?

  6. Schalken said on January 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm
    Reply

    I like Pidgin better as well, but to each their own!

  7. kingpin said on January 27, 2010 at 3:39 pm
    Reply

    In my opinion,Pidgin is much better than Empathy.

    How about shedding light on red hat enterprise linux and virtualization?Both are too expensive to switch from windows.Is it really secure?

  8. LinuxLover said on January 27, 2010 at 6:30 pm
    Reply

    The Linux operating system hasn’t gone through a number of default chat apps – Gnome has! Are you living in a cave? KDE uses, and has used for a long time, Kopete, which IMO is better than anything Gnome uses. Many distros are KDE based, including but not limited to, Mandriva, Suse, Fedora KDE, Kubuntu…

    This seems like another crap blog by a die hard Ubuntu fan that can’t see beyond what Canonnical shovels out at you. There’s a whole other world of Linux out there…discover it!

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