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For the some time now, the Linux community has been desperately crying out for a good Twitter client. It’s not their fault. There used to be a great many of them.

Clients like Destroy Twitter DestroyTwitter - A Fantastic, Free, Lightweight & Powerful Twitter Client DestroyTwitter - A Fantastic, Free, Lightweight & Powerful Twitter Client If you thought I went a bit overboard with the adjectives in the title for this post, believe me that by the time you’re done reading about DestroyTwitter you’ll be adding a few of your... Read More , TweetDeck Why Twitter's TweetDeck Is Worth A Second Look Why Twitter's TweetDeck Is Worth A Second Look In the last few months, Twitter has become my favorite social networking hangout, mainly because I find it less time consuming than Facebook and Tumblr, and I can certainly update it quicker than I can... Read More and Twhirl. The problem is, these were all based on Adobe’s Air runtime, which was discontinued for Linux users around 2011. Since then, nothing’s really taken their place.

Or, perhaps not. I decided to survey the current Linux Twitter client landscape, looking for the best, most beautiful Twitter experience around. To make things even more interesting, we’re going to focus on the most lightweight ones – even ones that work on the command line. Here’s what I found.

RainbowStream

First up, we’re looking at RainbowStream. Unusually, RainbowStream is a command-line Twitter client, built with Python. But don’t let that fool you. RainbowStream is just as capable and as beautiful as any graphically-oriented client you could care to name.

You can tweet, favorite, share, quote and reply to your heart’s content. RainbowStream can even post and view images, although they do look a tad pixelated when viewed in the browser.

twitter-rainbowstream

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You can even change how RainbowStream looks through a number of pre-installed themes. These range from the vibrant, to the subdued. My favorite was the gorgeous Tomorrow Night, which is particularly restful to the eyes.

twitter-rainbowstream-theme

RainbowStream consists of two components. The first is called “The Stream”, which displays the contents of your Twitter feed. It does it in the most mesmerizing way, and I found myself staring at my computer screen for almost 10 minutes, watching tweet after tweet pass me by.

I can easily imagine this being used as a Twitter screen at a technology conference, much like Visible Tweets often is Visible Tweets: Full-Screen, Animated Display Of Any Twitter Search Visible Tweets: Full-Screen, Animated Display Of Any Twitter Search Show off any search on Twitter from your TV screen. Visible Tweets is a web app that offers large, crisp text, quick search and beautiful animations, and is perfect for displaying tweets from across the... Read More .

The other component is interactive mode, which allows you to interact with Twitter. This worked perfectly adequately, but it’s worth noting that it requires you to learn a plethora of hotkeys and macros to use it.

RainbowStream was a stunning experiment into how to make Twitter beautiful. One that I can see myself using, well into the future. Although it’s worth noting that for the average user, installing RainbowStream can be intimidating. It comes with a shopping list of prerequisites that must be installed first, and requires the use of the PIP Python package manager. But if you can get past these, you’ll find a Twitter client that’s worthy of your time.

TTYTer

When launching TTYtter for the first time, you’re greeted with the following:

Looks like you’re starting TTYtter for the first time, and/or creating a keyfile. Welcome to the most user-hostile, highly obfuscated, spaghetti code infested and obscenely obscure Twitter client that’s out there. You’ll love it.

They weren’t wrong. TTYtter (presumably pronounced “tighter”) is hellishly challenging to install, requiring you jump through more hoops than a Crufts champion sheepdog.

For almost 15 minutes, I grappled with the multitude of SSL errors TTYtter was throwing, and the obscure and unhelpful error messages it provided. Until eventually, I gave up and ran it without SSL encryption What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default Security concerns are spreading far and wide and have reached the forefront of most everybody's mind. Terms like antivirus or firewall are no longer strange vocabulary and are not only understood, but also used by... Read More . That solved my issues, but probably wasn’t the best idea.

twitter-tytter-ssl

As a Twitter client, it’s not the prettiest. It’s certainly not the easiest to use. It forces you to manually refresh your Twitter timeline by typing “/refresh”. Because of the lack of color, or any formatting for that matter, it can be hard to distinguish where a tweet begins and ends.

twitter-tytter-stream

It’s also worth noting that anything that isn’t prefaced with a forward slash is tweeted as a tweet, making it really easy to accidentally tweet out some banality like “refresh” or “help”.

But it’s certainly lightweight. TTYtter consumes a near negligible amount of RAM and CPU, making it perhaps the most svelte Twitter client I’ve ever used. What a shame it’s so hard to use though.

Birdie

Tired of sitting on the command-line, I decided to look at Birdie. Birdie advertises itself as “fast, easy to use and beautiful”, and as being the best Twitter client available for Linux. So, how does it match up?

Let’s start off with “beautiful”. Er, no. Birdie isn’t beautiful. At the risk of sounding mean, Birdie looks like what would happen if IBM built a Twitter client for Windows 95 in the mid 90s.

twitter-birdie

That’s not to say it’s especially bad though. Despite the uninspiring typography, squished photos, and grey backgrounds, it’s still a perfectly adequate Twitter client. Everything is in its right place, and works. It’s just so… Ugly.

But fast? That I’m willing to concede, because it really is fast. It zipped through my Twitter feed like a turbo-charged hotrod, whilst simultaneously consuming virtually no RAM. It even provides notifications whenever a DM or reply drops.

It’s worth noting that Birdie isn’t available from the Ubuntu repositories. You’ll have to manually install The Linux User's Toolkit for Discovering New Apps The Linux User's Toolkit for Discovering New Apps Installing Linux is like checking into an all-inclusive resort. Hardware works perfectly, and you get an impressive selection of pre-installed software. But what if you want to try out some new Linux software? Read More it from a .deb file.

Gwibber

This is a bit of a cheat, since Gwibber (which we first reviewed back in 2008 Gwibber - Twitter, Facebook, Pownce, Flickr etc. Client [Linux] Gwibber - Twitter, Facebook, Pownce, Flickr etc. Client [Linux] Read More ) isn’t really a dedicated Twitter client. It supports a broad family of microblogging clients, including Twitter, Identi.ca, Facebook and FriendFeed.

In fact, it’s not really called Gwibber. When you install it from the command line (sudo apt-get install gwibber), it’s nowhere to be found. Because, for whatever reason, it’s listed as “Friends”.

twitter-friends-homescreen

Once I emotionally recovered from the bait-and-switch, I set to seeing how Gwibber/Friends compares to the competition.

Well, it’s perhaps the prettiest one we’ve tried so far. When I first read about Gwibber/Friends, I was slightly concerned by the screenshots on the official website, which paints a picture of a Twitter client that’s stuck in 2007. But, no. Friends is pretty.

twitter-friends-timeline

 

Admittedly, its typography isn’t great, but the soft, shaded background is particularly easy on the eyes, and the photos and icons are proportional and well laid out. Navigation, also, is pretty good. You switch from your timeline, to your mentions, to your message, through a carousel-style navigation system.

Thankfully, Friends looks the part, without demanding too much of your system. At most, it used 35MB of RAM. All in all, it’s a nice compromise between performance, looks and features.

Hotot

I must admit, before using Hotot, I knew very little about it. I didn’t even know anyone who used it, although it frequently popped up in research. Intrigued, I decided to take a look at it.

Hotot calls itself “yet another Twitter client”. That, for the most part, is entirely true. It doesn’t do anything particularly novel, or well for that matter. It’s not customizable, and it doesn’t look particularly pretty. It feels like, yes, yet another Twitter client.

twitter-hotot-timeline

An incomplete Twitter client at that. Certain things don’t work as you might expect. For instance, the Tweet composition window detaches and moves around, but doesn’t leave the actual client window. Direct messages aren’t organized into logical threads, but rather in long, unwieldy streams of jumbled messages.

twitter-hotot-messages

Hotot is not a very good Twitter client.

But, for what it’s worth, it’s certainly a lightweight one, consuming around 90MB of RAM, and virtually no CPU. All in all, an adequate Twitter client, but perhaps not one I’d use out of choice.

Did I Miss Any?

These are some of the best, slimline Twitter clients I discovered. There are, of course, many more. Turpial was one that came highly recommended, but was unfortunately far too complicated to install on Ubuntu to recommend.

Did I neglect your favorite Twitter client? Want to tell me about it? Let me know in the comments below.

  1. CarLeeToes
    April 12, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Question... once you get the Key for RainbowStream you have to put it in everytime you try to login or its just once?

  2. nitroflow
    December 7, 2015 at 5:45 pm
  3. Cirrus McMinor
    August 22, 2015 at 9:25 am

    earthquake rubygem (cli)

    • Matthew Hughes
      August 30, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      Never used it. What do you like about it?

  4. John Smith
    August 14, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Some of us want few things beyond basic point and click. We also use twitter for far more than "look at me" and "I hate my life" tweets, and most of the time we are networks that can restict access, therefore tweetdeck and most web based services, downloadable clients are not an option. A terminal based client you can access from ssh connection is more secure and more convenient. Also you can automate most of your tweets, make things easier.

    • Matthew Hughes
      August 17, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      Very, very true.

  5. John Smith
    August 9, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Few more you may want to consider adding to your list.

    tweep
    http://www.tweepy.org

    TweetPony A Twitter library for Python
    https://github.com/Mezgrman/TweetPony

    twython
    https://github.com/ryanmcgrath/twython

    And a power commandline clinet
    http://sferik.github.com/t
    https://github.com/sferik/t

    Personally, if I can get to post photo attachment from command line, I would completely drop GUI clients and the web interface.

    None of the terminal clients support attachments without major hacks.

    • Matthew Hughes
      August 17, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      Oh, nice! Thanks so much John!

  6. Fasih Rehman
    August 6, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    You don't need any of these! Tweetdeck is the onlu twitter application you need - multiple accounts, specialised columns. Since its web based the config and view is the same wherever you are!

    • Matthew Hughes
      August 17, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      Tweetdeck is great, but it's hardly as light as RainbowStream!

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