Micro-blogging is all the rage nowadays, though if you don’t know what it is you might want to check out Twitter Explained for a little tutorial. The default way to handle micro-blogging and updates is to keep refreshing a page in your browser over and over, but since that can be a bit of a pain, having a desktop client to poll for updates is very handy.
But then let’s face it, Twitter‘s not the only micro-blogging platform out there, and it’s definitely not the only program that lets you have status updates. That’s why having a Twitter-only client doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. I was using Twitux before, but since then I joined a fully open-source micro-blogging platform called Identi.ca. Probably by virtue of being open-source software, it has a large Linux-user population, so I had to join. And Twitux doesn’t work with it. Enter Gwibber.
Gwibber is a status-update client for a lot of services. I’m just using it for Twitter and Identi.ca, but it also works for Digg, Jaiku, Facebook, Pownce, and Flickr. It’s actively developed, and the developer (Ryan Paul of ArsTechnica) seems to be listening to user input, so that’s definitely a plus.
Right now, though, I just really like its flexibility. It uses WebKit for rendering, so it can get pretty fancy. Take a look at the screenshot below. I configured it to use dark blue for Identi.ca updates and light blue for Twitter updates, so they match each site’s theme. You can pick whatever color you want for each, but I thought it was easier to remember this way.
You can also see that where someone replied to me the message is outlined in red. That’s pretty useful. New messages are outlined in light blue to highlight them.
Perhaps my favourite feature is the duplicate detection. See that plus sign on my message? Here’s what happens when you click it:
It detected that I tweeted and dented the same thing and displayed the status update only once. This happens when I post from within Gwibber or when one of my friends that uses both does so. It just helps tidy up the interface a bit, I think. And then of course there’s the requisite “Reply” button in the bottom right corner of whichever notice has focus.
If you’d like to try it out:
- Fedora: in 8 & 9′s testing repositories
- OpenSuSE: It’s in 1-click
- Ubuntu: Directions on wiki to add repositories
Please note, though, that Gwibber is still in Alpha. I haven’t noticed any issues with it, but being alpha software does mean there are big changes happening fairly often. I think duplicate detection was added last week. I’m with everyone that’s requesting a “Replies” tab. Ryan says he’ll make it a priority.
Windows and Mac users? You’re out of luck. This application is only supported for Linux, but if you get it to compile and run on other Unix-based OSes, let me know.
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