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Get a working Slack client for Ubuntu, complete with notifications and an independent icon. ScudCloud is the unofficial Slack client Ubuntu users have been looking for.
I’m not going to feign objectivity here: I think Slack is wonderful. It not only makes group communication easier: it’s a productivity godsend. It’s everything Google Wave was supposed to be, except it actually works. MakeUseOf’s staff is scattered across the globe; Slack acts as our newsroom, where we plan the stories you end up reading here.
But there’s one problem: unless you’re using a Mac, there’s no desktop client, meaning you’re stuck using Slack in your browser. Linux and Windows users are told to create an application icon using Chrome:
It seems like a Windows client is on the way, with nothing in the pipeline for Linux users. Meanwhile, the Mac Slack client integrates well with the system, offering native notifications and more. ScudCloud is an unofficial app that offers the same thing to Ubuntu users – here’s how it looks.
A Slack Client For Ubuntu
Fire up ScudCloud and you’ll see… Slack.
(Note: some of our channels are less productive than others).
Yes, this is basically just the web client in a window, but that’s exactly what the Mac version offers as well. What makes this different is the system integration, starting with a notification count on the app’s icon.
The app also offers Ubuntu users native notifications, meaning you won’t miss the messages you’ve set up alerts for.
Be sure to fine-tune Slack’s settings, so you only see the notifications you care about, or this could get overwhelming.
One of Ubuntu’s overlooked features is dock menus, which you can see by right-clicking any icon in the dock. From here Scudcloud offers a quick way to directly open any channel you’re subscribed to:
That’s more or less the basic tour. It’s simple, sure, but if you’re a Slack team member who uses Ubuntu it offers the integration you’ve been looking for.
Ready to install? ScudCloud is offered as part of a PPA, meaning you can install it with the following three commands:
sudo apt-add-repository -y ppa:rael-gc/scudcloud
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install scudcloud
Here’s what those commands do, in order:
- Adds the ScudCloud PPA to your system (what is an Ubuntu PPA?).
- Updates your package list.
- Installs ScudCloud.
Note that this is an Ubuntu-specific app, and the PPA will only work on Ubuntu-derived systems such as Linux Mint.
Replace Any Icon In Ubuntu – Including ScudCloud
I’ve only got one real complaint about ScudCloud: the icon. While it does fit in among Ubuntu’s default iconset, nothing about it says “Slack” to me. For this reason, I looked into how to change the icon for any Ubuntu app – here’s what I found out.
First, open the Terminal. Then, type this command to open your applications folder, in your file browser, as a super user:
sudo nautilus /usr/share/applications/
In the window that opens, find Scudcloud. Right-click it, then click “Properties”. You’ll see a window outlining the app.
Click the icon button at top-left, then browse your system to find a replacement icon. I used this unofficial Slack icon by designer Diesel Laws.
That’s it! Your icon should be replaced – you may need to restart ScudCloud to notice the difference. These same steps will work for any application, of course.
How Do You IM On Ubuntu?
Slack is far from the only IM option on Ubuntu. Empathy can send messages to basically any network, and Pidgin is another solid multi-platform IM app. You could in theory use either as a Slack client in Ubuntu, thanks to IRC and XMPP integration. For most people, though, ScudCloud offers a way better Slack experience than these options – everything will work the way it does on other platforms.
I think Slack should point their Ubuntu users toward this unofficial app. It works.
Having said that, I’d love to hear more about how you use Ubuntu apps to keep in touch – with co-workers, or anyone else. What tools do you love for the job? Have you tried Slack? Let us know in the comments below – I’ll be around to chat with you.
Oh, and Windows users: I know you’re about to ask for a client. Look into SlackUI, which is similar to ScudCloud but for Windows. Enjoy!