Twitter Clients for Linux

I would venture to say that I’m enjoying my time spent on Twitter. I’ve been using it as sort of a micro-blog that lets me connect with friends I’ve made on this site and keep my pulse on the collective tech industry.

In the aftermath of getting my server dugg to hell and back, I thought I had successfully changed my website to serve a static page, instead of bogging down my server with a dynamic one that was causing all the problems. I sent out a message saying it was back up, and less than 30 seconds later someone replied saying they were still getting a “403 access denied.” Oops! Less than a minute later I had corrected the error, and I asked them to try again – it worked.

This real-time interaction with instantaneous feedback to updates is what makes Twitter a great social network for me. I also enjoy tracking Linux topics in an instant messenger and answering questions when people ask them. It’s like a partitioned IRC room just for friends, with optional floodgates. In short, it’s pretty fantastic.

tux-twitter2.pngOne of the things I noticed when looking at the website was that some people were posting updates from desktop clients, instead of the usual channels of web, IM, or txt message. I found the Twitter “Fan Application” website and sure enough, there’s 12 different Linux apps for me to try out. I can send tweets from inside emacs? Sounds geeky enough for me to investigate!

Let’s take a look at what we have available for Linux:

Ktwitter is a simple script for KDE desktops. In Ubuntu curl and kdebase-bin will satisfy them. Ktwitter is simple… after downloading the script, making it executable and creating a shortcut to your desktop or deskbar, click the icon, type in your message, and poof! Twitter is updated. There’s no fancy GUI, just a dialog asking “What are you doing right now?” It works for people who just want to update Twitter from a GUI. It just works the way it’s supposed to – this is the KISS principle at work.

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ZenTwitter is similar to Ktwitter. It provides a simple “Gimme your tweet” box with OK and Cancel as the only options. Due to Ubuntu’s Dash/Bash mixup, I needed to modify the interpreter to !#/bin/bash for it to work properly. It does what it’s supposed to, nothing more, nothing less. If I were searching for something this simple, I would suggest using ZenTwitter with a GNOME desktop, and Ktwitter with a KDE desktop.

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gTwitter is available in Ubuntu’s universe repository. It has general features that most clients should have, like reading your friends’ timeline, public timeline, posting, refresh intervals, and showing user avatars in the timeline, which is a nice addition. It has two different views, one shows pictures inline with the message, the other has a familiar top/bottom window pane reader – like some email clients – that lets you select message in the bottom pane, and read it in the top pane.

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GtkTwitter is not complicated. I downloaded the source code from their Google Code website and was able to get it to compile after installing libcurl4-gnutls-dev as a dependency. It has two purposes and does them well: Receive updates and post updates. Clicking on an update takes you to the website. Curiously, there are two buttons that seemingly both just refresh the window. There is no auto-update feature that I know of, otherwise it works pretty well at what it does.

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Twitbar, Twit and Wayd are three desktop clients that gives users a chance to tweet right from their GNOME deskbar…. if it any of them worked, that is. Twitbar looks like it’s dead due to some GNOME updates breaking it, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get Twit or Wayd working either. Damnit!

BLT is a tasty sort of sandwich, with bacon, lettuce and tomato with a dozen derivatives. It also happens to be a console client for Twitter, and a pain in the neck to install from source. It’s a perl script and it seems to work well enough for an application currently in Alpha state.. The author says to think of it as a “biff for twitter” – biff notifies users of new mail in a console. and BLT notifies users of new tweets in a console. Found some bizarre dependency libxml-libxml-perl that kept it from working, and I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to run as a daemon (service) that will update you when there are new tweets from your friends whenever you’re working in a console, although it didn’t quite do that for me.

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twit.el and twitter.el – there are two scripts for tweeting from inside emacs, a famous text editor. twit.el has more features and I would suggest using it over twitter.el if you’re one of the few “geekier than thou” kinda people. twit.el has the following kickass features: 1. Type your post directly in the minibuffer (screenshot to the right). 2. Post the region 3. Post the entire contents of the current buffer. 4. Create a new buffer and show your most recent messages in it. 5. Create a new buffer show the most recent tweets, and update it every 90 seconds. This is more features than some other desktop clients have, color me very impressed.

Vim Twitter is supposed to be a way to send tweets from Vim, another text editor. However, I couldn’t get the script working. The download site for Vim Twitter says it’s a dead script, which probably means it’s not being maintained. Can anybody actually get this working? I can’t imagine that it’s completely broken, feel free to shoot me an email with a screenshot if you get it running. However, Neil was able to and send some screenshots and the tip that twitter.vim has instructions for getting it installed.  Looks cool!

twitterfriendstimelinevim.pngtwitterfriendstimelinevim-1.png twitterpublictimelinevim.png

mitter is another simple Twitter client. Much like gtwitter, it downloads avatar pictures to display inline with updates in your personal timeline. I couldn’t get the status update function to work properly, and emailed the author. He was kind enough to let me know that mitter is intended to be a Maemo application that will eventually run on Nokia smartphones. He actually updated the code and had me test out the latest version which fixed the problem I was having. I also happen to be the 2nd user he is aware of using the application. 🙂 He’s got some good features coming soon like auto-updating and is open to suggestions from users.

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prism-twitter is a fancy container for essentially Twitter inside a special browser window without all the features of a full-blown Firefox installation – it’s just a simple client that runs right off the website. It’s nice in the fact that the Prism container doesn’t share cookies with your main browser, so if you have two accounts and only want to update on the web, this is for you. Prism can be found for every operating system, and if you install prism-twitter on Ubuntu you’ll have twitter preconfigured for you.

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Twitux Last but not certainly not least, is Twitux. It’s probably the most feature complete of them all. It’s got a timeline with avatars, display notifications, auto-updating, spell checking, and the option to view timelines in 8 different ways: Public, Friends, My, Twitux, Direct Message, Direct Replies, as well as updates from specific friends. This is basically the best client I’ve found yet – practically every feature available on the Twitter website is available within this program.
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Have you seen any other Twitter clients for Linux? I’ve tested out Twhirl in the new Adobe Air alpha, but it’s pretty bad – lots of texture clipping, didn’t look good at all. Leave a comment or shoot me a tweet and let us know.