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.

ktwitter.png

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.

screenshot-zentwitter.png screenshot-zentwitter-2.png

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.

gtwitter22.png gtwitter-pref1.png gtwitter-pref2.png gtwitter-tray.png

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.

gtktwitter2.png

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.

blt-wayne-gutsy.png

twitel1.png

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.

mitter.png

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.

prism-twitter1.png prism-twitter2.png

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.
twitux2.png twitux8.png twitux9.png twitux7.png

twitux-pref1.png twituxpref2.png twitux-tray.png

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.

  • http://www.mjnbrn.net Ben

    You, Mr.Fsckin are a twitterholic.

  • http://www.jonnydover.net Jonny Dover

    Hey, I notice Twitux is only available for Hardy, but your console says you’re on Gutsy.
    I’m still on Gutsy too–will anything break if i install the Hardy package?

  • http://productivelinux.com Nathan R. Hale

    I just started using the Twitterfox Firefox extension, and it’s pretty sweet. What I particularly love about Twitterfox is the “replies” view which quickly lets you see all the @yourusername posts. Quite awesome.

  • http://www.benjiegillam.com/ Benjie Gillam

    Great post! I used a few of these when I first hunted for a linux twitter client. I now use gtwitter over twitux purely because twitux seems to have an issue with wordwrap. Every time a new tweet comes in, the inner area of the window gets bigger, so I have to resize the window larger so I don’t have to scroll… then it happens again a couple of minutes later! By the end the window was over 800px wide, so I gave up and switched to gtwitter. Does this issue exist for you?

  • http://www.chimeric.de Michael Klier

    Hi,

    thanks for the hint regarding the interpreter of ZenTwitter! It’s a bad habit of mine to use !#/bin/sh instead of !#/bin/bash. I’ve updated the script accordingly :-).

  • mikeyp

    You should check out socialthing.com. It is a website that aggregates data from twitter, pownce, livejournal, facebook and flickr. Other sites like digg and last.fm were on there, but because of the number of requests were taken down for the time being.

    I think that I have some invites if you need one.

  • http://www.mumbles-project.org dot_j

    Nice roundup, thanks. For screenlets users, I just wrote a simple twitter post/check screenlet. I’d like to see it get a few more features, but for now, it gets the job done.

    http://www.gnome-look.org/content/show.php/SimpleTwitterScreenlet?content=77988

  • Vadim P.

    @_@…

  • JD

    @Jonny – No, you will not be able to install 0.61…There is a Gutsy deb available on getdeb.net for Twitux 0.60 or you could build 0.60 from source, but 0.61 requires some of the new GNOME stuff that’s in Gutsy.

    @Benjie – That word wrap issue was (supposedly) fixed in Twitux 0.61 :) you will however need to use a distro that ships with GNOME 2.22 to use 0.61

  • Trey

    Don’t forget about the GnomeDo Twitter plugin.

    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/GnomeDo

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  • http://www.email.si/blog/tsiolkovsky/ Tsiolkovsky

    My favourite one is missing: the Twitter Plasmoid for KDE 4.

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  • ikaruga

    Wow that’s a pretty complete list. I thought that twitter on Linux wasn’t yet ready.

    However, from a question in your previous post, how useful is twitter? Besides letting people know you’re going to the bathroom ? :-)

    None of the “productivity” bots seem to be working. For example, Forecast and Twittersearch don’t seem to be working. I haven’t tried Reminder which is the next useful bot. Also, the AOL IM bot has been down for several months.

  • http://jerichokb.wordpress.com/ jerichokb

    For those using irssi, there’s a neat script that can update your status and show friends’ updates as well:
    http://jerichokb.wordpress.com/2008/02/08/twitter-from-irssi-update/

  • http://subprocess.net Ryan

    Adobe air alpha is out for Linux: http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/air_linux.html

    It’s not exactly what I’d call “polished”. But http://www.twhirl.org “runs” in it.

    And by “runs” I mean it crashes and has funny bugs. But even in this sad state it beats out all the other Linux twitter apps I’ve tried.

  • gorkon

    Absolutely. I’ve tried twhirl on Linux and it’s da bomb of twitter clients. I don’t see any texture issues or crashes….yet.

  • Mace Moneta

    My current favorite: Pwytter

    http://www.pwytter.com/

  • http://philwilson.org/blog/ Phil Wilson

    Yeah, I’ll update Twitbar when Hardy Heron is released, since it comes with the much newer version of Deskbar.

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  • Ryan Hadley

    Hey, I got tired of Twhirl being all buggy. So I wrote my own Linux client and it’s goal is to be better than twhirl. I think I’m well on my way.

    Check it out here if you’d like: http://code.google.com/p/phpitter/

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  • http://www.macewan.org Robert

    I’ve only used the Air apps with fairly good results. For me it came down to not having to upgrade my entire system just for Twitter. Yeah, it is sorely update outdated, but thanks for the great suggestions.

  • http://www.velvetcache.org/ John

    Came here looking for a client, didn’t like the ones I found. So I wrote a KDE Kicker applet, called KickTweet. If you run KDE instead of Gnome and want a simple little one, try it out: http://static.velvetcache.org/projects/kicktweet/

  • http://shii.org/knows/Microblogging Shii

    In terms of identi.ca clients, freedom-loving bloggers have two options: Twhirl and Gwibber.

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  • turn.self.off

    i use mitter.

    even if twitux is more feature complete, the ui is a mess.

    if one want to access the inline link of some message, one have to turn on the fixed size expanded area.

    and when i say fixed size, its because half the time it cant show the full 160 letters of a message, making it basically useless.

    with mitter, all this is in the right click menu of a twitter entry. it even supports the ability to follow a reply backwards, if they reply was made with a client that supports the insertion of said link.

    what mitter is missing tho is the ability to show other threads then your personal, and show the entry your currently working on in multiple lines…

  • http://worthyisthelamb.info ikaruga

    @turn.self.off@ – Yeah I agree. I just tried twitux the other day and the GUI is … well, let’s just say lacking and also buggy. Mitter is good but is too simple. Been wanting to try twitter.el but it’s not available anymore. Anyone have a copy I can download?

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  • http://vinicius.soylocoporti.org.br Vinicius Massuchetto

    It’s missing gwibber, a good one also…

  • Martin

    Good overview, thanks

  • http://www.baldwinsoftware.com tony

    I got twits working from the command line for posting to twitter. Bti and gwtitter from the ubuntu repos hang while logging in.
    I think I’m going to try blt, since that also shows friends’ tweets at terminal in real time. That might be fun.
    http://twitter.com/tonybaldwin

  • http://thewebdevelopers.biz jamslug

    A little outdated maybe but if you want a twitter desktop client: http://tinyurl.com/lwsoh2

  • http://www.yeap.de yaba

    Choqok

    http://choqok.gnufolks.org/

    Also supports other services like identi.ca and has an integration with twitpic.

  • niun

    I am trying Qwit right now (QT4, Linux ). I think it is not as feature complete as Twitux, but for me it is enough and it has a very small footprint.

    @yaba: Choqok is not working right for me. It shows only one tweet from two days ago. Since three hours. Strange.

  • http://compulsivetech.biz Lance Seidman

    Visit http://code.google.com/p/twits for my free opensource twitter updater.

  • http://tktwitt.sf.net Bartosz Debski

    Tktwitt http://tktwitt.sf.net client written in Python

  • http://antagames.weebly.com Aku

    Oh wow, Twitux is friggin awesome.

  • http://forgetfullyvideos.blogspot.com Alphonse Koehler

    http://www.fsckin.com‘s done it once again. Great article.

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