How to use Empathy Messenger

Empathy is an instant messaging application for the GNOME Desktop. It supports text, voice & video chat, and file transfers and most used messaging systems such as MSN and Google Talk.

Empathy includes features that help you collaborate better while at work, which easily keep you in touch with friends.

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala comes with Empathy as a default instant messaging client. Although I am using Empathy 2.28.1 on Ubuntu 9.10 in this tutorial, everything mentioned will be valid also on most other distributions like Fedora, Mandriva or OpenSUSE.

Add a new account

To start using Empathy you should have an account. Empathy supports many protocols as shown below.

When you start Empathy for the first time, it shows you the “Welcome” wizard which gives you an easy process to enter your account’s details

Click Forward to proceed:

In this step, you can specify your account’s type, entering your user name and password. Click Apply to finish. You can add more accounts by choosing “Yes” to the question “Do you have any other chat accounts you want to set up?”

To add and Edit your accounts press F4 or choose: Edit => Accounts from the menu.

In this step, I tried to add my google Talk account but it doesn’t work for first time but after a little googling I found the answer. Just click on advanced option and enter the following details:

1. Write: “” on server box

2. Check “Use old SSL”.

And that’s all to get your google talk account working.

Edit your personal information

You can edit your personal information by clicking Edit=> Personal Information

Choose your account type and write your new alias. You can choose a new photo by clicking on the picture box.

IRC chat

To use IRC chat, you have to add IRC account:

  1.  From the Contact List window, choose Edit ▸ Accounts, or just press F4.
  2.  Click the Add button.
  3.  From the Add new drop-down list, select an IRC account, and then click on Create button.

IRC accounts require quite different data than many other types of accounts. To create an IRC account, you must specify at least an IRC network and a nickname. See next picture:

I chose here as an example FreeNode network. If you don’t find your favorite network, you can add it by clicking on the plus icon next to drop-down list. Also you can edit or remove any network entry in drop-down networks list.

Enter your Nickname and password if you want to connect to a network that requires a password. Then click on Connect button.

Join a room

Now From menu choose room => Join

Now type the room of the channel you want to join. IRC channel names start with the hash character (#).

I typed ubuntu channel and joined it. If you want to add a channel to your Favorite channel, from menu choose Conversation, then put tick on Favorite Chatroom.


Audio and Video calls

You can only have audio and video conversation with contacts that are using an application which also supports this feature. When your contacts support audio or video conversations, you will see the following icons next to their names in the contact list:

Image  = The contact is able to have an audio conversation.

Image =  The contact is able to have a video conversation.

Empathy supports audio and video only in these accounts: Google Talk, Jabber, SIP and MSN (not yet in Ubuntu 9.10 )

To start audio or video conversation, From the Contact List window, click the video call or audio call icon next to the name of the contact you wish to call. Alternatively, right click the contact and choose Audio or video call.

A new window will appear. When the connection is established, you will see Connected at the bottom of the window, along with the total conversation time.

To end the conversation, choose Call ▸ Hang up.


File Transfer

It is possible to send files only using the following services: Jabber, Google Talk and People Nearby.

To send a file you have to follow the followings:

1-From the Contact List window, perform one of the following:

– Right click on the contact you want to send a file to, and choose Send file.

– Click on the contact you want to send a file, and choose Edit ▸ Contact ▸ Send file.

2- Select the file to send, and click on Send.

3- The File Transfers window will appear.

Wait for your contact to accept the file transfer, or you can click Stop to halt the transfer.

4- Once the transfer is completed, it is possible to close the File Transfer’s window.


Change your status

You can set your status to indicate your availability to your contacts. Empathy allows you to select your status from a list of defined statuses.

  1. Click on the drop-down list at the top of the Contact List window.
  2. Select a status from the list.

You can also add custom status messages to provide more information about your availability.

Add new themes

One unique feature of Empathy is the ability to use Adium chat themes – which is great for those looking to have a different chat layout during IM’s.

Not all Adium’s themes work out of the box yet. Check this page to get supported themes.

Install a theme

  1. First you need to create “.local/share/adium/message-styles” path and to do that go to Home directory and show hidden files from View => Show hidden files or by Ctrl+h shortcut. Go to .local/share directory and create a new folder with the name “adium”, then create a new folder within it and name it “message-styles”.
  2. You can choose and download themes from adiumxtras
  3. After you download a theme, extract the tarball and copy “themename.AdiumMessageStyle” folder to “ .local/share/adium/message-styles”.
  4. Go to empathy’s preferences from Edit=>Preferences and select Adium theme.


You want help

Empathy comes with excellent help documentation. From Help menu click on Content or press F1.

Mozilla Thunderbird 3 Features

Mozilla has announced the availability of version 3 of its popular open source Thunderbird email and news client for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The long-awaited major release is based on the Gecko platform, including some major re-architecting to provide improved performance, stability, web compatibility, and code simplification and sustainability.
Mozilla Thunderbird 3 brings awesome features like:


Thunderbird 3 makes possible to enjoy tabbed browsing experience like Firefox.  Tabbed email lets you load emails in separate tabs so you can quickly jump between them.
– New Search with Advanced Filtering Tools
Search results now include advanced filtering tools. You have the option to filter your results by sender, tag, attachments, people, folder, and mailing list. You can also filter your email using the timeline tool.

New Mail Account Setup Wizard

The new Mail Account Setup Wizard matches against a database of email settings from popular mail providers so that you will only need to provide your name, email, and password to set up new mail accounts. This feature is similar to what Outlook has. The new Mail Account Setup Wizard warned me when I tried to add SMPT server which doesn’t use encryption. It is such a cool feature.

One-click Address Book

This feature is similar to Firefox which is simply clicking on the star icon to bookmark the page. You can add people as well by simply clicking on the star icon in the message you received. Two clicks and you can add more details like a photo, birthday, and other contact information.

Attachment Reminder

Now if you type the word attachment (and other words like file types) in the body of your message, the Attachment Reminder will reminds you to add an attachment before hitting send.

Activity Manager

The Activity Manager records all the interactions between Thunderbird and your email provider in one place.

Improved Gmail Integration

Better recognition and integration of Gmail’s special folders such as Sent and Trash including non-English versions of Gmail. Thunderbird also uses All Mail as the Archives folder.

These are the main features that attracted my attention but it still holds more others. Get your copy of Thunderbird 3 from here.

X-Plane 9 on Linux

Linux is famous for being ‚open source‘ in that the source code for Linux plus all the applications is normally available for those who want to view or modify it.

However, not all Linux programs are Open Source. Some are ‚closed source‘ in that the developers who create it would like to keep how they created it a ’secret‘. The argument here is that the company or developers have invested time and money in creating a program, charge for their work so why should they go releasing the code to any Tom Dick and Harry.

Personally I have no issues with this, there are some good programs for Linux which are closed source. One such program is the flight simulator X-Plane. X-Plane is a paid for program and the 6 dvd set contains versions for Linux, Mac and Windows. It is in my opinion the best flight sim available for the PC.

X-Plane contains subsonic and supersonic flight dynamics, allowing users to predict the flight characteristics of the slowest aircraft to the fastest. X-Plane includes thirty-five aircraft on its master disk, spanning the aviation industry (and its history), sporting aircraft from the Bell 206 JetRanger and Cessna 172 to the supersonic SR-71 and the Space Shuttle. Additionally, more than 1,400 additional aircraft models (such as those at can be downloaded from the Internet , nearly all of which are free. If those aren’t enough, users can design their own airplanes and test fly them!.

To Install X-Plane on Ubuntu 9.10, hereis a great article working through installation X-plane on Ubuntu linux 9.10. For other distributions see this page.

Font smoothing in OpenSUSE 11.2

I have switched to OpenSUSE 11.2 recently. Although, I’ve enabled anti-aliasing option from System Settings panel, I notice that fonts aren’t displayed smoothly and they are ugly.Two days ago, I found the solution for this problem. It is easy just upgrade the freetype2 packages to use subpixel hinting feature. The subpixel hinting implementation in freetype2 is disabled both upstream (by the freetype2 authors) and in the freetype2 RPM packages that ship with openSUSE because it might infringe Microsoft’s ClearType patents.

Now go to Configure Desktop > Appearance > Fonts
*  enable the checkbox „Use anti-aliasing for fonts“
* click on the „Configure“ button next to the above mentioned checkbox

After log out and log in again, you will notice that KDE will display fonts smoothly. Unfortunately, GTK Application like Firefox will still display fonts ugly. Follow this steps to enable subpixel rendering for GTK apps in KDE:
1- Upgrade cairo package by install this version.
2- Open Kwrite in Super user mode by press alt+f2 and type: kdesu kwrite then enter, will ask you for root password.
3-copy the following contents :-

<?xml version=“1.0″?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM „fonts.dtd“>
<!– Enable freetype’s new subpixel filter. Currently, only a cairo
version containing the patches from freedesktop #10301 respects this
setting. –>
<match target=“font“>
<edit mode=“assign“ name=“lcdfilter“>

then save the file as 10-lcd-filter.conf in /etc/fonts/conf.avail.
4. Create a file ~/.Xresources in your /home directory and paste the following contents:-

Xft.lcdfilter: lcddefault

5. Log out and login again.

That’s all and if you feel I have missed some important tips regarding this topic, please share them with us!!

TinyOgg: convert Youtube videos to Ogg

Sometimes many of us have problems with the Flash player. It just doesn’t work. TinyOgg is the solution for this problem specially if you are using Firefox, Chrome, or Opera.

TinyOgg is a service designed to get rid of Flash-based videos by converting them to the free Ogg format. It is not the only service to accomplish this, but it exists to replace some existing services that are built upon non-free, non-published source code.
Technical Details :
TinyOgg service is built entirely on top of several  Free Software projects including:

  • Python, the programming language in which TinyOgg was written.
  • Django, an excellent framework that makes developing web applications (such as this one) so much easier.
  • FFmpeg and ffmpeg2theora, the former is a powerful program that converts videos to Theora and Vorbis; the later is an excellent, easy-to-use interface to the former.
  • URip and WatchVideo, two programs used to download and convert YouTube videos locally, they inspired the idea for creating this service in the first place.
  • Free CSS Templates, a website that provides free (as in cost and as in speech) templates. I use their „Fruits“ template.

By this time, TinyOgg supports YouTube. It will support many video-sharing websites in the near future. It is designed in a way that supports adding new websites easily.
TinyOgg is released under Affero GNU General Public License and you can get it from this page.

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