Text-based Communication in Linux

by Lyz Bevilacqua

I enjoy x-windows as much as the next person, but I've found that text-based applications are the best way to work with information that is essentially text-based. Most direct communication, including E-Mail, Instant Messaging(IM) and Internet Relay Chat(IRC), fall into this category. I will touch upon these three communication methods in this article, and provide the text-based solution that I use.

But first, I will introduce screen.

From the introduction on the site:

"Screen is a full-screen window manager that multiplexes a physical terminal between several processes, typically interactive shells ... Programs continue to run when their window is currently not visible and even when the whole screen session is detached from the users terminal."


2006-04-14 14:36:31
hey, we use the same software!

i'd stop using X completely if Opera wasn't so f'in sweet (or if the links2 svgalib driver wasn't so crappy).

2006-04-14 15:33:27
I do most of my work on a laptop, so I try not to leave network sessions running in screen. Do you run screen and your applications on a server somewhere, or do you use an always-on desktop computer?
2006-04-14 20:47:53
why not centericq ?
2006-04-15 00:13:13
I tried centericq, but it crashed a lot, and the interface seemed weird to me (like it was trying to be a GUI app or something).
Lyz Krumbach
2006-04-15 05:15:19
chromatic: I run screen and these applications on a server, it works out well for me because I regularly use 3 different computers that I turn off after I'm done and can access the server from all of them.

lostson: I had the same experience will had with centericq - it crashed a lot when I reattached to the screen session and resized my window on different machines and the interface was weird. But even without these bugs, IRC and email are in the center of my desktop world, I probably wouldn't bother with checking my centericq window nearly as much as I check my IRC window.

2006-04-15 17:33:03
I'm with you on all but mutt, but then I only use web-based e-mail.
Discovering screen was the greatest thing ever! I was in transition between xchat and irssi at the time, as I recall and that sealed it.
One new use of screened irssi I discovered is that when I accidentally turn on my Japanese input, which I've yet to figure out how to turn off without forcing the window it's in to close. just close the terminal window, open a new one, reattach screen.. voila.

Anyway, great article! ^_^

2006-04-16 05:49:08
Pleia2 is famous on the internets!! Great article. I still like using Firefox and Azureus, so I can't give up X, but I do a lot of stuff in terminal. :)
Andreas Poisel
2006-04-19 02:25:40
Great choices! If you're looking for more links to text mode software visit www.automatisch.cc (german).
2006-04-19 08:24:54
Ok, it's not text based, but I find VNC extremely useful for keeping state on my many text based sessions. At work I usually have at least 12 SSH sessions open to different dev, prod, and test servers.
2006-04-25 01:06:32
Check out tmsnc (text based msn):

I've written a dutch article how to use it, but since then, a lot has changed. The newest version is much more intuitive.

2006-05-05 02:14:33
for jabber i use ekg2 in terminal. Most of apps runs in terminals (irssi, vim, ekg2, muttng, mocp, screen). But when i'm at home, im using X (opera, gajim, mplayer )cause its more comfortable :) For ex: in console i cant view for same apps at same time.

wbr cub. cheers

Andy Armstrong
2006-05-14 09:25:14
It's probably a bit late to mention this but I can read all the email addresses you blurred out :)
2006-10-05 21:34:14
I use TMSNC for MSN IM and NAIM for AIM IM. I like NAIM allot because of the encryption between NAIM users (using XOR).

LYNX for browser and Irssi for IRC (even tho NAIM supports IRC).

2007-04-19 15:02:43
gaim-text supports all the IM clients
2008-01-13 19:22:27
I'm using lynx for browsing, and i found irssi in this article. Thanks a lot.
2008-05-12 18:31:06
Hi Lyz,
Thanks for the info. Irsii is really good. Usually I use Xchat, but now need a lighter one. Tried several until found Irsii from your blog.