3.4. I'm Having
Trouble Chatting on AIM, Yahoo!, or MSN
If you want to communicate via Instant Messaging
(IM), you need to understand how most people use networks built on
Microsoft tools. Fortunately, you do not have to install AOL,
Yahoo!, or Microsoft Network (MSN) software to IM with others
IM is more than just a social tool. It is an
important means of communication in business, as it facilitates
teleconferences and more. When you work with others using IM, you
need to be able to communicate on the major IM networks. Regular
users can configure
source tools to communicate on each of
these networks. Naturally, this may lead to another annoyance if
your users waste their time on social IM networks; however, you can
block IM messages to and from your LAN by blocking appropriate
There are a wide variety of IM systems
available. The IM systems native to the GNOME and KDE desktop
environments are Gaim and Kopete, respectively. Either IM can act
as a client on many different networks, including those described
in Table 3-3.
Table 3-3. Gaim and Kopete Instant
America Online Instant Messenger and ICQ. ICQ,
for "I seek you," is based on the first IM service. (A Linux
version of AIM is available from
An IM system based in Poland; for more
information (in Polish), see http://www.gadu-gadu.pl.
This PIM system developed by Novell also
supports IM; see http://www.novell.com/products/groupwise/.
Internet Relay Chat; for a global server list,
start your search at
The standards-based version of IM, secure and
ad-free; for more information, see http://www.jabber.org.
Microsoft Network. Gaim can communicate
seamlessly with these users; for more information, see
The original Napster client includes a chat
service; Gaim can still facilitate IM communications between these
Secure Internet Live Conferencing (SILC), a
secure IM protocol. For more information, see
Yahoo!'s IM system; downloads for Red Hat/Debian
are available from http://messenger.yahoo.com.
An IM system popular at universities, developed
by MIT; for more information, see
For more information (and a longer list) of
different IM systems, see
In the following sections, I'll show you how you
can configure Linux IM
on three different IM networks: AOL,
Yahoo!, and the Microsoft Network. Before you can connect, you'll
need accounts on each of these networks. Be aware that some of
these networks have eligibility requirements; for example, AIM
requires users to be at least 13
Links to IM registration pages are available
.net/faq.php#q15. You'll have to record
your account, or screen
The process is straightforward. You may want to
adapt the instructions shown here for your users.
First, you'll need to create an account on the
desired IM network. These are basic instructions; details will
probably change in the future:
To create an AOL IM account, navigate to
http://my.screenname.aol.com. Under the Need An Account window,
click Create One Free Now. You'll need to confirm your request
using the instructions that AOL emails to you.
To create a Yahoo! account, navigate to
http://edit.yahoo.com/config/eval_register. If you already have a
Yahoo! account, such as for their email or auction services, you
can skip this step.
To create an account on the Microsoft Network,
you'll need to create a Microsoft Passport. Navigate to
http://accountservices.passport.net. If you don't want to give
Microsoft your email address, I suggest that you create an email
account from a free service such as Hotmail for this purpose.
Microsoft won't send you any email that you need to log in to the
Once you create an account, you can proceed to
configure Gaim or Kopete with your account information.
Gaim is the default IM client on the GNOME
desktop. It can also be used on KDE. According to its developers at
http://gaim.sf.net, despite the resemblance to AIM, Gaim is an
acronym with no meaning. You can configure Gaim as a client on a
wide variety of networks, including those listed in Table 3-3. I'll
show you how to configure a Gaim client for the networks I've
Open Gaim. From the GNOME Applications menu,
Internet Messenger. (In SUSE Linux, its Internet
GAIM Internet Messenger.)
Click the Accounts
button to open the Accounts window.
Click Add to open the Add Account window.
Select your desired IM network (AIM/ICQ, MSN,
Yahoo) in the Protocol drop-down menu.
Enter the Screen Name, Password, and Alias
(Display Name) you created for your account.
If you want to select a different authentication
host (such as one dedicated to your organization) or configure
communication through a proxy server, click Show More Options and
make the appropriate changes.
Once complete, click Save.
Click Close in the Accounts window.
In the Login window, select the AIM account
you've configured in the Account drop-down menu. Enter your
password, and click Sign On.
To send an instant message, click the IM button.
In the New Instant Message window that appears, enter the desired
Alternatively, click the Chat button. In the
Join A Chat window that appears, enter the desired room name.
You should now be able to start your IM or chat
time you start Gaim, you should find
ID in the Account drop-down menu. Select your account (if
you have more than one), enter your password, and you're good to
go! Automatic startup and login can also be configured, so you can
start IMing without doing anything more than logging in to your
Kopete is the default IM client on the KDE
desktop. It can also be used on GNOME. The strength of Kopete is in
its configuration wizard. One drawback, however, is that it does
not support direct access into chat rooms (although you can invite
or be invited into sessions with as many users as you
more information on Kopete, see http://kopete.kde.org. You can
configure Kopete as a client on a wide variety of networks,
including those listed in Table 3-3. I'll show you how to configure
a Kopete client for the networks I've selected:
Open Kopete. From the KDE Main menu, choose
Messenger (Kopete). (In SUSE Linux, its Internet
The first time you
start Kopete, you'll see the Configure Kopete window, where you can
add any IM accounts that you've created.
If you've run Kopete before, select Settings
Configure Kopete to
get to the configuration window.
in the left pane. Click New to start the Welcome To The Add Account
Wizard. Click Next.
In the next pane, select the IM service you
need, and click Next. I cover the procedure for AIM, MSN, and
Yahoo!; if you're using another service, the procedure is
In the next pane, you'll be able to enter the IM
account information that you've created. Some services have
for the username, such as the AIM Screen Name or
Microsoft Passport ID.
If there's more than one tab, the second tab
allows you to override the authentication server location. If
you're creating an MSN account, you'll see four tabs; however, you
can't modify information in the last two tabs until you've signed
in to the service.
Next, you can select a custom color for the
account. This feature is useful if you have to IM on more than one
type of network. Select a
if desired and then click
Click OK back in the Configure Kopete
To start the connections you've configured,
If you haven't
configured passwords earlier, you're prompted for them as contact
is made with appropriate servers. Once configured, Kopete can log
users in to IM accounts automatically without prompting.
Before you can start a chat, you'll need to add
contacts. To do so, click File
Add Contact to start the Add Contact Wizard.
Enter the name of
the contact, as you want it seen on your Kopete client. You can add
that contact to the Top Level group or create a
Associate the new contact with the appropriate
Add the username for the desired contact (on the
Microsoft Network, it's the user's Passport ID).
When one or more of your contacts are online,
you should be able to start your IM session. Right-click on the
contact, and run the desired command to start the chat or send a
The next time you start Kopete, select File
Connect All and then enter
the passwords for your accounts, if prompted. When your contacts
come online, youre good to go!