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 online.
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 open 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 TCP/IP ports.
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 Message systems
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 http://www.aim.com/get_aim/linux/latest_linux.adp.)
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 http://www.irchelp.org/irchelp/networks/servers/.
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 http://messenger.msn.com/.
The original Napster client includes a chat service; Gaim can still facilitate IM communications between these users.
Secure Internet Live Conferencing (SILC), a secure IM protocol. For more information, see http://silcnet.org.
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 http://itinfo.mit.edu/product.php?id=85.
For more information (and a longer list) of different IM systems, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_instant_messengers.
In the following sections, I'll show you how you can configure Linux IM clients 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 years of age.
Links to IM registration pages are available from http://gaim.sourceforge.net/faq.php#q15. You'll have to record your account, or screen name and password.
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 Microsoft Network.
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 selected earlier:
Open Gaim. From the GNOME Applications menu, select Internet GAIM Internet Messenger. (In SUSE Linux, its Internet Chat GAIM Internet Messenger.)
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 screen name.
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 session.
The next time you start Gaim, you should find your User 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 system.
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 desire). For 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 Internet Internet Messenger (Kopete). (In SUSE Linux, its Internet Chat Internet Messenger [Kopete].)
Configure Kopete to get to the configuration window.
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 similar.
In the next pane, you'll be able to enter the IM account information that you've created. Some services have different names 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 color if desired and then click Finish.
Click OK back in the Configure Kopete window.
To start the connections you've configured, choose File Connection Connect All.
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.
Associate the new contact with the appropriate IM account.
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 message.
The next time you start Kopete, select File Connection Connect All and then enter the passwords for your accounts, if prompted. When your contacts come online, youre good to go!