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Four Twitter clients for Linux

By Tina Gasperson on August 28, 2008 (2:00:00 PM)

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Twitter is a social networking platform that keeps you in conversation by allowing you and your friends to follow each others' updates. The service lets users post and read 140-character updates, called tweets. With Twitter, you can do social networking on the fly, from your mobile phone or at your desktop, from a Web browser or a Twitter client. Twitter clients make the service more usuable by automatically checking for updates from your friends and allowing you to easily post your own updates. I tested four Twitter clients for Linux on a desktop running Ubuntu Hardy Heron.

gTwitter

gTwitter 1.0 is nothing fancy, and that's a good thing. This lightweight, easy-to-install, and easy-to-use Twitter client for GNOME is as simple as it could be. It displays updates from your friends or from the public timeline, which is all Twitter users' updates, automatically, right in the gTwitter application. You can choose to see tweets themselves, or just view a summary of who has updated recently. You post your own updates from the status box at the bottom of the window.

The only thing that might make gTwitter too simple for some is its lack of an option for audible tweet notifications. For others, however, it might be nice to work without hearing a ding every few minutes that tempts you to stop what you're doing and see what's happening on Twitter. If you need to keep up with tweets and the lack of audible notifications is a problem, just set gTwitter to "always on top," instead of the default behavior, which hides the window whenever you click on another window.

Developers say the project, written in Mono/C# and licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2, is still in beta. Direct message viewing and the ability to log tweets are near the top of the development priority list.

Twitux

Twitux 0.62 is another simple Twitter client for GNOME. It seems a bit quirky on first take; the client refuses to wrap tweets to conform to the size of the window. I had to scroll sideways the first time I ran Twitux. It looked better after a system restart, but it still cut off the right side of any tweets longer than one line.

Even worse, Twitux doesn't have a built-in posting window. Instead, you have to go into the menu options or press Ctrl-N to be able to post. Twitux also doesn't offer an easy way to reply to a tweet, instead forcing you to enter the username you're looking for manually. Most other clients automate the process of replying and sending direct messages.

Twitux does offer a popup notification when you receive new tweets. You can select how often you'd like Twitux to check for new updates, and you can have it check only your friends' updates or only the public timeline. Twitux also has a spellcheck feature that comes in handy if you're concerned about making sure your tweets are spelled correctly.

Twitux is currently buggy, but it will be worth taking another look at when it's no longer in beta.

TwitBin

TwitBin, which is a cross-platform Firefox add-on, sits as a sidebar in your browser, always visible while you're browsing but not getting in your way. TwitBin features a clickable @ by each user's avatar, making it easy to reply to a specific user. It also displays a clickable link to each user's Web site (if available). Like the other clients, you can decide whether to get updates from just your friends or the entire Twitter universe, and you can determine how often you'd like to receive the updates. TwitBin autowraps tweets and shortens links to keep everything nicely formatted in the sidebar. However, you can also enlarge TwitBin up to half the width of your browser window, narrow it to about one-fifth the width, or choose any size in between.

Twitter widget for Opera

For anyone who browses with Opera, the Twitter widget for Opera is the best of the bunch. To install, simply click the Launch button on the widget's page on Opera.com. Enter your login name and password, and you're set.

Opera's Twitter widget looks and works great. You can drag this widget anywhere; it's not confined to the sidebar. You can set it to remain "always on top" or to behave like a normal application window, and you can resize the widget to make it larger.

The Twitter widget for Opera doesn't come with many options, but you don't need many. It checks your friends' updates by default, keeps a record of your updates, and makes it easy to view and create replies and direct messages. Click on a Twitter user's avatar or username, and Opera opens the user's profile page on Twitter.com.

The only thing missing from Opera's Twitter client is an automatic link shrinker. Also, you have to keep Opera open or the client will shut down. This one's a keeper, though, and is my Twitter client of choice.

Conclusion

Is there a single best of show among these clients? If you like using Opera, its Twitter widget is my top recommendation. If you're using Firefox, you can't go wrong with TwitBin. gTwitter is a good, general, easy-to-use client. For now, I recommend not using Twitux, but that may change as the application matures.

Tina Gasperson writes about business and technology from an open source perspective.

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Colin Dean on August 28, 2008 02:56 PM
Check out twitter-gx, too. It's very, very simple script which submits the tweet from the command line or using a zenity dialog.

http://cad.cx/twitter/

Use it in combination with an RSS reader and you won't have the constant memory occupation by a normal Twitter client.
[Modified by: Colin Dean on August 28, 2008 02:57 PM]

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Re: Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.238.28.75] on August 28, 2008 03:07 PM
Why does everyone always forget gwibber - it's totally awesome. http://launchpad.net/gwibber

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: weierophinney on August 28, 2008 03:13 PM
I've personally tried twitux and gtwitter, and never liked either of them. The interfaces are not terribly good, nor do they allow you to connect to either multiple accounts or services (such as identi.ca).

I've been using twhril (http://www.twhirl.org/) for a few weeks now. It's AIR based and not OSS, but the interface and feature leave the others in the dust.

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.60.216.234] on August 28, 2008 03:24 PM
The reviewer must not have spent much time testing these clients, since I noticed several inaccuracies in the review. For example, to directly reply to a tweet in Twitux you just need to double click on the tweet you want to reply to.

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 165.221.11.169] on August 28, 2008 04:29 PM
Ubiquity (http://labs.mozilla.com/2008/08/introducing-ubiquity/) from Mozilla labs is in an alpha state right now, but has a twitter client built directly into Firefox. I never saw the point of Twitter until it became ridiculously easy to post "tweets".

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: PenguinFanDan on August 28, 2008 05:22 PM
I use gwibber. It's perfect for me as I use identi.ca too and I can cross post, reply, read and pretty much do anything I need using Gwibber. Any twitter users who haven't discovered identi.ca yet, check it out!

http://launchpad.net/gwibber
http://identi.ca

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 86.167.22.49] on August 28, 2008 05:36 PM
How about the KDE4 twitter plasmoid?

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.178.72.46] on August 28, 2008 06:47 PM
The author forgot to mention 2 major issues with the 2 native clients (gTwitter and Twitux):

gTwitter - Not actively developed anymore and it has a decently major bug with your timeline not showing how old tweets are accurately.

Twitux - GIGANTIC memory leaks. I can't say how long i've had Twitux open (less than a week probably), but it's currently using 221MB RAM...That's a helluva lot for just a twitter client.

I agree with the people who have posted about Gwibber...It supports multiple social networking sites, it looks really good and it offers correct libnotify notifications (it actually displays tweets instead of only displaying that there were new tweets)...The UI feels a bit confusing for me, so i'm still on Twitux, but i'm keeping track of it VERY closely.

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Twitterfox?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.145.180.221] on August 28, 2008 07:19 PM
I use the twitterfox extension for FF.

It's not gorgeous, but it's not half bad, either--very usable and good looking, cross-platform and decently featured. And unobtrusive--rather than sit the in the sidebar, it only occupies a tiny icon in the status bar, then opens to an IM-window size when you click it.

I used twitux for a while, but went back to twitterfox for UI reasons. Haven't tried the others.

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 216.215.144.201] on August 28, 2008 07:22 PM
I often use gnome-do to send my tweets: http://do.davebsd.com/

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DIY

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 143.195.150.23] on August 28, 2008 10:40 PM
I couldn't find a decent twitter client that I actually liked, so I made my own... After a bit more development I intend to put it on the internet for general consumption. Right now, it is personal use only, and lacking many features.

A good way to learn Python at least.

also, text-wrapping a list is *really* hard

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.111.92.239] on August 29, 2008 03:57 AM
The ability to post to several Twitter accounts is critical, and it's something Twitterfox does very nicely. Like several others, I found the recommended clients a little too weak/buggy to make me happy.

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 87.97.124.221] on August 29, 2008 11:09 AM
The author seem to have done a hasty job on this article.

Mistakes about Twitux:
It does wrap the tweets all right.
Posting new posts is easy: a) Ctrl+N opens the new post window b) right-click on the twitux tray icon > New Message.
Reply to a tweet is easy: just double click on the tweet you're replying to, and the username will be filled in already.
It is not buggy. It is beta, but I've been using it on Ubuntu Hardy for a while and I didn't have ANY problem with it.

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 152.78.166.32] on August 29, 2008 02:03 PM
gwibber++

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 209.33.89.215] on August 29, 2008 03:58 PM
Kopete and Gaim would also be contenders, if Twitter quits stonewalling on getting the IM interface working again...

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 88.229.164.209] on August 31, 2008 03:43 PM
I use gwibber. It's perfect for me as I use identi.ca too and I can cross post

also use http://www.techblogup.com/

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Four Twitter clients for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 98.169.130.151] on September 17, 2008 02:27 AM
what about twhirl!?

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