back to article Some FOSS gems: Franz, RamBox, Pidgin and more

Most modern chat systems are entirely proprietary: proprietary clients, talking proprietary protocols to proprietary servers. There's no need for this: there are free open standards for one-to-one and one-to-many comms for precisely this sort of system, and some venerable clients are still a lot more capable than you might …

  1. batfastad


    Internet comms since 2008 fscking sucks. A random waffling after a few pints will now follow.

    E-mail often wrapped in proprietary gubbins under the assumption that everyone uses a specific vendor's interpretation, grouped by subject header under the assumption of pertaining to a single conversation. Chat mostly stuck in a walled-garden of JS or a handset-based app.

    I remember setting up an XMPP/SIP bridge which would display XMPP presence updates from staff on our intrnaet... an early internal twitter I suppose. It worked perfectly in the brief moment of 2005-2010 before UX and functionality became prescribed by the development teams of 5 global corporations.

    IRC and NNTP? I still use IRC alot for work comms and open source stuff... though new-fangled open source projects (the type that won't exist in 3 years' time) tend to use slack, gitter or discord instead. NNTP just a simple, open, distributed version of reddit. kept me using NNTP for a long-time for interacting on open source e-mail lists but is long gone last I checked.

    Comms better in the old days, probably not, but absolutely not worse.

    1. elDog

      Re: Sucks

      Agree with your post-pints discourse. But how to handle all of the "new" multi-media formats that seem to be so necessary nowadays? And how to monetize the bugger-all?

      1. Liam Proven Silver badge

        Re: Sucks

        Well, the old-style email methods of *bold* _underline_ /italics/ and -strikethrough- still work, for example in Facebook Messenger -- although most users don't know.

        They would be enough to add formatting support in Pidgin etc. Thunderbird renders them correctly, for instance.

    2. Liam Proven Silver badge

      Re: Sucks

      Gmane still exists:

      I know people who use it, although I never really got the point myself. I occasionally use USEnet News but not often.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    No Signal?

    1. Liam Proven Silver badge

      Intentional due to Signal's extreme reluctance to work with anyone or anything else.

      You can't access Signal via a web page, and therefore it can't be used from RamBox/Franz/Ferdi etc. In the course of researching this article I did discover an experimental Pidgin plugin and I will try that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The number of protocols supported by Pidgin is rather exaggerated. There are plenty of plugins there that don't work anymore, or are too limited for any real use. Supporting proprietary protocols and their whims in the name of FOSS doesn't sound like great fun.

        1. Liam Proven Silver badge

          Yes and no.

          Pidgin is designed for one-to-one comms, or small ad-hoc groups. It wasn't really designed to handle chatrooms, so although I found that the Slack and plugins worked just fine, the experience was sub-optimal.

          However, I leave it open all day connected to Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Google Talk and Skype, and for those, it works perfectly well, and uses a fraction of the memory of a single tab in Franz. It is still very much worth having. I do have it connected to a handful of other services too -- IRC, ICQ and so on -- but nobody much uses them any more. It still works fine, though.

  3. Swarthy

    Missed my favorite multi-chat application

    Trillian was a fantastic piece of software that did a great job of reducing all of the chat apps (AIM, ICQ, and Yahoo are the ones I remember) to a single client.

    I enjoyed the free version so much, my perennially broke self actually shelled out for the paid version, just to support continued development.

    1. Liam Proven Silver badge

      Re: Missed my favorite multi-chat application

      Yes, Trillian was great, but the themes annoyed me. I just wanted a plan vanilla unthemed Windows program. Even with the XP-like theme, it was fake -- title bars didn't change colour to show which window was active, for instance.

      Which Pidgin doesn't do, and it runs fine on Windows.

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