Introduction to command line IM and Bitlbee

Bitlbee is a way to bridge IM and IRC together essentially allowing you to connect to your IM network through an IRC interface.  One great feature of Bitlbee is that it supports a large number of different protocols (including Gtalk, Yahoo!, Facebook and Twitter), which happen to be nearly all the major platforms I’m concerned with, excluding Microsoft Lync.  The main reason I want to discuss Bitlbee now, ahead of time, is because I will be doing a series of posts that specifically tie Bitlbee in with a few of the more popular IRC clients.

As you will see, there are slight differences in how Bitlbee behaves inside each of the IRC clients I have been trying out, I will leave these details out for now to make things easier to follow.  Today’s post will be more guided towards general use of Bitlbee, so I will be going over things like how to get around and its basic usage.

As usual, I will be running in Ubuntu so these instructions are specific to Debian based distros.  Outside of installation, I image the usage will be very similar in other distributions because most of the commands and configuration are happening inside Bitblee.

Getting used to Bitlbee

Let’s start off by getting Bitlbee installed.

sudo aptitude install bitlbee

Now let’s go ahead and add in our gtalk (jabber) account.

account add jabber [email protected]

Set up correct port and ssl for gtalk.

account 1 server

Optional – turn on oauth (Still having some issues with this one).

account gtalk set oauth true
oauth = 'true'

Log in to Gtalk.

account jabber on

Start a chat in a new window.

/msg NickName Hello!

Getting a listing of various IM accounts.

account list
account list online
account list all

Managing various IM contacts, pretty self explanatory.  Here 0 is the gtalk account we added earlier, [email protected] is the person we are adding to our account and nickname is how they will show up in our contact list.

add 0 [email protected] nickname
remove nickname

If you have anything else to add I would love to hear it.  I’m still playing around with the oauth stuff, so I will update this post later with a fix.


Josh Reichardt

Josh is the creator of this blog, a system administrator and a contributor to other technology communities such as /r/sysadmin and Ops School. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.