CenterIM and Finch – ncurses based Instant Messenger for Linux

Sometimes you can’t avoid it, you might have to work with computers without GUI such as on a dedicated server or when you are working on a remote computer.

Nevertheless for some reason you might find a need to communicate with other people through yahoo messenger or MSN, and when you don’t have the fancy XOrg, then this might be the solution for instant messaging on a console environment.

No. 1- Finch

Finch is a console base frontend to libpurple which is used by Pidgin (formerly gaim). As such Finch shares a lot of similarities with its GUI counterpart, including the account settings.



Finch tries it best to be consistent with Pidgin, down to the account setting interface. The navigation interface is a bit confusing at first, but once you’ve mastered it you can easily switches the chat screen from one person to another.

The best thing about Finch is, it can be extended using plugins as Pidgin. Finch also can double-up as an IRC client if necessary though there are more suitable alternatives such as irssi and BitchX for the CLI environment.

No. 2- CenterIM (CenterICQ)

Another ncurses-based instant messenger client that I find handy is centerim which supports ICQ, Yahoo!, AIM, MSN, IRC, Jabber, LiveJournal, and Gadu-Gadu IM protocol.




At first glance, Centerim seems to offer more configuration options than Finch. The text interface also has more contrast and easily readable than Finch. What makes it more interesting to use is that you can decide the placement and the size of ncurses interface more independently than whats offered in Finch.

The chat and buddy interface is much more intuitive than Finch and the user can navigate through the multiple interface with relative ease. This is mainly attributed to Centerim places hint on the interface so the user knows what to do in order to keep the conversation going.

My Thoughts
Overall I would prefer to use Centerim over Finch in any given time because centerim interface is much more easy to navigate and use compared to Finch. Although Finch can be customised or extended with its plugin architecture, that is hardly useful to me compared to a useful user interface

[tags]pidgin,im,yahoo,yahoo messenger,ym,gaim,centerim,icq,msn,google talk,gtalk,internet,chat,chatting[/tags]

7 Replies to “CenterIM and Finch – ncurses based Instant Messenger for Linux”

  1. CenterIM has indeed a good UI and an option to draw the UI using ascii-chars only, which enables it to run on exotic terminals. But the irc-support of CenterIM is bloated. Neither can you connect to more than a single irc-Server nor can you directly send irc-commands (not even channel actions like “/me rocks”…you know?). Furthermore the code isn’t maintained very well, so you run into problems with icq (there was a recent protocol change … AOL sucks!) and the development is slow. So i’m using finch now despite a rather ugly interface (hey, windows are nice, but not on command line). I’m going to take a look onto the code and try to implement an ascii-only function like in centerim… i need that for use with ajaxterm ;-)

    Nice review mypapit.

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