My family PC finally took its last gasp last night. It’s GPU fan finally packed in, but then after about 4 years of being “always on” and used nearly every day, its done very well. I would have liked to have simply whipped the cover off the machine and replace the fan myself, its not an expensive repair and simply done. I couldn’t do that. Why? Because one of the caveats of a cheap desktop machine and an onboard GPU/card, there is no room to get access to the device without destroying parts of the PC. I suppose this is the drawback of “disposable tech”.
So with that in mind I went armed with my trusty debit card to our local store. What I found was a collection of Windows 8 machines, that didn’t offer particularly good specs for the price and I resent buying a Windows PC only to wipe off Windows and install a Linux distro before I get started.
My solution was to buy a custom built OSless machine with decent specs that will see the machine through its natural life. In the meantime I’ve decided to go 100% Chromebook and see if it made any difference to my computing useage. Its also a good time to show that despite what people claim, your Chromebook is just as flexible as your desktop and I challenge you to find many things at all that can’t be done on a Chromebook. Hopefully this article will show you that.
My Chromebook is a HP14″ Chromebook – I bought this a little while ago for its larger screen and I consider that a good purchase. Before I go any further, if you are a hardcore gamer who wants to run the latest Windows games, then stop reading now and save yourself time. Chromebook is not a gaming device (although it does play Angry Birds et al). If you are convinced that Photoshop is the best graphics package and not prepared to ever try anything else, please read something else too. And if you spend most of your computing time without net connection, then again, please stop reading.
Still with me? Good.
I want to perform Office tasks!
Since the Chromebook is integrated with Google Services, its a given that Googles suite of software is available. I can’t speak for your use, but I’d consider that for most peoples needs Google Docs will be more than they require. You want LibreOffice? That can be accommodated too, its available in the Chrome Store (free) albeit in a web based incarnation.
I want to edit Photographs!
There’s so much choice available here. There are many Photoshop pro’s who will frown at the reduced feature sets of these online apps, however what features do you use? Are you a professional graphics artist? Then you should not have read this article. For the majority of users we simply want to take and display the best pictures we can and with so many available on the Chrome Store, you’ll be able to reduce red eye, crop, increase contrast and saturation etc etc. I personally use Pixlr Editor, but there are many others.
I want Bit-torrent!
What? You think because your Chromebook is mostly in the cloud you can’t run a bit-torrent client? You can and in exactly the same way you would on any other desktop machine. JSTorrent is probably the best option and whilst its not free, its less than £2 on the Chrome Store.
I want to code!
Whats the language of choice? There’s so many IDE’s out there for a number of languages. I code in Python as a hobby, create a few scripts and try out a few concepts. PythonFiddle steps in here and runs entirely in the browser. This is one of many.
As I explained earlier, I am without a traditional desktop PC at the moment. Has the Chromebook hampered my productivity? Not at all. There will always be something which you can’t get from the Chromebook and for me, the lack of Mumble is an issue (which means I cannot give up a desktop rig entirely). I think my requirements step over the “average user” yet the Chromebook fits my needs perfectly and there’s IRC clients, MUD clients (and even a version of FreeCiv!) to keep me happy.
People make a big issue out of the Chromebook needing a net connection in order to be useful. Not entirely true, many apps will work offline and sync when they get a connection, however, ask yourself this: How useful is your PC right now if your connection was removed? I’d suggest the majority of people spend most of their time needing (and wanting) a net connection and the answer would be “not very”.
So when you consider your next PC purchase, give ChromeOS a consideration and when you look at the sales on Amazon, it appears many people are starting to do just that. I would suggest though if you are looking for a Chromebook replacement to a bulky desktop PC with features you don’t need, you go for as large a screen as possible. 14″ seems to be the best size and accommodates web pages, apps et al, comfortably.
I touched on this subject during the test recordings for the TechBytes Audiocast. It wasn’t appropriate to go into further detail in that show due to time constraints and much information to put forward For those of you who would like to hear the “pilot” which was merely meant to check the tech that we are using, can visit here. I will hopefully be exploring this topic further on TechBytes in the future.
This week saw one of the “traditional” file sharing mediums being taken offline by a court case brought about by the RIAA. There has been many outspoken commenters on this subjects and it seems opinion is split into two distinct camps. The first group who worry about the precedent this successful court case will have set for the future and the implications for other P2P delivery systems. The other camp which thinks Limewire was awful and is no loss to the file sharing community at all.
Limewire is probably more popular with the casual downloader who has maybe had use of the Limewire client for a number a years. Its certainly a simple application to use. The problem with Limewire seemed to me that the average user was not tech savvy and so Limewire became a haven for malware and all other sorts of nastiness. Its not a p2p Client I would have ever considered using nor would I have recommended it to anyone else.
For me the loss (in respect of the “service”) is no loss. On 26th October 2010 when Judge Wood served an injunction on Limewire, I saw no loss (from a contributory point of view) but what was worrying were the implications it could have for other p2p services in the future.
Whatever your views on copyright infringement, the technology behind it is not designed to infringe anything. As a user in a BT swarm for example, the sensible position is to give responsibility of any alleged infringement to the users engaging in it not a provider of a tracker or service where users frequent. If we look at this in the real world, it would be like holding a bus driver responsible for a robbery on his vehicle, a landlord responsible for their tenants behavior whilst renting his/her property. The idea that Limewire can be held responsible is to me as inconceivable as any of the above examples I have given.
The fact that Limewire IS now appearing to be held responsible for the actions of its users, with the case continuing in January 2011 where it will be argued regarding the amount of “damages” Limewire is liable for it a worrying result sending a message to would be innovators of new similar technologies that they could be held to account (and for rather large fines) and if I had developed a revolutionary new file sharing service that would benefit everyone, I don’t think that I would be too keen to release it after looking at the Limewire case.
It could be argued that this is the whole point of the RIAA actions against Limewire and its sole purpose is to prevent services/trackers from ever giving users the forum to share files. Maybe the RIAA sees the victory over Limewire not so much of a financial one for those it represents but for the message it sends to future providers of p2p services?
Moving on though it seems that the ongoing battle by Operation Payback users against those who they see as “the enemy” now has the RIAA website down. Using the now famous LOIC, a simple piece of java code (in its Linux implementation) which enables the co-ordination of a ddos attack by thousands of users on a selected target. Simple, effective and shows just how much support that this campaign has behind it.
With the RIAA site currently down (maybe as a result of a premature attack by the LOIC or by admins bringing the site down themselves) and Limewire Homepage displaying a warning notice (in light of the injuction) it looks like no score draw for both sides.
I would not want to either condone or condemn the actions of those involved in Operation Payback however I would like people engaging in this act to keep in mind the following legislation (UK)
From the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (Source: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1990/18/section/3)
Unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, operation of computer, etc.
(1)A person is guilty of an offence if—
(a)he does any unauthorised act in relation to a computer;
(b)at the time when he does the act he knows that it is unauthorised; and
(c)either subsection (2) or subsection (3) below applies.
(2)This subsection applies if the person intends by doing the act—
(a)to impair the operation of any computer;
(b)to prevent or hinder access to any program or data held in any computer;
(c)to impair the operation of any such program or the reliability of any such data; or
(d)to enable any of the things mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (c) above to be done.
(3)This subsection applies if the person is reckless as to whether the act will do any of the things mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) of subsection (2) above.
(4)The intention referred to in subsection (2) above, or the recklessness referred to in subsection (3) above, need not relate to—
(a)any particular computer;
(b)any particular program or data; or
(c)a program or data of any particular kind.
(5)In this section—
(a)a reference to doing an act includes a reference to causing an act to be done;
(b)“act” includes a series of acts;
(c)a reference to impairing, preventing or hindering something includes a reference to doing so temporarily.
And since you can’t hide behind a proxy when executing a ddos attack, I wonder how difficult it would be (if a complaint were made) to track the UK IP’s engaging in this campaign and hold them to accountable under criminal law?
One thing you can say, the failed battle on copyright infringement has brought together a massive community of like-minded people and for every “success” against the alleged copyright infringer’s two or three more alternatives appear.
Whats the future? I think Usenet will grow to be seen as a desirable location for many and with NZB clients as simple as a BT client, I think the barriers that Usenet once presented to the “casual user” are gone. A good thing? Well I don’t believe so. I think if bodies like the RIAA have merely increased the publicity of p2p & copyright infringement and almost made it “fashionable” to engage in it and also forced the problem effectively further underground. I truly believe that the future of file sharing will be with old techs that can’t be harvested with the ease we have seen with BT et al.
Lets look at the success against alleged copyright infringement with p2p. We now have more BT trackers than when the technology was first introduced, we have Usenet and XDCC seeing a steady stream of material which unlike BT cannot be linked to sharing in the same way. We have ACS:Law apparently reeling from the leak of its emails (with their site which was previously a WIP now completely gone), we have Gallant and Macmillan sitting on a judgement due sometime next year in respect of disclosure of Internet accounts re: Ministry of Sound material and we’ve seen TBI Solicitors enter the game and then exit just as quickly.
All in all not a success, a hideous waste of money where it seems the only people making a killing are the solicitors employed to engage in this futile work – laughing, in my opinion, all the way to the bank as they string out this fiasco as long as they can.
Maybe though the most important point here is that whilst it may transpire that Op Payback can take the credit for bringing down the RIAA site, its Limewire with potentially a massive fine on their hands and apart from a slight loss of face, what exactly has the RIAA lost in all this? One could even argue that the supporters of the RIAA will be pleased that their actions have evoked such a strong response and as I’ve said here in respect of unrelated topics, if you are attacked aggressively over your actions/views – you might just be doing something right.
After the recent ruling against Limewire, the RIAA is reported as saying:
In January, the court will conduct a trial to determine the appropriate level of damages necessary to compensate the record companies for the billions and billions of illegal downloads that occurred through the Limewire system…
I’ll let both parties in this “battle” think on that one. Has either really “won”? and what really has been achieved?
You can also contact me on Skype: tim.openbytes
If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.
I’ve written many articles touching on this subject, but I wanted to look at it with a little more detail as whilst we see a massive surge in Net traffic in regards to file sharing ; as is often the case, has the best tech “won”? Since the vast magority of file-sharing on a p2p network is infringing copyright, it seems relevant that this article covers this topic encompassing all file sharers, lawful or not.
I don’t want this article to be one of debating the rights and wrongs of copyright law, nor if “all data should be free” , I’ve made my stance on copyright infringement very clear and whilst I think there are massive flaws in copyright law (and the means in which its enforced) I cannot condone nor support infringing of copyright. If the law changes, great. If it doesn’t, people shouldn’t intentionally infringe on copyright just because they don’t happen to agree with the law that governs it. This article hopes to look at the tech from both sides of the argument.
Regardless of what you download though, I want to look at if the praise millions give to BitTorrent is actually deserved.
Before the days of the Internet when computers with 48k were deemed sufficient, I was one of a few who were accessing Micronet. Little did I know at the time (when I was downloading lawfully free software onto tape) was that I was taking the first steps into what would be a global phenomena and eventually something which would become so large, even the best of ISP’s could buckle under the demand to feed their end users hunger for data.
Whilst the web has become a multi-media experience and moved on from it’s “Ceefax” looking roots, this article is to focus more on some of the file-sharing technologies and ask the question; Is BitTorrent so great?
In the early days of BitTorrent, trackers were fewer in number and the technology was a rather unknown entity to anyone who didn’t have a computing hobby everything was going along very nicely……
Things changed though, when the average Joe got into the action and went quickly downhill from then on. Law firms such as ACS:Law can cast their proverbial nets out into a swarm, collecting the copyright infringing fish who really don’t have much of a clue as to the implications of their actions – too busy in a gorging frenzy of a media rich diet containing movies, music and games….
Happy times for those that seek to generate revenue from these infringing fish, bad news for everyone else whose connection strains under the weight and whose experience of most trackers is a mass copyright infringing files.
Whats great about BitTorrent?
I would suppose that the one “advantage” of BitTorrent is that there are no costs for “hosting” files or bandwidth, but this is does make you very reliant on there being seeders within the swarm. How often have you entered a swarm, only to have the seeders make an exit and leave everyone else with a partially completed file?
It’s often touted as a way to “speed up your downloads, make them fly!” which to me who has used the tech over a number of years and was one of the “first of the few” when it came to adopting it onto my desktop has never seen evidence of. I still regularly use Linuxtracker, but over all the years of using BitTorrent, Ive yet to see this blisteringly fast speed (or at least speeds which outdo anything that I get from Usenet or even DCC)
We have to also consider that BitTorrent provides a rather simple means (for those who download copyrighted works) for companies such as ACS:Law to make money. Would we have these cases at all if average Jo had stayed away from the tech? and if there is to be a clampdown with legislation on the technology itself, can we not blame the millions who use it download copyright infringing material?
So when taken like this, what is so great about BitTorrent? I think it comes down to simplicity of accessing /finding materials and it happens to be the tech that the mainstream has jumped on, since it is rather simple to understand.
But Private trackers are safe!
No they are not (in respect of private trackers and “warez”) For the most part “private” trackers are simply public trackers which require login and have a ratio. Are people really believing that the same companies who harvest IP’s on public trackers can’t join the private ones? after all, you have. One could even argue that private trackers are more “damning” as it would be simpler to build up a portfolio of evidence on an individual with often less peers in the swarm and more of a community in them. I won’t dwell on this point though, because my argument is that BitTorrent is not such a great tech as some like to promote.
Looking at Usenet/DCC
So now we look at alternatives to BitTorrent. Usenet, the home to many offers far greater speeds than anything I have achieved with the BitTorrent protocol. Recently I downloaded a collection of Amiga demo scene tracks which was approximately 250mb in size. Grabbing the file from Usenet binaries, I saw speeds of approximately 500k per second on my connection. Comparing it like for like on the identical file on a public BitTorrent tracker, I maxed out at around 130k per second – This wasn’t helped by the fact that there were only 2 seeders in the swarm, but even so, it highlights my point of the peer being dependent on the seeder (and other sharing peers) in order for the transfer to be effective. Usenet has no such issues – providing the file hasn’t dropped out of the retention period (and with most providers that’s around a couple of years) then I can guarantee a fast transfer.
Usenet is also different to BitTorrent in that you are not sharing anything. Regardless of if the file infringes copyright or not, you are merely downloading from your Usenet provider. Ever seen a file sharing civil action that involves someone merely downloading? – I wouldn’t think so. ACS:Law et al cannot operate within this environment. There are plenty of .NZB trackers out there (and you can see NZB creeping into some of the more “traditional” BitTorrent indexers) – I would argue with anyone that says Usenet is not as simple as Bittorrent providing you are using the right client.
Luckily, average Jo either hasn’t yet discovered or can’t comprehend Usenet. As I’ve said before in previous articles, I think that will change and the blame will lie squarely on the shoulders of companies like ACS:Law who have been involved with pursuing allegations. If companies had realized ways to work with this emerging technology then they may not have been having such an issue today. If users migrate to Usenet (or even jiffy bag trading), the game is completely over.
I think the level of legal aggression being shown by some who seek to stop (or more importantly) generate revenue from copyright infringing file transfers will force users to look for alternative means to share these files. In the days of the Amiga it was done by post, hooking up with a contact and then sending numerous disks in exchange. Arguably for most people the 2 day delivery of the postal service and the amount of material you can stuff into a jiffy bag, makes the postal service a far more efficient (and speedier) option if people sat down and thought about it. 20 x DVDr or 94.2 gig….2 days to arrive to target. How long would it take you to transfer 94 gigabytes of data via BitTorrent?
So now we turn to IRC and in particular DCC. For many this was the defacto way to get files. People who liked to think they belonged to the “scene” would loiter in the relevant channels waiting for an announce to display a file they wanted. DCC offers a direct connection to the sharer, so there are no swarms and the downloader does not even go through the IRC server they are connected to when they handshake. Whilst in theory this is great, the problem encountered is that once a sharer hit’s their maximum, you will be queued. This could mean a long wait. DCC has been made more “userfriendly” by having “trackers” of sorts which index the channel & user serving material.
Issues of IRC aside, just like Usenet, there is no sharing issue for the downloader, there is no public swarm and except for the person sharing the file, there’s nothing that a law firm could harvest. IRC for “warez” has mainly been left alone, firstly because of it’s relatively small user base and secondly because if anyone is sharing copyrighted material, they are clever enough to hide their identity through a proxy or other means. The same cannot be said for BitTorrent when the average user is sharing the latest movie whilst broadcasting their IP to anyone who enters the swarm.
Regardless if your file sharing need allegedly infringes copyright or not, I don’t believe there is any compelling evidence to show BitTorrent being either the be all and end all or the “best” method. Sure, Usenet will see you probably having to pay a subscription fee to a provider and DCC will probably see you queued for a period of time whilst you await your file, but with the speeds one can expect from Usenet and usually decent speeds achieved with DCC, is BitTorrent so much better or even better at all?
The only advantage that I see is the ability to distribute a file without having to worry about hosting costs and with the way BitTorrent has won the hearts and mind of the average Jo, it would not surprise me if tougher legislation directed at the tech is not in the near future.
Speaking as someone who spends much time following the topic of “piracy” and fascinated with the justifications on both sides to support their views, I can say that my experience over recent times supports my opinions. Over the last year, I’ve seen a rise in .nzb trackers. In newsgroups which traditionally had copyright free or freeware material I am seeing a rise in the infringing material being published and certain newsgroups having tb’s of the latest movies/games/music are being talked about in more mainstream forums.
I’ll let you decide on the best tech, but maybe at least consider my point. BitTorrent is hardly the second coming of file sharing mechanisms. I would like to hear from a person that can argue otherwise. Lets remember how long Usenet has been with us and how many p2p services it’s seen come and go during its life.
Goblin – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.
Today is the official release day of Ubuntu 9.10. Jono Bacon ran an Ubuntu party channel in IRC (for which I was present) Its aim was to get 1000 users in the chat channel. It took about 3 hours from the time of his first Twit inviting people to the channel that 1000 users was hit, so well done Ubuntu and Jono!
The chat room is still active and you can visit via browser at: http://bit.ly/2riV0p
Meanwhile I am downloading Kubuntu in my on-going quest to get into KDE! So in 30 or so minutes I will be experiencing 9.10 in KDE loveliness on my distro-hopping machine.
Over on Twitter Trends Ubuntu is receiving attention just as Windows 7 did, the naysayers who claim Linux is a minority OS are starting to have less of an argument now as more and more people are trying Linux and in particular Ubuntu.
Ubuntu 9.10 is called Karmic Koala, this is a little obvious news to most Linux users who will be well aware of Ubuntu, but for those that are not, why not give Linux a try? Ubuntu is a very user friendly Linux which doesn’t expect you to part with cash to use it (unlike Microsoft offerings). If you were considering an upgrade to Windows 7, why not try Ubuntu first?
You can visit the Ubuntu site here.
There is a great Youtube clip below comparing the boot speeds of Vista, Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.04/9.10. Of course Ubuntu wins hands down, but what is even more interesting is that Vista boots quicker than Windows 7!
Goblin – email@example.com
Forget all your social networking sites and chat rooms, they are just pretenders. The true original art of realtime chat comes from IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and anyone who tells you otherwise will probably also try to convince you that Vista is actually good.
After many years of using different servers (and I still do to a lesser extent), I think Ive found my home at Freenode.net since it has a collection of my favorite channels, does not have spambots IM’ing you every second and more importantly is not full of “Warez” So which channles can you find the Goblin lurking in and where can you find like minded Linux users?
The most interesting and informative site on the web has a chatroom and can be a great source of realtime scoops and friendly chat. Since Ive started seeing some of my online friends joining me from Microsoft Watch, its developing into a great place to be with Roy friendly and timely with his posts (as always)
Chat room of the best Linux podcast on the net, some of the material discussed here is used on the show so if you want you’re 5 minutes of fame or simply want to talk with other outlaws, this is the place to be.
Home of the #!CBL distro which has (I admitt it) won me over. Since I gave the review of CBL a rather average report and of little difference to Ubuntu, Ive changed my mind and come to appreciate just how optimized and how much quicker it is than Canonicals offering. Join this channel to speak with other convertees!
These are my regulars, there are more which Im discovering all the time.
Which client to use?
Many moons ago I was a supporter of the mIRC client for Windows. I loved the text/terminal style GUI which always put me in mind of the BBS from yesteryear. Those days are gone. I havent used Windows (or indeed a Microsoft product) for a very long time in the home. For a while I was a great supporter of Xchat (and to a lesser extent Pigeon when I had ICQ requirements aswell)
Nowadays I use exclusively Irssi (at present 0.8.12, although .13 was released at the beginning of April) which I cannot say enough good things about. Irssi is written by Timo Sirainen and released under GPL FDL 1.1
My pet hate is flashy asthetics covering up a poor product (Microsoft you listening?) and when I chat in IRC I want to chat, not to be looking at colourful icons and hundreds of buttons that Im never going to click on.
This is the main selling point of Irssi. Its a terminal IRC client that simply works and is completely customizable by means of script. A very small memory footprint and blisteringly fast operation make Irssi the most functional, reliable (and for a keyboard shortcut fan like myself) the most productive IRC client available on the Linux platform that I have used to date.
In a world where GFX is seen as more important than functionality (IMO and in relation to the Windows platform), Irssi is a welcome addition to my essential software. If you are running (or thinking of running) #!CBL it comes included as part of the distro.
You can visit the Irssi homepage here: http://irssi.org/
See you on IRC!
Goblin – firstname.lastname@example.org
I had intended on going to bed, so this piece of “news” was a little unwelcome at this hour.
That being said, since Ive already recieved emails asking about this, I thought Id do a quick update with a more comprehensive one once Ive gone through the IRC logs and presented it properly.
Firstly Id like to say that Im such a threat that the exposers are people of importance. Id like to say that Ive frightened someone so much they’ve gone all out to expose what they think is Goblin.
Unfortunately I cant, the two involved are a pair of script-kiddies Ive had dealings with in the past, when I exposed and thwarted their feeble attempts to bring down a site.
I know many of you will consider this “exposure” of exposers a waste of time. Maybe it is, but maybe it shows the activities on the net that people are willing to stoop to. Thats the hope anyway.
Above all else OpenBytes has encouraged free and open discussion, not becaue of some crusade against Microsoft (please check where I give credit where its due) not because I want a mass migration to the Linux platform (Ive said repeatedly thats the last thing I want) but because simple challenging encourages debate, passion & interest, something which can only be good for the end user.
The proof of this ethos is on the site, if I hadnt hounded and challenged the Twitterer “Optionetics” then the imposter who was using the name of a honest legitimate company who offer stockmarket education wouldnt have been exposed promoting Microsoft stock for whatever reason they had. (this story is documented here including the thank you message I recieved from the real company)
If challenging didnt take place in regards to comments such as “Linux needs a compiler to play a DVD” then there may be users mislead. All im after is the debate of honest held belief so that as a result of diverse opinion users can make their own judgment on what is right for them.
Can you imagine an internet where one companies products get all the bandwidth? Would that be good for the end user? Would that be good for anyone? and if one particular company is allowed to “run the show” how much of a good deal do you think the end user would get. Competition be it from Microsoft, Apple, Canonical or anyone else can only be good for any product.
Going back to our script-kiddies theres very little else I can add until ive collated the IRC logs, theres a little humor in there as they get increasingly excited with their expose, I think the penny may have dropped and they realize they have an article here, but I still think it will make an interesting distraction from the usual Linux is better because……. or Microsoft has……. articles here.
One of the comments made by an emailer was I they held in contempt my actions on the Net (in particular in regards to this) my response would be that I treat people with the dignitity they give me, Aaron for example, had no amusing pictures on his article since he did nothing except put his point across. Where does his link lead? I dont know but Im happy to post it since I said I would on the basis of his posting here.
In the meantime tomorrow ontop of our IRC logs, we will have a few articles breaking the myths that are said about Linux. We’ve got some unique comments from a user and his “DirectX stuff”, and we may also have a little bit of a celebration since it looks like my little blog may hit 20,000.
As always I welcome your comments, but in particular your challenges and debate.
Goblin – email@example.com
Chat networks, we all love em, we all use different ones, and they all use different clients/sites! Let me introduce you to Pidgin, not one of those criters who cover London pavements in their special grey paint, but a Pidgin that will be most welcome in your house.
Pidgin aims to be an all in one chat client for numerous chat networks (see end of post for supported ones) and bring them all together under one package.
Account setup is easy, just choose the chat network and enter your details, you can have many networks as you want running at one, so you wont have to switch between them again.
Pidgin is very well supported and has numerous plugins available. There is a one for Twitter (not currently tested) and these can all be found linked on the Pidgin Homepage. Currently at 2.5.5 this is a mature product (and it shows) if you are a user of numerous networks or just one and simply want a compact and tight little chat client, look no further than Pidgin!
Having only ICQ and IRC “interests” this leads me to one of the limitations of the package (for me anyway). Natively Pidgins IRC support is limited. Using file servers on a IRC network is not going to happen (from my testing) since Pidgin doesnt not seem to know what to do with the request. That being said, the client is very clean and clear, it is a great choice if you only intend to chat on IRC.
With a small memory footprint, smooth and quick operation, Pidgin is a permanent fixture on my distro. Chat networks supported are: AIM , Bonjour , Gadu-Gadu , Google Talk , Groupwise ,ICQ , IRC ,MSN , MySpaceIM ,QQ , SILC , SIMPLE , Sametime , XMPP, Yahoo!, Zephyr.
You can get Pidgin from the homepage: http://pidgin.im/