Instant Messaging in Fedora Core 4

Instant Messaging in Fedora Core 4

As the Internet email system has become more and more clogged with spam and other kinds of junk mail, and as more and more employees and home computer users routinely have Internet access all day long, instant messaging has grown from a niche Internet application into one of the most popular means of online communication.

Although there are a number of very popular instant messaging services, including AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger, they all share a very basic core functionality: They allow two users on the Internet to chat in real time simply by typing messages back and forth to one another.

Fedora Core 4, too, provides instant messenger functionality that is compatible with most of the popular instant messaging services, including AIM, MSN, Yahoo! Messenger, GroupWise, and Napster messaging.

To start the Fedora Core 4 instant messenger application, choose Applications, Internet, IM. Within a few seconds, the Fedora Core 4 instant messenger application, GAIM, appears, as shown in Figure.

1. The GAIM application provides Fedora Core 4's broadly compat ible instant messaging functionality.

Adding an IM Account

Before you can use GAIM, you must enter the details of your instant messenger account so that GAIM can log on to the AIM network for you. To do so, click the Accounts button near the lower left of the GAIM window. The Accounts dialog box is displayed, as shown in Figure.

2. In the Accounts dialog box, you can enter the details of your instant messenger accounts.

To add an account, follow these steps:

Click the Add button to show the Add Account dialog box, shown in Figure.

3. The Add Account dialog box is used to tell GAIM about instant messaging accounts that you use.

Select the messaging service you normally use from the Protocol drop-down list. AIM users should select AIM, MSN users should select MSN, and so on.

Enter your IM login and password in the boxes labeled Screen Name and Password, respectively.

Check Remember Password if you don't want to have to enter your password by hand each time you log on.

Check Auto-login if you want GAIM to log you on to the messaging service automatically when you start it from the Applications, Internet menu.

Click Save to save the IM account that you have just created.

After you click the Save button in the Add Account dialog box, the account you've just added to GAIM is shown in the Accounts dialog box. Click Close when you are done adding your instant messaging accounts to GAIM.

Logging In to AIM in Fedora Core 4

To log in to AIM using Fedora Core 4, choose the screen name you'd like to use from the Accounts drop-down list. If you have chosen not to have GAIM remember your password, be sure to enter your password in the Password box. Then click the Sign On button. You are logged on to the messaging network by GAIM and should soon see the Buddy List window, as shown in Figure.

4. After you are logged in, you see the Buddy List window.

Once you are logged on, you will also see a small icon on the far right side of the menubar indicating that you are ready to receive messages.

Adding Users to Your Buddy List

If you haven't yet used instant messaging extensively, your Buddy List window is probably empty because you don't have any online buddies. Instant messaging buddies are somewhat similar to web browsing bookmarks: You can easily reach a certain other party using the instant messaging application, without having to type in the name of the addressee each time you want to communicate.

Completely New to Instant Messaging?

If you have never used instant messaging before and do not have an account with any of the popular IM services, you need to create an account before you can begin to use the instant messenger client. To create a new account with the free AIM service, go to and fill out the signup form that you find there. You can then use the details that you supplied at signup to log on with GAIM.

If you know the account names of co-workers or friends you're likely to want to communicate with using instant messaging, you can add them to your buddy list by choosing Buddies, Add Buddy from the GAIM application menubar. When you do this, the Add Buddy dialog box is displayed, as shown in Figure.

5. The Add Buddy dialog box helps you to add buddies to your instant messaging buddy list.

Type the name of the other person's account into the Screen Name box and select either Co-Workers or Buddies from the Group drop-down list, depending on whether the other user is a co-worker or just a friend (this distinction is just to help categorize your buddies for you in the buddy list and doesn't affect instant messaging functionality at all).

After you add a buddy, if that person happens to be online, he or she appears in the Buddy List window, as shown in Figure.

6. After you add a buddy, that person's account appears in your buddy list if he or she is online.

Showing Offline Buddies

If you have entered a number of buddies but still don't see any of them in your Buddy List window, it is likely that none of them are online at the moment.

You still might want to be able to see which buddies are on your list at all timeseven those who aren't currently online. To show all buddies whether they are online or offline at the moment, choose Buddies, Show Offline Buddies from the GAIM application menubar. All your buddies now appear in the Buddy List window, as shown in Figure. When all buddies are visible, the names of those who are online are shown in color, whereas the names of those who aren't online are shown in grayscale (black and white).

7. Choosing Buddies, Show Offline Buddies causes all buddies to be displayed, whether they are online or not. Online buddies are in color; offline buddies are in grayscale.

Sending a Message and Having a Conversation

To start a conversation with an online buddy, send him or her a message. To do so, simply double-click the icon of an online buddy in your buddy list. A dialog box appears with the name of the other user as its title; this is the box (shown in Figure) that you use to carry on a conversation with the user.

8. After double-clicking the name of an online buddy, you can carry on a conversation with him in the window that appears.

To begin your conversation, simply type a message into the lower box and press your Enter key. Because this buddy is online, whatever you type pops up on his or her computer screen, wherever he or she is. Your buddy is then given a chance to respond.

Carrying on a Conversation

As you carry on a conversation in the instant messenger application, look for these visual cues that help you to communicate:

  • All messages appear in chronological order; as new messages are sent out or come in, they simply appear at the bottom of the list. You can scroll back up through the list of previous communication by clicking and dragging the scrollbar.

  • Each message begins with the time at which the message was sent and the name of the user who sent it, in bold text. These items appear in blue for messages that are from you or in red for messages that are from your buddies to you.

  • Although all messages appear in the top pane once sent or received, all messages that you type appear in the bottom pane as you type them, and are invisible to the remote user until you press your Enter key, at which time the message is sent to your buddy (see Figure).

    9. Your entire communication is shown in this conversation window. Received and sent messages are in the upper pane; an unsent message appears in the lower pane.

Each time you get a new message, you hear a tone through your speakers letting you know that a communication has arrived. Two buttons, the Warn and Block buttons near the bottom of the conversation window, also deserve attention.

Click Warn to warn a user who is communicating inappropriately that you don't want to receive ongoing communication that you find bothersome or offensive; click Block to block a remote user from sending any further messages.

Saving a Conversation

If you decide that a conversation you've been having is important enough to be saved for later review, you can save it to a file on your disk by choosing Conver sation, Save As from the menubar near the top of the conversation window. When you do this, a file dialog box appears, allowing you to save your conversation for later retrieval.

Removing Buddies from the Buddy List

From time to time, you will want to remove buddies from your buddy list. To do this, right-click the buddy in question in the Buddy List window and choose Remove from the context menu, as shown in Figure. The buddy is removed from your list until or unless you add him or her back again.

10. To remove a buddy from the buddy list, right-click the buddy in question and choose Remove from the context menu.

Signing Off and Exiting

To sign off instant messenger (so that you're unavailable for further communi cation), choose File, Signoff. If you want to sign on again later, you can do so by choosing File, Signon.

To exit the instant messenger, simply click the Close button at the upper right of the application window. Note that if you haven't first signed off, you'll remain online and the instant messenger will appear again if someone sends you an instant message. To sign off once you have closed the main GAIM application window, right-click on the GAIM icon at the upper right of the menubar and choose Signoff, as shown in Figure. The icon will now show a red circle with a line through it to indicate that you are no longer online.

11. Right-click on the GAIM icon in the menubar and choose Signoff if you want to sign off after you've closed the main GAIM window.

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