by August 10, 2001 0 comments

Man has progressed a lot over the years–from smoke signals to the telephone, then electronic mail, and now instant messagers. Of course, everybody has heard of, seen, and probably used instant messagers (also called instant messengers, both terms being used incommon lingo since they sound so similar!)


LICQ comes with Red Hat 7.1, and is therefore included in last month’sPCQLinux 7.1 distribution. It is, as the name suggest, an ICQ client for Linux (though the FAQ mentions that the L in LICQ does not stan for Linux) To run it, you just need to run the program ‘licq’. If you’re starting it for the first time, it starts a Registration wizard, where you can register yourself as a new user of ICQ, or use your existing ICQ UIN. Now you can go online by right clicking the status bar at the bottom, and selecting online. All the functions in the program are accessible using the System menu. Double-clicking a user in the list opens a message window where you can type in a message and send it to him.

LICQ has a very impressive feature list, and is highly customizable. It is also skinnable, which means you can download skins made by others and try them out. The official website of LICQ is and you can get lots of LICQ skins at

Unfortunately, some of the features supported by the latest official ICQ client for Windows are not supported by LICQ. These include services like ICQPhone (Internet telephony) and ICQ SMS, which lets you send SMS messages to

Yahoo! Messenger

Most popular messaging services do not offer versions of their software which run on Linux, forcing people to use third party software. However, Yahoo! has released a binary version of Yahoo! Messenger for Linux, and this is included on this month’s CD. To install it, mount the CD with the command:
mount /mnt/cdrom
and then install the RPM with the command
rpm -ivh /mnt/cdrom/cdrom/linux/desktop/office/yahoo/ymessenger-0.93.0-1.i386.rpm

Now just run Yahoo! Messenger with the command ‘ymessenger’. Just like LICQ, it pops up a login screen the first time you run it, where you can type in your existing Yahoo ID and Password, or get a new one. If you click on the button to get a new Yahoo! ID, it tries to load a website with a browser. Unfortunately, the ymessenger package comes with the default browser as /usr/local/bin/netscape, and netscape doesn’t exist there, it can’t load any web site from within Yahoo! Messenger.

To set the correct browser path, click on Cancel on the login screen. Then go to the menu Edit>Preferences, go to the Advanced tab, and change the browser setting to /usr/bin/netscape, and click on OK. Now go back to the login screen using the Login menu or by pressing Ctrl-O. Clicking on the “Get a Yahoo! ID” button should open a Netscape window with the registration Web page.

Since YM stores the contact list on the server, once you login, you’ll see all your contacts already on the list, and you can start using it right away. The interface is pretty straightforward, with a menu bar at the top and a buttonbar for the most commonly used features (which you can hide by clicking on the small button at the bottom right corner).

The Linux version of Yahoo! Messenger supports almost all the features of its Windows counterpart except a few like voice chat and PC-to-phone calling. You can expect these features in future versions of the software, since it is being developed by Yahoo! and distributed as binary only.

Mrinal Kalakrishnan is a trainee consultant with Exocore Consulting

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