5 Twitter clients for Linux

These apps offer flexibility, a variety of features and even a command-line interface.

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TTYtter also provides its own built-in commands that you can use for various purposes. For example, if you want to avoid tweeting something accidently, you can use the "/set verify 1" command to turn on the verification functionality. Here, "set" is the built-in command, "verify" is the function and "1" is used to enable the functionality.

Any text that begins with a forward slash (/) is recognized as a built-in command. So if you want to tweet something beginning with /, you need to put another slash before it. For example, "/hi there" should be tweeted as "//hi there."

You can also customize TTYtter by using extensions. For example, you can write extensions for adding new commands, changing the way errors are reported, and more. The command line client is flexible enough to run in either interactive (default) or daemon mode.

The command line client can also be configured to display very large alerts on the screen, and to send selected tweets and direct messages to your iPhone.

One of the striking advantages of TTYtter is that it can be used to fire tweets from within shell scripts, cron jobs and so on, which is next to impossible with a GUI-based Twitter client. Also, if Twitter is blocked in your office, you can connect to your home computer using SSH and start using the service through this command line client.

Other considerations

While TTYtter is feature rich and has lots of advantages, there are some shortcomings as well. Obviously, it doesn't support inline pictures and videos. And despite being a command-line client, it requires a browser to log into Twitter and get an OAuth key during its initial setup.

It does support multiple accounts but you have to maintain different keyfiles, each corresponding to an account, as only one account token can be stored per keyfile. To switch between accounts, you have to use the -keyf command line option with the corresponding keyfile name. Overall it's not a major drawback, but it's not as easy as selecting a different account from a drop down menu.

Bottom line

If you are a system admin or a seasoned Linux user who spends most of the time working on command line, TTYtter is an easy and quick way to access Twitter.

Turpial

Turpial is a GUI-based, open-source client for Twitter and pump.io. Named after the national bird of Venezuela, the software is written in Python and released under the terms of the GPL v3.

The client, which was developed by Wil Alvarez along with a group of other programmers, is built using graphics libraries GTK+ and PyGTK, and hence integrates seamlessly with GNOME and Xfce desktop environments. The project is divided into two parts, the front end (the Turpial UI) and the back end (the libturpial library).

You can download the client directly from its official website. While Fedora, Debain, Ubuntu and Arch users can follow the instructions given on the website, users of other Linux distros can download the source code and compile accordingly.

What's new

Release 3.0 contains many updates, fixes and new features. For example, an issue that occurred while closing the app from tray icon menu is now fixed, an issue with using apostrophes is also fixed, pic.twitter.com is now the default service to upload images, there is now support for list names with hyphens and more.

What's good about it

Turpial supports multi-column layouts, which means that you can divide its screen into multiple columns to monitor tweets in parallel. At present, it supports five columns: Timeline (the default), Replies, Directs, Sent and Favorites. In addition, it also supports multiple accounts, letting you log in and switch among accounts easily.

Turpial's attractive interface supports multi-column layouts and multiple accounts.

The client also provides a way to schedule tweets via the Dubbed Messages Queue, which lets you add your tweets to a queue; each tweet is then sent out after a certain time period, the default being 30 minutes.

Turpial lets you customize update frequency, statuses per column and queue frequency. It also provides various services such as Twitpic, img.ly, pic.twitter.com and more, to shorten URLs and upload images, and also lets you set up your favorite Web browser to open links.

Turpial provides auto-completion of nicknames, which means that it gives you related suggestions as you type Twitter handles. This comes in handy, especially when the names are long or have to be typed in frequently.

The client uses your system's built-in notification system to alert you, which saves you from checking the client window again and again. Below every tweet there are icons for retweet, quote, reply, delete or mark the tweet as favorite, which let you perform basic Twitter actions easily.

Other considerations

When Turpial loaded for the very first time, it froze at the startup screen. After a bit of Googling, I figured out that it was due to the fact that libturpial needed to be upgraded. I downloaded libturpial 1.7.0 and manually installed the new version.

Apart from the library issue, there are some other areas where Turpial falls short. For example, images are not displayed inline, the tweet compose area pops up as a separate window rather being a part of the main window, notifications do not include any information apart from the number of new tweets and there is no auto spell checker.

Bottom line

Turpial is a decent Twitter client that is customizable and offers some great ease-of-use features such as multicolumn layouts. Although the client falls short in some areas, it does pretty much everything the average Twitter user needs it to do.

Conclusions

Each Twitter client reviewed here has its own pros and cons.

TTYtter is definitely not for end users. Rather, it's for pros like system administrators who may do a lot of work using command-line interfaces. Although it provides a great mix of features and customization options, the fact that everything is command-based could be a deterrent for many.

Although promising, Polly and Birdie are still works in progress. Although these are the only two clients reviewed here that display inline images, the feature doesn't make up for the fact that Polly is buggy and Birdie seems to be quite minimalistic. However, I really liked Birdie's user interface, which looked comparatively more professional and easy to use.

Turpial is a good Twitter client, offering all the basic Twitter functionality along with a decent level of customization. But that's not enough to beat Choqok. Not only does Choqok offer a bucket full of features, but it allows customization of the color scheme, tool bar and more. It's definitely the winner in this batch of clients.

Himanshu Arora is a software programmer, open source enthusiast and Linux researcher. Some of his articles have been featured in IBM developerWorks and Linux Journal. He (along with some like-minded friends) blogs at MyLinuxBook.

This article, 5 Twitter clients for Linux , was originally published at Computerworld.com.

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