Shallow Thoughts : tags : bitlbee

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Wed, 30 Nov 2011

Bitlbee tips: hide timestamps, and share configurations

I recently set up bitlbee on a new machine. Things worked fine, mostly -- but here are a couple of tweaks that should speed things up when moving a bitlbee configuration to another machine.

Sharing configuration files

I get so tired of re-authenticating with Twitter every time I move to a new machine, disk, or distro. And it turns out you don't have to!

Your configuration is in /var/lib/bitlbee/yournick.xml, and you can copy that file to other machines and it will work just fine -- with one caveat.

Assuming you have bitlbee set up to run as a user named "bitlbee", rather than as root (the default is bitlbee), you'll need to make sure the /var/lib/bitlbee/yournick.xml file is owned by the bitlbee user. If you just copy it as root, you'll get an error like "The nick is (probably) not registered". You can fix it with chown bitlbee /var/lib/bitlbee/yournick.xml

Hiding timestamps

On the new machine, every new tweet had a timestamp added. Timestamps look like this:

<NatGeo> [20:26:24] Elusive marbled cat filmed: 
<OliverSacks> [20:28:09] Happy Thanksgiving week! Check out Dr. Sacks's new blog post about Gabby Giffords and what he is reading now: 

These timestamps add clutter and make the lines too long. But googling for bitlbee timestamps only gets a lot of people who couldn't figure out how to suppress them and ended up writing scripts to hide them in various IRC clients.

Turns out bitlbee has a perfectly straightforward way to hide them. Go to your &bitlbee tab -- you know, the one that always opens first that you have to close manually every time after it finally opens the #twitter tab (I wish I could find a way to auto-close it!) and type:

set display_timestamps 'false'

That's it! Timestamps-b-gone.

You can see more bitlbee variables by typing set in the &bitlbee tab, or get help by typing help there.

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[ 20:13 Nov 30, 2011    More tech | permalink to this entry | ]

Tue, 05 Jul 2011

Bitlbee: How to re-authenticate with Twitter

I've been using Bitlbee for Twitter for quite a while now, and like it a lot.

But I guess Twitter recently changed something in their authentication, so I had to upgrade Bitlbee to the latest development version, 3.0.3, on each machine where I use it. Then on each machine, I got prompted to re-authenticate with Twitter -- except on one, my home desktop. There, all I saw was "Authentication failure" and "Logging out".

My normal procedure for setting up a Twitter account in Bitlbee didn't apply, because Bitlbee saw there was already an authenticated account, and didn't see any need to start over.

Here's the solution, courtesy of a helpful person on IRC: go to the Bitlbee channel where the authentication failed and type

acc 0 set password my-irc-passwd
-- substitute other account numbers for 0 as appropriate, and use the nickserv password you use for your bitlbee IRC account.

Then activate the account again:

account on
and it should contact Twitter and give you a URL to re-authenticate.

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[ 20:05 Jul 05, 2011    More tech | permalink to this entry | ]

Thu, 24 Mar 2011

How to use Bitlbee for Twitter

I've been using Bitlbee to follow Twitter from my IRC client (xchat) for many months now. I love it -- it's a great interface, really easy to use.

But every now and then I have to install it on a new machine, and I remember its one flaw: it has no documentation to speak of. What docs there are cover only pieces of the puzzle, and nobody covers basics like "How do I connect in the first place?"

So here's mine.

First, install bitlbee. The download page has tarballs, but if you're on Ubuntu or Debian, the easiest way is to add the bitlbee repository to your sources.list.

Once bitlbee is installed (the server should start automatically), it will run an IRC server on port 6667. So connect your IRC client to localhost/6667.

In the bitlbee server window that comes up, type this: register passwd
This will be your bitlbee password. It isn't related to your Twitter password.

Set your IRC client to identify passwd so you don't have to type the bitlbee password every time you connect.

Tell Bitlbee your Twitter account handle: account add twitter your-twitter-handle passwd
The password is just a placeholder; it doesn't have to match the one you just set up for bitlbee.

Then enable it: account on
Bitlbee should print:

<root> twitter - Logging in: Connecting
<root> twitter - Logging in: Requesting OAuth request token

Before long, you should see a new channel called twitter_, with a long URL. Paste this URL into your browser to authenticate. You'll have to log in with your Twitter handle and password.

Twitter will give you a code number. Paste this back into the Bitlbee twitter_ channel.

That should be all you need! Bitlbee should now log in to Twitter and give you statuses in a #twitter channel.

(Slightly updated from initial post to clarify the two passwords -- thanks pleia2 and wilmer.)

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[ 17:19 Mar 24, 2011    More tech | permalink to this entry | ]