The 5 Best Empathy Chat Plugins For Linux

If you’re looking to spice up your chat client on Linux with some plugins but don’t know where to start, don’t freak out! Check out our list of the 6 best Empathy chat plugins.

To be clear, the Empathy chat client doesn’t have an official plugin directory, and as a result, there aren’t many third-party plugins for the app. That said, it can easily make use of Pidgin plugins. Before going through this list, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’ve got the Telepathy Haze plugin installed. With this Empathy plugin on your Linux PC, you’ll be able to take full advantage of pretty much any plugin or extension written for the Pidgin IM client inside of Empathy.

If you’re not sure how to get the Telepathy Haze plugin working, check out our guide all about how to enable Pidgin Plugins on Empathy.

1. SkypeWeb Plugin

 It’s not hard to dislike the official Linux Skype client, as it’s a web wrapper, and crashes a lot, due to the limited time Microsoft spends on it. That’s where SkypeWeb Plugin comes in: it’s a plugin that allows users of the Empathy chat client to interact with Skype. To be clear, this plugin doesn’t make it possible to make video and audio calls to your contacts. With how Skype works, that’s just not possible.

Still, if you use Skype to keep in contact with friends over messages, installing this plugin is a good way to go as it gives you what you want out of the service on Linux, without needing to deal with the official program.

2. Purple Hangouts

Along with Skype, Google Hangouts is one of the more popular chat tools in the world. Many people use it to keep in touch. Unfortunately, there’s no native Linux application, so the only way users can take part in the Hangout service is by using Google’s web browser or using the web version. This is fine, but Chrome uses a lot of memory, making it impossible for some Linux users to use Hangouts.

To get around the need to use Google Chrome, Empathy users can install the Purple Hangouts plugin. It gives users full access to their friend’s list and access to the Hangouts service.

3. Steam

Steam has been a native application on Linux for at least 4 years now, so there’s hardly a justification for using a third-party plugin to access Steam Chat via instant messenger, right? Wrong. As it turns out, even though many Linux users are happy that Valve brought Steam over to Linux, they still choose to dual-boot windows for video gaming. As a result, those that use Windows for games often don’t install Steam on Linux, as they aren’t gaming with it and don’t see a point.

If you miss your Steam friends on Linux but don’t want to deal with the official Linux app, there’s another way: the OpenSteamworks chat plugin. It’s a third party addition to chat clients like Empathy and Pidgin that make it possible to add Steam friends to your buddy list.

4. Battlenet V2 And Battlenet Classic

Aside from Steam, EA Origin, and Ubisoft Uplay, Blizzard’s Battlenet client is one of the largest gaming apps on PC. Unfortunately, it’s not available on Linux as a native application. Not having a Linux Battlenet app makes it tough communicating with friends while using Linux — until now.

Introducing Battlenet V2. It’s a plugin for Linux chat clients (like Empathy). The plugin interacts with the Battlenet API and lets users communicate with friends on the service. The V2 plugin only works with new Blizard games like Overwatch, Diablo III, and others.

In addition to Battlenet V2, there is Battlenet Classic. It’s a similar plugin with the goal of connecting users to the Blizzard Gaming service, via chat apps like Empathy and Pidgin. Battlenet V2 handles the modern games, while Classic does the same but for old-school Blizzard games like StarCraft, Diablo 2, etc.

5. Gnome Phone Manager

The Gnome Phone Manager is an excellent addition to Empathy that allows users to send and receive SMS text messages. Unlike a lot of other plugins on this list, Gnome Phone Manager isn’t a Pidgin-based plugin. Instead, it’s a Telepathy extension that brings SMS functionality directly to Empathy.

The way the app works is interesting. Instead of using an email address and sending messages to Text like some other plugins, or relying on third-party applications to do the work, Gnome Phone Manager takes advantage of Bluetooth. By connecting to your PC over Bluetooth, it allows Empathy (or any other app using the plugin) to send SMS directly to your phone, wirelessly.

Overall, Gnome Phone Manager is a necessary addition to the Empathy chat client for those who want to bring text friends into their chat buddy list.

Read The 5 Best Empathy Chat Plugins For Linux by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How To Resize Image Files On Linux

Image files can be exceptionally large. Even if you’re dealing with JPEGs, the file sizes can and do exceed 2 and even 5 MB in size. If you have a RAW file, it’s going to be bigger. If you need to keep a large library of images on your Linux PC, you’ll need to learn how to save space. One of the best ways to save space with files is by resizing them. If you have a large photo library, you can resize image files and shrink your photo library’s size.

Resizing image files is a tricky thing as too much of it can really ruin the quality. That’s why in this guide we’ll go over how to resize image files the right way.

Install ImageMagick

The Linux operating system has a lot of quirky, unique tools. One such tool is Convert. It’s a simple little app bundled inside of ImageMagick that can manipulate image files through the command line. To get access to the Convert tool, you’ll need to install ImageMagick. Most Linux distributions have this installed, though if yours doesn’t, you can install it easily enough.

To install the ImageMagick package, open up a terminal window and enter the following command listed under your OS.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install imagemagick

Debian

sudo apt-get install imagemagick

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S imagemagick

Fedora

sudo dnf install imagemagick

OpenSUSE

sudo zypper install imagemagick

Other Linuxes

As stated earlier, ImageMagick is a critical component of how a lot of programs display and manipulate images in programs on Linux. That being said, your distribution may be using an alternative. Look in your operating system’s package manager for “ImageMagick” and install it. Once installed, you’ll have access to Convert.

Compress Images With Convert

Compressing images can often reduce their quality. For good looking, smaller image files it’s best to re-size them. Going this route can help keep the overall quality of the image while keeping the file size much smaller.

To resize with Convert, open up a terminal window, find an image file you’d like to manipulate and then use the CD command to move the terminal to its location. In this example, picture files will be in /home/username/pictures/.

cd ~/Pictures/

Use the convert command to resize. Try to resize the image by about 20%, as this gives you a good balance of quality and file size. If you need to go lower than 20%, try 25%, 30%, or 40%. Keep in mind that quality of the image decreases the more it is resized.

convert -resize 20% image-file-name-original.jpg image-file-name-resized.jpg

Convert works with different file types, aside from the JPG used in the example. To resize, modify this command with the correct file extension and new size. Be sure that you specify both the original file name and an output filename.

Compress Multiple Images

Convert is excellent at manipulating and compressing one image at a time, but it’s tedious to compress images one by one. the good news is that Convert can be manipulated with bash to parse and work with multiple image files at once.

Note: batch compressing image files with multiple file names likely won’t work. Only batch convert files with the same file type.

Batch converting is easy, and it starts out by creating a folder to work in. Having a folder for all of these image files you plan to convert is good, otherwise, dozens of image files will litter your file system. Using the mkdir command, create a working directory.

mkdir -p ~/Pictures/Convert-Images/

Then, open the file manager app, find the newly created folder and move all of the image files you plan to convert to this folder. After moving the files, use the CD command in a terminal to move into the new folder as well.

cd ~/Pictures/Convert-Images/

In the terminal, type out this command. It will tell Convert to resize multiple files at once, creating output files with “resize” at the end. In the code, the command will look for JPG images. If you’re working with PNG files or another format supported by the Convert app, change *.jpg to *.png, etc.

for img in *.jpg; do
  convert -resize 20% "$img" "opt-$img"
done

Resizing Script

The batch resizing command is nice, as it works very well. However, having to type out a long command and tweak it every time can be annoying. To shorten the work, consider making it into a script. Open up a terminal window, and use the touch command to create a new file. This file will hold the code for our conversion script.

touch ~/Pictures/Convert-Images/batch-resize.sh

Next, open up the Nano text editor.

nano ~/Pictures/Convert-Images/batch-resize.sh

Paste the following code inside of the script file:

#!/bin/bash

# Catch user input for file type.

echo "Enter the file extension for your image files:"

# Store user input in $files.

read files

# Resize images.

for img in *.$files; do
convert -resize 20% "$img" "resize-$img"
done

Save the resize script in Nano by pressing Ctrl + O. Close the editor with Ctrl + X.

Update the permissions of the script so it runs. Don’t skip this part, or the script won’t work correctly!

chmod +x ~/Pictures/Convert-Images/batch-resize.sh

To use the script, place all image files you’d like to convert in ~/Pictures/Convert-Images/. Then CD in and execute the script. When entering the file extension (like JPG, PNG and etc) don’t use a period, or the script will break!

cd ~/Pictures/Convert-Images/
./batch-resize.sh

Read How To Resize Image Files On Linux by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How To Edit The BashRC File To Make Bash More Useful On Linux

The Bash Shell is impressive, but it could use some work. In this guide, we’ll go over ways you can improve your terminal experience by modifying and improving the BashRC file. Before you edit the BashRC file, please run this command in terminal to safely back it up:

cp .bashrc bashrc-bak

History Completion

One of the killer features of Bash alternative “Fish”, is it’s ability to quickly figure out what you’re typing while typing it. This feature makes it super easy to remember past commands and operations with ease. Unfortunately, Bash can’t do this out of the box, and if you want to remember a command, you’re stuck viewing the history file — until now.

As it turns out, there’s a way to mimic this awesome Fish feature in Bash with a simple edit to BashRC. Open the file with Nano and add the following to enable quick history searching;

nano ~/.bashrc

Inside of your BashRC file, look for “#User specific aliases and functions” and paste the following code underneath it. Keep in mind that many Linux distributions customize the BashRC file, so you may not find this line. Generally speaking, the code should go to the very bottom of the file.

bind '"\e[A": history-search-backward'
bind '"\e[B": history-search-forward'

The code above will bind an ability to quickly go through Bash history by clicking left or right arrow keys on the keyboard.  Press Ctrl + O to save, and Ctrl + X to exit. Close the terminal and re-open it to see the changes you’ve made.

Better History Logging

Like most terminal Shells, Bash saves a file with everything you type into it for convenience. This is certainly a useful feature, but it gets annoying sorting through the file because of duplicates. Having the same command show up over and over can make finding the things in the Bash history you do want to see more difficult. To solve this problem, consider adding this edit to ~/.bashrc that actively removes duplicate commands, improving how Bash handles command history.

nano ~/.bashrc

Inside of Nano, paste this code:

export HISTCONTROL=ignoredups

Zsh-like Command Help

In the Zsh shell, it’s easy to open up any terminal command’s manual by quickly pressing Alt + H on the keyboard. With Bash, accessing a manual is man command. Suffice it to say, the Zsh way of doing things is much, much nicer. To add this functionality to the Bash shell, add this to the bottom of ~/.bashrc.

bind '"\eh": "\C-a\eb\ed\C-y\e#man \C-y\C-m\C-p\C-p\C-a\C-d\C-e"'

Auto CD

An excellent feature Zsh has is the ability to automatically CD into a  directory. Instead of invoking cd somedirectory all the time. Though using the CD command inside of Bash certainly isn’t hard, it can be tedious typing it over and over, to navigate everywhere.

Open up your ~/.bashrc file with Nano and paste this code inside of it.

...
shopt -s autocd
...

Save the edit with Nano by pressing Ctrl + O, and exit the editor using Ctrl + X. Close the terminal, and reopen it. From now on, to move to a new directory, type the folder path without the cd in front of it. For example:

/usr/bin/

Improve Tab Completion

One of the best features of Bash that a lot of users don’t know about is Tab completion. By default, Bash can automatically complete a command. To use it, start typing out the first few letters of a command, directory, etc, and Bash will fill out the rest. The problem is that this version of tab completion needs work. It isn’t perfect, misses things, and flat out refuses to work sometimes.

Luckily, there’s a quick way to improve tab completion for Bash. Unlike other edits in the guide, this section is quite easy and only requires the installation of a package. Open up a terminal and install the bash-completion package.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install bash-completion

Debian

sudo apt install bash-completion

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S bash-completion

Fedora

sudo dnf install bash-completion

OpenSUSE

sudo zypper install bash-completion

Resetting BashRC

In this guide, we’ve made a lot of changes to the ~/.bashrc file. As a result, your Bash terminal operates differently. These modifications no-doubt make Bash more modern and useful, but not to everyone. Some may prefer the way Bash works without the modifications.

Luckily, at the start of this guide, we created a backup of the original ~/.bashrc file. Creating a backup makes undoing the edits made in this tutorial very easy. To restore the backup, open up a terminal and start by deleting the new ~/.bashrc file.

rm ~/.bashrc

After getting rid of the modified file, it’s safe to restore the old backup.

cp bashrc-bak .bashrc

Running this CP command will restore the file to its original state. Restart your PC to finalize the changes.

Read How To Edit The BashRC File To Make Bash More Useful On Linux by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How To Use Pidgin Plugins In Empathy Chat On Linux

Empathy IM is a great app with a lot of great features. However, it is severely lacking in the plugin department. Luckily, it’s easy to power-up Empathy by allowing it to load in Pidgin plugins. In this tutorial, we’ll go over how easy it is to enable Pidgin plugins in Empathy. Using plugins with this app is all possible thanks to the Telepathy Haze plugin.

Pidgin Plugins In Empathy

Follow the instructions below to learn how to install it on your Linux distribution.

Ubuntu

The Telepathy Haze plugin is in the Ubuntu software sources and has been there for a while. To install the Purple (Pidgin IM) plugin handler to Ubuntu Linux, open up a terminal window and enter the following command:

sudo apt install telepathy-haze

Debian

Debian has the Telepathy Haze plugin in software sources, though it may be older than other Linux distributions, as Debian is slower to update packages. This shouldn’t affect Pidgin plugins, but be aware of it.

sudo apt-get install telepathy-haze

Arch Linux

Arch Linux is always up to date, so users will be able to always get the absolute latest version of Telepathy Haze on their Linux PC. Install it with Pacman:

sudo pacman -S telepathy-haze

Fedora

Fedora, like Arch Linux, is fairly recent and enjoys newer packages than most operating systems. This means Fedora fans will be able to install the absolute latest version of Telepathy Haze.

sudo dnf install telepathy-haze

OpenSUSE

Depending on what version of OpenSUSE you use, your version of Telepathy Haze may differ. To install it, open up a terminal and enter the following command.

sudo zypper install telepathy-haze

Building From Source

Telepathy is in use on virtually every Linux distribution, so there shouldn’t be any issue finding a package for it. Open up a terminal window, search for “telepathy-haze” and install it. Otherwise, follow these instructions to build the plugin from source.

First, download the latest version of the source code.

curl https://telepathy.freedesktop.org/releases/telepathy-haze/telepathy-haze-0.8.0.tar.gz > telepathy-haze.tar.gz

Using the Tar command, extract the files from the archive.

tar -xzvf telepathy-haze.tar.gz
cd telepathy-haze-0.8.0

Using the cat and more commands, read through the included INSTALL and README files. Look over them, and learn about any dependencies you need. Also look out for other instructions outlined in these documents, like compiler settings specific to your operating system, etc.

cat INSTALL | more

cat README | more

Next, run the configure script and allow it to scan and set up the environment for Telepathy Haze to compile in.

./configure

Configure will scan your Linux PC for dependencies, and error if they are not installed. Do your best to install them. You may need to check pkgs.org for packages.

If everything looks good, build and install Telepathy Haze:

make

sudo make install

Installing Empathy IM

After installing Telepathy Haze, you’ll need to install the Empathy app itself. Like Telepathy Haze, it is very well supported so there shouldn’t be too much issue installing it.

Ubuntu

Empathy has long been included with Ubuntu. However, if your installation doesn’t have it, installing it is as easy as:

sudo apt install empathy

Debian

Debian ships with Pidgin for its instant messaging needs. That said, Empathy can easily be installed via apt-get.

sudo apt-get install empathy

Arch Linux

Like Telepathy Haze, Arch users are able to get the latest version of Empathy directly from the software repositories. Install it via Pacman:

sudo pacman -S empathy

Fedora

Fedora may already have Empathy installed, as it uses a lot of Gnome programs. However, if you’re using an alternative desktop on Fedora, or can’t find Empathy, install it with DNF:

sudo dnf install empathy

OpenSUSE

Need to get Empathy IM on OpenSUSE? Grab it with the Zypper package manager:

sudo zypper install empathy

Other Linuxes

Empathy is a large program. As a result, building it from source takes a while. Luckily, the Gnome project has a detailed guide that shows exactly how to build their instant messenger software. Head over to this page here and follow it. Once you’ve installed the Empathy client, return to the guide to learn how to install Pidgin plugins in Empathy.

Installing Pidgin Plugins In Empathy

The best part about being able to use Pidgin plugins in Empathy IM is the fact that users don’t need to do anything special while installing. Instead, just follow the normal instructions for installing a Pidgin plugin, and Empathy will find the file and load it.

Note: Pidgin plugins can be found here.

In this example, we’ll go over how to install the RocketChat Pidgin plugin. First, install the correct dependencies required to build the plugin.

Note: in this example, we show the dependencies for Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora. For information on other distributions, refer to the official guide.

Ubuntu/Debian

sudo apt install libpurple-dev libjson-glib-dev libglib2.0-dev mercurial make libmarkdown2-dev

Fedora

sudo dnf install libpurple-devel.x86_64 libmarkdown-devel.x86_64 json-glib-devel.x86_64 glib2.x86_64

Using the hg tool, download the RocketChat plugin source code:

hg clone https://bitbucket.org/EionRobb/purple-rocketchat/

CD into the cloned purple-rocketchat folder on your PC and run the make and make install commands to install the plugin.

cd purple-rocketchat

make 

sudo make install

If the plugin installs successfully, and Telepathy Haze is working, you should be able to see RocketChat inside of “Accounts” in Empathy.

Read How To Use Pidgin Plugins In Empathy Chat On Linux by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How To Save DVDs And Blu-rays To Your Linux PC

Those looking want to digitize a personal collection of Blu-rays and DVDs to access them on Linux, the best option is MakeMKV. It’s a straightforward tool that can save DVDs and Blu-rays. It analyzes optical video disks and allows the user to extract individual video files, audio tracks, and even subtitle files.

Install MakeMKV

Not every Linux distribution has a packaged version of MakeMKV. If you want to use this software, you’ll likely need to build it from source. In this section of the tutorial, we’ll cover the Ubuntu/Debian dependencies. If you use a different operating system that is lesser known, you’ll need to find the dependencies on your own.

Debian/Ubuntu

sudo apt install build-essential pkg-config libc6-dev libssl-dev libexpat1-dev libavcodec-dev libgl1-mesa-dev libqt4-dev zlib1g-dev

Using the mkdir command, create a new build folder for MakeMKV. A folder is important in this case, as there are multiple sources being downloaded.

mkdir ~/makemkv-build

cd ~/makemkv-build

Inside of the build folder, use the wget tool to download the sources for MakeMKV.

wget http://www.makemkv.com/download/makemkv-oss-1.12.2.tar.gz

wget http://www.makemkv.com/download/makemkv-bin-1.12.2.tar.gz

Extract both of the Tar archives into the build folder.

tar -zxvf makemkv-oss-1.12.2.tar.gz

tar -zxvf makemkv-bin-1.12.2.tar.gz

CD into the makemkv-oss folder, and run the configure script.

cd makemkv-oss-1.12.2
./configure

Once the files are completely configured, build makemkv-oss:

make 

sudo make install

Makemkv-oss is built, but the software isn’t installed entirely. Next, move to the makemkv-bin folder.

make

Press END on the keyboard to skip to the bottom of the software license. Press Q to close it.

After closing the software license, write “yes” to confirm it. Install the makemkv-bin part of the software with:

sudo make install

Arch Linux

MakeMKV is in the Arch Linux AUR. Start off the installation process by syncing the latest version of the Git program to your PC with Pacman.

sudo pacman -S git

Next, use the Git tool to clone the latest version of the MakeMKV AUR snapshot.

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/makemkv.git

Lastly, compile and install MakeMKV with makepkg. Keep in mind that this command may fail if any dependencies fail to install. Find all dependencies on the MakeMKV AUR page.

makepkg -si

Fedora

Fedora users can use MakeMKV thanks to the Negativo17 third-party software repository. To install it, you’ll need to add the software repo with DNF.

sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo=https://negativo17.org/repos/fedora-multimedia.repo

Adding the Negatio17 Multimedia repo is the only step to getting MakeMKV on Fedora. Run dnf install to finish the process.

sudo dnf -y install makemkv

OpenSUSE

OpenSUSE is one of the only Linux operating systems that makes it super easy to install the MakeMKV software. To install it, open up a terminal and use it to install the software.

42.3 Leap:

sudo zypper addrepo http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Leap_42.3/ packman

sudo  zypper install makemkv

Tumbleweed:

sudo zypper addrepo http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/ packman

sudo  zypper install makemkv

Save BluRays And DVDs

To save a DVD or Blu-ray for later, put the disk in the drive and open up MakeMKV.  The tool should instantly identify that it’s a video DVD and display the disc type and title. Click on the big icon (it will look like a DVD or Blu-ray) to use the disc as a source.

Choosing to load the disc as a source in MakeMKV will cause the program to scan it for video files, audio files and etc. When the scan is complete, MakeMKV prints out a list of everything it found. Go through the list and uncheck the individual boxes next to items you wish not to save. When you’re satisfied with the selections you’ve made in MakeMKV, click the hard-drive icon with the green arrow on it to save the Blu-ray or DVD to an MKV file.

If the user selects the “save” button, MakeMKV will scan your Linux PC and determine if the default hard drive has enough space. It will refuse to continue if your hard drive is lacking in storage space, so be sure to make room for the file.

The saving process will take a very long time. The speed all depends on the speed of your CPU, and disk drive. Be patient, and soon the DVD/Blu-ray will be digitized.

Playing Video Files

Converting optical video media to a playable video file is tedious, but worth it if you want to be able to take your movies anywhere. To play these video files, you’ll need a good video player. Most Linux distributions come with a decent video app, but it usually doesn’t support as many codecs as people would like.

To get the best out of your newly converted DVDs and Blu-rays, we recommend installing the VLC video player for Linux. VLC is supported on virtually every major Linux operating system. Head over to pkgs.org to download a version of VLC that is compatible with your Linux distribution.

After installing VLC, load up your converted movie files by opening up the file manager and clicking on the “Videos” folder. Inside of “Videos”, find the MKV file you’d like to play, right-click on it, select “Open with” and click VLC.

Read How To Save DVDs And Blu-rays To Your Linux PC by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter