Using Facebook XMPP chat on Ubuntu

The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. Hi everyone, my name is Alan and I do have a Facebook account. There, done it. Feels better already.
I don’t use it that much, and frankly I find it a little disturbing the way it mixes up all your friends, family and work contacts so they all talk to each other. But this isn’t a post about my insecurities and paranoid delusions. No, it is a post about Ubuntu and XMPP. Facebook now does XMPP, which is an instant messaging protocol also known as Jabber. It is the same thing Google talk uses and the same thing that the most awesome OLPC XO uses for communication.

  • First up you need to set a facebook username up. Log on to facebook and go to your account settings page. Set your username if you haven’t already. I chose alanbelltolc, to match my twitter and names. Now I think you have to log out of facebook and back in – this might not be appears to be a necessary step.
  • Now run Empathy, Applications-Internet-Empathy Instant Messenger.
  • Press F4 or go to Edit-Accounts in the Empathy menu.
  • Press the Add button and choose Jabber from the dropdown list of account types.
  • Press the Create button.
  • Your login ID is – we think it prefers all lower case
  • Your password is your facebook password
  • Now make sure the account is enabled (checkbox next to the account name on the left)
  • It may ask you if you want to let it save your password in the gnome keyring at this point.
  • Make yourself available and the names and pictures of both of your friends should appear!

The account setting dialog as you go through the setup:

You can chat with your friends

You even get lovely libnotify popups like this one >>

If you want to try it out on someone please feel free to find me on Facebook and . . . um what is the verb? XMPP me? Jab me? Next up I will have to take Debian off my OLPC, put Sugar back on and try and get Sugar to use Facebook as a back end.

Another EIF 2 response from an MEP

I was very pleased yesterday to get another response to add to my collection in relation to my letter to my MEPs about the European Interoperability Framework. Now if you missed the fuss in the first place the interoperability framework is a document outlining an EU approach to software that avoids being locked in to particular suppliers, promotes free choice of member states, and protects tax payers from being ripped off by predatory monopolistic practices. Good stuff in other words. It had a few rough edges so EIF 2 was proposed. A draft was written, and public comments from interested parties were submitted. Microsoft and the BSA (which has been accused of being a Microsoft sock puppet at times) were perhaps the most critical, but their comments were generally welcoming and constructive, the BSA in particular pointed to some areas where the proposed EIF2 went impractically far on issues relating to patents. I was, in short, totally fine with these public comments. Some time later a second draft was leaked and this did cause concern. It was nothing like the first draft and after careful reading of every submitted comment I could not see how you could start at the first draft, and by implementing the public comments arrive anywhere near the second. The original letter has a few more details of specific problems, but here is what my Conservative MEP has to say on the matter. (Responses from Conservative, Green and Lib-Dem so far)

Dear Mr Bell,

Thank you for your letter.

I was both concerned and delighted to read your comments. Concerned as to
the matter you highlight, yet delighted to see someone taking such an active
role scrutinising legislation; it is to your credit that you take such an
undertaking upon yourself.

With regard to the’ European Interoperability Framework version 2′ it is my
understanding that although it remains in the drafting stage (the current
version of the draft and more information are available from it will be submitted to the
European Parliament and Council soon. When it is presented to the
parliament I will do my best to raise the issues you highlight with the
relevant members and ensure that the specific points you raise are
appropriately addressed.

However, as you are no doubt aware that most of this process is highly
secretive. It is sadly endemic of the EU legislative procedure that it is
formulated and discussed behind closed doors, with deals and compromises
made in circumstances that are often totally unaccountable. You can rest
assured that I share your frustrations with this and will do all I can over
the course of my time as an MEP (as I have until now) to change this.

I am happy to tell you that we are making progress. For the first time
there is an opposition to the existing way of doing business in Brussels.
My Conservative colleagues and our allies in the European Conservative and
Reformist Grouping are doing all we can make the EU accountable and to
expose the process to the full light of public scrutiny. Free to ask the
awkward questions we are fighting to ensure that when laws are passed they
represent the best possible, rather than the just the least bad choice.

I will of course keep you up to date with any and all developments. In the
meantime if I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to
contact me.

Best Regards,

Nirj Deva MEP

If you are wondering who Nirj Deva is then take a look at this:

OLPC at BETT Olympia

Today was our first day at BETT – education’s largest international conference on technology in education.

We were very fortunate to have been loaned 3 OLPC XO laptops by Tomi Davies (OLPC’s CEO for Nigeria) to demonstrate the platform’s Open Source Software and the incredible computer that runs it which was designed from the ground-up specifically for children in developing countries.

The response has been absolutely amazing! We have been completely inundated all day, every one wanted to touch it, see it and BUY IT! The PC was featured on the BBC news this morning and is discussed at some length in various pages on their website. Here’s a link to today’s article.

Our hosts at BETT – Open Forum Europe – kindly provided us (The Open Learning Centre) the stand space (come to stand SW105 if you are there) to assist them in spreading the word about the use, availability and power of Open Source for education and community development.

BETT 2008Here’s a quick photo of us with three OLPC XOs, [left to right] Alan Lord (me), Tomi Davies, Margaret Udo (Nigerian Teacher) and my partner at The Open Learning Centre Alan Bell.

Once I get my breath back we’ll do a more in-depth review.

Press Release here: