One Week With GNOME 3 Classic: Day Three (Coarse Correction)

(That’s a pun in the title, not a typo)

Home, Home on the Range

Today marked my first work-from-home day since I started this little experiment. Working from home is notable insofar as it means that there is a period of time after login before I have access to my internal work network. This is relevant because I am logged into both internal and external IRC servers at all times during my workday. However, since I’m not on the internal network until I fire up the VPN and perform the dark and secretive rites necessary to authenticate to it, there’s a period of time where access to internal features will be unavailable.

What I discovered this morning is that Empathy will attempt to sign me into all of the configured services immediately upon login. Because there are services that are unreachable, it means that at login time I’m essentially struck in the face by a series of messages about how my services are unreachable or there has been an error, etc. This is somewhat annoying, so I went looking for the Empathy preferences. Oh hey, what do you know. There are two applications that hide their option menus in the application name in the top bar. I probably wouldn’t have thought to check there if not for the situation with Software yesterday, but at least I found it.

Perfect, there’s an option “Automatically connect on startup” and it’s checked “on” by default. I’ll just uncheck that and reboot to test it… Why am I still getting error notifications at startup? Hmm, it appears that Empathy doesn’t actually honor this option. I guess I’ll file a bug on that.

After having spent all of yesterday with Empathy as my IRC client, I had pretty much decided that it wasn’t for me. It had too little opportunity to configure it the way I wanted to and was just missing some of the niceties I had come to expect from Pidgin, like being able to assign aliases to channel names so I could tell apart channels named the same on different IRC servers. Adam Williamson had suggested trying out XChat in a comment on one of the earlier posts in this series, to I took his recommendation and converted my IRC usage over to XChat-GNOME.

The first thing I noticed was that XChat-GNOME was producing a lot of noise that was hard to sift through. A quick query lead to Kashyap Chamarthy teaching me about

/set irc_conf_mode on
/gui apply

This option eliminated most of the noise of the constant join/part messages. I’m still looking for a way to clear out the nick changes, though. Comments welcome below.

I looked into the preferences and found remarkably few knobs to turn. However, when I dug into the preferences file I found several options related to highlighting that improved my situation. I took a look at the regular XChat as opposed to the XChat-GNOME variant and found that it was significantly more configurable, but that since 99% of my needs were being met by XChat-GNOME, I would stick with it for the time being.

I decided to stick with Empathy for my non-IRC connections, since all of those are available on either side of the firewall and I can probably live with those occasionally throwing me an error if I start up without any connection at all (at least until that bug is fixed).

I found XChat-GNOME to be a significant improvement over Empathy for pretty much every aspect of IRC life, so even when the autostart bug is fixed, I will probably stick with XChat-GNOME. So far, I still think Pidgin provided a better all-around experience (and access to all of the protocols in a single application), but since its notifications do not jive with GNOME at this point (and I can’t find any Pidgin plugin that alleviates this for IRC, only for direct messages), as long as I’m functioning in the GNOME environment, I will be forced to settle for other tools. That being said, the combination of XChat-GNOME for IRC and Empathy for Google Talk, AIM, etc. is sufficient for my day-to-day use without any real complaints. (Except for those nick-change notifications. Any tips?)

As a general rule, I disconnect myself from my workstation over the weekend to spend time with my family, so this series will be on hiatus until Monday, where I will hopefully find time to update it with further musings. Thank you once again for reading.


  1. does not honor disabled “Automatically connect on startup”

9 thoughts on “One Week With GNOME 3 Classic: Day Three (Coarse Correction)

  1. You can get IM through xchat if you use an IM proxy; that’s my setup.

    I actually have a box called ‘vmhost’ that runs bip (IRC proxy) and bitlbee (IM->IRC proxy); bip signs into bitlbee and all my normal IRC networks, and my clients sign into bip. It works great. No, of COURSE my vmhost box is not signed into the RH VPN and hence RH IRC all the time and hence my clients can always be on RH IRC even without being on the VPN. I’m sure that would be against all kinds of IS policies. koff, koff.

    I still use xchat-gnome out of force of habit more than anything, but I think it’s been quite dormant lately and doesn’t really have much better GNOME integration than plain xchat these days. A couple of people have suggested hexchat to me also (it seems to be a fork of xchat). But xchat-gnome does the job for me. I actually leave all the join/parts and nick changes on; xchat uses different icons for ‘there have been join/parts in this channel since you last looked at it’ and ‘there have been actual messages in this channel since you last looked at it’, so I don’t really find that a problem, but everyone’s workflow is different…

    1. Putting my “former XChat comaintainer in Fedora” hat on, as far as I know, the main reason for xchat-gnome to exist has always been to remove configuration options.

      I’d also suggest Hexchat to people looking for a GTK+-based IRC client. (I personally use Konversation now, but that’s the KDE one.) Upstream XChat is more or less dead these days, and xchat-gnome just removes options and brings nothing otherwise.

    1. I also suggest hexchat. I used the standard XChat for a long time but hexchat is a maintained fork with some improvements.

  2. The unexpected behaviour you’re seeing with Empathy is because GNOME Shell itself also uses Telepathy. I don’t know where it lives in Classic Mode, but the top-right menu in Shell lets you set yourself offline.

    I have an extension to disable groups of chat accounts which I use for basically the same reason you do:

    This is academic if you’ve given up on Empathy; just FYI 🙂

  3. Wait, it’s really that hard to hide nick changes and join/parts? Have you tried Quassel? With it, all it takes is a quick right-click on an open channel window and the option “Hide Events” appears, and you can choose whether or not to hide Joins, Parts, Quits, Nick Changes, Mode Changes, Topic Changes and Day Changes, alongside the option to Set As Default the current choices.

    Admittedly, it’s Qt-based as the name implies, and although I use many GTK apps and they integrate fairly seamlessly in KDE these days, I’ll admit I’m not sure how seamlessly GNOME 3 integrates Qt apps. But Quassel might be worth a gander while you’re in your period of transition and experimentation.

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