During the last few days I’ve been trying out Sim. Sim is yet another open source Instant Messaging (IM) client that supports a variety of protocols (ICQ, Jabber, AIM, and MSN). I am currently interested only in ICQ though.
I switched from centericq to Licq because I wanted to have annoying notifications on new messages while in graphical mode. Otherwise I was constantly forgetting that centericq was running in one my konsoles and it stayed there abandoned for weeks.
Licq is almost perfect for my needs. And I wasn’t looking forward to jumping of off it. It’s just that a few people suggested that Sim is a better client in general, and that is solves a few of those issues that I have with Licq.
The biggest issue I has to do with language encodings. I use English and Russian for my communications and more often than I want to Licq confuses Russian encodings. It also requires a restart for changed options in this area to take effect. And there is no easy way to fix the broken history.
Another issue that I had with Licq was some strange bug under KDE. I described it on the #licq channel to developers but they weren’t able to reproduce it. The thing is that I can only open the main window of Licq on the desktop that I had started it. If I attempt to open it (from dock icon) on any other desktop it would lose the grip of reality and will never ever open again. I’d have to close Licq completely and restart it.
My third issue is a really minor one, but it’s nice to see it improved in Sim non-the-less. I’m talking about the annoying notifications now. I need them, but I also need some flexibility in control the annoyance level. Licq could really improve in this area.
So, after several people suggested Sim, I decided to try it and I actually like it a lot.
Sim behaves much better with Russian encodings. Even those people who could never read my Russian messages because of some wierd IM clients that they used can do so now. It is very pleasant to see that I can convert the encoding of incoming messages on the fly. No need to restart the application anymore or play around with
iconv. And that’s not surprising because current Sim maintainer is a Russian programmer – Vladimir Shutoff.
Sim’s main window behaves correctly in KDE. It also has this really nice feature – it disappears automatically. That is I configured the time out of 2 seconds after which the main window is closed and all I have are my chat windows and an icon in the dock bar.
Notifications are also much more flexible. One feature I like particularly is the OSD, which stands for On-Screen Display (rather stupid if you ask me). This means that notifications appear as transparent messages over currently seen windows. No window frames, no titles, no buttons, and things like that. It just tells you that “Message from ABC”. You can click on the message and it will open the window with the message. Or you can even configure it in such a way that it will show the message itself instead of the notification. It is possible to select for which type of events the notifications are shown – status changes, messages, authentification requests, etc. Now, finally, I can know exactly what happens in my ICQ world without breaking the consentration from what I am doing.
But there’s more. Not only Sim takes care of my current issues with Licq, it offers some nice bits that I never new I wanted. Those are things which are not vital, but nice to have.
Window size is one. Usually, the size of my chat window depends on my current load. If I am working or busy with other things, I have difficulties keeping the whole conversation in my head. Thus the chat window grows to show more history. When I am relaxed and have a quick talk with someone, the chat window gets smaller, since I can keep up without all the history on my screen. The nice feature that Sim has is that when I resize my first chat window, the second chat window that I open has exactly the same size as the first window. I was surprised to learn how much time it actually saves. It turns out I was spending a lot of time resizing my chat windows without even noticing it.
Another nice thingy is that small icon in the top left corner of the main window. It toggles the display of the offline contacts. Often needed feature that hides in the main menu of Licq is implemented better in Sim. Click on the icon and all contacts are displayed. Click again and you can see only those who are online. Magic.
Overall, Sim looks like a better alternative for my needs and I guess that’s what I’ll be using in the near future. The only problem that I have with it is that RPMs are not part of Fedora Linux distribution of Fedora Extras repository. Neither they are in the Dag RPMs, FreshRPMs or any other repository that I know of. I had to grab my package from the download section of the official Sim website. The package they offer was compiled for Fedora Linux 1 and although it works nicely on my Fedora Linux 4 box, I’d appreciate a fresher build.