BitlBee, The only buzzword your manager doesn't know about

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Stable: 3.4.2
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Fix some compiler warnings
- dequis
Include debug symbols in non-debug builds, disable stripping by default
- dequis
purple: Use roomlist_room_serialize, fixes joining jabber chats
- dequis

What is BitlBee?

BitlBee brings IM (instant messaging) to IRC clients. It's a great solution for people who have an IRC client running all the time and don't want to run an additional MSN/AIM/whatever client.

BitlBee currently supports the following IM networks/protocols: XMPP/Jabber (including Google Talk and Hipchat), MSN/Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM and ICQ, the Twitter microblogging network (plus all other Twitter API compatible services like

There are also plugins for facebook and steam, and you can use libpurple to get even more protocols. See the wiki for a full list.

How to use it?

Just install the program and connect to the BitlBee server with your favourite IRC-client. You will be force-joined into the control channel where root (the bot, your assistant, the bee) will try to help you to get the program working.

As soon as you get your accounts working, you can add users to your contact list and talk to them, just like you normally do on IRC. Open a query, talk to the person in the channel, or even talk to them in groupchats that will look to you like just another IRC channel.

If you don't want to (or can't) install BitlBee on your own machine you can also use one of the public servers. If you use Windows, this is the preferred option, unless you use cygwin.

BitlBee 3.4.2

2016-03-19 23:27 UTC

BitlBee 3.4.2 is available for download now. This time with 128 commits from 10 contributors. Full changelog. Highlights:

  • irc: Self-messages (messages sent by yourself from other IM clients). IRCv3.1 support and part of 3.2. Many important groupchat related bugfixes.
  • jabber: Carbons, see help set carbons. Removed facebook XMPP, use bitlbee-facebook instead. SASL ANONYMOUS login, see help set anonymous.
  • hipchat: Channels can now be added with chat add hipchat "channel name" which tries to guess the channel JID. Read more
  • skype: Show all messages as groupchats since we can't tell which ones are private. This plugin is mostly-deprecated and mostly-broken, use the skypeweb purple plugin or msn instead.
  • purple: Fix problems remembering SSL certificates as trusted. Groupchat related fixes. Better error reporting. Fixed setting jabber away states.
  • And lots of bugfixes / stability improvements.

See the full changelog for details!

As stated above, Facebook's XMPP has ceased to be, throwing auth errors for (almost?) everyone. Use bitlbee-facebook, which, btw, improved significantly after jgeboski's partipation in the pidgin GSoC.

MSN and gtalk are still fine, you just have to appreciate the beauty of things that are imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.

BitlBee 3.4.1

2015-06-16 22:53 UTC

BitlBee 3.4.1 is available for download now. This time with 86 commits from 6 contributors. Full changelog. Highlights:

  • Upgraded MSN protocol to MSNP21, works again.
  • Added hipchat protocol, for smoother login. Read more
  • Gmail mail notifications support
  • Twitter: Support for quoted tweets (shows them inline).
    Added url command, can be used to quote tweets
  • Building documentation is now done with a python script (both 2.x/3.x work). Asciidoc/xsltproc/xmlto are no longer build dependencies
  • And more!

Update about dying protocols:

  • Facebook: OAuth login doesn't work anymore, password login still works, sometimes. There is now a wiki page about bitlbee-facebook, the replacement to XMPP
  • MSN: Undead. May ask you for brains. Update to this release and use it.
  • Google talk: Same as before. Not dying.

Update: Forgot to mention: user-guide.{txt,html} are not included in the default build anymore, as part of the documentation changes. They were a 'flattened' version of the built-in help, and very few users were aware of their existence, so they are gone.

The html version is now available here. Note that some parts (such as the installation section) are very outdated. This will be fixed soon™.

BitlBee 3.4

2015-03-17 13:37 UTC

BitlBee 3.4 is available for download now. It's a big release, with 123 commits from 11 contributors. Full changelog. Highlights:

  • Twitter Filter channels - Search by keyword/hashtag or a list of users. See the wiki page for more details!
  • Twitter: Add rawreply command, like reply but bitlbee won't add @mention. Also add favorite / fav command aliases.
  • Twitter: Avoid showing duplicate tweets on reconnect
  • Jabber: Fixed crashes with file transfers (they still fail at bypassing NATs, but at least they fail without crashing)
  • Purple: Improved support for gadugadu, whatsapp and telegram.
  • Add a 'pattern' parameter to the blist command, to filter it.
  • The utf8_nicks setting should be more reliable now.
  • And many more!

Important: Recompiling third party plugins such as bitlbee-steam or bitlbee-facebook is required after you install this new version!

And on that topic, a brief note about dying protocols:

  • Facebook: May die on 2015-04-30. jgeboski made bitlbee-facebook in response to this. It connects through MQTT, and also supports group chats. It's not 100% stable yet, but it's usable.
  • Google talk: Not dying. It mostly works, just no groupchats. Consider using hangups if you need those.
  • MSN: Dead in this release. Two years after they announced it would shut down, microsoft actually retired MSNP18. See also There's a work in progress branch (soon to be merged into develop) that fixes it by using MSNP21 instead.

Also, the main development repository moved to github, because all the cool kids use git now. (well, actually because dx took over as a core developer)

  • The BZR repo is still getting synced for convenience purposes
  • The nightly APT repo still works
  • The bug tracker and wiki will not be migrated to github
  • However, pull requests are preferred to patches

BitlBee 3.2.2

2014-07-05 21:53 UTC

BitlBee 3.2.2 is available for download now. If you want to know what's new, just read the changelog. tl;dr: If you care about OTR, you do want this version.

From now on, new versions will only be announced via the Twitter account, because really these news posts were just a third rehashing of the changelog. dx edit: disregard that, writing announcements is fun.

BitlBee 3.2.1 fixes Twitter issues

2013-11-28 00:15 UTC

BitlBee 3.2.1 was just released, which should fix compatibility issues with Twitter introduced by HTTP/1.0 deprecation.

If you're using or you shouldn't have to do anything, they're already updated.

Facebook chat disabled for no clear reason

2013-01-19 14:34 UTC

If you're having troubles using Facebook chat with BitlBee, that's a known issue. Facebook have revoked BitlBee's API keys last night without giving any reason. All I received is two mysterious e-mails. Also, my Facebook account was disabled. But that might have been for different reasons since I don't remember the last time I used it. TBH I'm impressed I recognised enough pictures of my contacts to be able to restore it. :>

To make matters worse, in their communication to users connected to their chat from BitlBee, they say "You can contact the app admin for more information". I can assure you, I know as much as you do.

I've heard rumours that a whole bunch of chat apps were disabled, not just BitlBee. No clue what's going on, but in the meantime you can switch back to password-based authentication.

No clue whether it will come back. I've clicked the Appeal button so let's find out whether anyone reads what ends up there other than character device 1:3. We'll see, I'm not going to waste too much effort on it myself.

Update: As always, pay attention to the date on posts like this. This problem got resolved within a day or so IIRC.

BitlBee 3.2

2013-01-06 23:49 UTC

Now available: BitlBee 3.2. Get it while it's hot! It adds support for Twitter API version 1.1, which will be required from March this year. But even without that it's a huge improvement over previous versions, with support for the streaming API and direct messages.

BitlBee 3.0.6

2012-10-14 20:46 UTC

BitlBee 3.0.6 is available for download now. If you want to know what's new, just read the changelog.

(Yes, this post is a copy-paste of the one for the last release. :-)

BitlBee 3.0.5

2012-02-18 11:16 UTC

BitlBee 3.0.5 is available for download now. If you want to know what's new, just read the changelog.

Twitter problems?

2012-01-11 01:09 UTC

If you have problems keeping your Twitter connection open, this is a known issue caused by bad behaviour on Twitter's end. In some cases this may also cause crashes due to faulty error handling in BitlBee.

A fix to work around this annoying behaviour was committed to bzr and is live on the two main public servers for a while now. Also, the nightly builds have the fix.

If the problems with Twitter persist, a 3.0.5 release may come soon.

BitlBee 3.0.4

2011-12-04 19:44 UTC

It took a while, but BitlBee 3.0.4 is finally ready. Get it while it's hot, if you aren't already running bzr snapshots anyway. :-)

BitlBee 3.0.3

2011-06-12 12:26 UTC

BitlBee 3.0.3 is ready. Rushed out a bit because Twitter broke for many of us. This release should fix it, by using the "new" and preferred way to download your contact list.

For now, you should also be able to use the following work-around to make older versions work: account twitter set base_url This workaround isn't perfect though. Please upgrade, if you can.

3.0.3 has some other nice changes. If you want to know it all, just read the changelog.

BitlBee 3.0.2

2011-03-08 07:06 UTC

Keeping it short again: BitlBee 3.0.2 is ready! Mostly bug fixes, and a few new toys.

BitlBee 3.0.1

2010-11-24 22:55 UTC

BitlBee 3.0.1 is ready! Mostly bug fixes, not a lot of new stuff.

ICQ issues

2010-11-15 23:17 UTC

As you may or may not know, AOL sold ICQ a little while ago. The new owner, DST, is moving the service to their own servers around now. The result is that you (or at least some people) can no longer log into ICQ via the AOL servers.

BitlBee currently defaults to using for all OSCAR accounts, both AIM and ICQ. This is fixed in bzr. You don't have to upgrade to get ICQ to work again, just tell BitlBee to use again. You can do this using a command like this:

acc icq set server

See help account set for details; if you don't run BitlBee 3.0 yet, or if you have multiple ICQ accounts, this may not work.

BitlBee 3.0, more Bitl than ever.

2010-10-22 01:05 UTC

BitlBee release comic - My apologies to the visually impaired guys who probably can't read this. :-(

Finally, the next major release is there! Almost five years after the last major release, it was about time. Who would've thought that this one would take even longer than going from 0.7 to 1.0 (which "only" took three years)?

There are so many changes in this version, including some very old major requests like a complete core rewrite, OTR encryption, a significant upgrade of the MSN protocol module, optional support for libpurple, file transfers.. The last one used to be the "Duke Nukem Forever" in the BitlBee community. Looks like we won!

This all seems enough to bump the major version number. Since, looking at the timing of previous versions, it's waaaay late to release a BitlBee 2 at this point, let's go for 3.0 immediately. :-)

This release doesn't come with the traditional "release speech" (see the speech that came with 1.2), but with a comic as you can see on your right. Many thanks to Randall Munroe for drawing it!

For the curious, there's also a short screencast that demonstrates some of the new features. If you haven't tried the multi-channel stuff yet, do take a look!

Anyway, go and download the thing. Many people were running this stuff from Bazaar already, so join the club. :-) Have fun, and thanks everyone for your continued support! (And in all modesty, let me remind you guys that we're also on Flattr. :-)

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