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

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Stable: 3.6
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Replace libgcrypt-configure with pkg-config
- matt
Adjust sha1_random_uuid usage in jabber/conference.c
- Petr Vaněk
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- Robert Scheck

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 XMPP/facebook/discord/whatever client.

BitlBee currently supports XMPP/Jabber and the Twitter microblogging network (and GNU social) out of the box. There are plugins for facebook, discord, steam, mastodon, 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 3.6

2019-02-07 19:52 UTC

BitlBee 3.6 is available for download now. This time with 85 commits from 19 contributors (Full changelog). Highlights:

  • Removed msn, skype, oscar (icq/aim). For msn/skype use skypeweb, for ICQ use icyque. AIM is just dead.
  • Fix twitter (disable stream setting, set tweet length to 280)
  • Add server-time IRCv3 capability
  • Large performance improvements for large contact lists

See the full changelog for details!

This release ships with only two non-purple protocol plugins built-in, jabber and twitter. There's a nice list of plugins in the wiki, including a few that don't require purple, like facebook, discord and mastodon

Note that users of 3.5.1 and older can re-enable twitter support by changing these two settings:

account twitter set stream off
account twitter set message_length 280

BitlBee 3.5.1

2017-01-30 17:58 UTC

BitlBee 3.5.1 is available for download now. This is a security/bugfix-only release:

  • purple: Fix crash on file transfer requests from unknown contacts. This was the result of an incomplete fix in the previous release and may result in remote DoS. Read the full security advisory (CVE pending)
  • After some investigation we decided to reclassify a crash fix from the previous release as a security issue. Read the full security advisory (CVE pending)
  • Included help.txt in the release tarball, which was missing in the previous release and resulted in adding python as a build dependency. The release tarball of 3.5.1 does not require python.

Purple users, or all users of versions older than 3.5, are strongly recommended to upgrade to this release or apply the patches in the linked tickets

BitlBee 3.5

2017-01-08 23:35 UTC

BitlBee 3.5 is available for download now. This time with 124 commits from 11 contributors (Full changelog). Highlights:

  • "chat list" command: shows a list of existing server-side chatrooms. With some protocols, this is often the only way to add new channels.
  • jabber: "always_use_nicks" channel setting, for non-anonymous MUCs.
  • twitter: Hide muted tweets / no-retweets, add mute/unmute commands. Show full version of extended tweets (with slightly more than 140 chars)
  • purple: Various fixes which help with SIPE, LINE, hangouts and telegram.
  • Features for enterprise deployments: Lockable user configs. PAM and LDAP auth backends (not compiled by default)

See the full changelog for details!

Yahoo has been removed because they killed their old protocol on a two month notice. Use EionRobb's funyahoo purple plugin, or better yet, don't use yahoo.

The addition of "chat list" in this release means that some plugins will be adapted to use it. Specifically:

  • bitlbee-discord will merge its 'listchan' branch requiring 'chat list'/'chat add' to add channels, instead of autojoining everything
  • bitlbee-facebook will drop the 'fbchats' and 'fbjoin' commands

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.

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