Installing BitlBee on the BeagleBone
BitlBee is an IRC to-other-chat-networks gateway . This means that if you use an existing
chat program, such as Google Talk, Jabber, Twitter, AIM, or Facebook, you can use
BitlBee to chat over those protocols via IRC. The first question when a non-IRC user hears
about BitlBee is, why would you want to do this? while IRC users respond with excitement.
The major benefit is that by using IRC, you can effectively chat with buddies over Google
Talk using the same client software as you use to chat on IRC. This reduces the number of
programs you have to learn. While this may not seem impressive at first, consider that each
program typically has its own keyboard shortcuts and distinct interface. Also, each vendor
frequently changes the appearance of their application, requiring you to re-learn how to use
the tool. On the other hand, IRC clients are fairly simple in their user interface and IRC in-
teractions are fairly standardized.
The other reason BitlBee is useful is that it acts as a proxy server for your chat networks.
Your chat network presence is persistent but you can attach and detach your client at will.
When you re-attach, you can catch-up on missed instant messages. This will prevent re-
ceiving a message on one client, like your phone, but missing it because you then logged
into the chat network with your computer. Additionally, BitlBee supports OTR so we can
use BitlBee to manage our OTR protected conversations.
BitlBee and the OTR plugin are available through the Debian repositories, so installing is
as easy as:
sudo apt-get install bitlbee bitlbee-plugin-otr
The installation procedure will automatically start the BitlBee daemon running on port
6667, which is the default IRC port. At this point, you can connect with your favorite IRC
client to your BitlBee server. This is one of the advantages of running BitlBee on your local
network from a BBB, it's always on and available from any other internal computer or
smartphone. Since BitlBee is marshalling your accounts, it won't appear as if you are com-
ing online and offline.
In this chapter, the IRC client we will use will be ERC, which is the Emacs IRC client.
ERC is a client that runs inside an Emacs instance and has several advantages over tradi-
tional IRC clients. First and most important, if you are already using Emacs, you can be
more efficient if you can use Emacs for other tasks. Not only do you save the cognitive
friction from task switching, but the layout and keyboard commands are already known to
you. Also, ERC, like Emacs, is extremely modular and flexible. It is, of course, a free soft-