Centericq Review

key review info
application features
  • ICQ, Yahoo!, AIM, IRC, MSN, Gadu-Gadu and Jabber are supported
  • (4 more, see all...)

Instant messengers are everywhere: on cell phones, video game machines and, of course, computers. Most people have several phone numbers (home, work, cell, VoIP) and some also have several screen names on several IM clients. There are a number of them out there Yahoo, MSN, ICQ etc each comes with its own ad-coated, spyware-plated and resource-hungry client.

To stay connected, someone might have as many as 4-5 IM programs running, filling-up the screen and eating lots of resources. Things get even worse when someone is stuck using an old computer unable to run a graphical interface or a job that demands remote administration using only console commands. This is what Centericq has been made for.

Centericq is a multi-protocol instant messaging client built using the ncurses console library. Supporting the ICQ, Yahoo!, AIM, IRC, MSN, Gadu-Gadu, Jabber and Zephyr networks, Centericq can be very useful when you'd rather not use Gaim or Kopete.

Unlike other solutions, Centericq provides a window-based interface that provides a lot of information. The screen is split into three sections, a list of connections on the left, including open private conversations and public IRC channels, the main conversation and information window on the right part of the screen and a small command/control panel at the bottom.

Another thing that makes Centericq a great application is the support for color schemes (themes), not to mention that the configuration is being made with menus and dialogs. It's also highly scriptable so it's perfect if you want to add more functionality to it, like message forwarding or auto reply. The UI messages are translated into 15 languages and the program supports displaying Hebrew and Arabic texts.

Users can log in to multiple IM networks simultaneously. This means you can be chatting with friends on Yahoo!, talking to a friend in MSN and sitting in an IRC channel all at the same time! From the text mode console!

Centericq supports many features of the various networks, such as file transfers, custom away messages, conferencing, buddy typing notifications and proxy support. It goes beyond that and provides many unique features like checking local inbox for new mail, script for migrating contact list and history from licq, gnomeicu and micq and an integrated RSS-feeds reader.

You can arrange your contacts into groups and sort them by name, status or protocol. If you want to save the conversations, you can do so, and for each contact name a separate directory will be created, containing all discussions. You can have timestamps as well, if you want and can configure Centericq to set you away after a period of inactivity.

Of course, not everything is milk and honey about Centericq. For example, for Yahoo! Protocol it doesn't support showing IDs as they were saved in the address book; it only shows the id itself. File transfer protocol has been implemented, but does it really work?

I, for one, couldn't successfully complete at least one transfer. Its own ignore, visible and invisible user lists are pretty useless and will remain so as long as the Yahoo network lists won't be used. Another thing I find pretty useless is the auto set away after x minutes. In fact, it sets you as away if you don't use Centericq for that period of time, not the PC itself. Also, it doesn't have support for webcam. But can you blame it? It's still a text console based client. Maybe something ASCII-based will be implemented in the future.

Centericq builds and runs under Linux, *BSD, Sun Solaris, Windows and Mac OS X/Darwin.

The Good

It runs just fine on low-end machines that cannot run a graphical user interface, because it's a text-mode based IM. Also it supports the most important chat protocols.

The Bad

Unfortunately, there is no compatibility support for Yahoo! Address Book. Moreover, it has a file transfer engine but it's hard to say if it's really compatible with past/future versions of IM network clients.

The truth

It's extremely useful if you use the Linux console in a day by day activity or if you work on a low-end computer. It supports the most important chat protocols. Yes, it's not the perfect IM client but it does the job. And it does it quite well.

Check out some screenshots below:

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user interface 2
features 3
ease of use 3
pricing / value 5

final rating 3
Editor's review