Finch is a console-based implementation of the popular chat application Pigdin. Finch is super useful when you need a chat application but only have a terminal interface.

A Finch package is available from the Ubuntu repository with sudo apt-get install finch but sometimes you need to compile from source.

I needed to modify the way Finch displays the Away contacts in the Contact List. The character corrupts the fixed column width with Times New Roman in browser-based terminals like shellinabox. I simply changed the unicode character to a . at pidgin-2.6.10/finch/gntblist.c:937 to:

strncpy(status, ascii ? "." : ".", sizeof(status) - 1);  

But you probably just want to compile vanilla source. This is what worked for me. (Optional) Uninstall any installed versions of Finch:

sudo apt-get remove finch

First, start off by downloading the source tarball from here. Then un-tar:

tar zxvf pidgin-*.tar.gz
cd pidgin*

Next, you will need some dependencies:

sudo apt-get install intltool libglib2.0-dev libxml2-dev gettext libncurses5-dev libgnutls-dev libidn11-dev libdbus-1-dev libdbus-glib-1-dev

Now let’s configure it. We --disable-gtui because we only want to build Finch. We also disable things like sound support, video support, scripting support and Sametime protocol support. I didn’t need it. Your mileage may vary.

./configure --disable-gtkui --disable-gstreamer --disable-vv --disable-meanwhile --disable-avahi --disable-nm --disable-perl --disable-tcl

If your configure fails, you are probably missing a development library. Search for it with apt-cache search <term> and install it with apt-get install. Now grab a cup of coffee while we build:

sudo make install  

This will install Finch to /usr/local/bin. You may need to add this to your PATH if it’s not already there:

export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/bin  


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