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CenterIM documentation.

This document was originally written by Konstantin Klyagin .

Currently modified by the CenterIM community. 2007, version 1.0


1. Introduction
    1.1. Creation history
    1.2. Features overview
    1.3. Requirements
    1.4. First time start
2. IM accounts registration
    2.1. ICQ accounts
    2.2. Yahoo! accounts
    2.3. AIM accounts
    2.4. IRC accounts
	2.4.1. IRC channels
    2.5. Jabber accounts
	2.5.1. Jabber groupchat conferences
    2.6. LiveJournal
    2.7. Gadu-gadu
    2.8. MSN
    2.9. Updating details
3. User interface
    3.1. The ESC key
    3.2. The main screen
    3.3. Menus
    3.4. Dialogs
    3.5. Hotkeys in dialogs
    3.6. Some UI tips
4. Configuration
    4.1. Migrating from other ICQ software
    4.2. Event sounds
    4.3. Color schemes
    4.4. Key bindings
    4.5. URL open action (web browser support)
    4.6. Hostnames and port numbers (for crazy firewall admins)
	4.6.1. ICQ
	4.6.2. Yahoo!
	4.6.3. AIM TOC
	4.6.4. IRC
	4.6.5. Jabber
	4.6.6. LiveJournal
	4.6.7. Gadu-gadu
	4.6.8. MSN
    4.7. Binding to various IP addresses
5. Online status
    5.1. "Auto Away" and "Auto N/A"
6. Contact list
    6.1. Finding and adding users
	6.1.1. Some useful hints
	6.1.2. ICQ search specific modes
    6.2. Removing users
    6.3. Users' details
    6.4. Groups of contacts
7. Sending and receiving events
    7.1. Messages
    7.2. URLs
    7.3. SMSes
    7.4. Contacts
    7.5. Files
    7.6. E-mail express messages
    7.7. WebPager messages
    7.8. Away messages
    7.9. Events history
8. Ignore, visible and invisible lists
    8.1. Ignore list
    8.2. Visible list
    8.3. Invisible list
9. Advanced features
    9.1. Arabic and Hebrew languages support
    9.2. Command line facilities
	9.2.1. Sending events
	9.2.2. Changing current IM status
    9.3. External actions and auto-responses
	9.3.1. IM answering machine
	9.3.2. Elizatalk: making fun with your friends
	9.3.3. Remote control with external actions
	9.3.4. Forwarding events
	9.3.5. Hiding from scary ones
	9.3.6. "Manual" external actions
    9.4. Internal RSS reader
    9.5. Protocol debug mode
    9.6. "Friendly" logging
    9.7. Custom base directories
    9.8. Latest CVS snapshots
10. Lynx
    10.1. The program homepage
	10.1.1. CenterIM mailing list
	10.1.2. German fan-club of the program :-)
    10.2. IM protocols
11. Help to the project I would appreciate
    11.1. Feedback
    11.2. Patches

1. Introduction

  CenterIM is a text mode menu- and window-driven IM interface. ICQ,
Yahoo!, AIM TOC, IRC, MSN, Gadu-Gadu and Jabber protocols are currently
supported. It allows you to send, receive, and forward messages, URLs,
SMSes and, contacts, mass message send, search for users (including extended
"whitepages search"), view users' details, maintain your contact list
directly from the program (including non-icq contacts), view the
messages history, register a new UIN and update your details, be
informed on receiving email messages, automatically set away after the
defined period of inactivity (on any console), and have your own ignore,
visible and invisible lists. It can also associate events with sounds,
has support for Hebrew and Arabic languages and allows to arrange
contacts into groups. There is also an internal RSS reader and even a
LiveJournal client!

  CenterIM is known to build and work well under Linux, FreeBSD,
OpenBSD, NetBSD, Sun Solaris, MacOS X/Darwin and Microsoft
Windows (built with cygwin).

1.1. Creation history

  This program was written because of a very simple cause. I just
couldn't find any console based ICQ clients with really useful user
interface. When I started it I had quite a slow computer at home. Having
X window running on it took incredibly a lot of resources making whole
the system really slow. I didn't like an idea of launching it just to be
on ICQ, but there were several good programs only for X. For console
they had only mICQ and zicq. The former was ok, but its interface made
me cry. I know, it's of quite a UNIX style, and I don't have anything
against command line, but typing nicks and uins all the time was
terrible. The second thing, zicq, was an attempt to implement menus
and windows for ICQ in text-mode, but its author couldn't go further
than just splitting the screen into two windows, one with contact list
and another with usual mICQ output :) Actually it was all based on mICQ
code. I don't wanna say mICQ was bad, for it was the first ICQ client
for Linux, and its author made a great job exploring and sniffing the

  After looking at freshmeat and some "ICQ for linux" pages the hope to
find something worth was finally lost. I decided to put some effort into
making a program which would be really useful for me. It took me about
two weeks to write and then 1 week to test before releasing the first

  Since that time the software suffered a lot of changes, including
rewrite resulted into the version 3.0.0, and then adding more IM protocols
since 4.1.0. Now I'm continuing to develop it, going the standard way of
adding new features and fixing bugs. And feedback from users helps me a
lot in it.

1.2. Features overview

  CenterIM's ICQ module has almost all the functionality including
extended issues that Mirabilis client has. Speaking of other protocols,
it has quite full support for features of Yahoo!, AIM, IRC and

  Beside simple things like sending and receiving messages, changing
online status and basic user information, CenterIM advanced features
such as "White pages" and keyword search, an ability to update almost
all the fields in user's details, send URLs and SMSes, etc. I hope you
enjoy it a lot :)

1.3. Requirements

In order to build the software the following libraries are required:

ncurses (at least 4.2 version)
    A CRT screen handling and optimization package.

    The secure communications library. Optional, but you will require
    if you want SSL support for Jabber. Previous versions of the library
    called SSLeay will work with CenterIM too.

    The secure communications library. Optional. An alternative to
    OpenSSL distributed under the GNU Public License.

    This is for PGP support in Jabber. Optional also.

Please note that in order to compile CenterIM from source on Redhat
based systems you should have *-devel RPM packages of the above
mentioned libraries installed.

For more information on the software requirements, take a look at:

It's possible to disable support of various protocols during the build
phase. Just take a look at the --disable-xxx parameters for configure.
You can invoke the scripts command line help with the following command:

$ ./configure --help

1.4. First time start

  Upon the first execution, the program shows its configuration screen
and then gets to the next stage, the account manager dialog. All the
configuration dialog items are self-descriptive, so there must be no
problems to customize your CenterIM. As soon as you're finished with
it, using the right allow key, move cursor to the "Done" button and
press Enter.

  Russian speaking users should pay attention to the "Russian
translation" item of the registration dialog. It's vital to set its
value to "yes" to be able to use cyrillic. In most cases. Unless you use
win1251 as a default charset, about what I doubt a lot :) Unfortunately
we have two different encodings for our language, koi8-r is default for
UNIX like systems and win1251 is used in Windows. Since ICQ comes from
Windows we need to recode every sent and received message in order for
it to be readable.

2. IM accounts registration

  This section says a bit about registering new and entering existing
accounts' details into configuration of your CenterIM. Everything that
CenterIM can do about it is available through the "Accounts" dialog
displayed at the start and then residing under the f4->Accounts.. menu

2.1. ICQ accounts

  To be able to use the ICQ IM service you should have a UIN (I think it
stands for something like "user identification number"). You can either
use an already existing UIN or register a new one selecting appropriate
items in the "Account manager" dialog. Some attention should only be
paid to the "server address" field. The default value will be
substituted unless something is set there, i.e. empty "server" field is
quite ok. In the majority of cases you do not need to change it. The
only exception is if you have your own ICQ server on LAN.

2.2. Yahoo! accounts

  CenterIM doesn't support registering new Yahoo! IDs, so if you don't
have one yet, just visit the homepage Yahoo! messenger at and select the "Acct info" link in the top
right corner.

2.3. AIM accounts

  AIM accounts can be created with the AOL's web interface at by clicking on the "Get a Screen Name"
link. Don't also forget to set your profile information with "Update
your details" item in the Account manager dialog.

2.4. IRC accounts

  This service is completely different from others supported by
CenterIM. You don't need to register to connect to IRC. All you need is
just choose a nick which is not used by anyone else. Otherwise it'll be
reported as soon as you try to log in. So set any nick and a host name of
the server you want to chat on, and go ahead!

  For the advanced IRC users there can be a need for so-called NickServ
authentication using a password to identify himself. Sometimes it's
used to protect your nickname from overtaking on a specific IRC network.
CenterIM does support this too, providing a non-obligatory password

2.4.1. IRC channels

  IRC channels behave themselves like usual contacts, though the set of
actions possible to perform upon them is different. Using the F2-menu
and hotkeys it's possible to join or leave a channel, view the list of
users, etc. Please note, in order to stay on a channel you should have
it on your contact list. As soon as a channel is deleted, you leave it

2.5. Jabber accounts

  Jabber is the most advanced open source and free instant messaging
solution. Since the version 4.8.8 it's been supported by CenterIM. Due
to its being open and developed by the wide community, CenterIM can
register new nicknames in it very easily.

2.5.1. Jabber groupchat conferences

   Like IRC channels, they're controlled like usual contacts, too.

2.6. LiveJournal

  Though LiveJournal is not actually an IM service, but I hope you
forgive me for that. LiveJournal is a weblogs community. Its URL is CenterIM makes use of their open source
and well-documented client-server protocol, and makes it possible to
post items and read friends' RSS feeds directly from its interface. So
if you want an account, go to and see how to
get it. If you don't like the rules, you can always download their
server software and install it on your own. Long live open source!

2.7. Gadu-gadu

  If you have libjpeg installed in your system and the configure script
does find it, CenterIM can register a UIN on this network for you.
Otherwise you can only register one with the official client that can be
downloaded from the official site at

2.8. MSN

  An account for MSN can also be registered through a web interface at though it seems that they block access from Linux
based web browsers.

2.9. Updating details

  If you have just registered on the ICQ network only basic fields of
your details were set. Now, if you want to provide the world with more
information about yourself, you should invoke the "Update ICQ details"
dialog. First go to the "Accounts" dialog which can be accessed through
the global menu, and there in the ICQ node select "Update user details".
You can fill in information that will be visible to other ICQ users.
They also will be able to find you with specifying what you filled in
their "find users" requests.

  It's possible to update your ICQ and AIM details any time you're
online with the dialog. Details within other networks are possible to be
updated with respective web interfaces, I believe.

3. User interface

  The text UI CenterIM has, as well as UI of other programs for console
I have written, is very simple. There are menus, windows, menus and
input lines. In the bottom line of the screen there is a status bar. It
usually contains hints about what to press to invoke various menus,
dialogs, and perform various actions.

3.1. The ESC key

  This key is used for termination of input, if you wanna cancel the
operation you wanted to perform. Say, if "send message" operation is
chosen (invoked just with a press of "Enter" on a contact), an editor
window appears. As status bar says, you can use "Ctrl-X" to send it, and
ESC to cancel. The only hint is that you have to press the ESC key
twice. It's a common practice for console based UNIX programs (Midnight
commander is a good example), because checking for only one ESC would
spoil arrow key processing. The point is that they have correspond
sequences that start with an ASCII#27 character which is actually ESC.

  If you still want to press a simple key combination to close a dialog
or cancel something, try Alt-ESC. Though it's not guaranteed to work on
all terminals.

  The ESC key can also help you to issue shortcuts and key combinations
such as Alt-? or F. The former, if Alt-Shift-/ doesn't work can be
produced by first pressing ESC and then Shift-/ (i.e. "?"). And instead
of any F-key the ESC and then a number can be used.

3.2. The main screen

  The main screen of CenterIM consists of three parts. First is contact
list which is situated to the left. Next is information window which is
used to show received events, users' details, and also to edit events
that are going to be sent. And the smallest one is a log window in which
you can see messages about what CenterIM is doing right now.

3.3. Menus

  No need to say, menus are a common way to provide a user with an
ability to select one (or several) items from a certain list. To make a
difference between single and multiple choice menu you gotta just have a
look at the items. If square brackets stand next to items text in every
line, a multiple selection is requested. Otherwise you can only select
one item. To do it, just press "Enter" on it. To make a multiple
selection, press "Space" on items and use "Enter" to finish the
selection. ESC does also work in all menus to cancel the selection.

  I will mention two menus below. They are global menu and contact
context menu, invoked with F4 and F2 correspondingly. The former allows
to execute various actions of global kind, such as find and add users,
manage ignore, visible and invisible lists, change settings, etc. With
the context menu you can do various current contact specific things.

3.4. Dialogs

  Every dialog in CenterIM has a tree-like view. When I was about to
write classes for form-based input, I remembered that there was a
"treeview" class written by me before. So, I decided to use it for
dialogs and was right. There was no need to re-design the whole form in
case I need to add some controls, or so. I just add it as a node or a
leaf it scrolls, and nothing gets spoiled. Everything really nice is
always simple :)

3.5. Hotkeys in dialogs

  Dialogs of CenterIM usually have a bar with buttons. To access a
button without moving the highlighted bar over it with the arrow keys
you can use shortcuts. It's enough to press the first capital letter of
a button name to access the function behind it.

3.6. Some UI tips

  There at some quite standard key combinations supported by CenterIM I
wanna tell you about. Here they go.

      Redraws the screen in any place of program execution. If output of    
    some kind of background programs or system messages spoil your screen
    just press it so CenterIM display is refreshed.

      In a message writing mode removes entire current line.

      Single line edit mode.
      Kills entire content.

      Single line edit mode.
      Kills a part of line to the left from cursor.

      Single line edit mode.
      Invokes history of recently entered lines.

4. Configuration

  The majority of CenterIM settings can be found in the "Configuration"
dialog which can be invoked by selecting an appropriate items in the
global menu (the one you see on pressing F4). There are only three
things you should setup from outside the program with modifying the
program's configuration files. They are event sounds, actions (see
below) and color schemes.

  With the "Configuration" dialog you can turn on and off various
features, as well as change the ICQ server address and adjust network
settings. All the items there are self-explanatory and their meaning is
quite obvious. I suppose the program users are usually not dumb :) so I
won't cover all of the items here in the documentation.

4.1. Migrating from other ICQ software

  If you decided to migrate to CenterIM from another ICQ software or
have a need to you something else in parallel, there is a way to convert
the contact list. This means you can migrate without loosing your
contacts and history.

  How to do it? There is a Perl script named cicqconv. It's usually
installed on "make install" under @prefix@/bin (/usr/local/bin in the
majority of cases). Its usage is very simple. You should only pass one
parameter to it, telling from what kind of ICQ software it's to convert
your data. To see the list of supported software, run the script without

4.2. Event sounds

  As it was said before, CenterIM can play sounds on various events.
It's done the following way. Upon, say, receiving a message, CenterIM
executes an external command. Actually it can be whatever you want, but
original idea is to execute a command line WAV player.

  There are three WAV sound files which CenterIM has by default. They
are sounds taken from Mirabilis ICQ. When you set "Change sound device
to" item to "sound card", the program generates a file named sounds in
the .centerim/ directory in your home folder. The default file has
commands to execute a "play" utility (from sox package) with a name of a
file to play, one of the default ones. If you wanna change the player or
a sound simply edit ~/.centerim/sounds.

  If you use ESD (Enlightenment Sound Daemon) to have some extra sound
facilities such as mixing streams, or playing on another computer, you
might wish to change the "play" command to "esdplay".

4.3. Color schemes

  It's possible to customize colors in the CenterIM's user interface.
It's done with the ~/.centerim/colorscheme configuration file. Its
contents are self-descriptive, and parameter names mean exactly that
they're named after. Please note, that among the standard color names
it's possible to specify "transparent" which is useful when the program
is used in terminals with background images set.

  Started for the first time, CenterIM creates the default colorscheme
file filled in with settings of one of default schemes that the
Configuration dialog proposes. Also its contents are re-written every
time you change color scheme from the dialog.

  To define your own color scheme, feel free to modify the default
colors configuration file or choose one of contributed ones that can be
found under the contrib/ directory of the source tarball.

  More "visual" explanation can be found here at the

4.4. Key bindings

  Key bindings are also configurable in CenterIM. On the first start it
creates a file called keybindings in your ~/.centerim/ directory. You can
use its initial contents for reference. If you want to change something,
well, it's all there.

4.5. URL open action (web browser support)

  CenterIM can extract URLs from messages and user information records
for you. And it also can launch your preferred web browser to view them.
No need to have a big attention to notice "F2 to URLs" text in the
status bar when you view either a message or user's details. The "open
URL" action starts right after you make a selection in the menu invoked.
The ~/.centerim/actions file is responsible for this. By default it has
a command to execute netscape, but you can change to whatever you want.
Please only note that you cannot put lynx or any other text mode based
browser starting in the same console there. The commands from "actions"
run in parallel with CenterIM, so please only pass your URLs to scripts
or to X based browsers, but to nothing interactive.

  Though, if you're using CenterIM under screen(1) there is a solution.
Jochen Sprickerhof  advised it having read
the statement in the previous paragraph. He proposes to define open URL
action the following way: "openurl screen lynx $url$", in order to open
lynx in a new screen window as soon as an URL to browse it chosen.

4.6. Hostnames and port numbers (for crazy firewall admins)

  I'm frequently asked what ports and hostnames CenterIM uses to
connect to various IM services. To avoid further buzz, I just include
them here.

4.6.1. ICQ

  Port: 5190

  Here a small note is needed. To a great displeasure of network admins,
the ICQ main server listens on all the TCP ports, from 1 to 65535. So
if in your network the 5190 is blocked, don't be upset, set it to 80 or
to 21 or whatever is not restricted by firewall and it will work :)

4.6.2. Yahoo!

  Port: 5050

4.6.3. AIM TOC

  Port: 9898

4.6.4. IRC

  For this network you gotta choose a server yourself, because the
auditory of people you chat with and other things depend exactly on this
choice. However, by default, CenterIM sets the following parameters:

  Port: 6667

4.6.5. Jabber

  There are many Jabber servers in the world, also the solution is
widely used for in-house communications inside various companies, so you
can choose the server yourself. At the other hand, the default server
open to the public is the following:

  Port: 5222

4.6.6. LiveJournal

  Since LiveJournal, despite of its being not an IM network, is also a
completely open source and free (in the "free speech" sense) solution,
you can find LiveJournal servers installed anywhere. You can even
install one on your own. Just in case, here I'm giving you parameters of
their main server:

  Port: 80

4.6.7. Gadu-gadu

  Port: 80

4.6.8. MSN

  Port: 1863

4.7. Binding to various IP addresses

  If the box you're running CenterIM on has several IPs and you would
like to use a certain one of them for IM connections, there is a command
line parameter made especially for you, --bind  or shortly,
-B .

5. Online status

  With CenterIM you can be either on or off the ICQ network. The status
can be changed with the "Status" menu invoked either with F3 or "S" key
or from the global menu. It provides you with a choice to switch between
online statuses along with an ability to go offline. If one of online
statuses if selected when you're offline, CenterIM will connect and
switch the status to what was chosen.

  With an online status you can indicate to those who are in touch with
you your being away, occupied, free for chat, not available, etc.

5.1. "Auto Away" and "Auto N/A"

  Also there is a way to switch status to Away and N/A (not available)
after a certain period of inactivity, to show your friends or colleagues
you're somewhere away from computer.

  The very useful thing about is that CenterIM detects inactivity for
all the consoles if you use it locally. So it won't change your status
if you're just working in another console and only don't tweak it.

  The auto periods can be changed with the "Configuration" dialog. Zero
value means the feature is off.

6. Contact list

  The list of your contacts is displayed to the left on the CenterIM
main screen, and has a tree-like structure. There are "Online" and,
unless the "Hide offline users" options is on, "Offline" nodes, groups
(if switched on). If a user has a birthday today, a smiley face ":)" is
shown next to his or her nickname.

  If a contact is online, a status letter in square brackets is shown
for him. Though, the brackets kind can vary. Besides the square ones,
there can be {x} and  items. The former means a contact is on your
invisible list, and the latter represents your "always visible" status
for a contact.

  Finally, if there is an unfinished (postponed) message for a certain
contact, the ">" character will appear between status and nickname.

6.1. Finding and adding users

  The most common way to add an IM contact to your list is to use the
"find/add user(s)" dialog invoked from the global menu. First you have
to find the contact you wanna add. CenterIM allows you to search for
users with various parameters in various networks.

  In ICQ, you can add a user knowing his UIN, or see a list of people
matching your criteria. In fact, ICQ server sends only first 40 matching
UINs, but usually it's quite enough.

  Note that in ICQ search requests you can use simple wildcards in the
text input fields. It's possible to put "*" there. For example, you don't
remember my last name exactly, but know only several first letters. Then
just type in a first name ("Konstantin") and fill in the "last name" field
with "Klyag*". The same trick can be done with other fields: "city",
"nickname", "company", etc..

  The Yahoo!, AIM, IRC and Jabber networks support in CenterIM
does only allow to add users by nicknames.

  With IRC it's possible to get users from channels. For more info on
channels and other IRC related stuff, please refer to
So, with CenterIM you can either fetch a list of users for a specified
channel, or (sic!) find users that stay on several channels simultaneously.
To perform the latter, just put several channel names separated with spaces.
For example, the "#CenterIM #linux" query will show a list of users that
are currently talking on both channels.

6.1.1. Some useful hints

  You can skip the finding step by issuing one of the following shell
commands to add a user (depends on an IM type):

    $ mkdir ~/.centerim/
	This one is for ICQ

    $ mkdir ~/.centerim/y
	For Yahoo!

    $ mkdir ~/.centerim/a
	For AIM

    $ mkdir ~/.centerim/i
	For IRC

    $ mkdir ~/.centerim/j
	For Jabber
	$ mkdir ~/.centerim/i
	For MSN

Don't forget to restart CenterIM so that it re-reads the contact list.
Though, it's better anyway to follow the usual find/add procedure.

  Another interesting ICQ related trick I wanna share with you. Because of
a natural curiosity, sometimes names of people get me interested in finding
out about their ethnic origin. Once I saw a last name, Aslam, which seemed
like a Muslim one, but I had no idea which country the guy originated
from. I decided to use ICQ to find out. Opened the "find/add" dialog and
typed that in. After looking at several matched contacts I noticed the
majority of people were from Pakistan, so I realized where the guy was
from and my curiosity was satisfied.

  I go the same way to find out in which country a certain city is
located, and so on. This makes ICQ extremely useful for me. Just use
your imagination to find other ways to use such a great statistics
database :)

6.1.2. ICQ search specific modes

  The "find/add users" dialog for ICQ besides the obvious parameters
does also contain two interesting items such as "Random chat group" and
"Keywords". With the help of the former you can easily look for chat
partners from standard 10 groups, if you're bored or just feel like
chatting with someone. You never know who can be there. Also, you can
make yourself available for others so that they can find you in random
chat groups. Just set the corresponding parameter in the "Update your
details" dialog for ICQ.

  The keyword search feature allows to search for contacts by specified
keywords that are taken from interests, geographical location and other
places, and indexed somehow by the Mirabilis guys. Quite an interesting
feature too.

6.2. Removing users

  Removing users is a very simple procedure. You can either hit DEL on a
certain contact or select an appropriate item in the context menu. After
confirmation the contact is removed.

6.3. Users' details

  On the ICQ network, every user has a set of details that can be
browsed and used in search queries by others. To browse details of a
specific user on the contact list it's enough just to press '?' on a
corresponding to a contact item.

  Please don't hesitate to do it before asking people who they are. It
takes time to explain, though it can be looked up so easily.

6.4. Groups of contacts

  In case you have a lot of people on contact list, you might wish to be
able to visually arrange them into groups. Choose any criteria.
Geography, companies, activities, interests.. Anything. CenterIM
supports it.

  To turn the feature on invoke the configuration dialog and switch the
"arrange contacts into groups" option value to "yes". By default, all of
your contacts will appear on standard "Global" group from which you can
move them to other groups creating them "on fly". There is an item in
the context menu named "Move to group.." which allows you to do it.

  It's also possible to collapse and expand groups by pressing the Enter
key on them.

  Remove, add and rename operations on groups can be done with the group
manager dialog invoked from the global menu item named "Organize contact

7. Sending and receiving events

  Sending and receiving events is what ICQ and all the instant messaging
are all about. The concept itself means an ability to stay in touch by
delivering messages of various kind immediately.

7.1. Messages

  The most common type of events. It takes the ICQ network about one
second to deliver one. Messages can be sent either through server or
directly through a TCP link. Size of a message sent through server
cannot exceed 450 characters, while size of direct messages is
unlimited. In case CenterIM cannot establish a direct link or you have
the "sent all events through server" option enabled, a message is
automatically split into several parts.

  To send a message just press "Enter" on a contact. Then type and press
"Ctrl-X" to send it. To cancel the message press ESC (twice).

7.2. URLs

  Though you can send URLs with regular messages the Mirabilis guys
decided to make a separate event for it. No problem, CenterIM supports
URL events. An URL message consists of two parts, they're an URL itself
and a description. Well, nothing else to say about it. Except maybe a
wish for future version of the protocol to support e-mail addresses and
host names as separate events :)

7.3. SMSes

  ICQ has a server-side mechanism which allows its users to send and
receive short text messages to cellular phones. There is an item visible
in the context menu for ICQ contacts, named "Send an SMS" which is be
chosen. Then if a user does not have any cellular number on his
details, CenterIM will ask you to provide one. This number can be
changed any time with the "Edit details" item of the same menu.

  CenterIM allows sending SMS messages to contacts of any kind on your
list with the only restriction that they will only be sent as soon as
you log in with your ICQ account. When you type in a phone number don't
forget to include all the international and regional prefixes.

  If an SMS you sent is rejected, the appropriate message is displayed
in the log window. This usually happens because ICQ does not support some
cellular networks. To see the list of supported ones use the following

  Both ways of sending SMSes are supported by libicq2000, and this means
CenterIM does so too.

7.4. Contacts

  Sharing parts of your contact list with other users on the instant
messaging network is a feature supported only by ICQ so far. CenterIM
does support it, thus you can easily send contacts from your contact
list or receive contacts from someone else using the program's
interface. Much easier than typing or cut'n'pasting UINs.

7.5. Files

  It's only possible to send files to your remote buddies within the IRC
network so far. In order to do it, it's enough to choose the "Send
file(s)" item from the context menu (the one invoked with F2), and point
out the files you want to send. In order to receive files you should
press the "Accept" button in the dialog you'll see as soon as someone
sends a file to you.

7.6. E-mail express messages

  This kind of events is ICQ specific. There is no way to receive them
with Yahoo! or other protocols. E-mail express is a service
provided by Mirabilis to make it possible to send messages through
e-mail to logged in ICQ users. A gate, indeed.

  The principle is simple. To send such a message you use an e-mail
client application, and you receive one with an ICQ client. The
destination e-mail address looks like this, where
UIN is the receiver's ICQ number. If a person is not online, they'll get
the message as soon as connect to the ICQ network.

  Please also note that with some SMTPs it won't work, since the pager
server has a protection which tries to make a connection to the sender
SMTP. If it's behind a firewall you have no chance to get your message

7.7. WebPager messages

  ICQ network does also allow sending messages to ICQ clients from their
web sites. The so-called "Web panel" makes it possible. You can access
your own by the URL of the following look:

  Messages are delivered to the contact list immediately. And if a user
is not online he's supposed to received them as soon as he logs in.

7.8. Away messages

  Another feature of IM networks supported by CenterIM is away
messages. It's quite a useful way to explain to everybody why you're
away from your box right now. To read your reason for being away they
just have to use the feature to fetch an away message in their ICQ
client application.

  It's possible to set such a message from the account manager dialog
invoked from the global menu. There is a "Set away message" item for IM
engines that support such a feature.

  With CenterIM you can also read away messages of others. To fetch
someone's away message (it's possible even when a person has the
"available/online" status) just select the respective item in the
"current user" context menu (invoked with F2 or "m"). It's impossible to
fetch away messages of users that are offline.

7.9. Events history

  All of events sent and received with CenterIM are held in its
database. It's very simple to access history of events you exchanged
with a particular user. You should only select the "Events history" item
of the context menu. Then, if at least one event is there, you'll be
shown a list every item of which can be read, replied or forwarded to

8. Ignore, visible and invisible lists

  ICQ provides an easy way to have lists of users you want to be visible
or invisible to, if you're online. Also there is a place to move all the
annoying ones so that they don't disturb you with their stupid messages.

  Modification operation with the lists can be performed with
appropriate dialogs invoked from the global menu.

8.1. Ignore list

  List for worst ones. If you find someone on (or outside) your contact
list too annoying, you can just add him or her to the ignore list. After
this simple operation you will never receive events from this user,
until the contact is removed from this list of yours.

8.2. Visible list

  ICQ has the "invisible" option among its online status modes. When you
switch to it, no one is able to see your online presence. But there can
be a handful of people you would like to keep in touch, and you also
feel like remaining visible for them. That's what this feature is all

8.3. Invisible list

  Invisible list has an opposite aim to the previous one. People who you
have on this list are unable to see your presence all the time. Either
you're online or offline, or occupied.. whatever, they see your status
as "offline".

9. Advanced features

  CenterIM has some advanced features that you may need, though they're
not so easy to turn on for novice users. In this chapter I explain how
to do it.

9.1. Arabic and Hebrew languages support

  There is a basic support for bidirectional languages in CenterIM. It
allows not to type, but only read messages in Hebrew and Arabic. It's
possible to enable only on the ./configure stage, because the program
needs to be linked against FriBiDi library. This means first you need to
have the latter installed. The library homepage is located at

  Once you have successfully installed FriBiDi, you need to execute
CenterIM's ./configure script with "--with-fribidi" parameter. If it
fails to find the library (you'll be reported), try

  Common "make" and "make install" steps should follow, and finally
"shalom" or "selam" can be seen well on your monitor :) So don't fight
there, guys.

9.2. Command line facilities

  CenterIM has a bunch of command line options that make it possible to
queue IM events and change your status in various IM networks.

9.2.1. Sending events

  In fact, it's not really sending. CenterIM just allows you to put an
event to the outgoing queue from another process with command line
options. To have the event sent immediately CenterIM must be running,
otherwise all of your queued events will be sent as soon as the program
is launched and connected to the corresponding IM network.

  The following command line options are used to put an event to the
outgoing queue:

-s or --send 

    This parameter specifies the type of event you want to send.
    Currently only "msg", "url" and "sms" are supported.

-p or --proto 

    This one specifies to which IM network the destination contact
    belongs to. Can be either "icq", "yahoo", "aim", "irc", "jab"
    or "lj".

-t or --to

    With this one you specify nickname or UIN of the destination
    contact. For icq it's possible to specify 0 to send events to
    yourself. Only SMSes are known to be possible to be sent to oneself

-n or --number

    Using this parameter you can send SMSes to any mobile numbers
    through the ICQ network.

The message text is read from the standard input, so use pipes in shell
to pass it. For example, you can say "hi" to me through the ICQ network
with the following command:

    $ echo "hi" | centerim -s msg -p icq -t 17502151

In case you want to send an URL, the URL itself and its description are
separated with a newline character the following way:

    $ echo -e "\nMy modest homepage." \
    | CenterIM -s url -p icq -t 17502151

Finally, a small example of sending SMSes:

    $ echo "sms test" | centerim -s sms -n 1234567890

Please note, that all three parameters are required in order to queue an

9.2.2. Changing current IM status

  Changing status is done with a pair of parameters. They're -S and -p.
The former is used to specify the status itself, and -p points which IM
engine is to be affected.

-S or --status 

    The argument parameter is a letter which indicates which status is
    to be set:

	o (Online)              _ (Offline)
	a (Away)                d (Don't disturb)
	n (N/A)                 c (Occupied)
	f (Free for chat)       i (Invisible)

-p or --protocol 

    This one specifies to which IM network the destination contact
    belongs to. Can be either "icq", "yahoo", "aim", "msn", "irc",
    "jab" or "lj".


    $ centerim -S _ -p icq

This will set the icq status to offline. In other words, it'll be
disconnected immediately.

    $ centerim -S a -p yahoo

And this command will switch your yahoo status to away.

9.3. External actions and auto-responses

  It is possible to make CenterIM run external programs, scripts and
whatever to answer and/or process incoming events. Though, some extra
setup is needed. Let me introduce you with another configuration file,
named "external" which should reside under the .centerim/ directory in
your home. Here is an example which demonstrates its options. It's
recommended just cut'n'paste the following text.

[ - $HOME/.centerim/external ---------------------------------------------- ]

# External actions
# ----------------
# Every section starts with a line containing the "%action ",
# "%pre-send ", "%pre-receive " or "%manual " text.
# Please note that the  of any kind is necessary. It mustn't be
# empty. Inside it the following parameters can be used:
# event
# -----
# Can be "msg", "sms", "url", "online", "offline", "auth",
#	"contacts" or "notification".
# The latter means CenterIM's own notifications, such as birthday reminders,
# away messages, and other stuff. Specifying several event types is
# also allowed. "all" stands for all the event types.
# proto
# -----
# Can be "icq", "yahoo", "aim", "irc", "msn", "lj", "rss" or "jab". Or
# combination of these words. "all" can be used as a synonym for all of
# them.
# status
# ------
# Can be "online", "away", "dnd", "na", "occupied", "ffc" or "invisible".
# Specifying several ones is possible. "all" stands for all of possible
# status modes.
# options
# -------
# Possible options for an action are:
#       stdin           The incoming message text is to be passed to
#                       stdin of the script to be executed.
#       stdout          The script output is to be sent as a reply
#                       message (if not empty).
#       nowait          Don't wait for the script to finish. Obviously, the
#                       stdout option won't make sense if this one is used.
# Then, the section named "%exec" should follow. It contains a piece of
# script to be executed being copied to a file first.

%action         Simple auto-responder

event           msg
# Reacts only on events of message type ..

proto           icq yahoo
# .. only for icq and yahoo protocols

status          away na
# .. when we are in away or n/a status

options         stdin stdout
# .. the external commands text (below) reads the message from
# stdin, then its stdout output is sent as a response to a
# remote user.


echo "hello. this is auto-responder. your message was: $msg"

[ -------------------------------------------------------------------------- ]

With this simple external actions configuration file CenterIM will
perform a simple auto-respond action. You can have as many sections as
you need. You can call any kind of external scripts and programs. Please
note that the message text (when "stdin" option is specified for an
action) can be read with cat command or something similar.

Please also note it's possible to define actions that get invoked before
the event is written to the history (and delivered to the contact list)
as well as before it gets sent. Such kind of actions are defined with
the %pre-send and %pre-receive directives. Using them, an event can be
modified or even prevented from further processing, i.e. from showing on
the contact list or actual sending. The latter is done with returning a
non-zero return code in the %exec section.

Every time something is to be executed the "%exec" section's contents
are copied to a temporary file, and the latter is processed with the
default shell. But it doesn't mean those code parts are default shell
dependent. You can easily specify your favourite one with the first line
like this:


for example. Though, anyway this code piece's aim is just to prepare
arguments, perform initial checks, and then execute something for
further processing.

Another point to be explained is multiple actions with the same or
similar parameters (event, proto, and status). If an event matches
several actions, all of them are executed. If there is a need only in
one, you can always perform necessary checks in "%exec" so that only one
sends a reply.

Also, the script from the %exec section when executed has the following
environment variables imported by CenterIM:


    The type of the received event. Can be "msg", "sms", "url",
    "online", "offline", "auth", "contacts" or "notification".


    The IM network name through which the event was received. Can be
    "icq", "yahoo", "aim", "irc", "msn", "lj" or "jab".


    If an event is received through ICQ equals to the other party's UIN.
    Otherwise empty.


    Set to other party's real nickname. Real means that even if you
    renamed the user in your contact list, this parameter will be equal
    to the original one, and not to what you set.


    The most interesting parameter. Using it, you can access further
    information about the user. Every time an external action is
    executed it is set to the user's information directory under your
    ~/.centerim/ directory. It makes it easier to access "about" and
    "info" files under it. Fetching lines from certain positions of the
    latter allows to get details. It's enough to take a look at an
    "info" file of any user to find out what lines mean. Here I'll
    describe the most useful ones:

    - the 2nd and 3rd lines contain user's first and last names 
    - the 4th one contains user's e-mail address;
    - the 7th has the home city;
    - the 8th is used for the home state name;
    - the 9th is used for the home phone number;
    - the user's home country resides in the 14th line;
    - etc;

To read a certain line from the info file I recommend to use the
following shell command: "head -n  $CONTACT_INFODIR/info | tail -n 1",
where N is the line number. Below the real examples go.

    fname=`head -n 2 $CONTACT_INFODIR/info | tail -n 1`
    # to fetch contact's first name

    lname=`head -n 3 $CONTACT_INFODIR/info | tail -n 1`
    # to fetch contact's last name

The example from the next section demonstrates usage of the environment
variables on an example of a simple answering machine :)

9.3.1. IM answering machine

  This simple setup will answer on incoming messages automatically when
you're away from your computer and your IM mode is set to Away or N/A.

[ - cut (CenterIM external actions setup for an IM answering machine) ----- ]

%action         Answering machine
event           msg
proto           all
status          away na
options         stdout


fname=`head -n 2 $CONTACT_INFODIR/info | tail -n 1`
lname=`head -n 3 $CONTACT_INFODIR/info | tail -n 1`

cat <"

9.8. Latest snapshots

  If you wanna always have the recent version of the program, there is
an anonymous GIT repository available to get the code.

You can find documentation at our website to get the latest (development) 
source code, using the GIT at:

At our website is a description how to get it.

You can also get complete packages from:

10. Lynx

  This section contains links and references that may be of interest for

10.1. The program homepage

The CenterIM homepage can be found at

10.1.1. CenterIM mailing list

  There are two mailing lists for CenterIM, one is used by program
users and the other is used by developers to discuss their ideas, bug 
reports, fixes, and other stuff.

  To subscribe go to the CenterIM home page and fill out the appropriate form.
  For CenterIM users

  For CenterIM developers

10.2. IM protocols

  Here we want to say thanks to authors of libraries CenterIM uses to support various
IM protocols.

  Barnaby Gray , who wrote a great library
  for icq2000 protocol and a GTK+ based ICQ client for UNIX.

  The whole team of
    Mark Spencer ,
    Adam Fritzler ,
    Rob Flynn ,
    Eric Warmenhoven ,
    Brian Macke ,
    Anand Biligiri S ,
    Valdis Kletnieks,
    Sean Egan ,
    Toby Gray 
  for the library implementing the Yahoo! protocol.

  Ian Gulliver  for the nice Firetalk library
  used by CenterIM to provide the AIM and IRC services.

  The Jabber Team for their GNU Jabber library.

  Since CenterIM contains support for the ICQ protocol taken from the
original software made by Israeli company named "Mirabilis", you might
wish to know more about it. So, visit the ICQ website at

  It provides information about the company itself along with a lot of
community services including SMS messaging, web directory, and so on.

11. Help to the project is appreciated

  What if you think that CenterIM is the best text console based
instant messaging program around? What if CenterIM is the application
you'd been waiting whole of your life, and want to express your
appreciation somehow? Helping the authors, you help the project itself to
keep rolling. It's not something vital we require to keep on writing and
improving CenterIM, neither you have to do it. 

11.1. Feedback

  You can write some feedback saying what you liked and what is missing
in the program. Also, don't be silent if you notice bugs. Just check
everything attentively and put a detailed bug-report on or drop a detailed email on our developers
mailing list if you think you've found a bug.

If you have questions about how CenterIM works, you can also say hallo on 
our irc channel #centerim on freenode.

11.2. Patches

  Don't wait for us to implement a feature you'd like to have in
CenterIM. Please have in mind that whole the source code is available
and you can modify it yourself, then make a patch and send it to us.

At our website is written how to get the code and how you can contribute

We'd like you to follow our style of formatting the code. Please
don't make any changes not related to the feature you implement, it
makes your patch difficult to commit.