BitlBee Services

The Akropolys group is pleased to offer a public BitlBee server, allowing anyone to connect, register, and use this package.

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 additional MSN/AIM/whatever clients. It functions by implementing a faux-IRC server front-end, and a plugin-based set of Instant Messaging protocols on the back-end (both native and via libpurple, the library that powers the pidgin multiplatform IM client).

Why use this BitlBee server?

Anybody can run BitlBee; it's open source and readily available.  However, it's designed to run on a UNIX (or at least POSIX) system, and while it *can* run on Windows and Mac, it's not as convenient as just having a server available.  Additionally, our BitlBee server is configured with a few plugins that don't come with the standard BitlBee distribution:

We may add additional plugins as needed (or by request).

How do I use this server?

It's simple! Just connect your IRC client to mail.akropolys.com on the default IRC port (6667). Once connected, BitlBee with automagically take you to the &bitlbee channel (note that "&" is a channel prefix that is legal, if rarely seen, that means the channel only exists on the current server -- it is not "relayed").  The &bitlbee channel is the "control" channel, where you can type commands to the BitlBee server itself.  Nothing you say here (generally, there are some exceptions) will be transmitted over a chat network.  You will also see yourself and a root user in the channel, the BitlBee server will send messages as this root user.

To start, you should set your nick, if you haven't already, and then type register <password>.  This will create an account with the BitlBee server, storing your current nick and password for future use. All IM accounts that you configure will be linked to this account.  Root will tell you "Account successfully created".  In the future, when you connect to the server, you should type identify <password> in the &bitlbee channel (or you can [have your IRC client] send /msg NickServ identify <password> or even /ns identify <password>).

Next, it's time to add IM accounts to your BitlBee account. To see the list of supported account types, type plugins in the control channel.  As of this writing, the supported protocols are:

  • aim (AOL Instant Messenger [TOC protocol?])
  • bonjour (a local chat protocol based on zeroconf, unlikely to be useful with this server)
  • discord (the hot new chat network with rich media support)
  • gg (Gadu-Gadu, a Polish IM client)
  • icq (the original Mirabilis protocol, merged with AIM in 1998, subsequently sold to Mail.Ru Group in 2010)
  • identica (identi.ca micro-blogging service)
  • irc
  • jabber (XMPP chat network)
  • loubserp-mxit (South African chat network from Mxit)
  • meanwhile (open implementation of the Lotus Sametime Community Client protocol)
  • msn (Microsoft Network chat protocol [MSNP])
  • myspace (Myspace IM)
  • novell (Novell Groupwise Messenger, also unlikely to be useful on this server)
  • oscar (full-featured AOL Instant Messenger protocol
  • simple (SIP-based IM protocol)
  • skypeweb (Skype protocol over http)
  • twitter (microblogging platform)
  • yahoo (Yahoo Messenger [YMSG] protocol)
  • yahoojp (Japanese variant of YMSG protocol?)
  • zephyr (old-school UNIX chat protocol, usually based on Kerberos/Project Athena)

Getting Connected to Discord, an example

Of these, we'll demonstrate adding a Discord account, since that's a bit tricky. Note that at any time you can type help in the control window for help. You can also get help on specific commands (e.g. help account add).  Note that there is a huge difference between add, which adds "friends" to your friends list, and account add which adds an account to your BitlBee configuration.

So to actually add your Discord account (which you must already have signed up for on their website), you type account add Discord <email> <password>. The server will respond "Account successfully added with tag discord". To connect to Discord, type account discord on. This will attempt to connect to Discord. If you've made a mistake, you'll likely see an error, followed by BitlBee trying to reconnect. Type account discord off to stop reconnecting before you get locked out. You can change your password to the correct one with account discord set password <new_password>, and you can get a list of settings you can change with account discord set.

If Discord logs you in, you're done. And in fact, you should see the members list in the &bitlbee channel populated with your Discord "Friends" list, at least the ones who are online.  But if not, you may be told to log in via a browser to complete a CAPTCHA.  If this happens to you, just go to the Discord website and log in to your account there.

For Chrome: once you have logged in, press CTRL-SHIFT-I to open the Developer Tools, go to the Application tab, open the Local Storage option, and click on the entry for https://discordapp.com/ and look for the "Token" value displayed.

For Firefox: go the login page, then press CTRL-SHIFT-I to open to the Developer Tools, go to the Network tab, and press the "garbage can" icon on the left side of the window to clear the current requests list. Then type your username and password in, and press the "Login" button. Then, where it says "Filter URLs" in the Developer Tools type login and press Enter. One line should be shown, clicking on that line should reveal the "token" value on the right side of the Tools.

For other browsers: sorry, but you're on your own here.

Once you have the token, go back to your IRC client and enter account discord set token_cache <token>, followed by account discord on. This should successfully connect you to Discord. Typing chat list discord will show all of the chat rooms that you are a part of in Discord. You can "connect" BitlBee to individual chat channels with chat add discord !<index#> [<irc_channel>] where the index number is taken from the chat list, and the irc_channel is whatever you want BitlBee to name the corresponding (faux-)IRC channel. Once the chat is added to your configuration you can join the channel with /join #<irc_channel>.  You can also configure BitlBee to automatically join it in the future with chan #<irc_channel> set auto_join true.

From here, you can pretty much treat it just like IRC. You can /msg or /query individual users, you can (generally) see a representation of who is online, etc.