How to Make Your Instant Messenger Talk in Ubuntu Linux

by Lonnie Lee Best
Lonnie Lee Best

Sometimes instant messages are important enough to break away from what you're currently doing and sometime they're not. In Ubuntu, you can setup your Instant Messenger to automatically speak (vocally) incoming instant messages. Now you can decide their importance before clicking away from your current task. This article will show you how to quickly set this up.

About Ubuntu Instant Messaging

As many of you know, Ubuntu Linux 10.10 comes with an an "instant messaging consolidator" called Empathy; its an single application that allows you to be simultaneously logged in to all your instant messaging accounts. For example, with this consolidator, you could be logged into all the following at once: Yahoo, ICQ, AIM, MSN, IRC, gadu-gadu, GroupWise, jabber, QQ, and sip.

However, I don't use Empathy. I use Pidgin for this same functionality instead (which once came with your default installation of Ubuntu instead of Empathy). I don't know all the reason why Ubuntu decided to make Empathy the default instant messenger (instead of Pidgin), but I can tell you this: Empathy lacks many features that Pidgin supports. Most specifically, it doesn't provide a plug-in manager, which is what we will be using in this article, to get Pidgin to speak instant messages to you as they come in.


Install Pidgin and its Festival Plugin
  1. Open a command prompt by going to the "Applications" menu:
    Applicaitons > Accessories > Terminal.
  2. Type: "sudo apt-get install pidgin-festival" (without quotes)

Because this package is dependent on both Pidgin and Festival, installing it should automatically also install the "pidgin" and "fesitval" packages and all their package dependancies too.

Activate the Plugin
  1. If Pidgin is already open, close it. If the "little purple pidgin" icon is on the status tray (by the clock), right-click the icon and select "Quit". Note: by default, in Ubuntu 10.10, if pidgin is running, it will hide Pidgin's icon under the "Envelope" icon menu, by the clock.
  2. Open Pidgin from Ubuntu's "Applications" menu: Applications | Internet | Pidgin Instant Messenger.
  3. If you haven't already setup any of you IM accounts, go ahead an do that now.
  4. Go to Pidgin's "Tools" menu and select "Plugins".
  5. Find the Festival plugin and click its "Enable" check box.
  6. Click the "close" button.
  7. Last, make sure you DON'T have sounds muted under: Tools > Preferences > Sound.

Now, if your speakers have volume, you'll hear talking the next time one of your buddies messages you!

If you'd like your computer to read other things to you, read this article:

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About the Author

Lonnie Best has been using the internet since 1993, and has been making web pages since 1995. visit:

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