IRC chat on Ubuntu Dapper

All releases before Dapper shipped an IRC client, xchat. During Dapper Development phase it was decided to replace it by XChat-GNOME, a new frontend for xchat , far more integrated with GNOME and thus Ubuntu. This change seems to have been well accepted by the community. However at the end of Dapper development phase it was decided to have XChat-GNOME removed from the default installation (even if it stay in main). xchat was not re-added either, leaving the default install without any IRC Client.

I was very disappointed about that and i'm still thinking it was a bad idea. Keep in mind than I take part in XChat-GNOME's development so I'm a little biased about this matter.

  • The main argument for the removing of XChat-GNOME was that Gaim can be used for IRC chat and so it's redundant. Personally i don't like (and so don't use) Gaim for my jabber chat. I really don't love its interface not enough GNOME spirit and intuitive IMHO. It's the same for IRC and i'm not convinced than Gaim is a good tool for that. On the other side, the main goal of XChat-GNOME is the GNOME integration and its easy to use GUI.
  • Another argument was that IRC chat is only used by geek and not by "common user". That's partially true but maybe it's just because current IRC client are too complicated and not enough user-friendly. ;)
  • Furthermore, IRC will be used for the Ubuntu Live Chat Support. This spec aims to provide an easy way for user to ask support in their native language. Current implementation uses gaim and connects it on the channel of the good loco team (according user's locales configuration). So IRC chat is not reserved for geek anymore!
  • I don't think a lot of people use Gaim for IRC chat. But XChat-GNOME has more and more users and so feedback, bugreport, improvements, ... Furthermore, thanks to Sébastien, we have a very good co-operation with Ubuntu. Most of the fixes from HEAD version are quickly backported and integrated in the package.
  • XChat-GNOME offers very sexy features like 3 notifications plugins (using sound, trayicon or libnotify). It's very useful to follow a conversation. Currently none is enabled by default but we could easily change that.
  • XChat-GNOME is pretty small (only 500k for the .deb file). But if it's really a matter of space on the install CD, we could propose to install it the first time we launch the Live Chat Support. I implemented this kind of stuff for the gnome-system-tools and i'll be happy to help to work on it.

As you can see, i really would like see XChat-GNOME installed by default on Dapper or, if it's too late, at least open the debate about that.