Day 9: Testing out some Twitter tools

By Tony Bradley, PCWorld

Today was going to be about finally getting my Cisco AnyConnect VPN client set up in Ubuntu Linux so I don't have to work in Ubuntu, write in LibreOffice Writer in Ubuntu, then reboot into Windows to actually publish the article to PCWorld. Apparently, that is easier said than done.

There is VPN connectivity built in to Ubuntu, but that seems to be limited to basic PPTP (point-to-point tunneling protocol) connections. I need the Cisco AnyConnect client, and I need it set up with the appropriate licensing and such for PCWorld. So, I went to the PCWorld tech guys and had them hook me up with the Linux client for Cisco AnyConnect.

Ubuntu Linux

The 30 days series

Day 1: Getting Started

Day 2: That was really easy

Day 8: Setting up email in Evolution

The problem is that what I got was a compressed TAR file with the AnyConnect client software, and so far I haven't figured out how to make it install. I went to the Ubuntu Forums, and I found plenty of guidance there on unpacking TAR files and working in Terminal to install the contents, but much of the information seems to be outdated, and none of it seemed to help me.

So, if any of you can point me to the instructions that will help me get this set up in Ubuntu, I think that will take away the only reason I have right now that I have no choice but to switch to Windows each day (well-that and syncing my iPhone with any iOS updates, but that is not a daily issue and not likely to happen any time soon).

Instead of walking through setting up and using the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client, I decided to check out some of the tools that were recommended in the comments from the Day 8 post -- starting with Gwibber because I use Twitter and Facebook a lot and I need to be able to interact with them. I prefer to use a tool and consolidate social networks rather than visiting each Website separately.

I thought I would be all slick-following the guidance I have received thus far -- and I went to the Ubuntu Software Center and typed Gwibber in the search field. That is when I found out that the package was already installed by default with Ubuntu Linux, so I already had it.

I opened Gwibber and added my Facebook and Twitter accounts. The default view has a bunch of icons down the left for accessing different features and message streams, and then a big pane on the right where the messages are displayed. At the top, you can choose from combined streams of messages, mentions, pictures, videos, links, personal messages you have received, and personal messages you have sent. Below that, there is a separate bar for Facebook and for Twitter that let you view those same things, but narrowed to the specific service.

I clicked on Gwibber in the menu bar and decided to see what New Stream would do. All of the icons on the left disappeared, and instead I had two columns of messages with dropdown arrows at the top. I added a couple other new streams, and configured one to be my incoming Twitter feed, one for my Twitter mentions, one for my Facebook feed, and one for my Twitter lists. The problem is that Facebook and Twitter lists columns never populated with any information. I tried messing with the Facebook stream, but could not get it to work.

I don't see anywhere to modify or edit the Twitter lists column in any way, so I can't do anything to figure out why it's blank. But, Gwibber seems to work as advertised for basic Twitter.

I thought I would see what else was out there, so I went back to the Ubuntu Software Center and just typed Twitter. There were five options to choose from: gTwitter, Qwit, Twitux, Gwibber, and Choqok. Gwibber only has a rating of 2.5 stars, but it does have by far the most ratings counted, with 64. Choqok only has three ratings, but it has the highest average, with 4.5 stars.

I installed Choqok and set up my Twitter account again (Choqok doesn't do Facebook). Choqok uses a tabbed interface that has my incoming feed, mentions, direct message inbox, and direct message outbox as options. At the top, though, is a dropdown button labeled More. I clicked it and selected Add User List, and I was able to add a couple new tabs with my filtered lists that I have created in Twitter.

Overall, I like the look and feel of Gwibber better, but it seems flaky and dysfunctional. Choqok seems to work much better. In the end, neither of them is Tweetdeck, though. Thankfully, I can just use Tweetdeck.

Tweetdeck is an Adobe Air application, and Adobe Air is available in the Ubuntu Software Center. So, I installed Adobe Air, then went to the Tweetdeck Website to download the desktop app. Clicking on the Tweetdeck air file installs using Adobe Air by default, so a couple clicks later I had Tweetdeck up and running. Ah, now that's more like it. Forget Gwibber and Choqok.

Interesting side note. Whenever I want to install something or do just about anything, a permission box pops up for me to enter my password to authorize the action. I find it interesting that Ubuntu Linux behaves very similar to Windows 7 UAC prompts in that regard.

One more quick side note. I figured out today that the "Aero Snap" functions of snapping a window to the left or right, or maximizing it by dragging it to the top of the display are part of Ubuntu, and are not unique to the Unity interface.

You can follow Tony on his Facebook page, or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com. He also tweets as @TheTonyBradley.

Reprinted with permission from PCWorld.com. Story copyright 2011 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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