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This page contains the CenterIM5 documentation. If you are a user upgrading from CenterIM4 then do not forget to also read the upgrade guide. If you are using CenterIM4 then you should read the CenterIM4 documentation.


About CenterIM5

CenterIM5 is a text-mode multi-protocol instant messaging client for Linux, *BSD, Solaris and other Unices.

Supported protocols

CenterIM5 supports many different messaging protocols due to the use of libpurple.

These protocols are supported by default by libpurple:

  • AIM (AOL Instant Messenger)
  • Bonjour
  • Gadu-Gadu
  • Groupwise
  • ICQ
  • IRC
  • MSN/Windows Live
  • MXit
  • MySpaceIM
  • QQ
  • SILC (Secure IRC)
  • Sametime
  • XMPP (Jabber and Google Talk)
  • Yahoo
  • Yahoo JAPAN
  • Zephyr

Support for other protocols is provided by third-party libpurple plugins.

First time start

The first thing to do to start actually using the program is to set an IM account. Open the main menu using the F4 key and select the Accounts... item from the menu. This brings a window where all IM accounts are managed. Press the Add button to add a new account and then adjust the settings of the account. Finally, toggle the Account enabled option. If the account is correctly set then you should see messages about connection progress in the log window and soon after that the buddy list window should display your contacts.

You can now select a friend to start a conversation with. After composing a message, use the Ctrl-X combination to send it.

Default key bindings

Universal commands (Not dependent on where focus lies)

Ctrl-Q      : Quit CenterIM5
Esc         : Close current menu or conversation
Arrow keys  : Universal navigation through menus and lists
Ctrl-L      : Redraw screen

F1          : Move navigation to the buddy list
F2          : Move navigation to the active conversation
F3          : Open the account status menu
F4          : Open the main menu
F5          : Toggle displaying of offline buddies
F6          : Switch to the fullscreen mode (this requires that there is at least one opened conversation)

Buddy list

Ctrl-D      : Open the context menu for a currently selected buddy list item
- / +       : Close / Expand tree branch
Enter       : Open a conversation with a currently selected buddy


Ctrl-N      : Jump to the next conversation window
Ctrl-P      : Jump to the previous conversation window
PgUp        : Scroll up through current conversation history
PgDn        : Scroll down through current conversation history
Ctrl-X      : Send a composed message


Key bindings

Default key bindings can be changed by editing the binds.xml file which can be found in the ~/.centerim5 directory. The file has a simple structure, each bind consists of context, action and key specifications (all three parts are mandatory). After modifying the file, open the options window and press the Reload key bindings button in order to load modified key bindings. If the file cannot be parsed correctly, an error description will be added to the log window and the default key bindings will be loaded.

For example, to change a default key bind for sending messages from Ctrl-X to Enter, locate this line:

<bind context='conversation' action='send' key='Ctrl-x'/>

and modify it to:

<bind context='conversation' action='send' key='Enter'/>

Color schemes

Default color schemes can be changed by editing the colorschemes.xml file which can be usually found in the ~/.centerim5 directory. The file contains a list of named schemes which comprise of color definitions. Each color definition consists of widget, property, foreground, background and attributes specifications (the first two parts are mandatory, others are optional).

For example, to change a default label color for active conversations from magenta to yellow, locate this scheme:

<scheme name='conversation-active'>
  <color widget='label' property='text' foreground='magenta'/>

and modify it to:

<scheme name='conversation-active'>
  <color widget='label' property='text' foreground='yellow'/>

CenterIM5 recognizes the following symbolic color names: black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan, white and default, and these attributes: standout, reverse, blink, dim, bold. You can combine two or more attributes using the pipe symbol (|).