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Learning Unix for Mac OS X, Second Edition by Dave Taylor, Brian Jepson

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Interactive Chat

Need a quick answer from another user without sending an email message and waiting for his reply? Want to have a conversation with your Internet-connected friend in Chile but don’t have money for an international phone call? An interactive chat program lets you type text to another user and see her reply moments later. Chatting, or “instant messaging,” has become popular. Widely known chat programs such as iChat, Jabber, and AOL Instant Messenger are available for Mac OS X. Other programs have been available on Unix systems for years and are included with Mac OS X. We look at two of these: talk and IRC.

talk

The talk program is simple to use. Give the username (and, optionally, the hostname) of the person with whom you want to chat. Then talk will try to notify that person as well as show how to use talk to complete the connection with you. Both of your terminal windows will be split into two sections, one for the text you type and the other for the text you get from the other person. You can type messages back and forth until one of you uses Control-C to break the session.

One advantage of talk is its simplicity; if each of you has a terminal window open, either of you can run the program at any time; if the other person is logged in, he is notified that you want to chat and told how to complete the connection. If both people want to use talk on the same computer — even if one of them is logged in remotely (see Section 7.1) — it should work well. Unfortunately, ...

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