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Empathy: What a Piece of Garbage

The Empathy instant messaging client for Gnome is not yet ready to be the default client on your favourite Gnome-based distribution. In fact, I can’t even make it work! Tyler B originally posted about this problem way back in October, but it doesn’t seem to have been fixed during the interim.

To demonstrate my point, allow me to walk you through the process of adding an MSN account, one of the officially supported protocols, to a clean install of Empathy:

  1. After launching Empathy, select Accounts from the Edit menu:

    The accounts manager for Empathy

    Hey guys, nice UI. Way to give that listbox a default width. And why the hell is this dialogue box so big, anyway?

  2. Select the MSN protocol from the dropdown menu, and hit the create button:

    The list of protocols that Empathy "supports"

    Wow, way to get icons for every protocol, guys. Either have icons, or don't, ok?

  3. Enter your MSN email address and account password, and hit the Connect button:

    Adding my account details to the new MSN account in Empathy

    Hey, see that Add button under the listbox? If I click that, I can add a new account, before even finishing with this one! Wow, recursion in a GUI! Sweet!

  4. With the new account created, hit the Close button, and watch as the authentication of your newly added MSN account fails:

    Authentication of my newly added account failed

    Wouldn't you know it, my freshly minted account failed to authenticate. I wonder what the problem is...

  5. Hit the Edit Account button, and open up the Advanced area of the Account Manager window that pops up:

    The Advanced area of the Account Manager window in Empathy

    Have you ever seen anything communicate over port 0? I haven't

  6. Open up your working copy of the trusty Pidgin instant messenging client, put the correct port number into the Port textbox in Empathy, and try to figure out how to save your changes:

    Empathy notifies me that I have unsaved changes

    Since I couldn't click apply, I hit Close. Empathy warned me that I hadn't saved my changes, and only then enabled the Apply button in the Account Manager window... Fuck me

  7. Watch as, even with the correct Server and Port information, Empathy continues to fail miserably at connecting to an MSN account:

    The contact list again

    Hey, it's still failing to connect. Imagine that.

The Bottom line? This application is buggy, untested, incompatible, falsely-advertised garbage. I want my Pidgin back. It may have some rough edges, but at least it connects. How these glaring errors and this horrible GUI design ever got past the community is beyond me. I do hope that Empathy has something even somewhat mediocre up their sleeves for their 2.29 release, but until then, I’m headed back to Pidgin.




On my Laptop, I am running Linux Mint 12.
On my home media server, I am running Ubuntu 12.04
Check out my profile for more information.
  1. March 20th, 2010 at 16:24 | #1

    Yeah pretty sad!!

  2. Celettu
    March 20th, 2010 at 16:26 | #2

    4. Watch how Empathy connects to my MSN account without a problem.

    Just because it fails for you doesn’t mean it does the same for everyone.

  3. Tyler B
    March 20th, 2010 at 16:39 | #3

    Celettu :
    4. Watch how Empathy connects to my MSN account without a problem.
    Just because it fails for you doesn’t mean it does the same for everyone.

    Well the point is it’s not just him. It has never worked for me either…

  4. Jon F
    March 20th, 2010 at 16:49 | #4

    @Celettu
    No, perhaps not. But the fact that it does fail for me, without any form of explanation, and with only four inputs that I’ve ensured are correct would seem to imply that it does have a rather large bug in it. And something that is included by default in my GNOME-based desktop should be tested rigorously to avoid exactly these types of issues.

  5. March 20th, 2010 at 19:58 | #5

    People still use MSN?

  6. Steve
    March 21st, 2010 at 09:53 | #6

    @ Shane
    Yes. They do.

  7. April 26th, 2010 at 09:30 | #7

    Celettu :
    4. Watch how Empathy connects to my MSN account without a problem.
    Just because it fails for you doesn’t mean it does the same for everyone.

    Well the point is it’s not just him. It has never worked for me either…

  8. Gustav
    May 6th, 2010 at 03:13 | #8

    MSN, ICQ, Google Talk and Facbook on Empathy has worked for me for over a year. I run Ubuntu, maby thats why, it just works :) I never tinkered with any portnumbers.

  9. Jon F
    May 6th, 2010 at 23:22 | #9

    I have recently heard rumours that the msn login problem has been fixed in Ubuntu 10.04, but haven’t had a chance to try it for myself yet.

  10. Tyler B
    May 7th, 2010 at 16:41 | #10

    Jon F :
    I have recently heard rumours that the msn login problem has been fixed in Ubuntu 10.04, but haven’t had a chance to try it for myself yet.

    I can confirm that it works. Still couldn’t get it to recognize my laptop’s built in mic and webcam though…

  11. Alan
    May 8th, 2010 at 10:24 | #11

    It doesn’t work for me in 10.04, thats how i ended up here.
    Going back to pidgin and/or emesene.

  12. Steven
    May 22nd, 2010 at 03:43 | #12

    Empathy is crap! It randomly disconnects and still shows you as online, and gives NO delivery errors. Then when you reopen it, it shows the same list of contacts as online when you’re really not connected. A IM that can’t message is FAIL.

  13. Adam
    June 7th, 2010 at 14:12 | #13

    I haven’t had a problem with this program since I moved to Ubuntu 10.04. Previous to that I must say, Empathy was in a sad state.
    I believe that the MSN problems are related to changes to the MSN network. The current version seems to work well.

  14. Tyler B
    June 7th, 2010 at 17:12 | #14

    Adam :
    I haven’t had a problem with this program since I moved to Ubuntu 10.04. Previous to that I must say, Empathy was in a sad state.

    Same here

  15. Johnson
    October 22nd, 2010 at 22:07 | #15

    Same here, i can’t make it to work for some reasons!

  16. Eotunun
    November 12th, 2011 at 15:32 | #16

    Oh how right you are! Switching to Empathy was the worst mistake the Cannonical people ever made. That software is so inferior by such lengths to Pidgin that it hurts. A real step back, a bugger up of sorts, poop, poop,poop!
    So it’s like Adium, and that’s posh Mac stuff? -I just recently helped a friend with a video of an interview she made with an indie band. She recorded it on an iPhone, wanted a picture as background added so she could put it on Youtube. I had to do the editing for her in the end, as all the shiny posh software from the shiny posh Mac-world shinily poshly screwed up, got lost in transforming formats, downsizing etc. That happened in a lambstail’s shake with Ubuntu’s preinstalled softwares, so how can Mac-world be an example of any kind?
    Back to Pidgin, folks!

  17. October 21st, 2012 at 03:30 | #17

    This post was hilarious. It at least seems to work better now in Oct. 2012. I just have it side-by-side with pidgin as Empathy still does not work correctly out of the box for g/xfire. After installing haze, you cannot create/connect to your account and it complains about possibly “invalid” options, but it seems it doesn’t matter what you try.. I hope it gets better and soon..

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