Tweeting from the Linux desktop with Polly

Tweet tweet! Twitter clients aren’t all that uncommon. Even on the Linux desktop. The problem is finding a good one. Or, at least, one that you like.

I’ve found a number that I’ve been happy with. But then I went back to using the Twitter’s web interface. Why? Hard to say. Mainly I found that I could do everything I wanted to do on the desktop I could do on the web, too.

A month or so back, I stumbled across a fairly new Twitter client for Linux called Polly. While it’s pre-alpha, it’s not all that bad. And it shows a lot of potential.

Let’s take a peek at Polly (but not give it a cracker …).

Getting going

You can download either a source package or .deb installer for Debian-based systems like Ubuntu or Linux Mint. Once it’s installed, you can find the launcher under Internet in your programs menu.

When you first launch Polly, you’ll have to link it to your account. Do that by selecting Edit > Add new account. This starts a wizard that walks you through the process. That process, of you want to call it that, involves authorizing Polly to communicate with Twitter. For that, you’ll need to get a numeric PIN from Twitter.

Once that’s done, you can start using Polly.

Polly main window

Using Polly

Reading tweets is pretty obvious: just scroll through the list on screen. When you run up against the maximum number of tweets that Polly is set to display (more on this in a moment), click the plus icon to display more.

So what if you want to send a tweet? Click the icon in the upper-left corner of the Polly window. That opens an area in which you can compose a tweet.

Writing a tweet

You can also include an image with your tweet, and choose one of three image upload services that work with Twitter.

Uploading an image

When you’re ready to post, then click the check mark icon.

If you want to customize Polly, select Edit > Preferences.

Setting preferences

You can, for example, change settings like:

  • The number of minutes to refresh your stream.
  • The number of tweets Polly displays at any one time (the default is 40)
  • The URL shortener and image upload service to use
  • How notifications of new mentions and direct messages should appear
  • Whether or not to check spelling while you type

All in all, Polly is fairly simple – both to set up and to use.

Anything I don’t like?

Polly doesn’t support identi.ca. And it can’t make it work with my personalized bit.ly URL shortening links (wrtr.me); it does work with the stock bit.ly, is.gd, and goo.gl services. There seems to be some discussion about this, which I plan to monitor.

Other than that, Polly is more than serviceable as a desktop Twitter client. While I’m still using Twitter’s web interface quite a bit, I’m slowly using Polly more and more. I can actually see a time when I’m using Polly more often than any other Twitter app, whether web-based or on the desktop.

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