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A Better Way to Microblog – GNU Social!

GNU Social is extremely cool. Not only can you have your own microblog, under your terms, with your rules, but you can also follow other people who have their own microblog as well. Not up to running your own? No problem, because there are plenty of public nodes out there already set up and waiting for you to make an account. I personally recommend 2mb.social or social.mayfirst.org, but those are just two of the ones I know of. There’s also Quitter.se, or gnusocial.net. All you have to do to get microblogging in a matter of a couple minutes is go sign up at one of the sites listed above. But, if you wanna take the bull by the horns, you can install GNU Social by downloading it from its git repository or from the .tar.gz file.
To follow a person, go to their page, https://social.stormdragon.tk/storm, for example and click on subscribe. Enter your webfinger (the full URI to your account) into the box, you@wherever.whatever, then click subscribe. You will be presented with a page to confirm your subscription.
You can also follow people from your own page. To do so, click on profile, remote, and enter the person’s webfinger into the box and confirm you want to subscribe to them.
As with other microblogging services, hash tags are used. In fact, you can see a list of trending tags right on the site. However there is another aspect to GNU Social not available in other microblogging options. If you prefix a word with an exclamation point, it will post to a group, so long as you are subscribed to said group. People in a group see things posted by everyone in that group regardless of following status. You may choose to post your currently playing music track to the !listening group, which gasher, (see below), does for you automatically. Here are some groups I recommend:

Alter Aeon>
Keep up with happenings on the game Alter Aeon.
Listening
Listening to something awesome? Post it here!

When you are setup and ready to rock, you may be interested in some clients for GNU Social. I am currently developing a command line client called Gasher. It is very functional so far and contains features you won’t likely find in most other clients, including the ability to post your currently playing song or the ability to record and post sound clips right from the program itself. For Arch Linux users, Gasher is available in the AUR as gasher-git.
The previous version of TTYtter also works well as a client, so long as you add a few things to your .ttytterrc before launching it. First, install the required version of TTYtter:

sudo wget -O /usr/bin http://www.floodgap.com/software/ttytter/dist2/2.0.00.txt

Then, create ~/.ttytterrc with the minimum of the following settings. Note, for the following example, I’m going to use https://social.2mb.solutions:

apibase=social.2mb.solutions/api
authtype=basic
linelength=512
user=USERNAME:PASSWORD
ssl=1
vcheck=0

You are now ready to use GNU Social with TTYtter, awesome! You may have noticed we had to set the line length in the above example. That’s because GNU Social does away with that silly 140 character limit, allowing the site administrator to set the character limit to whatever they wish. So, prepare to get used to being able to say what you want to say without running out of space.
BitlBee is another option as a GNU Social client. It’s been available since back when Identica was actually good. The third parameter in the account add line isn’t really needed, so just put whatever you want there. To add your account:

account add identica foo
account identica set base_url https://social.2mb.solutions/api
account identica set oauth false
account identica set message_length 512
account identica set username USER
account identica set password PASSWORD

If you would like an extra layer of protection, so you don’t accidently post something you don’t mean to, then do the following:

account identica set commands strict

With this option set, you have to type post then the text you want to post. Finally, to enable the account:

account identica on

For those of you who aren’t into the command line, there is a nice graphical app called Yaics which may or may not be in your distro’s repositories. For Arch Linux, it is available in the AUR. The source is available at https://gitlab.com/stigatle/yaics. It is accessible with orca, but you will have to use flat review almost exclusively. During configuration, if you find text boxes that don’t say what they are, just press orca+numpad5 for desktop layout, or orca+k for laptop layout, and it will tell you what the box is.
For Android users, the application Mustard is a great way to connect to your GNU Social account. Install it from the Playstore. Setup is straight forward and easy.

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