Frequently Asked Questions about BitlBee

This is a wiki-fied version of (which will be redirected here soon.)

Well, maybe not exactly "Frequently", but definitely "Asked" ... mostly by the developers :-)

WTH were you guys on when you thought of that ''weird'' name?

Though we live in The Netherlands and one of us even lives in Amsterdam, we're not on drugs ... most of the time.

Okay, so the cops are so evil there, you can't even admit the truth, but WTH does BitlBee mean then?

There are a few explanations. But the most symbolical goes like: the two colors of the bee symbolize the two worlds betwee which the Bee flies. On the one hand there's the IM-networks, on the other is IRC.

Truth be told, it's absolute nonsense. The biggest nutcase in the development team just played around with words for half an hour or so. BitlBee was the result. We liked it, we kept it. We lovingly shorten it to "the Bee" or even "het Bijtje" (Dutch for "the little Bee") sometimes.

What is 'root' doing in my control channel? I didn't start the Bee as root.

'root' is just the name for the most powerful user in BitlBee. Just like in the system, it is root who is the ... eh ... root of the functionality. Luckily, in BitlBee, root follows your orders (mostly), so no BOFHs there.

We get some complaints from time to time that 'root' is a confusing name. Because of that name, some package maintainers have renamed root to, for example, BitlBee. We recognize that some people see that need. If the package maintainer hasn't renamed root, you can do this yourself with the 'rename' command.

The name root is not likely to change in the 'official' releases, though. We find the metaphor of root correct and feel that there is no important (security threatening) reason to change this non-creative piece of artistic creativity.

When is $random_feature going to be implemented?

It depends on the feature. We keep a list of all wishlist "bugs" in our Bug Tracking system at

The messages I send and/or receive look weird. I see weird characters and annoying HTML codes. Or, !BitlBee does evil things when I send messages with non-ASCII characters!

You probably have to change some settings. To get rid of HTML in messages, see "help set strip_html". If you seem to have problems with your charset, see "help set charset".

Although actually most of these problems should be gone by now. So if you can't get things to work well, you might have found a bug.

Is BitlBee forked from Gaim?

BitlBee 0.7 was, sort-of. It contained a lot of code from Gaim 0.58 (mainly the IM-code), although heavily modified, to make it work better with BitlBee. We were planning to keep BitlBee up-to-date with later Gaim versions, but this turned out to be very time-consuming because the API changed a lot, and we don't have the time to keep up with those changes all the time.

These days, we replaced the Yahoo! code with libyahoo2 (which is a separate Yahoo! module. It's derived from Gaim, but separately maintained) and wrote our own MSN, Jabber and Twitter modules from scratch. Most of the API has also been changed, so by now the only traces of Gaim left are in the "nogaim" filename.

There is good news for Gaim (or now Pidgin, of course) fans though: BitlBee can now be compiled to use libpurple for all IM interactions. This makes BitlBee a bit more resource-hungry, but adds support for many IM protocols/networks that couldn't be used from BitlBee so far.

BitlBee Wiki: OldFAQ (last edited 2014-09-29 17:35:21 by dx)