Turpial: Twitter Client For Linux

A shot of the login window for Turpial
Firing up Turpial

UPDATE 27/06/13: Since a couple of weeks ago Turpial stopped working for me. Twitter switched off their version 1.0 API in favour of 1.1. I’m leaving this article here in case anyone still wants it as a reference.

If you’re a Linux desktop user like myself you may have experienced problems finding for a decent Twitter client. In many distributions the default client is Gwibber, it’s even integrated into the Unity desktop for Ubuntu. I’ve used it on and off for years now and I’m not one to throw harsh criticism around if I can help it. However, in the case of Gwibber I think it’s well deserved. It’s monumentally slow, buggy and unstable. Even after all these years. I have no idea how it’s become so popular. Whenever I try Gwibber it hangs and I get the classic Compiz grey window while I wait for the machine to stop having a panic attack. Often all I’m trying to do is refresh my messages. You may think this is due to my machine being old or slow. Not so my friends. I last used Gwibber in Ubuntu 12.10 on an Intel Core i7 3.5ghz quad core machine with 8 gig of RAM and an SSD. Hardly a low spec PC I’m sure you’ll agree. Well capable of running a Twitter client, I’m not asking it for the meaning of life here. Being an app that relies on loading messages from the Twitter (and in my case Identica) you could easily assume it must be the API causing the slowness. Perhaps even network lag. My guess would just be poor design and coding. An application that locks up so badly and frequently that it affects the performance of your whole desktop is totally unacceptable. I persevered with Gwibber for a long time for a couple of reasons. Firstly because I hoped i would improve and performance would be refined. Secondly because none of the alternatives I tried were much better, if they were any better at all that is.

A dialogue box for a new message. Large main text box and a submit button
Sending a message with Turpial

At this point I should give Choqok an honourable mention. It’s a KDE microblogging client which I’ve used intermittently over the last 2 years. It is much better than Gwibber in performance but as I don’t use KDE on any of my machines it requires the QT libraries to run. All that is installed for you with the main package and it’s not a major hassle, but it does add extra overhead. I found the layout and UI a little confusing at first but gradually got used to it. Not exactly a lightweight client but considerably more so than Gwibber. Worth a look if you’re on KDE but not the application I want to tell you about today.

The status quo (not the band thankfully) with microblogging clients on Linux continued for quite some time. The lack of a decent native Twitter client was getting embarrassing. Then I discovered a wonderful little app called Turpial completely by accident. I was fed up with Gwibber locking up for the 15 millionth time one day so began searching online for ways to make it faster or fix it. I came across a forum post responding to a similar question containing the words, “the solution to Gwibber’s performance problems is installing Turpial and moving on”. I can’t credit this statement to the right person as I should because I lost link and it was all quite a blur. So whoever that mystery poster was, thank you! I searched my package manager for “turpial” and sure enough found the application nice and quickly. Once I got it installed I was amazed by the speed and usefulness of this client. That was a couple of months ago and I haven’t used anything else since. I’m not looking back.

The main thing I like about Turpial is the speed, it really is a lightweight app and runs very smoothly. Especially when you consider that it’s all written in Python, a language often wrongly accused of being slow. If you switch to wide mode in the preferences you can add columns and use it like Tweetdeck, the ever popular Twitter client. See the image below.

A Turpial window with 3 columns placed horizontally
Turpial in wide mode

You can fine tune the refresh settings for replies, direct messages and your main Twitter stream individually in the preferences. Also note the “wide mode” check box if you want multiple columns.

The preferences window in Turpial. 3 sliders to set update frequency, some assorted tick boxes below.
The Preferences dialogue

Apart from the speed perhaps my favourite thing about Turpial is that it comes under GNU GPL version 3 or later license. My personal favourite as a copyleft proponent.

The license statement for Turpial, asserting the GPLv3 license.
Turpial uses GPLv3

There’s only one drawback to Turpial that I can see really. It doesn’t let you use multiple accounts or services with one instance of the application. It supports Twitter and Identica but you can’t do both from one window. As it’s so lightweight it’s no hassle to fire up another instance of Turpial and sign in with your Identica details. I’m guessing you could also do the same if you wanted to monitor multiple Twitter accounts. It still performs really well and doesn’t seem to add any strain to my system. In this case an Intel Core i3 laptop. Not a high end one either. Identica will be closing fairly soon and when it does that’ll take care of one of these dilemmas for me categorically. For now if you’re an Identica fan and not a Twitter user, of which there are some, you can use it as an Identica only client with all the same features. Plus if you’d like to add features or get involved there’s a Github repository for the project. You can check out the code and play around with it if you have the skills. The beauty of Open Source.

The profile page on Turpial with a form for all your account details, name, URL, description and so on
The profile page

So if you’re looking for a sane alternative to Gwibber and you’re tired of pulling your hair out (I haven’t got much left) give Turpial a spin. If you have any other suggestions for Linux microblogging clients I should try also please free free to add them in a comment on this post. Since Adobe AIR no longer comes for Linux I’ve left Tweetdeck off the list. I never quite understood all the fuss over Tweetdeck anyway. It’s not FOSS and I prefer to use open solutions wherever I can.

So there you have it, Turpial is well worth a look. Happy tweeting and/or denting!



  1. You are invited for test the git version =)

  2. It’s nice to see a reasonable twitter client enter the GTK+ realm. When I was playing around with Gnome 3 and Cinnamon while on a break from KDE I tried to find a halfway decent Twitter client and, quite simply, failed.

    Most of the clients would not connect to Twitter. The others (Gwibber included) just did not work well. Constant crashes and slowdown plagued me at every turn!

    I finally resigned myself to the Tweetdeck web interface pinned to a tab in Chromium. I’m back on KDE nowadays, but if I ever find myself back on GTK+, I’ll definitely take a look at Turpial!

  3. Dan thank you very much for this i will go ahead and try this! was it my imagination or was there once a Gwibber with multi column? i must be living under a rock or something.. identi.ca is closing? what are the alternatives? other than twitter.

    • @andres – I’m not sure if there was a multi-column view for Gwibber but you may well be right. Identi.ca is being closed down yes. It was announced some time ago. Evan Prodroumou was a guest on Linux Outlaws back when Identi.ca started and we all had high hopes. Sadly things haven’t worked out quite as we hoped. His new project is called Pump.io and I’m told Identi.ca accounts may be moved there for those who want it. I wouldn’t hope your breath though. It’s a real shame.

  4. Thanks for this — I’d gotten so frustrated with Gwibber that I resorted to (gasp!) the actual twitter website. Turpial is looking good.

    • @amy – I know a lot of people who went back to using the website because they were fed up with Gwibber. I almost did myself but Turpial just does it’s job without getting in the way. I’m really glad I found it.

  5. The choice is obvious for me. Choqok on KDE and Turpial on the others.
    Very good work.

  6. It can have more columns than only three. It’s a really pitty. 🙁

  7. Unfortunately, while I have been using Turpial for months now, it has now become very unstable. It repeatedly throws “over the API limit” errors when that is not the case (it shows you the calls in a bar on the bottom), and today it died completely with “authentication error” every time I try to log in.

    I then tried Chotok, Qwibber and several other Linux clients and NOT ONE OF THEM works on openSUSE properly. Not one…

    I’m amazed at how poor the user interfaces are for these clients. I’m also amazed that openSUSE builds are created that simply DO NOT WORK. Why would anyone do that? It’s incredibly stupid.

    The Linux Twitter client problem most definitely has not gone away.

    • @Richard – I’m not an OpenSUSE user so can’t comment on the packages for it. Doesn’t sound good. Just as a quick update, Turpial stopped working for me yesterday. I think perhaps Twitter changed their security setup as it can’t log in now. Still trying to get to the bottom of it.

  8. Twitter turned off version 1.0 of the API recently and it’s done for Choqok, Turpial and a few of the other decent clients. I’m using the website, mostly while I’m hunting for a client that is useable with more than 3 lists, but I have to say that I’m mostly just not using twitter.

  9. the gnuSocial thing is really becoming attractive. it seems to use statusnet and you will be able to use it with meduagoblin.

  10. I use Polly and Hotot. Both work well. Hotot has fantastic user-friendly interface, but to switch between accounts is a bit slow (log out, home screen, login).
    Polly is simple and not feature-rich but it has multiple account support in separate columns in a same window. Furthermore even though it is classified as “unstable” it never crashed on my machine.
    I use the versions from their respective PPA’s. Polly isn’t in Ubuntu’s official repos while the version of Hotot in the repos didn’t work for me but the one from the PPA did.

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