Get the latest mcabber release from the official website. It's usually a bzipped tarball, for example mcabber-0.9.10.tar.bz2. Untar it:

% tar xvjf mcabber-0.9.10.tar.bz2
% cd mcabber-0.9.10


Note: if you do not want to make a system-wide installation, you can use the --prefix option.

% ./configure
% make
% make install

OpenBSD users: you'll probably want to add --enable-sigwinch as there is no default SIGWINCH handler.

First run

You could launch mcabber with no configuration file, but then you would have to set the options manually. The simpler way is to copy the sample configuration file provided with the source tree:

% mkdir ~/.mcabber
% chmod 0700 ~/.mcabber
% cp mcabberrc.example ~/.mcabber/mcabberrc

Now, edit the configuration file. You need to set your username and server (or only the jid option, starting from mcabber 0.10.0). (Note: if you want to use SSL/TLS encryption, have a look at the ssl_verify or ssl_ignore_checks options).

Ok, you should be able to launch mcabber now!

It's running... Now how does it work??

The mcabber screen is divided into 4 regions. The roster, alias buddylist, is on the left. The chat window, or chat buffer, is on the right. The input line lies at the bottom of the screen, under a small log window. Two status lines surround the log window. The bottom status line is the "main status line" and reflects mcabber general status. The other line is the "chat status line" and shows the status of the currently selected buddy. To display buddies chat buffers, you will have to enter Chat Mode. You can enter chat mode by pressing enter, and leave chat mode with the ESC key. Simply sending a message will also enable chat mode. Use PageUp/PageDown to move inside the roster.

Take a look at the small User Guide to get a quick overview.

All commands in mcabber have an online help (use /help or /help command)!

Configuration etc.

Read The (F) Manpage for more details, and the sample configuration file to see all the available options. You can use the online help (command /help). If mcabber's help files have been translated into your language, you can set the corresponding lang option (see the config. file).