Taken from

The Internet Complete Reference, Second Edition, Hahn

Chapters 25 - 26

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Chapter 25: Talk Facilities

What is Talk?

Talk on the Internet is any type of communication in which you can send messages back and forth with someone in real time.

A typical talk session will divide the screen into windows, one for each person talking. Anything typed by a person involved in the talk session will be displayed in a window on all participant's screens - as it is typed!

Talk Features

Some talk facilities allow for actual voice transmission.

Chat Rooms: Multiple user talk facilities, often assigned particular topics.

Public Events: Special events in chat rooms where guest speakers appear to give a speech and field questions.

Privacy: Chat rooms offer an option of chatting with a particular user in private.

White Pages Directory: Some talk facilities keep a public list of user names that can be used to find and contact a user to chat.

Personal Address Books: A place to save the names of people you like to "talk" with.

Embedded HTML: Some Web-based talk facilities allow you to embed html commands in your conversation.

File Transfer Facility: You can use this facility to send files to users involved in the chat.

Sounds: Users can use a file transfer facility to send and play sound files to users they are talking with.

Pictures: Send a picture to your talk friends via the file transfer facility.

Video: CU-SeeMe allows you to send a direct video image to talk participants from your computer mounted video camera. Like an Internet based video phone.

Answering Machine: Allows for incoming talk requests to be answered while you are away from your computer.

Remote Control: Allows for a user to access software on remote user's computers -with their permission.

How Does it Work

Centralized Talk works with a Client/Server architecture. All messages are sent to a central Server where they are dispersed to all participants.

Decentralized Talk send messages directly from your computer to the participants.

Shell accounts have very limited Talk access. PPP or direct connection works the best.

Types of Internet Talk Facilities

Unix talk: A basic text based talk facility.

IRC: A huge Internet-wide talk system that supports a large number of group conversations.

Muds: An imaginary talk environment. Often involves fantasy worlds and imaginary characters.

Web-Based Chat Rooms: Need I say more?

Bulletin Board Systems: Often provide chat opportunities for users which have dialed in.

Talkers: Telnet based multiuser talk facility.

Direct Talk Connections: Programs such as Powwow, that allow you to connect directly to the Talk participants.

Telephone-Like Systems: A program which uses voice communications as the Talk medium and connectes users running the same program.

Video Conferencing: Sends live video and sound over the Internet. CU-SeeMe.

Chapter 26 Talk and Ytalk

Talk: A Unix shell program which allows two logged in users to talk.

Ytalk: A Unix shell program which allows two or more logged in users to talk.

Experiment with these programs by working through the Talk Tutorial.


Talk Tutorial


  1. Swap usernames with your neighbor.
  2. One of you initiate a talk session by typing talk username (where username is your partners username) at the Unix prompt.
  3. The other user should respond with the indicated response.
  4. Chat!
  5. ^c closes the chat session.


  1. One person should collect usernames a 3 - 5 users.
  2. That person initiates the ytalk session by typing ytalk user1name user2name user3name etc.
  3. Users respond with the indicated response.
  4. Chat!
  5. Press ESC to view the ytalk menu and explore the options.

Web-based Chat

Check out Web-based chat by going to one or more of the following web sites: