corebird twitter client for linux
Corebird was a GTK Twitter Client

The Corebird Twitter client for Linux was one of my favourite desktop apps so I was pretty bummed when Twitter API changes effectively put the app out of action last year.

But nothing is ever really “gone” in open source, is it?

And so the soul of Corebird (i.e. its code) lives on in the regenerated form of Cawbird, a Corebird fork with big ambitions for the future.

In this post we take a look at Cawbird, find out how it differs from Corebird, and show you how you can install Cawbird in Ubuntu to try it out for yourself.

Cawbird Twitter Client for Linux

Corebird was a well designed, dutifully maintained and fully featured Twitter app for the Linux desktop built in GTK but loved by users across DEs and toolkits.

It let you (deep breath): tweet, retweet and favourite; upload images; send and receive direct messages; follow, unfollow, ban, and block accounts; and supported advanced features like letting you mute specific hashtags and switch between different accounts.

It’s a list of features that ardent fans of 280 character status updates expect from third-party Twitter client.

Corebird’s chief job was to display a reverse chronological stream of tweets from the Twitter accounts that you follow (none of that algorithmically ordered “best tweets first” silliness please).

Cawbird (mercifully) still does that.

Indeed, fans of the bite-sized social networking service will find that all of Corebird’s core features — should that be caw features? — are present and intact.

So how does it differ?

Well, Cawbird is still subject to the same Twitter API changes that put a spanner in the works of its inspiration.

Corebird, like other third-party twitter apps, was caught in a bind when the bird-brained bods at Twitter decided that offering a well documented API that allowed developers to build new experiences around the service was somehow a bad thing.

But while Corebird’s developer decided to stop there, regarding the effort required to comply with the changes as too much, the developer of Cawbird is chooisn got push on through, working with and around Twitter’s enforced limitations and restrictions.

While noble it does mean that, like all other third-party Twitter apps for Android, macOS etc, Cawbird offers a slightly “lesser” experience than that found in the official Twitter apps and “progressive web app” website.

For instance, there’s no ‘real time streaming’ in Cawbird. Tweets do not appear as they’re posted, live, automatically. Instead, Cawbird has to check for new tweets every two minutes (though I believe you can manually refresh at any point).

The app is also limited in how often it can refresh or fetch other stats, such as follow/unfollows, direct message deletion, and tweet unfavouriting, on start-up. So if you tend to keep the app open while you work do get in to the habit of periodically quitting and reopening it.

And while Twitter “notifications” tab in official apps will let you know about new followers, people liking your tweet, and so on Cawbird can’t: it’s notification stream is strictly mentions-only.

Name & Logo

Have I mentioned that I find name of this fork totally inspired.

“Caw” is the sound that a crow makes (keeping with the bird ‘tweet’ theme) but the word also sounds exactly like “Core” when you say it aloud. So Corebird = Cawbird.

It’s a really clever play on words.

However, Cawbird sports a logo that’s (to my eyes) too similar to Corebird’s (albeit not as a blue and pink). Fans of the original app will know that Corebird’s developer was very attached to his 2D (rather gruesome) bird-brain logo and didn’t want to change it.

I’d love to see Cawbird branch off and create its own distinct identity with a modern, well designed icon that better represents what it does (use third-party macOS Twitter apps as an inspiration).

Install Cawbird on Ubuntu

You can install Cawbird on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and above in a number of ways. You’re quite literals spoilt for choice.

The fastest and easiest way is to use the (unofficial) Snap app available:

Cawbird on the Snap Store

If you prefer more traditional packaging formats then you can go ahead and add the relevant Cawbird OBS repo to your Software Sources. This lets you install Cawbird and get future app updates automatically via the usual Software Updater method.

If you’re on Ubuntu 20.10 run the following command:

sudo sh -c "echo 'deb /' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/home:IBBoard:cawbird.list"

Next add the repository signing key (if you skip this step you will get errors):

wget -nv -O Release.key
sudo apt-key add - < Release.key

Then to install the app run:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install cawbird

If you’re on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS run:

sudo sh -c "echo 'deb /' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/home:IBBoard:cawbird.list"


wget -nv -O Release.key


sudo apt-key add - < Release.key

Or, if you just want to download a standalone Cawbird installer, grab it directly:

Download Cawbird (64-bit .deb)

Older versions of Cawbird may be packaged for Linux distributions other than Ubuntu, including CentOS, OpenSUSE and Fedora. More details on those packages can be found on the project website.

cawbird corebird OBS Repos twitter twitterapps