HOWTO: Compile and install aMSN with antialiasing

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This article uses Portage. Do not proceed if you have no idea what Portage is.


NOTE: This article has been updated for 3.4f and WORKS.

aMSN is, indisputably, the best MSN Messenger client available for Linux, sporting features such as full webcam support, text messaging, personal messages, skin support, and more. Unfortunately, it makes use of the dated Tcl/Tk toolkit, which (upon installing Sabayon) does not support antialiasing. So, as great as aMSN is, it looks like complete garbage if you just try to emerge it.

We're going to change all that. Note that I've made some very recent changes to this article in the light of a few issues that people have been experiencing.

Installing Tcl/Tk

So here's the deal. We need to compile the 8.50 releases of Tcl and Tk from source with special features enabled for antialiasing (portage won't do this for us.) What we're going to do is emerge the 8.50 release of both Tcl and Tk, and then also download and compile these releases on our own, and overwrite the changes.

This sounds complicated, but it's really not. The reasoning behind this seemingly redundant install process is because, for some reason, if you compile and install Tcl and Tk, aMSN won't pick it up unless the packages are installed via portage as well (obviously, portage must be doing something extra that we are unaware of. I am lazy and do not care what that is, but if you care to take a look at the ebuilds and find out what it is, go for it.)

# emerge -av =dev-lang/tcl-8.5.0
# emerge -av =dev-lang/tk-8.5.0

If you get an error about package masking, check out the Gentoo guide to masked packages.

Next, download the 8.50 stable releases of the toolkits: Tcl and Tk (available from if you're having trouble with the links.)

Alright, now unpack those in your home directory (or anywhere, really) and then fire up a terminal inside the tcl8.5.0-src/unix directory. Usually, the first step to compile from source is to use ./configure, but we will be tweaking that a little, as follows:

$ ./configure --prefix=/usr --enable-xft

When the configure is finished, type:

$ make

And then (as root)

# make install

If it completes without errors (which it should if you have a relatively fresh install) then repeat these three steps for Tk. Then move on to the next step.

Enabling TLS

TLS, for some reason, is not detected by aMSN on some systems (even if it's already emerged. If it isn't, emerge tls). If this happens (i.e. aMSN attempts to download TLS when you try to sign in), you should edit /usr/lib/tls1.50/pkgIndex.tcl and change the following bit:

package ifneeded tls 1.5


package ifneeded tls 1.50

That's all there is to it.

Emerging aMSN

The grand finale:

# emerge amsn

Let it finish, and you're good to go. Don't forget to go into aMSN's preferences and switch to an antialiased font such as DejaVu Sans.