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Bug or turf war? ICQ via Pidgin now fails with "startOSCARSession: Request Timeout"

Posted September 07, 2018 by shaun

I've been using Pidgin as my primary messenger client for the better part of twenty years, having found it back when it was called GAIM. There's a lot to like about Pidgin: it's open source, it's cross-platform, its interface is simple and effective, its memory footprint is relatively tiny. And at least until recently, it supported all of the messaging protocols I use on a regular basis.

When Oath decided to turn off the AIM service, I racked my brain for awhile to recall my old ICQ number and then hopped back over there. I don't know many people who still use ICQ, but there are a few, especially with AIM shuttered, so it's nice having everyone in one client. Unfortunately, that changed a couple of months ago when Pidgin started throwing this error during the connection to ICQ:

Received unexpected response from https://api.icq.net/aim/startOSCARSession: Request Timeout

Looking at the debug window, it's clear that the connection is established properly and Pidgin sends the login request, but ICQ's server emits a bunk reply:

oscar: startOSCARSession response statusCode was 408: 
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<response xmlns="http://developer.aim.com/xsd/aim.xsd">
  <statusCode>408</statusCode>
  <statusText>Request Timeout</statusText>
  <data>
    <ts>1536369207</ts>
    <upgradeData></upgradeData>
    <betaData></betaData>
  </data>
</response>

ICQ's proprietary client works, so it seems likely that ICQ is intentionally crippling connections made from Pidgin. I don't trust the official client to run it outside of a sandbox VM, so for the time being, no ICQ for me. I hope this is a temporary setback and not the permanent end to ICQ support in Pidgin. I see someone opened a ticket in Pidgin's trac and a developer has claimed it, so I have my fingers crossed.

And how is it that, after almost a full year, no one has acquired the rights to AIM and stood that service back up?


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