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My Pidgin Talkes To Me

I recently played aroud with the festival TTS (text-to-speech) plugin for pidgin. All in all, it is a nice idea but has a little problem:

It uses festival which currently only contains language support for english languages. As I am a german speaker, I tried to find a way to combine pidgin with a german TTS. After some minutes of googleing, I foudn a TTS system supporting several languages like german, french, english and many other languages. it is called eSpeak Text To Speech. The TTS engine is developed under GPL. As I was not able to find any existing for eSpeak integration in Pidgin out there, I decided to develop my own solution and created a small perl plugin. It is not some well planned solution but a little (hackish) perl script just calling the eSpeak executeable. As eSpeak itself is not able to play any sound on my system, I added support for pipeing the wave-output provided by eSpeak into aplay (of the alsa-utilities package).


If you want to try out the plugin you can download my current version (or lets call it a pre-pre-alpha version) right here: espeakplugin.0.1.1.tar.gz


Note that the plugin works for me but might not work for you at all. As it works as a plugin for an IM application it might also contain some serious security bugs. Keep in mind, that the plugin calls some external executeables that also might contain buffer overflows or other security issues. As the plugin is not extensively tested, I do take any responsibility for any harm the plugin might cause to your system.

To use the plugin, put the into your ~/.purple/plugins directory and restart pidgin. Afterwards, you should be able to select the plugin from the plugin dialog. The plugin runs on linux only and needs espeak to be installed and calleable from your path using espeak command within your terminal. If you want to use aplay for sound output, the alsa-utilities package has to be installed, too.

The plugin has been developed under GPLv3 license (see for more information).