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Is there a way to log onto to gtalk and have multiple chats open using the terminal?

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Finch is a terminal client compatible (and developed alongside) Pidgin which can do what you want.

Personally, I use irssi together with BitlBee which is fantastically practical if you are already using IRC to some extent.

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Try mcabber, which should be available through apt-get.

mcabber is a small Jabber console client.
mcabber includes features such as SASL/SSL/TLS support, MUC (Multi-User Chat) support, history logging, command completion, OpenPGP encryption, OTR (Off-the-Record Messaging) support, dynamic modules and external action triggers.

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