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How To Send Messages With The Bitcoin Blockchain On Linux Using Bitmessage

There are few things as fascinating as the blockchain technology. One program taking advantage of this technology is PyBitmessage. With this program, users can send P2P messages with the Bitcoin blockchain, in a secure way. Best of all, this program can be used on multiple operating systems, including Linux!

Install PyBitmessage

PyBitmessage is an exciting program, but it doesn’t seem that the mainstream Linux distributions have enough interest in it to carry it officially. Luckily, this program is straightforward to compile and build from source. To start the compiling process, open up a terminal and install the various libraries and dependency files required for your operating system.


sudo apt install python-qt4 python-msgpack python-pyopencl python-setuptools build-essential libssl-dev git


sudo apt-get python-qt4 python-msgpack python-pyopencl python-setuptools build-essential libssl-dev git


sudo dnf install PyQt4 python2-msgpack python2-pyopencl python2-setuptools gcc-c++ redhat-rpm-config python-devel openssl-devel git


sudo zypper install python-qt python-msgpack-python python-setuptools gcc-c++ libopenssl-devel python-devel git


Arch Linux

Installing PyBitmessage on Arch Linux isn’t very different than compiling it on other Linux distributions, as we’ve outlined in this article. However, given how the AUR works, Arch users get a much cleaner, more automated build process. All dependency files are taken care of automatically.

To get started installing PyBitmessage on your Arch Linux PC, you’ll first need to install the latest version of the Git package management tool with the Pacman, package manager.

sudo pacman -S git

Git is done installing. The next step in the process is to clone the latest PyBitmessage pkgbuild snapshot.

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/pybitmessage.git

CD into the newly cloned pybitmessage directory to start the package generation process.

cd pybitmessage

Building packages from the AUR is a quick and easy process. However, sometimes errors can happen. If makepkg fails to generate, you may have some dependencies that can’t install automatically. To fix this issue, you’ll need to go to the PyBitmessage AUR page and install the rest of the dependencies manually.

To start the build process, run makepkg.

makepkg -si

Other Linuxes

PyBitmessage has a handy script that allows users to scan their operating system and find out what dependencies they need to run the program. If you are trying to run this program on an operating system that isn’t listed above, follow these instructions to determine what you need.

git clone https://github.com/Bitmessage/PyBitmessage
cd ~/PyBitmessage

python checkdeps.py

Read the output of the script, as it will detect what OS you have and print out the exact packages you need. Most operating systems have instructions within the checkdeps.py script, even FreeBSD!


With all the dependencies installed, it’s time to start working with the source code.

First, using the git tool, clone the latest version of the PyBitmessage source code from GitHub.

git clone https://github.com/Bitmessage/PyBitmessage

Use the CD command to move the terminal into the newly cloned PyBitmessage folder on your Linux PC.

cd PyBitmessage

Inside of the PyBitmessage folder, there are several files. These files are essential to the program overall, but we can disregard them. The only important file here is setup.py, as it will take the code, build it, and place it in the right location.

Install PyBitmessage to the entire system, by running this command as root:

sudo -s

python setup.py install

Alternatively, install PyBitmessage as a regular user, run the following command. Keep in mind that if you go this route, PyBitmessage will need to be re-installed multiple times for each user that needs to use it.

python setup.py install --user

Using PyBitmessage

To start communicating with PyBitmessage, you’ll first need to create a new identity. Do this by opening the program. Once it’s open, click the “new identity” button. Leave the settings at default, and click “OK” to get started.

Shortly after setup, PyBitmessage will show a notification in your system tray saying “connected.”

To send a message with PyBitmessage, click the “Send button.” Clicking “send” doesn’t automatically send anything. Instead, it opens the message dialog, where users can compose new things to send.

Sending Ordinary Messages

Need to send a Bitmessage to a friend? First, get their Bitmessage address. Once you’ve got it, click on “Send ordinary Message.” Paste their address in the “To” box.

Note: PyBitmessage sends disposable messages. To determine when your message will expire, drag the slider next to “TTL.”

PyBitmessage won’t automatically use your address in the “From” section. Instead, you’ll need to click the “From” box and select your address when it comes up in the menu. Fill out the subject, and the message box. When everything looks good, click the “send” button.

Sending Messages To Subscribers

In addition to sending messages from person to person, PyBitmessage allows users to send items to “subscribers,” or people who follow your PyBitmessage address. To use this feature, click “send,” then the “Send messages to your Subscribers” button.

Like in “Ordinary Messages,” click on the “From” box and click add to your address. Then fill out the subject and the content of your post. Click send to publish to your followers.

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