A very interesting and simplistic Windows Live Messenger replacement is emesene, which is what MSN sounds like when said quickly in Spanish.
The best thing about it, in my opinion, is the option to change the conversation style. Instead of “Buddy 1 says:”, you can use a theme that displays “<Buddy 1> message”
The thing is that the IRC style doesn’t come with timestamps. But, it’s quite easy to change, if you know where to look and what to do. I searched their forums, but the support is… very questionable. People seem to believe everyone already knows where things are.
I’m using Ubuntu, Hardy Heron / 8.04. For me, the conversation themes are located in /usr/share/emesene/conversation_themes/. With that in mind:
sudo gedit /usr/share/emesene/conversation_themes/irc/theme
You’ll see something like this:
# This is an example theme
# Lines starting with a # are ignored
# Theme infos section
description=This is an IRC style conversation layout
author=Julien “Trapamoosch” Enche
# Take care : space characters are not stripped between values and “=” and values must fit in one line
# Tips : you can do things like “outgoing=incoming” if you want the same layout for incoming and outgoing messages, for example
# Here’s the tags list :
# %nick% : displays the nick of the message sender
# %email% : displaus the email of the message sender
# %message% : displays the raw message (ie ignoring the format the user applied to it)
# %formattedmessage% : displays the formatted message
# %h% : hour of the message
# %m% : minute of the message
# %s% : second of the message
# and more to come…
information=<span style=”font-weight: bold;”>*** %message%</span><br/>
error=<span style=”font-weight: bold; color: #FF0000;”>*** %message%</span><br/>
I bolded what we want to change.
You can see that the structure is very simple. And in the commented section, we are told how to put a timestamp. The rest is by logic:
incoming=[%h%:%m%:%s%] <%nick%> %formattedmessage%<br/>
You can, of course, modify this to your liking. There are other conversation themes you can see in the conversation_themes directory.