Pidgin, Firefox of IM Clients

28 Comments

Mac users are lucky to have Adium, one of the best IM aggregation tools on the planet. On the Windows and Linux side, there are many options, but Anil Dash says Pidgin (formerly GAIM) rocks, and is following the trajectory taken by Firefox, the open source browser.

Pidgin, formerly GAIM, is the best instant messaging client available; It works with all common IM networks, supports extensions and customizations through plugins, has smart and simple default settings, runs on all common desktop platforms, and is a free open source application. Being so similar to Firefox in so many ways, this leaves the application poised to become the “Firefox of IM”.

In comparison to Trillian, Pidgin totally rocks. However, since I have spent little time with this application so far, I am not going to make a judgement call – just yet.

In a field crowded with proprietary, confusing clients that are tied to individual networks, Pidgin reflects the reality that all of us are connected to more than one network. And despite the rush to try to convert all desktop applications into Ajax-powered web equivalents, there is still ample proof from Firefox’s example that powerful, smart, extensible desktop applications are an essential part of the Internet’s evolution as well.

Previously: IM – the last desktop app standing.

28 Comments

Blah

You know, I remember when AIM came out… a standalone IM client that didnt require you to have crappy AOL installed. AIM was great… it was quick and had lots of config… and it just got better. AIM still has the more stable IM network compared to MSN and Y!.. I dont know why people hate the actual AIM app tho… compared to trillian, msn, pidgin, miranda, etc.. its still the best designed, most intuitive. Also the fastest.

Pidgin.. well it doesn’t support half of the IRC commands. It self-validates commands like /ctcp so it doesn’t even send them. Plus it doesn’t have “use small icons” like trillian has. File transfer doesn’t work with other MSN IM clients. And what a horrible name.

Trillan.. well the slightest disruption causes msn to shutdown. Global restart doesn’t always work. File transfer can be buggy depending on the client at the other end. Doesn’t auto-update name aliases

Miranda.. could it get uglier and less intuitive? It’s not even in the running. It seem powerful.. but needs a gui designer.

But on all of these… the AIM network itself A) stays up, even when I momentarily stop network connection. It also is the first to reconnect. B) Almost always has working file transfers C) Was the most popular at one point, but some how bad publicity took it below Y!, which is absolute garbage.

Googletalk…well its too late to the game.. so it doesn’t have much chance. But they have the right idea with the online version of it.

Ebuddy.net ftw!

cris

yeah, i think pidgin is far better than trillian in terms of being user-friendly.. i tried both today, and i would say that trillian looks cool but functionality-wise, i’d prefer pidgin.. besides, what is this weather channel bundled with trillian??

Ian

I’ve just moved from MirandaIM to Pidgin (I used Trillian in the old days). Pidgin is better ‘out of the box’, you need to do a lot of mucking about with Miranda to get it looking less than hideous imho.

toni

I wonder why has no one ever mentioned Kopete here. Nope, it’s not rock solid on every protocol. But hey, it works :). Yahoo file transfer is still problematic IFAICR. But what I love so much is their DCOP feature, aumatically gained from being KDE apps ;). Not to mention supports adium theme.

Your mileage may vary. It may not fits your need, but it’s my trustable IM atm.

Dave Zatz

Adium on OS X is the best stand-alone multi-network client I’ve used. Trillian has a new client in beta testing which looks pretty sharp. I’ll be interested in trying that out on Win when it’s available. In a crunch I will use web-based Meebo, though giving up my IM credentials to a third party makes me a bit uneasy.

KC

I’ve been using ChatStat for quite some time. It’s like Trillian or Pidgin or Miranda (you take your pick) AND LivePerson AND Webtrends all put into one AND it works with Skype!

They even support live on-the-fly language translation which is awesome if you have contacts who’s native language isn’t english.

It’s better then anything mentioned on this post and I’m shocked that more people don’t know about it.

Diego Barros

The problem I found with GAIM is that the UI feels and looks terrible. Whereas something like Trillian is a lot slicker. GAIM also looks out of place, like Java apps. This is the same problem with GIMP. People tout it for being free and a competitor to Photoshop. But again it looks and feels awful.

kooKyGuY

I don’t think Pidgin is bad or anything, but this post makes this blog seem irreverent and useless to me. There is no valid points in it and comparing it to Firefox makes no sense at all. If there were valid points made, it wouldn’t be so bad.

Gregor J. Rothfuss

I have tried them all: Trillian, Gaim, Miranda, Adium. I like Adium and Trilian the best. Adium just works.

Trillian basic is ok, but has too many nerdy UI options (window transparency? Give me a break), and Miranda is just a mess. Look at all the silly plugins on their site, and tell me quickly which ones are essential. Again, too many unnecessary configuration options.

As for theming.. I have never seen anyone not living in someone else’s basement care about that.

CP

“How about for starters, Pidgin is open source, and lets you customize the experience, starting with the very basic.

Trillian Pro, you have to pay for, and Pidgin is free. (Trillian basic is free.)”

Look, I’m all for open source, but that’s hardly a rational argument… It’s open source so it’s better. Come on – give me a point by point comparison of Pidgin versus Miranda, Trillian (basic and Pro), Meebo, and other multi-IM client. And compare apples to apples – by example don’t compare the Linux version of Pidgin/GAIM to the windows version of Miranda.

Just because it’s open source does not mean it’s better. It just means it’s open source. If you can actually articulate functional superiority, then you’ve got a good argument that Pidgin rocks compared to Trillian. Otherwise, your just spewing sour grapes over something not being open source.

Jack

“Jack’s wrong. Pidgin does support filetransfers. used it for icq. works perfect.” — ICQ is just one chat network out of 4+. Just because Pidgin supports transfers on ICQ doesn’t mean it supports them on other networks. A quick check of Pidgin’s bug tracking DB verfified this fact (that file transfers are indeed unsupported or unreliable on a variety of platforms).

Regarding Miranda, I’ve heard good things about this client. I’ll be sticking with Trillian on win32, though.

Aditya

@Marcel: The problem you state is no longer the case really. They have begun to package Miranda with a few basic plugins which they noticed everyone was using. This includes the PopUp Plus (for toasts), as well as the Modern Contact List layered (for themes/skins).

It also comes with all the required protocol plugins as I mentioned before, and all you have to do is fill in the details in the options. Anyone who wants to use a multi protocol IM should know how to do all this (for g’sakes, Trillian never made it easy for anyone, and still it has tons of users).

It’s true that Miranda is a little on the power-user side, but hey, it’s pretty darn good! :)

@Om: No problemo!

Chris R.

The name takes some getting used to, but I use Pidgin whenever I use Linux instead of Windows.

I’ve always been happy with it. No frills, but gets the job done.

marcel weiss

Jack’s wrong. Pidgin does support filetransfers. used it for icq. works perfect.

and as for miranda: only people with too much time on their hands use that. you need like 20+ plugins to get it to do all basic things and then the settings-windows just get really messy. typically a geektoy. besides that miranda is pretty strong, just nothing for the usual guy next door ..er.. pc.

Alper

If forced to work on either Windows or Gnome, I would definitely use Pidgin (né GAIM). It is quite solid and consistent, works with everything and despite being simple is quite customizable.

Mithun

Pidgin(or GAIM) is by far the best multi-protocol client on Linux. I use both Linux and Windows platforms, but prefer Trillian(free) on windows over Pidgin. Given the ease of installation and stability, Pidgin still needs a lot of improvement before it can reach a ‘firefox’ status.
I hope Pidgin overcomes it’s MSN-crashing-behaviour (even on 2.0.x beta). Until then, it’s still Trillian for me. Also looking forward to Trillian Astra …

Jack

“In comparison to Trillian, Pidgin totally rocks.”

See, this is just silly. I’d expect more from this blog, honestly.

Pidgin can’t even support file transfers (an extremely basic IM feature) for most chat networks. You’re comparing it to Trillian?? Seriously??

Trillian supports videoconferencing, file transfers, iChat, Bonjour, the list goes on and on. Comparing it to Pidgin is just sort of stupid, and really shows you aren’t doing your research, Om.

I love open source just as much as the next guy (I love my FireFox), but c’mon! Lets get real here.

Rodney Aiglstorfer

Personally, as a Mac user, I like using Adium. I’ve used it for a couple of years now and its rock solid. Has a plugin architecture and support for themes.

Andy

I love GAIM (I am still going to call it that because I hate the new name). If your going to use any multi network IM client it is the best choice by far. It may not be as pretty as Trillian, but ease of use and functionality take the cake.

Aditya

I’d like to point you to another open-source multi-protocol IM client; Miranda. I think this is the real Firefox of IM clients, with tons of plugins, themes, and ways of expanding your feature set.

It has not even reached a version 1.0 (developer builds are at 0.7) and is already my favourite. I have tried Pidgin (back when it was GAIM) and was disappointed with it’s lack of themes. I’ve tried Trillian, and just cannot bear its memory footprint, and lack of complete compliance with protocols.

Miranda is always being developed and upgraded, and with an active community, I think it’s the best open-source client out there.

Om Malik

AIM is just a bad client – and probably it is good GAIM people changed their name. being associated with a shoddy product is not such a good idea.

P. G.

It’s interesting how AOL continually went after the name gAIM till they changed to Pidgin.

Om Malik

How about for starters, Pidgin is open source, and lets you customize the experience, starting with the very basic.

Trillian Pro, you have to pay for, and Pidgin is free. (Trillian basic is free.)

CP

“In comparison to Trillian, Pidgin totally rocks.” — To perhaps aid readers with deciding on adopting a multi-IM client, would you be so kind as to provide some supporting evidence, as opposed to a trite one-liner?

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