Pidgin – The only internet messenger you'll ever need


Before we start, let me just brief on the term internet messenger. An internet messenger or IM in short is a program that sends and receives messages over the internet. Typically the chat program that we use. Google Talk that we install in our computer and use is an IM. Yahoo! Messenger, Bol messenger, every such program we use are internet messengers. These programs are used to chat with other contacts who have an account in the same domain. This is why you cannot use Gtalk to chat with your Yahoo contacts. So the need to create internet messengers that can help us chat with several of our contacts in various domains arose. That marked the creation of softwares such as Trillian, Pidgin, Empath etc. Using these, you can chat with our Yahoo, Gmail, Rediff, AOL and several other domain contacts at the same time! I have used several such softwares and if there is one multi-protocol chat client that I will recommend, it is Pidgin.

Pidgin is an open-source multi-protocol chat client that helps us to chat with your contacts in Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and 16 other domains out-of-the-box. This can be extended to other domains using customised plugins. Not only does it helps you chat, it also provides new email notifications whenever possible. Some clients such as Empathy does not work with wireless or there are some cases in which the IM does not work behind a proxy. Pidgin does not give us such a headache.

Apart from using a chat program for normal domains which lets us chat, using an extension, we can have our Twitter wall displayed as a chat log. So you can simply click the contact named Twitter and send a message to it like how it is usually done for other contacts and lo! It gets posted in your Twitter wall!

Not only that, there are some interesting plugins that lets you fetch the birthday's of your Facebook friends and gives constant alerts. You can set your status to invisible in Gtalk which is not possible in the standard Gtalk you get. Some fun addons like displaying the typing speed in words per minute and displaying in the chat window, a special alert box (the graphics is good in this), online friends ticker like a news ticker and several others are also available.

One of the interesting problems I see is configuring Google Talk in Pidgin. I have searched for the solution in the internet and found many conflicting solutions. So as a fan of Pidgin, I feel it is my duty to help the fellow Pidgin users there by contributing to the community. Here is the proper solution to the problem. Follow these steps and your Google Talk will be up and running in no time

  1. Select Add account
  2. Select the Protocol as Google Talk
  3. Fill in the username and password
  4. Check the new mail notifications box if you want that facility for this account
  5. Move to the 'Advanced' tab. Check Require SSL/TLS and Force old port (port 5223) SSL
  6. Specify the port as 443, connect server as
  7. Configure the proxy if needed in the next tab and press OK
  8. That's it!

Do give Pidgin a try and post your experiences, problems you face, an intersting plugin you came across for Pidgin or anything else you would like to say about Pidgin in the comments.

Until my next post, take care!

- Harish.R