Each of the individual instant message clients have their pros and cons, but if you are just an IM purist (like me) or just don’t want to be bothered with juggling 2-3-4-5 or more IM clients at a time, then Pidgin 2.0 might be a great option for you.
What is Pidgin 2.0?
Pidgin (formally known as Gaim) is an instant messaging program for Windows, Linux, BSD, and other Unixes. You can talk to your friends using AIM, ICQ, Jabber/XMPP, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, IRC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, QQ, Lotus Sametime, SILC, SIMPLE, and Zephyr.
Pidgin can log in to multiple accounts on multiple IM networks simultaneously. This means that you can be chatting with friends on AIM, talking to a friend on Yahoo Messenger, and sitting in an IRC channel all at the same time.
How cool is that?
Some of my favorite features include the updated interface – instead of having little AIM “running man” icons next to all of my buddies, I know have a green circle (indicating they are available) and if they are away, a blue and white clock. When I move my mouse over a buddy’s name, I can see what IM client they are connected to, how long they have been online, their buddy icon and if they are away, their away message. Saves me plenty of clicks!
Of course, I’ve taken this lightweight client to the next level with plugins. Just like my favorite web browser, Firefox, Pidgin 2.0 can be modified to your particular tastes with handy plugins that add functionality or just plain fun to the Pidgin program. Unlike Firefox, however, Pidgin comes with some plugins available to enable in its Tools > Plugins menu. You can enable, disable and configure (most) of Pidgin’s plugins to do things from logging conversations, adding timestamps, notifying you that someone is about to send you an IM, and more!
The only reasons NOT to use Pidgin 2.0 are its shaky file transfer system (I think this might just be an Oscar/AOL problem, but I’m not sure), the lack of video/webcam support and its learning curve. Once we get used to seeing things one way, or making programs work one way, it is hard to change these habits and do something different! Pidgin is easy to install and set up for the big three clients, but it was a little tricky to get Gmail Chat going – and I’m still not sure if my Gmail Chat friends can see my cool statuses when I am using Pidgin 2.0 or not. I guess I’ll have to invite myself to Gmail and find out, huh?
For those of you who are planning on trying out Linux or getting that cute MacBook you saw last week, Pidgin works on these operating systems (OS), too!
Pidgin 2.0 can be downloaded at www.pidgin.im. Pidgin’s website also has great feedback on the project as well as downloadable smilies (if you don’t like the cute pre-installed ones) and a bug tracker. Enjoy!
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