Pidgin (formerly Gaim) is a very popular multi-protocol instant messaging client, based on a library named libpurple. Libpurple has support for many commonly used instant messaging protocols, so the users can log into various different services from one application. The program was originally written in 1999 as an emulation of AOL’s IM on Linux. Both Pidgin and libpurple are free software and licensed under the GNU General Public License. Though Pidgin is commonly used by Linux users it runs on Windows and MacOS as well.
Here is the list of the protocols supported by Pidgin, without the necessity to install any extensions or plugins:
- Internet Relay Chat
- Lotus Sametime
- MSN Messenger (no multimedia support)
- Novell GroupWise
- OSCAR (AIM/ICQ)
- XMPP (Jabber, Google Talk)
- Yahoo! (only basic chat and file transfers)
Moreover there is a possibility to install third-party plugins in order to ensure the support of other protocols (for example, Facebook’s chat feature, and etc.).
It should be mentioned that Pidgin does not support all the features of the chat networks, but just the basic ones, such as: file transfers, away messages, custom smiles, tabbed conversations, buddy icons, spell checking and others. Unfortunately at the moment Pidgin does not support video and audio conferencing at all (nor any form of audio/video communication).
Overall it’s a very nice and simple IM client that would be considered as a perfect solution for many Linux users; moreover developers are already working on adding audio and video conferencing features. Another advantage of Pidgin and other Linux IM clients is that there is no annoying advertisement.
Licq represents a clone of the original ICQ client for Linux distributions which supports AIM and MSN as well. It’s written mostly in C++ and uses and extensive plugin system to manage many different functions. Licq has a lot of features of the standard ICQ client, still there are no ads. The client itself is constantly developing, so new features appear frequently and updates are available often.
Here is the list of the most important features of Licq:
- File transfer
- Invisible and visible lists
- Online User notification
- Typing notification
- HTTPS proxy support to connect through a proxy server
- Multi-party chat
- Tabbed chatting
- Skin and icon pack support
- Plugin system allows for multiple possible GUIs, protocols, and other things
- SSL secure client to client connections
- GPG encrypted messages
In general Licq is quite a decent client that can be customizable according to your needs. Still it can hardly be considered as an easy-to-use client, because you need to spend some time to customize it in order to get something you would like to use.