Instant Messaging Solutions for Linux

By | July 7, 2009

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that at the moment every single Internet user has at least one instant messaging client installed. It’s really hard to imagine that there is someone who does not use IM clients to communicate with other people; moreover the variety of IM clients is so great that everyone is able to choose the one he/she needs. That’s why the ability to use IM clients while switching from Windows to Linux OS has to be taken into consideration as well.

Though some Windows users may think that on Linux there are not so many IM clients to choose from, in reality the amount of counterparts is very significant. In the given review we are going to discuss the major Linux alternatives to Windows IM clients in order to demonstrate that there is no need to worry about the possibility of losing functionality of the IM client you prefer.

IM Protocols and Clients


ICQ is a popular instant messaging service, the first version of which was released in November 1996. Since that time ICQ became one of the most popular instant messaging clients (at the moment it’s used by over 38 million users worldwide). The name ICQ is a homophone for the phrase “I seek you”. ICQ uses OSCAR (stands for Open System for CommunicAtion in Realtime) protocol that is a flagship instant messaging protocol of America Online (AOL). OSCAR protocol is used in AIM as well; as a result ICQ and AIM users are able to add each other to their contact list without the need for any external clients.

The latest version of ICQ (ICQ6) launched in April 2007 has the following most important features: sending text messages, offline support, multi-users chats, free SMS from ICQ to mobile, multiplayer games, animated icons, greeting cards, voice and video communication.

ICQ users are identified by numbers called UIN (meaning either Universal Internet Number or Unified Identification Number) which represent names assigned to each ICQ user. Moreover since ICQ6 appeared users have the opportunity to log in using their email addresses.

Although ICQ is very popular among the users there are some really important issues for which it has been heavily criticized. Here are the most important ones:

Spam – many users have to install antispam-bots, because ICQ is often used for distribution of spam and unwanted advertisement

Message delivery – proper message delivery is not guaranteed

Aggressive policy regarding alternative clients – American Online implements a lot of different changes to stop unauthorized ICQ clients working

Privacy and copyright – the acceptance of ICQ Terms of Service means that ICQ may publish or distribute any messages which were sent through the system that could be meant to be private

As far as the programs for Linux are concerned I would like to emphasize that the great majority of them support the most popular protocols giving users the opportunity to communicate everyone they want. Here are the most popular ICQ clients which run on Linux OS:

  • Kopete supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, XMPP, Google Talk, IRC, Gadu-Gadu, Novell GroupWise Messenger and others, for Unix-like;
  • Licq supports ICQ, AIM and MSN, for Unix-like;
  • Pidgin (formerly Gaim) supports ICQ, Yahoo!, AIM, Gtalk, MSN, IRC, XMPP, Gadu-Gadu, SILC, Meanwhile (IBM Lotus Sametime) and others;
  • qutIM Qt-based, cross-platform;
  • Sim-IM supports ICQ, Yahoo!, AIM, MSN, XMPP, for Windows and Unix-like and others.

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