Pidgin is an open-source instant messaging client. At the time of writing, it is in version 2.6.2 and is one of the most popular cross-platform, cross-network instant messaging applications.

Pidgin was originally called GAIM, however as a result of a trademark violation claim from AOL, the project renamed itself Pidgin and changed the name of its base library from libgaim to libpurple. The GAIM acronym, which stood for Gtk + AIM, had become somewhat obsolete already, as GAIM supported many other instant messaging networks, so the name change was not especially resisted.

Network Access

The library can be extended with various plugins to interface with other networks, and is fully open-source, so it could conceivably be updated to include new ones as they move into popularity.


  • Tabbed conversation windows are one of the most useful aspects of the Pidgin interface. They address the consternation that many users felt over AIM's unpleasant behavior of spawning dozens of windows that became hard to navigate through when users entered multiple conversations. Pidgin also supports detaching tabs to form separate windows when necessary, and can default to group tabs into windows based on the messaging account with which they are associated.
  • Buddy pounces are a notification feature employed by Pidgin, which can take a variety of forms: opening a conversation, displaying an alert window, playing a sound, or even sending a message. The pounces can be configured to occur only once or every time that the triggering event happens.
  • Identity grouping allows users to combine all of the accounts by which a particular person can be reached into one identity, helping to de-clutter the online list. This, combined with buddy aliases alleviates the problem of remembering sometimes cryptic instant messaging screen names.
  • Conversation logging can be extremely valuable in cases of computer crash or simply when the user needs to remember something that was spoken about days before. Pidgin stores its logs as HTML files, which makes them easily accessible when needed.

Pidgin has led to many improvements in instant messaging user experience, but lately it has been challenged by a number of competitors. Adium for Mac OS X has emerged as a strong rival and is also based on the underlying libpurple network access framework. Gnome's Empathy client is a project very similar to Pidgin, but farther back on the development track. Despite its drawbacks, the Ubuntu developers chose Empathy over Pidgin as the default instant messaging client in version 9.10, sparking user backlash but also indicating a change in preferences among the Linux community for instant messaging clients.