You have to stay connected. This is probably the single statement agreed upon globally. Keep up with what your friends are doing on social networks, crowd-source new concepts, communicate in more diverse and feature-rich ways. Pidgin
is a great tool for this always-connected world we are living in, because it enables instant communication, regardless of the details.
The last major version in the Pidgin line-up, namely 2.6, adds a whole new dimension to the instant messaging experience: voice and video support, albeit for a limited number of protocols and platforms at the moment, but that is bound to change with future development. Since most IM protocols have evolved to support multimedia communication, this feature was long overdue.
Let's take a look at the supported protocols:
· Google Talk
Take note that the list up there only features the protocols officially supported. If you are using some weird instant messaging network, there's a good chance that someone cooked up a plugin that enables Pidgin to work on that network, you just have to look around on the Internet a bit.
The plugins aren't just protocol extensions; they can do all kinds of things, from encrypting your conversations end-to-end, if you fear that your enemies are keeping an eye on your communications, to providing a method for flipping virtual coins, and outputting the result in the current chat.
Add all of that to the list of supported operating systems (Linux, MacOS X, BSD, Windows) and Pidgin's true power emerges.
A customization-related feature that was added in the 2.6 release is the support for themes, either for the buddy list, the status icons or the sounds. Don't expect something extremely visual for the buddy list; the themes only change the colors and fonts. Still, considering that Pidgin is geared towards functionality, the lack of advanced effects shouldn't come as a surprise. Yet another way to give this IM client a personal touch is to set a custom smiley (emoticon) theme, a feature that was implemented quite a while ago.
It's worth mentioning that, unlike proprietary IM applications, Pidgin allows you to connect simultaneously to as many accounts as you wish, and for most protocols you can even connect to two accounts that rely on the same messaging network. The developers also emphasize privacy, providing numerous features that control who can contact you or the information that your buddies are allowed to see. How to install it?
For Ubuntu 9.04, getting the latest version of Pidgin is a snap. You just have to download four .deb packages from Softpedia
, paying attention to the platform you are on, since there is also a 64-bit version. Once you have the Pidgin 2.6.1 and libpurple0 2.6.1 packages for your platform, also grab Pidgin 2.6.1 Data and libpurple-bin 2.6.1, which are common for both 32-bit and 64-bit. To avoid any dependency problems, install them in this order: first libpurple-bin, then libpurple0, pidgin-data and finally, pidgin. That's it! You will have an icon under Applications -> Internet, for quick access to this powerful instant messaging application. Let's take a look at some screenshots that show some of the latest developments in Pidgin, tested here at the Softpedia Labs: