A few weeks ago I decided that it would be nice to have some idea of the extent to which Gaim, an open source instant messenger utility, could replace the individual clients available from AOL, Google, ICQ, and MSN [now Windows Live!]. After a bit of looking I found that Gaim has been recently renamed Pidgin.
I was interested because I always like to see a free alternative to proprietary software, and because there is no Trillian version for Linux. I removed all traces of Trillian from my machine, carefully transferring my settings for each service to a notepad entry.
After an easy install procedure, I started entering all the data for each service. The only difficulty encountered was in getting the settings for GoogleTalk correct. I consulted the online help, and followed it explicitly. I still got no results, and a terse [if you happened to be on the programming team] error message. In a case where perseverance was rewarded, I think the network might actually have had a problem. I simply retried, and all was well.
After using revision 2.0.2 for a couple of weeks, I can say that the program works fairly well, and allows the aggregation of all the various people on different networks to be close at hand.
The few problems I have with this program seem to be a mixed bag. The only one really nagging is that there is clearly a problem that is known to the authors, that hasn’t been addressed yet. In the notes, instructions are given on how to properly end the application when hung, and send the proper message to the developers. I’ve had a few hangs, but each time the hang forced a complete reboot, losing any saved information. I almost have the events leading to the hang completely logged. It is possible that some other beta stuff I have is causing the problem.
The other things about the program are perhaps just matters of taste, as I think there are way too many possible things to change for a simple program that really is not meant to do that much.
Also the ability to click on an e-mail notification, and bring up the e-mail program is something I miss from Trillian. There seems to be no help on this problem online, so perhaps this is not a planned or yet implemented option.
One small thing about this program, which seems to be a big thing for many, is the lack of polish in the visuals. This is where Trillian shines. The metrics are better, and the ability to skin makes for a pleasing look to almost any eye.
Still, the ability to include several IM protocols, not available in Trillian, or other clients like Miranda, makes Pidgin a program to give a reasonable look.
[tags] Pidgin, Gaim, Windows Live Messenger, Miranda, instant messaging, Trillian, AOL, AIM, GoogleTalk, ICQ [/tags]