I don't know about you, but I have used instant messaging programs
almost as long as I have used computers. Back then, I used Windows,
and installed AIM and Yahoo Messenger. I installed them both
because, like everyone else, I had friends that used one or the
other. Soon I got tired of having multiple programs open all the
time, and looked for something that would run more than one IM
client. The first program I found was a Win program called
Trillian, and used it for a while. However, when I converted to
Linux in 2006, I had to find a different program. Pidgin has filled
that need very nicely, and it's easy to use. Since I have to use Win
at work, I'm happy to have a version of Pidgin there as well.
Let's walk through the configuration. First, of course, install
Pidgin from the repo. When you first open it, you will see a
Welcome window which tells you to add your accounts.
When you click on the Add button, the Accounts window will appear
so you can start. Click on Add Account. Another window will appear.
The first item you should select is the protocol you are using. By
that, I mean that if you use Yahoo Messenger, you should choose
Yahoo from the list.
From there, your window may change according to the data that
protocol needs to connect and allow you to message someone. For
many protocols, the tabs are as shown above: Basic, Advanced &
Proxy. I haven't got Facebook configured here, but I notice that
there is an extra tab, called Voice & Video.
The Basic tab is where your sign-on information is entered. After
choosing the protocol, you should enter your Username and Password
in the next two places, and, if you wish, check the box that says
Remember password. If you are configuring IRC, you also need to
enter the IRC server you are wanting to use (the PCLOS channels are
all on Freenode, so enter irc.freenode.net)
Generally, that's really all I really ever enter. Depending on your
system or internet, you may have to alter the defaults that are
already there, but I haven't ever needed to alter any of it.
After you add accounts, your account window will have each of them
This is good, since you have to open this window and choose Modify
when you change your passwords.
Now that you have your accounts established, you need to add the
people you are going to chat with. In AIM and Yahoo, you will Add
Buddies. In IRC, you will Add Chats. You need to go to your Buddy
List. Your Buddy List is the main window for Pidgin. The window
below shows the Buddies menu. It is here that you will add people
that you can chat with.
From the menu, choose Add Buddy... and the Add Buddy window will
Choose the instant message account your friend is using, and fill
in your friend's username on that messaging protocol. Also, choose
the group you want to add your friend to, and click Add. My groups
are Friends and Family, and I think those are the defaults. We'll
add another group later.
Be aware that when you add a buddy, a message will be sent to them
inviting them to add you to their IM client so you can chat. If you
want to include some sort of custom invite message, you can do it
in this window.
When you have both added each other, you can chat in Pidgin. A
simple right-click on a buddy's name will give you a drop menu that
includes "IM". When you choose that, a window will open and you can
type back & forth to each other.
I want to add some IRC channels. Rather than adding them to friends
or family groups, we can add a separate group for them. From your
Buddies menu, select Add Group... and when the window appears,
simply type in the name for your group. I used "IRC Channels".
Then, to actually add a channel, choose Add Chat... from your
buddies menu. The following window will appear:
Choose the IRC account you added, then add the name of the channel.
Since your account settings already have your password, you can
leave it blank. Make sure you choose the group you want as well.
Also, if you want to join the channel every time you start Pidgin,
check "Autojoin when account connects". If you aren't sure about
the channel name, click on the Room List button. Bear in mind, it
takes a minute or so for Pidgin to generate the room list. All
rooms begin with the symbol #, so the main PCLinuxOS room is
When you get your accounts, buddies and chats added, you can talk
to whoever you want. All you need to do now is right-click on your
buddy's username and choose IM, or click on a channel name and
choose Join. Here is an example of the window that will open. This
is two of the PCLinuxOS IRC channels. Each of them will have a list
at the right which tells who is in the channel at present.
If you choose to IM a buddy, another tab will appear at the top of
that window with your buddy's name and you can IM from there. I
like the fact that there's only one window and it doesn't clutter
my desktop. If you want different windows, you only have to
right-click a tab and choose Detach this tab.
Eventually, you are going to want to change the way your windows
look or see what kinds of plugins Pidgin has. For that you should
open the Tools menu.
From there you can open the Preferences window.
You may want to change the way your conversation looks. The
Conversations tab will let you alter the font of your conversation.
Uncheck the box that says Use system font, and pick out a font of
your own. You can also set your text window (the section in which
you type your comments) to be a set number of lines, have your
system flash the Pidgin icon when you get a message, and even let
you know if your buddy is typing a reply. I set my text window to
be three lines high, but you might like yours bigger. You can have
your system play a sound when you get an IM, from the Sounds tab of
Preferences. In the Status/Idle tab, you can set the time interval
until Pidgin automatically changes you from Available to Away.
Feel free to experiment with things to get your window just right,
being careful not to change settings that might affect the
connection. I don't mess with the Network or Proxy tabs, since the
defaults have always worked for me.
I enjoy talking to PCLinuxOS friends, and I also chat with several
friends and relatives, all from Pidgin. It's nice that, no matter
which messenger my friends or family use, I can chat with them all