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I am just doing a system format and was about to reinstall Pidgin for my IM client, however I wanted to know what other options are out there that people use and are happy with.

What are you using and would you recommend it? I'm looking to do AIM, and GTalk in one unified interface.

Thanks!

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14 Answers

Trilian Astra is pretty slick. I like it better than the other versions of Trillian that have been previously released. Astra is multi-protocol and does all of the usual messengers. The new version supports AOL, ICQ, Jabber, Bonjour, Skype Messaging, gtalk, twitter, facebook, IRC, Windows Live Messenger and MyspaceIM.

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Do you have to buy the pro version to use those simultaneously? So for example, the free version only allows you to be logged on to Bonjour or IRC or Live Messenger? Or how does that work? –  Svish Aug 14 '09 at 9:31
    
Astra allows you to be connected to all of the IM services you have configured all at once. That is why it is so useful. If I had to pay money to use more than one at a time, honestly I'd go elsewhere. –  Axxmasterr Aug 14 '09 at 11:16
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The Lifehacker HiveFive -- Five Best Instant Messengers.
And Pidgin is quite good (which sort-of makes this an exact duplicate question).

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Hm, that Lifehacker top five has Digsby on top, which they themselves say has joined the dark side... not good =( –  Svish Aug 14 '09 at 9:34
    
Check the dates. Plus LH's HF's are entirely userdriven. –  Phoshi Sep 19 '09 at 23:24
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I recently switched from Pidgin to Miranda. Tons of great plugins so it's extremely customizable. A very nice, free client.

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But unfortunately has its share of non-resolvable bugs, occasional crashes and it a great pain to configure sometimes. –  Јοеу Aug 7 '09 at 17:59
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And it's quite ugly out-of-the-box. –  TFM Aug 11 '09 at 11:41
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I love the ugliness = speediness –  Joe Philllips Aug 14 '09 at 3:13
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@joh; I haven't had a crash since .7, and that's been a while. –  Phoshi Sep 19 '09 at 23:25
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I have used:

I prefer Pidgin, mainly because its open source and runs on Windows and Linux, and Trillian requires $ for jabber plugin to use google talk (or did the last time I used it), and I think its rather sillly to pay for software to access free services :-).

I have heard good things about:

Apparently Digsby is now considered not so great.

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Digsby may be a poison chalice... beware: lifehacker.com/5336382/… –  jerryjvl Aug 14 '09 at 0:39
    
Miranda-IM's a solid choice if you're willing to deal with the longer configuration times. Well worth it, if you ask me. –  Phoshi Sep 19 '09 at 23:23
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I prefer to just use Meebo and not have to deal with installing stuff. But I'm not much of an IM user.

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Meebo is nice! It supports lots of different IM systems (including MSN, Jabber and Facebook IM). I use it because I switch computers a lot and don't want to bother with installing software all the time. –  Jonas Aug 14 '09 at 8:21
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Digsby is a good client, which I believe is based off of libpurple (the same engine behind Pidgin). It supports the major (and most minor) chat protocols, including the standard group of YahooIM, AIM, MSN Messenger, GChat, Jabber, ICQ, IRC, and Facebook.

Its free as in beer, but not free as in speech, and has more than a few ads (EDIT: understatement). I stopped using it while it was still in beta after they released a build with a memory leak bug (500MB is too much for a chat client), but that was 2 years ago.

MASSIVE VERY IMPORTANT EDIT: LifeHacker did some digging and posted a rant on how Digsby does all sorts of nastiness (everything from useless advertising "options" to stealing CPU cycles). I can't recommend Digsby any longer, and would heartily recommend you do not use Digsby.

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Digsby may be a poison chalice... beware: lifehacker.com/5336382/… –  jerryjvl Aug 14 '09 at 0:40
    
damn didn't know that before! I'm gonna uninstall it for sure! but will it not leave other crapware traces on my PC?? –  user3864 Aug 14 '09 at 9:55
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Digsby does not "steal" CPU cycles. It uses cycles that would otherwise be wasted when the computer is idle to compute answers for various research projects. It runs at low priority and doesn't run if you're on battery power. Digsby is trying a new revenue model that realistically has no impact on users, and I applaud that. –  Stephen Jennings Aug 14 '09 at 9:56
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Stephen Jennings - the issue is that Digsby doesn't flat-out state in an up-front manner what its doing with regard to this "revenue model". Think "Hitchhiker's Guide" - just because you give notice in some place I might never read (company blog/unlit basement bathroom) doesn't mean your actions (demolishing a house/using my computer) are OK. After all, I pay for the electricity, and I paid for the computer, and I think as a customer (not "consumer") its my right to know what's going on behind the scenes. –  Andrew Scagnelli Aug 14 '09 at 12:55
    
BTW - There is a link on the download page for digsby which says something along the lines of "having problems installing?" ... download that installer, and it is free of additional crapware. –  eidylon Sep 19 '09 at 21:45
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Before Pidgin I used Trillian or Windows Live Messenger. Pidgin is still probably your best bet besides Microsoft's own client.

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If you're on Gmail, the built-in chat client has integrated support for GTalk (of course) and AIM.

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(Disclaimer - I'm on Yuuguu Dev Team)

Yuuguu allows you to combine your contact lists from Skype, GTalk, MSN, Yahoo Messenger and AIM. It also enables you to chat cross-network with contacts.

Yuuguu's main feature is as a web collaboration tool (screen sharing, remote control and the like) but we see the IM side of things as a vital part of the offering.

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I've been using nearly all IM clients out there including

  • Miranda IM
  • Pidgin
  • Digsby
  • Trillian 3 / Astra

Miranda was my IM client for a long time but it requires a lot of maintenance because it's completely plugin-based but therefor highly customizable. I definately won't use Digsby again as long as they keep spamming with ads inside the installer. On Linux I still use Pidgin and I can recommend it for Windows, too. It supports all protocols an IM user could need and has plugin support for extending the feature list. Currently I'm using Trillian Astra on Windows. The interface fits perfectly into Windows 7's modern UI and I love that it supports all the features I need out-of-the-box (such as Skype integration). One mayor disadvantage is that the free version doesn't merge meta contacts history. That's why I consider changing back to Pidgin again.

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I was a LONG-time Trillian user (of the pro version), but switched to Digsby a while back and haven't looked back. I LOVE digsby's functionality, especially their Facebook integration and especially the latest updates.

People have complained about crapware and ads in the installer. When you go to the download page, look for the small link towards the bottom in little print that says to click it if you are having problems with the installer. That link will download a different, de-crapified installer. That installer does not contain any ads, and I've NEVER once seen an ad in the software itself.

As for the "stealing" CPU cycles, this is for cloud-research, similar to SETI@Home. Personally I don't mind that, but if you do, you can turn it off in the options.

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If anyone is interested in a manageable, internal chat system, check out Openfire. It's open-source and built with Jabber. Openfire is the server software, and you access it with their own client called Spark.

It can also be set up with IM gateways to view your buddy lists on AIM, Yahoo, GChat, etc. You can set it up in your company's office to cross-authenticate to your Active Directory (users love this, as do I). I've got it set up for a number of clients and everyone's been happy with it.

It's not really great for home use, but for corporate environments it works great.

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I'm currently using Pidgin, but I use TokBox (www.tokbox.com) as well.

TokBox is online (but then, if you're not online you can't IM anyone anyway).

One of the benefits of TokBox is that it includes the ability to use your webcam and microphone in conversations and to have video conferences etc, which some other applications don't let you do.

I also use Skype

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Psi is a Google Talk IM App.

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Psi is a free instant messaging application designed for the XMPP network (including Google Talk). Fast and lightweight, Psi is fully open-source and compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

With Psi's full Unicode support and localizations, easy file transfers, customizable iconsets, and many other great features, you'll learn why users around the world are making the switch to free, open instant messaging.

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