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Pidgin (software)

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Pidgin formerly named Gaim is a free and open-source multi-platform instant messaging client, based on a library named libpurple that has support for many instant messaging protocols, allowing the user to simultaneously log in to various services from one application

The number of Pidgin users was estimated to be over three million in 20073

Pidgin is widely used for its Off-the-Record Messaging OTR plugin, which offers end-to-end encryption For this reason it is included in the privacy- and anonymity-focused operating system Tails


  • 1 History
    • 11 Naming dispute
  • 2 Features
    • 21 Pluggability
    • 22 Contacts
    • 23 File transfer
    • 24 Voice and video chat
    • 25 Miscellaneous
    • 26 Supported protocols
    • 27 Plugins
  • 3 Criticisms
  • 4 Other notable software based on libpurple
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


Gaim 200 beta 6 running under GNOME 2160

The program was originally written by Mark Spencer, an Auburn University sophomore, as an emulation of AOL's IM program AOL Instant Messenger on Linux using the GTK+ toolkit4 The earliest archived release was on December 31, 19985 It was named GAIM GTK+ AOL Instant Messenger accordingly The emulation was not based on reverse engineering, but instead relied on information about the protocol that AOL had published on the web Development was assisted by some of AOL's technical staff46 Support for other IM protocols was added soon thereafter4

As of 6 July 2015update, Pidgin scored seven out of seven points on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's secure messaging scorecard7 They have received points for having communications encrypted in transit, having communications encrypted with keys the providers don't have access to end-to-end encryption, making it possible for users to independently verify their correspondent's identities, having past communications secure if the keys are stolen forward secrecy, having their code open to independent review open source, having their security designs well-documented, and having recent independent security audits7

Naming disputeedit

In response to pressure from AOL, the program was renamed to the acronymous-but-lowercase gaim As AOL Instant Messenger gained popularity, AOL trademarked its acronym, "AIM", leading to a lengthy legal struggle with the creators of GAIM, who kept the matter largely secret8

On April 6, 2007, the project development team announced the results of their settlement with AOL, which included a series of name changes: Gaim became Pidgin, libgaim became libpurple, and gaim-text became finch The name Pidgin was chosen in reference to the term "pidgin", which describes communication between people who do not share a common language9 The name "purple" refers to "prpl", the internal libgaim name for an IM protocol plugin10

Due to the legal issues, version 20 of the software was frozen in beta stages Following the settlement, it was announced that the first official release of Pidgin 200 was hoped to occur during the two weeks from April 8, 200711 However, Pidgin 20 was not released as scheduled; Pidgin developers announced on April 22, 2007 that the delay was due to the preferences directory "gaim"12

Pidgin 200 was released on May 3, 2007 Other visual changes were made to the interface in this version, including updated icons13


Pidgin running on Ubuntu

Pidgin provides a graphical front-end for libpurple using GTK+14 Libpurple supports many instant-messaging protocols

Pidgin supports multiple operating systems, including Windows and many Unix-like systems such as Linux, the BSDs, and AmigaOS It is included by default in the operating systems Tails and Xubuntu


The program is designed to be extended with plugins Plugins are often written by third-party developers They can be used to add support for protocols, which is useful for those such as Skype which have licensing issues They can also add other significant features For example, the "Off-the-Record Messaging" OTR plugin provides end-to-end encryption

The TLS encryption system is pluggable, allowing different TLS libraries to be easily substituted GnuTLS is the default, and NSS is also supported Some operating systems' ports, such as OpenBSD's, choose to use OpenSSL or LibreSSL by default instead


Contacts with multiple protocols can be grouped into one single contact instead of managing multiple protocols, and contacts can be given aliases or placed into groups

To reach users as they log on or a status change occurs such as moving from "Away" to "Available", Pidgin supports on-action automated scripts called Buddy Pounces to automatically reach the user in customizable ways

File transferedit

Pidgin supports file transfers for many protocols It lacks some protocol-specific features like the folder sharing available from Yahoo Direct, peer-to-peer file transfers are supported over protocols such as XMPP and MSN

Voice and video chatedit

As of version 26 released on August 18, 2009, Pidgin supports voice/video calls using Farstream15 As of July 2015update, calls can only be initiated through the XMPP protocol16


Further features include support for themes, emoticons, spell checking, and notification area integration17

Supported protocolsedit

The following protocols are officially supported by libpurple 290, without any extensions or plugins:18

  • Bonjour Apple's implementation of Zeroconf
  • Gadu-Gadu
  • IRC
  • Lotus Sametime
  • MySpaceIM
  • Mxit
  • MSNP Microsoft Messenger service as used by Windows Live Messenger AKA MSN Messenger; no multimedia support
  • Novell GroupWise
  • OSCAR AIM, ICQ, MobileMe,
  • SILC
  • XMPP/Jingle Google Talk, LJ Talk, Gizmo5,
  • Yahoo! Messenger basic chat and file transfers
  • Zephyr

Some XMPP servers provide transports, which allow users to access networks using non-XMPP protocols without having to install plugins or additional software Pidgin's support for XMPP means that these transports can be used to communicate via otherwise unsupported protocols, including not only instant messaging protocols, but also protocols such as SMS or E-mail

Additional protocols, supported by third-party plugins, include Microsoft OCS/LCS extended SIP/SIMPLE,19 Telegram,20 QQ,21 Skype via skype4pidgin plugin,22 WhatsApp23 and the Xfire gaming network requires the Gfire plugin24


Various other features are supported using third-party plugins25 Such features include:

  • End-to-end encryption, through Off-the-Record Messaging OTR
  • Notifications such as showing "toaster" popups or Snarl notifications, or lighting LEDs on laptops
  • Showing contacts what you are listening to in various media players
  • Adding mathematical formulas written in LaTeX to conversations
  • Skype text chat via skype4pidgin plugin
  • Watching videos directly into your conversation when receiving a video sharing website link YouTube, Vimeo


  • Passwords are stored in a plaintext file, readable by any person or program that can access the user's files Version 30 of Pidgin no announced release date26 will support password storage in system keyrings such as KWallet and the GNOME Keyring27
  • Pidgin does not currently support pausing or reattempting file transfers282930
  • As of version 24 and later, the ability to manually resize the text input box of conversations was removed This led to a fork, Carrier originally named Funpidgin313233
  • Pidgin does not allow disabling the group sorting on the contact list34
  • As observed by Wired in 2015, the libpurple codebase is "known for its bountiful security bugs"35

Other notable software based on libpurpleedit

  • Adium and Proteus both for macOS
  • Meebo web-based, no longer available36
  • Telepathy Haze a Tube37 for some of the protocols supported by the Telepathy framework38
  • QuteCom cross-platform, focused on VoIP and video
  • Instantbird39 cross-platform, based on Mozilla's Gecko engine

BitlBee and Minbif are IRCd-like gateways to multiple IM networks, and can be compiled with libpurple to increase functionality

See alsoedit

  • Free software portal
  • Multiprotocol instant messaging application
  • Comparison of instant messaging protocols
  • Comparison of instant messaging clients
  • Comparison of Internet Relay Chat clients
  • Comparison of XMPP clients
  • Online chat


  1. ^ Kramlich, Gary 2016-06-20 "Pidgin 2110 released" Announce Retrieved 2016-06-20 
  2. ^ About Pidgin: Supported languages
  3. ^ "Luke Schierer discusses Pidgin, Open source and life" Archived February 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine PC World Australia, 10 October 2007
  4. ^ a b c Herper, Matthew July 16, 2002 "Better Instant Messaging Through Linux" Forbescom
  5. ^ Crawford, J 1999 "User Guide" markonet Archived from the original on 1999-05-08 Retrieved 2011-10-15 As of now, the most recent sources are here 1 the file date is 1998-12-31 
  6. ^ Spencer, Mark 1998 "GAIM: GTK+ America OnLine Instant Messenger" Original project home page markonet Archived from the original on February 10, 1999 
  7. ^ a b "Secure Messaging Scorecard Which apps and tools actually keep your messages safe" Electronic Frontier Foundation 4 November 2014 Retrieved 6 July 2015 
  8. ^ "Sean Egan's Blog - The Power of Momentum continued" Archived June 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine pidginim May 23, 2007
  9. ^ "Important and Long Delayed News" pidginim April 6, 2007 Archived from the original on 2007-04-08 Retrieved 2011-10-15 
  10. ^ "What's with the name libpurple, anyway" pidginim Retrieved 2014-04-22 
  11. ^ "Important and Long Delayed News" pidginim April 6, 2007 Archived from the original on 2007-04-08 Retrieved 2011-10-15 Now that the settlement is signed, we hope to have the final Pidgin 200 release late this week or early next 
  12. ^ "Working towards 200" pidginim April 22, 2007 Archived from the original on 2007-04-25 Retrieved 2007-04-22 
  13. ^ Egan, Sean April 30, 2007 "Identity vs Account Orientation" pidginim Retrieved 2007-05-01 
  14. ^ "What Is Libpurple - Pidgin - Trac" Pidginim Retrieved 2009-03-22 
  15. ^ "Changelog" pidginim Retrieved 2009-08-22 
  16. ^ "Voice and Video" pidginim Retrieved 2009-08-22 
  17. ^ "About Pidgin" pidginim Retrieved 2010-09-22 
  18. ^ Pidgin developers "Protocol Specific Questions" pidginim Retrieved 2011-06-30 
  19. ^ "SIPE Project" Retrieved 2012-02-29 
  20. ^ GitHub - majn/telegram-purple: Adds support for Telegram to Pidgin, Adium, Finch and other Libpurple based messengers
  21. ^ "libqq" codegooglecom Retrieved 2011-06-14 
  22. ^ "Skype "API Plugin for Pidgin/libpurple/Adium"" RobbMobcom Retrieved 2009-07-06 
  23. ^ "WhatsApp on your computer: Pidgin Plugin" 
  24. ^ "Third Party Plugins" pidginim Retrieved 2009-03-02 
  25. ^ "Pidgin Third-Party Plugins" pidginim Retrieved 2009-09-22 
  26. ^ "Milestone 300--Pidgin" July 3, 2014 
  27. ^ "KeyringSupport--Pidgin" pidginim July 3, 2014 
  28. ^ "Ticket #5769 new enhancement - Resume broken file transfers" pidginim May 11, 2008 Retrieved 2011-10-15 
  29. ^ "Ticket #7486 closed enhancement: duplicate - xdcc download-resuming-support" November 7, 2008 Retrieved 2008-12-30 
  30. ^ "Ticket #1425 new enhancement- No ability to resume in IRC file transfers" pidginim May 30, 2007 Retrieved 2008-12-30 
  31. ^ "Ticket #4986 closed enhancement: wontfix - automatic chat input field resizing should be optional, regression from 23" pidginim March 1, 2008 Retrieved 2008-03-08 
  32. ^ Adams, Paul April 22, 2008 "In Response to User Demand, Pidgin Forks" Wiredcom Archived from the original on 2008-05-19 
  33. ^ Malda, Rob April 30, 2008 "Pidgin Controversy Triggers Fork" Slashdot
  34. ^ "#1325: add option to hide groups" pidginim Retrieved 2013-04-22 
  35. ^ Greenberg, Andy 2015-10-31 "Tor Just Launched the Easiest App Yet for Anonymous, Encrypted IM" WIRED Retrieved 2015-10-31 
  36. ^ "meebo from the backside" meebocom July 15, 2008 Archived from the original on August 19, 2008 Retrieved 2008-10-03 
  37. ^ "Tubes" Telepathyfreedesktoporg Retrieved 2014-04-01 
  38. ^ "Telepathy Wiki - Components" Telepathyfreedesktoporg Retrieved 2012-10-11 
  39. ^ "Instantbird:FAQ - Instantbird Wiki" Wikiinstantbirdorg 2011-02-10 Retrieved 2012-10-11 

External linksedit

  • Official website

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