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Pidgin is a elegant software package which tries to make you feel at ease if you have friends (buddies) across a bunch of IM networks. Pidgin makes use of a library called libpurple, which has an implementation of most of the popular protocols used for instant messaging. So with Pidgin installed in your computer you will be able to connect seamlessly with your friends (buddies) across different IM networks like XMPP based Google Talk, Facebook Chat, or Yahoo, MSN, AIM, IRC, etcetera.

Pidgin comes pre-installed in gNewSense v2.3, but it is being replaced by Empathy in the next major release of gNewSense. Pidgin is your cup of tea if you have accounts across various IM services.

Creating & Managing Accounts

Creating an Account

If you're opening Pidgin for the first time or if you don't have any accounts added to Pidgin, Pidgin will automatically open the account creation wizard for you. If this is the case, you just got to hit Add button to start creating accounts in Pidgin. In case the account management wizard doesn't show itself up for some weird reason and you desire to create a new account, all you have to do is hit Accounts --> Manage Accounts to open the account management window+. In this, click on Add to create a new account.

Once you hit the Add button, the account creation window -- Add Account should open. Here you have two tabs,viz, Basic & Advanced. Just filling out the fields in the Basic tab is sufficient enough to setup the respective IM account. Below is a description of the fields in the Basic tab, it must help you in filling it out.

[Basic tab]

* Login Options

Protocol : [Choose the protocol from the drop-down menu]

Username : [Provide your username/nickname/email-address]

Domain :   [Give the domain name. This is for XMPP based networks]

Server :   [For IRC & SIMPLE, you need to type in the server name]
            [for instance, irc.freenode.net is an IRC server name]
Password : [ The pass-phrase for your account]

* User Options

Local alias : [the name that will be used in the chat box]

              [if a local alias is not given, the
              username/email-address will be used in the chat box
              while you text with your buddies.]

 [ ] New mail Notification : [ ''Check'' this if you desire to receive
                               notification of new emails in your
                               inbox. ]

 [ ] Use this buddy icon for this account : [ ''Check'' this to set an
                                             exclusive buddy icon for
                                             this account]

After you successfully fill out the fields in the Basic tab, just click on Save to configure your new account. Tadah!, you created an IM account to use from Pidgin!.

Tweaking your Account(s)

You may manage your IM account(s) from the Accounts option from the Pidgin's main menu bar. The description of each of the item in the Accounts menu is given below.

Manage Accounts

The central place to create, modify & delete the IM accounts is from the Manage Accounts dialog box which is opened by navigating to Accounts --> Manage Accounts. The dialog box lists the accounts that you have configured in Pidgin. You may enable/disable the respective account by checking/un-checking the check-box. In order to modify the existing settings for the account, all you need to do is click on the account that need to be modified and hit the Modify button at the bottom of the dialog box. You can delete accounts in the similar fashion.

Hit Close when you're finished meddling & fiddling with the Accounts dialog box.

Enable Accounts

If perchance, if you have disabled a few IM accounts, you may enable them back by going to the Accounts --> Enable Accounts. This menu will list the username(s) of the IM account(s) that is/are disabled, you just have to click the respective IM account's username from the drop down menu to enable them. Pidgin will ask for the pass-phrase for the respective account that you wish to enable, duly provide it to activate your IM account.

It is also possible to enable your IM accounts from the Manage Accounts dialog box (Accounts --> Manage Accounts), by checking the check-box of the disabled account.

Tweaking Enabled Accounts

The Accounts menu also lists the IM accounts which are active (i.e enabled). You may tweak the options for the respective (active) account by navigating to the corresponding IM account and opening the sub-menu. For instance, if you have Jabber (XMPP based) account by the foobar@jabber.org. To quickly tweak settings for this account, you would have to go to

 Accounts --> foobar@jabber.org/Home (XMPP) --> Sub-menu. 

The Sub-menu should have the following items :

 * Edit Account
 * Set User info
 * Change Password
 * Search for Users
 * Disable.

There will be other/different items in the Sub-menu based on the type of the IM account in context. I leave it to you to explore each of the options all by your own.

Start Conversation

Now that you have set up your IM account(s), it is time to get to down to business -- start chatting with your friends. As soon as you commence an instance of pidgin, the first thing that pidgin does is logging into all of the enabled IM accounts. Obviously, you will be prompted for the pass-phrase for accounts that need a pass-phrase to sign on (in case of IRC, you might not need a pass-phrase, therefore, in that case, pidgin will automatically log into IRC with no intervention by the user). Once the pass-phrase ritual is over, pidgin gets you logged into the IM network if your pass-phrase was correct & you are tethered to the Internet, otherwise pidgin pops up a small notification (just above the IM Status selector drop down menu) in the Buddy List window with the message

foobar@jabber.org/Home disconnected
Read error.
                [Modify Account] [Reconnect]

If you think, the read error happened because of the credentials ( the pass-phrase, user-name and the like) of your IM account, hit the Modify Account button to rectify your credentials. If you're sure that the credentials of your account are not erroneous, then it is likely that it is a network problem. Hit the Reconnect to try connecting to the IM network again. If nothing is working & you're unable to connect to the IM account, there is a chance that your system firewall is blocking pidgin from connecting you to the respective IM account, contact your system administrator or get help from the gNewSense community to resolve the issue.

Once you're tethered to the IM account. All your buddies will be listed in the Buddy List window.

The Buddy List Window

The Buddy List window is the central part of the pidgin experience. This window is the starting point for anything that you may wish to do with pidgin. Large part of this window lists the buddies that you have across all your IM accounts, yes, you're right, by default pidgin doesn't take the initiative to segregate your buddies according to IM accounts, though it is absolutely possible to put your buddies in separate Groups. Right below the buddy list is the status drop down menu from where you can set your status. The text box below the status menu helps in making the status more verbose, i.e, it enables you to give a textual description your status. For instance, if you're presently writing a passionate essay on software freedom and wish not to be disturbed by your buddies, you may set your IM status to `Do not disturb` and a textual description of your status in the text box may go like :

[Status Text Box]
 rattling winged words!. I may not be responsive.

The status set will be global, meaning, it will be reflected in all IM accounts that are presently enabled.


Every person or contact you chat with is called a Buddy in pidgin. By default all your IM buddies are listed in the Buddy List window. It is absolutely possible to arrange your buddies in some order & segregate them into different groups. For instance, you may group your buddies based on the IM accounts, you may group your buddies based on the relationship you have with them, etcetera.

To create a Group, from the Buddy List window, go to `Buddies --> Add Group`. In the dialog box that pops up, type in the name of the desired group and hit Add. If the Empty Groups option is checked under the Buddies --> Show menu, then the newly created group will be shown in the Buddy List window, otherwise it is not. To move a Buddy to the newly created group, right click on the Buddy and hit Move --> [group name]. After you do this, the Buddy will be moved to the respective Group. Follow the same procedure to create new Groups and move Buddies to the newly added Groups.

Sorting Buddies

The Buddies in the Buddy List window can be ordered/sorted :

To change the sort order, you must go to Buddies --> Sort

Chatting with Buddies

Yes, you open pidgin in order to chat with your Buddies. To chat with a Buddy, just double click on the Buddy, a new IM window must pop-up for you to start chatting. But before you do that, make sure you're are logged in and the respective Buddy is not offline.

Adding Buddies

We make new friends as we live our lives. To add a new Buddy, go to Buddies --> Add Buddy. The Add Buddy window must open, fill the fields in the window and hit Add to add the Buddy to your Buddy List.

The block below must be helpful in filling up the Add Buddy window.

 Add a buddy
     [ Choose the IM account from the drop-down menu to which you wish
       to add the Buddy]

 Buddy's user-name : [ Enter the user name of the Buddy here]

 (Optional) Alias : [ Give a nickname for this Buddy]

 Add buddy to group : [ Choose a group to which the Buddy should be
                      placed in]

Buddy Pounce

The Buddy Pounce is a notification feature in Pidgin which pokes you as the result of a buddy's action. Take an instance, you log-in to chat with Mr. Foo,unfortunately he is signed off from chat, but you know that Mr. Foo will be online at any moment and you desire to be automatically notified somehow when Mr. Foo logs into the chat box. To achieve this, you just got set a buddy pounce on Mr. Foo. The buddy pounce feature lets you set a type of notification for a particular action that your buddy performs. Here in our case, you would want to be notified when Mr. Foo signs in. Here, the buddy pounce lets you choose from a wide range notification types & also provides a functionality to automatically respond to your buddy's action. There are two concrete ways to get notified about Mr. Foo signing in -- a pop up window with a message or a sound/tune announcing his arrival at the chat box.

Let us see how we achieve this. First off, you must open the Buddy Pounce window by going to Tools --> Buddy Pounce from the pidgin's menu bar. The Buddy Pounces window must open, here just click the Add button to create a new buddy pounce on Mr. Foo. In the New Buddy Pounce window that opens, fill in the details in each of the fields to create a buddy pounce on Mr. Foo. The section below must be of help to you as you fill the form.

A small little note before you read on. The phrases given inside square brackets ([ ]) are comments.

Buddy Pounce on Whom

      Account : [Choose the account name you use to chat with Mr. Foo]

      Buddy name : [ Mr. Foo's chat ID (mrfoo@barchat.org) must come

Pounce When Buddy...

[ you will have a wide range of buddy actions to choose from, in our
case we desire a buddy pounce when Mr. Foo signs in. Therefore, it
will suffice to check the Signs on  check box & leave the rest check
boxes unchecked.]


     [X] Open IM window [Check this if you would like to open the chat
                         box as soon as Mr. Foo Signs on.]
     [X] Pop up notification {Notification message...} 
                               [Check this if you want pidgin to
                                notify you with a pop-up window about
                                Mr. Foo's availability]
     [X] Send a message [ Check this to quickly send a message to
                         Mr. Foo when he signs on. Type the message in
                         the message box below this option.]

     [X] Execute a command [ Want to execute a command when Mr. Foo
                             signs in ?. This option is for you.]

     [X] Play a sound [ This is your best bet if you would like to
                        into a siesta while waiting for Mr. Foo to
                        come online. ]


     [X] Pounce when my status is not Available
                      [ Checking this option will only enable the
                        buddy pounce when your IM status is _other_
                        than Available. ]

     [X] Recurring [ You must note that a Buddy Pounce is a ephemeral
                     feature, i.e, the pounce by default can be set on
                     a buddy only once. This means that after
                     executing the pounce on a buddy for the
                     respective action, the buddy pounce on this buddy
                     is deleted. To make the buddy pounce permanent,
                     enable this option. ]

After filling the fields in the New Buddy Pounce window for Mr. Foo, hit the Save button. You are done with setting a Buddy Pounce on Mr. Foo. Now you'll be notified when Mr. Foo creeps into the chat box.

Read More

If you want dig deeper, you may consider wading through the Using Pidgin page at Pidgin's official web site. Wikipedia's page on Pidgin may also be the next destination, if you desire to get acquainted with Pidgin's history

Other IM Clients

Pidgin is not the only Instant Messaging client that you can use in gNewSense, there are couple of other clients too. The IMClients page lists the clients that can be installed in gNewSense.


Documentation/Pidgin (last edited 2013-08-30 16:35:46 by FelipeLopez)