A tour of Empathy IM client

[Linux – Gnome Only] Listed on the roadmap to Gnome 2.24 is the integration with Empathy, a multi-protocol IM client. This integration could be a sign of a replacement for Pidgin and Ekiga with one single SIP and multi-protocol IM application.

For this article I tested Empathy to see how it works and if it is better or worse then Pidgin (currently my favorite IM client).


I searched through Synaptic and was able to find Empathy and Telepathy so I installed from there. But, the version I found was really really outdated (I hate when that happens). So, after searching for some help information, I discovered this nice forum post that mentioned I had to add another Software Source to my Ubuntu:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/telepathy/ubuntu hardy main

After this, I was able to get the latest Empathy 2.23.6.

Adding Accounts:

My options are not as vast as Pidgin but I was able to find the main IM protocols like AIM, MSN, GTalk, Yahoo! The added bonus was that I could also add SIP accounts.

After all of the accounts were added, the UI looked very much similar to Pidgin’s:

I ran into some problems connecting to a couple of my accounts. Empathy kept asking to access the Keyring default password, which I had long forgotten. But, after troubleshooting that everything worked well. I’m not sure if this was something I did or some bug in the program.


Let’s start with what Empathy currently doesn’t have: file transfers, pop-up notifications (like Guifications), API or extensions structure, and a good website with help information. The program feels a bit incomplete, under development.

Now for the good news: with Empathy you can use video and voice! Personally I use IM strictly for text, for audio and/or video I use Skype. But, quite a few people (such as my wife) would really like to use A/V with her MSN contacts. Although the A/V capabilities are awesome, in Empathy it is only working now with GTalk / Jabber protocols (at least for me), and I’m sure with SIP protocols it’ll also work well.

I couldn’t use audio / video since none of my close contacts were online to test, but here is a screenshot from Empathy’s website to demonstrate how it would look:

Personally I’m really glad A/V is being integrated. Hopefully other protocols will be supported soon.

Overall, I liked what I saw and tested. I think Empathy will be a good addition integrated in Gnome, but currently it still needs a bit more work.

Based on the above (and your own experience if you`ve tried it out), would you think Empathy is ready to take over Pidgin?

Instant Messengers, unite! (with Pidgin)

Pidgin logoOver the years I’ve created several email accounts and shared them with some friends and family to be in touch through Instant Messengers (IM). Being online for each account meant I had to open 4 different programs, each for one specific IM (AOL, MSN, Google Talk, Y!IM).

That was before all before I found Trillian, a proprietary program. It has a free version, I’ll give credit to that but the application was starting to slow down my computer a lot. That is when I switched to the open source Pidgin, formerly known as Gaim.


Pidgin is fast, simple to use, and cross-platform so I can use it on Linux or Windows computers. With it I’m constantly logged on to my 5 IM accounts. It hasn’t crashed on me once. Another nice thing about Pidgin is you can add plugins to increase its potential even further (encryption, message notification, new email notification, etc etc etc.). The list of plugins is pretty big but my favorite and most essentials are Guifications and Extended Preferances.

Pidgin chat window

The only negative side of Pidgin is that you can not chat with voice or video, you can only use text. Making it clear, this isn’t Pidgin’s fault, the ones to blame are  the other proprietary messengers that have closed programming codes.

Many Linux distros already have it installed, for more info and download please visit their website. You can also add it to a USB pen drive with Portable Apps with to carry your messenger with you.