Pidgin (software)

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Pidgin Logo
Developed by the Pidgin developers
Initial release 1999
Stable release 2.5.5  (2009-03-01; 37 days ago) [+/−]
Preview release -  (-) [+/−]
Written in C (C#, Perl, Python, Tcl are used for plugins)
Platform Cross-platform
Available in Multiple languages
Type Instant messaging client
License GNU General Public License

Pidgin (formerly named Gaim) is a multi-platform instant messaging client, based on a library named libpurple. Libpurple has support for many commonly used instant messaging protocols, allowing the user to log into various different services from one application.

The number of Pidgin users was estimated to be over 3 million in 2007.[1] Both Pidgin and libpurple are free software, released under the terms of the GNU General Public License.


[edit] Features

Pidgin's tabbed chat window in Ubuntu

Pidgin is a graphical front-end for libpurple using GTK+.[2] Libpurple is notable for its support for multiple instant messaging protocols.

Pidgin supports multiple operating systems, including Windows as well as many Unix-like systems such as Linux, BSD, Mac OS X and AmigaOS (through the X11 engine). It has built-in support for NSS, offering client-to-server message encryption for protocols that support it. The program is extendable through plugins, including "Off-the-Record Messaging" and Pidgin encryption[3], providing end-to-end message encryption.

Pidgin features some of the standard tools for an instant messaging client, such as a Contact list, file transfer on supported protocols, and conversation and chat logging. Tabbed conversations is an optional feature on Pidgin. The IM window consists of the message window, formatting tools, and an edit box.

Contacts (usually known as "Buddies") are added by the "Buddy List" window or by the IM window. As a client that supports IRC and other chat programs, it can also add different IRC channels and IM Chats. Contacts with multiple protocols can be grouped into one single contact instead of managing multiple protocols and contacts can be given aliases as well 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.

Pidgin supports some file transfers, with the ability to pause, resume, and cancel transfers and observe multiple transfers in a separate window, lacking more advanced features like folder sharing from Yahoo. However, when used through the MSN protocol, file transfers are slow, as data is routed through MSN servers to the receiver, instead of utilizing a faster peer-to-peer functionality.[4] A Google Summer of Code project aimed to add peer-to-peer functionality in 2007.[5] Support for MSNP15 was added in version 2.5.0 but did not include support for peer-to-peer transfers.[6]

Further features include support for themes, emoticons, spell checking and notification area integration.[7]

[edit] Supported protocols

The following protocols are officially supported by libpurple 2.5.5, without any extensions or plugins:[8]

Additional protocols, supported by third-party plugins, include the social network Facebook's chat feature and the Xfire gaming network.[9]

[edit] Plugins

Various other features, such as encryption and the ability to add mathematical formulas written in LaTeX to conversations, are supported using third-party plugins.[10]

[edit] History

Gaim 2.0.0 beta 6 running under GNOME 2.16.0

The program was originally written in or before 1999 by Mark Spencer, an Auburn University sophomore, as an emulation of AOL's IM program AOL Instant Messenger on Linux using the GTK+ toolkit.[11] 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 also assisted by some of AOL's technical staff.[12][11] Support for other IM protocols was added soon thereafter.[11]

[edit] Naming dispute

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 program's creators, who kept the matter largely secret.[citation needed]

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.[13] The name Pidgin was chosen in reference to the term "pidgin", which describes communication between people who do not share a common language.[14] It also harks back to its original name, as the pigeon bird is a popular game bird and messenger. The name "purple" refers to "prpl", the internal libgaim name for an IM protocol plugin.

Due to the legal issues, version 2.0 of the software was frozen in beta stages. Following the settlement, it was announced that the first official release of Pidgin 2.0.0 was hoped to occur during the two weeks from April 8, 2007.[15] However, Pidgin 2.0 was not released as scheduled; Pidgin developers announced on April 22, 2007 that the delay was due to the preferences folder ".gaim".[16]

Pidgin 2.0.0 was released on May 3, 2007. This was the first release version to be called Pidgin, and contained a completely new graphics design.[17]

[edit] Current deficiencies

  • Due to the Pidgin project's use of reverse-engineering to interact with some proprietary protocols, there are disparities in functionality between official clients and the Pidgin client.
  • Passwords are stored in a cleartext file. This password file is readable by anyone who has physical access to the computer, access to the user or administrative accounts, or (potentially) to anyone who is able to exploit security vulnerabilities on that computer. The developers recognize this as a security concern, but believe that the requirements of Pidgin (and the nature of instant messaging) make it infeasible to encrypt the password file, though they have said that they welcome solutions to integrate Pidgin with application-level security solutions.[18] A Google Summer of Code 2008 project has been approved for the Pidgin project to help address this issue by allowing libpurple to read passwords from external password safes (e.g. GNOME Keyring, Kwallet, or Apple keychain).[19]
  • Pidgin does not currently support video and audio conferencing, nor any form of audio/video communication.[20] Parallel development was planned with the uncompleted gaim-vv library but the project has been declared dead by the developers.[21] The developers plan on implementing multimedia messaging in the future.[22][23] A Google Summer of Code project for 2008 attempted to provide this support[24] and development continues using Farsight2.[25]
  • Pidgin does not currently support resume of downloads that are paused or the transfer of the file is broken, in chat protocols that support this feature.[26][27][28]
  • As of version 2.4 and later, the ability to manually resize the text input box of conversations has been altered - it now automatically resizes between a number of lines set in 'Preferences' and 50% of the window depending on how much is typed. Some users find this an annoyance rather than a feature and find this solution unacceptable. This issue led to the development of Carrier.[29]

[edit] Other software based on libpurple

  • Adium and Proteus are instant messaging clients for Mac OS X that support multiple protocols through libpurple.
  • Meebo is a multi-protocol web-based instant messaging client that uses libpurple.[30]
  • Carrier (previously called Fun Pidgin) is a fork of Pidgin that implements enhancements not included in Pidgin, as well as alternate resizing options.[31][32]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Luke Schierer discusses Pidgin, Open source and life. Interview by PC World Australia, 10 October 2007
  2. ^ "What Is Libpurple - Pidgin - Trac". Retrieved on 2009-03-22. 
  3. ^ Pidgin-Encryption
  4. ^ "Protocol Specific Questions — FAQ — Pidgin". Retrieved on 2007-05-12. 
  5. ^ "UpdateMsnSupport — Pidgin — Trac". Retrieved on 2007-07-18. 
  6. ^ Bailey, John. "It's a bit late...". Retrieved on 2008-09-19. 
  7. ^ "About Pidgin". Retrieved on 2007-05-12. 
  8. ^ Pidgin developers. "Protocol Specific Questions". Retrieved on 2009-03-11. 
  9. ^ "ThirdPartyPlugins". Retrieved on 20090302. 
  10. ^ "Pidgin Third-Party Plugins". Retrieved on 2009-03-02. 
  11. ^ a b c Matthew Herper: Better Instant Messaging Through Linux, , 16 July 2002
  12. ^ GAIM: GTK+ America OnLine Instant Messenger Original project home page as February 10, 1999 (copy at the Internet Archive)
  13. ^ " gaim-i18n". Retrieved on 2007-04-11. ""Pidgin" for gaim itself, "libpurple" for libgaim, …and "finch" for gaim-text." 
  14. ^ "Important and Long Delayed News". Retrieved on 2007-05-01. [dead link]
  15. ^ "News — Pidgin". Retrieved on 2007-04-11. "Now that the settlement is signed, we hope to have the final Pidgin 2.0.0 release late this week or early next." 
  16. ^ "Working towards 2.0.0". Retrieved on 2007-04-22. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Identity vs. Account Orientation". Retrieved on 2007-05-01. 
  18. ^ "Plain Text Passwords — Pidgin". Retrieved on 2007-05-18. 
  19. ^ "Master password support for pidgin". Retrieved on 2008-04-24. 
  20. ^ "Pidgin 2.0.1 Review". Retrieved on 2007-06-14. [dead link]
  21. ^ "Peter Lawler declares that gaim-vv is "completely dead now."". Retrieved on 2008-01-25. 
  22. ^ "FAQ — Pidgin". Retrieved on 2008-03-02. 
  23. ^ "Sean Egan tells here that vv support won't necessarily come with 3.0.0". Retrieved on 2007-05-18. 
  24. ^ "GSoC2008: Voice and Video Support". Retrieved on 2008-09-19. 
  25. ^ "Voice and Video". Retrieved on 2008-09-19. 
  26. ^ "No Resume of broken file transfers". Retrieved on 2008-12-30. 
  27. ^ "No dcc download resuming". Retrieved on 2008-12-30. 
  28. ^ "No ability to resume in IRC file transfers". Retrieved on 2008-12-30. 
  29. ^ "Text box resizing issue". Retrieved on 2008-03-08. 
  30. ^ "meebo from the backside". Retrieved on 2008-10-03. 
  31. ^
  32. ^

[edit] External links

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