Pidgin (formerly named Gaim) is a multi-platform instant messaging client. The software has limited support for many commonly used instant messaging protocols, allowing the user to log into various different services from one application.
Pidgin supports multiple operating systems, including Windows as well as many Unix-like systems such as Linux, BSD, and AmigaOS (through the X11 engine). It is notable for its support for multiple instant messaging protocols. 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, providing end-to-end message encryption.
Pidgin features some of the standard tools for an instant messaging client, such as tabbed conversations, 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. A Google Summer of Code project aimed to add peer-to-peer functionality in 2007. Support for MSNP15 was added in version 2.5.0 but did not include support for peer-to-peer transfers.
Various other protocols and features are supported using third party plugins.
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. 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. Support for other IM protocols were added soon after.
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 language. 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. 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".
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