Instant Messaging

Instant messaging (IM) is a way of communicating with friends and family by sending messages to one another over the Internet. Instant messaging happens in real-time, and there is no delay between you typing a message and the other person receiving it.

Pidgin Internet Messenger

Pidgin is the default instant messenger client in Ubuntu, and was formerly known as Gaim. With Pidgin you can talk to people who use AIM/ICQ, Gadu-Gadu, GroupWise, IRC, Jabber, MSN, Napster, Bonjour and Yahoo, and list all your buddies in a single window.

To start Pidgin, choose ApplicationsInternetPidgin Internet Messenger.

There are several extra packages available for Pidgin, which add extra features and allow you to change the way Pidgin looks. You can find these in the Synaptic Package Manager.

Ekiga Softphone

Ekiga is the default Internet telephony (VoIP) application in Ubuntu. It lets you make audio and video calls over the Internet to people who have hardware or software that follows the SIP or H.323 standards and also features basic instant messaging. It is compatible with Windows Messenger and most VoIP applications. However, Ekiga cannot communicate with Skype because the latter uses proprietary technology. If you have the right SIP provider, you can also use Ekiga to place calls to any normal phone line.

To start Ekiga, choose ApplicationsInternetEkiga Softphone.

See the Ekiga Manual for help on using Ekiga.

IRC instant messaging

For users of IRC instant messaging services, an alternative to Pidgin is XChat-GNOME. Its features include advanced scripting support (perl and python) and a clean, easy to use interface.

  1. Install the xchat-gnome package (see Add Applications).

  2. To start XChat-GNOME, choose ApplicationsInternetXchat-GNOME IRC Chat.

Getting help using IRC instant messaging

One excellent way to get help with Ubuntu or to introduce yourself to IRC is to join Ubuntu's official support channel on Freenode.

  1. Start XChat-Gnome as above.

  2. When you start XChat-Gnome for the first time, it will ask you for an IRC Nickname & your real name. Pick anything you want for your nick (first initial & your last name is good, or be more creative), put your real name or part of it, and press OK.

  3. In the Server Window that opens next, select Ubuntu Servers, and press Connect.