I'm looking to replace Empathy as my instant messaging client in Ubuntu, since it is very buggy for me (I'm using Ubuntu 13.10 if it matters, though I welcome software for 14.04 if you have it).

I'm looking for software that:

  • Integrates with Unity (specifically the messaging menu (see screenshot below) and notify-osd)
    messaging menu
    messaging menu (click image for larger variant)
  • Supports Google Talk/Hangouts and Windows Live Messenger/Skype.
  • [Bonus] Supports ICQ. This isn't a big deal since I rarely use it, but it would be nice.

1 Answer 1


Pidgin (Ubuntu: pidgin) is an IM client that supports many protocols, including Skype (with the pidgin-skype plugin), Google Talk, IRQ, Jabber/XMPP, IRC, Lync/Communicator and more. These protocols work for text chat, I don't know whether Pidgin supports sound, video or screen sharing for all of them.

As I understand it (I don't use Unity myself), Unity integration works out of the box since Ubuntu 13.04, but has to be activated on older Ubuntu releases. At least, I think this is the integration you're after: in the messenging icon, not in the systray. Gnome panel integration works out of the box in 12.04 (I have a Pidgin entry in the messenging menu, and my status is synchronized between that menu and Pidgin).

Pidgin sends notifications through a plug-in which is preinstalled, but not preactivated in the Ubuntu package. In the “Tools → Plugins” dialog, enable “Libnotify Popups”.

I have had Pidgin crash when idle, but not so often that I'd be motivated to dig for something else that supports all the protocols I need.

  • I've used pidgin before, but it never seemed to be well integrated. I don't think I've tried it since 12.10 however. I will have to try it again. Do you have any experience with the skype plugin?
    – Seth
    Feb 6, 2014 at 19:09
  • @Seth I've used Skype, Lync, IRC and XMPP. Only for text chat. They work for me, but I'm not a demanding user when it comes to chat. I have little direct experience with GUI integration as I don't use a modern desktop environment — but I do run Gnome-panel (for Network Manager, essentially) and I can confirm that Pidgin is integrated there (on 12.04). Feb 6, 2014 at 19:31
  • I'm going to accept this for now although I haven't had much opportunity to test it thoroughly. Seems to work though
    – Seth
    Feb 9, 2014 at 4:32

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