Let’s do something fun for a change of pace and tell our story of how we found Gaim/Pidgin! No need to be super in depth or anything, but I’m sure there’s some interesting stories here!!
I found Gaim back in 2003 when I moved to using Linux full time as my desktop OS. At the time I was a heavy AIM user and and was looking for something comparable on Linux. I remember trying a few others but unfortunately I seem to have forgotten their names over the years.
I was always very dependent on the AIM “plugin” (more like hack) named DeadAIM that added logging and toaster style popups to AIM. So once I decided on Gaim, I went looking for a toaster popup plugin and eventually ended up writing Guifications which then got me into pidgin development.
I find it kind of funny how those innocuous decisions have shaped the past 20 years of my life!
When I started using Linux in 2012, I immediately started looking for something similar and found it. I was already used to using such multiprotocol messengers on Windows. For example, earlier I used Trillian, Miranda Im, ICQ, QIP Infium, Mail Ru Agent and others. I needed something similar for Linux and I found Pidgin. One XMPP or ICQ wasn’t enough for me. It was necessary to have several protocols at the same time and support multiple accounts.
I don’t remember the exact year, but it must have been within the first few years of “World of Warcraft”. I met several people in the game, from different countries. I think we were 8 or 10 people in total who played together very regularly.
Anyway, that’s how we got to know each other in the game and one by one. No one was in a group before, so everyone had their own method / chat client to keep in touch privately outside the game. I have to admit, I don’t even remember which ones they all were. If someone threw names at me, I’d probably come up with them, but it probably doesn’t matter.
No one wanted to give up their chat software because even back then they had other contacts that had nothing to do with the game.
That’s why I tried Pidgin back then.
It seemed a bit complicated at the time, so I put it aside.
A few years later I tried it again and stayed with it for several years. When the community broke up, I stopped using Pidgin as well.
(Sorry for the rambling, TLDR in bold )
That’s a difficult question for me to answer. I’m not even sure if I ever used Gaim or if it was already Pidgin when I first used it. Let me think … so back in the early 2000s I discovered PbEM RPGs through a friend in vocational school. I went to this school from 2001 to 2004 so I think it must be in that time frame that I discovered Pidgin as I remember chatting with people I met through the RPG on IRC, Jabber, and Yahoo messenger. Although back then I still used Windows and I doubt that I first used Pidgin on Windows … so I started to use Linux with SUSE 9.1 or 9.2 which I got into by buying a huge Linux handbook by Michael Kofler which is from 2004 and I actually have print outs of the Gentoo handbook dated 2005 which is funny because my Linux journey went SUSE → Ubuntu → Gentoo which means that the SUSE / Ubuntu part must’ve happened in 2004/2005 but in retrospect that time felt so much longer. But anyway I think since SUSE back then came with KDE as default I might have used Kopete first and then later Pidgin when I moved to Ubuntu 5.04. So I guess I actually have used Gaim and I found out about it through Ubuntu’s software manager
A LONG time ago Pidgin wasn’t called Pidgin, but was called for the toolkit it was created using (gtk) and the first protocol it supported (aim). Way back then, though this is now denied, there was a link from the AIM home page to what is now pidgin. As I started using Linux as a desktop, I followed that link. Since then there has been a TON of history…
I found Gaim back in 2001 when I started using Linux Mandrake 7.2 (which was the correct name at the time for that distro). I was a heavy AIM and ICQ user and occasionally Yahoo! Messenger too. At the time it was the only IM client I recall finding in the distribution. There were, of course, IRC clients, but I didn’t use IRC back then. This was the good old GTK+ 1.x days. Plugins also had to be manually loaded.
I then graduated to the CVS nightlies leading up to the 0.60 release, and eventually started hanging out in the IRC channel. I eventually started writing patches and became a Crazy Patch Writer, and finally a developer in 2007. I even ended up creating tons of accounts on different services to test stuff (Yahoo! Japan ring any bells?).
Things have changed…
When I was studying I constantly switched between Linux and Windows so I looked for a multi-protocol client that I could use on both. Back then I mainly used ICQ and IRC but also had some contacts on AIM and MSN. Today it’s only XMPP and IRC.
Being a former user of Miranda IM I had some habits in usability that Pidgin supported almost but not completely. This got me into plugin development which also laid the foundation of being a professional C programmer later. According to the changelog of one of my first plugins this must have been in 2008.
Also Miranda was a nightmare for maintaining plugins because a lot releases were breaking API and they had two binary versions, one for ANSI and one for Unicode you had to compile your plugin for… I always appreciated Pidgin for being stable in this regard.
Funny and sad at the same time: I remember that back in 2012 I really feared that Pidgin 3 would come out in the critical time of my thesis because I would not have time to update my plugins. I just watched the last State of the bird and was really happy to hear that there is some light at the end of the tunnel towards Pidgin 3 alpha 1. You core developers can be really proud of what you achieved so far.
Once upon a time, I was using Trillian to chat with friends that were using AIM, YIM or MSN in the same interface. As people started moving to other platforms, I started looking for a client that supported them, and liked Pidgin better than Miranda at the time.
Been on Pidgin since 2016, though I find myself firing up the native Discord client quite often now due to Pidgin/plugin limitations.