Empathy vs. Pidgin, the showdown

For the past few days (actually about a week) I’ve been using Empathy.  My main messenger is Pidgin (used on any Windows machines I might have, and on all Ubuntu/Linux machines I have).

Here’s a quick comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Let’s look at the advantages of Empathy:

  • Integrated into Gnome.
  • Uses panel-applets to its advantage.
  • Easy to use.
  • Voice and video chat (buggy though).
  • Fast startup.
  • Uses Ubuntu’s libnotify implementation.
  • Low memory usage.
  • Use of select Adium themes.

Now, the disadvantages:

  • No meta-contacts!  This is huge (IMHO) because I have many contacts that are on different IM networks.
  • No icon in the system tray (though the online indicator is in your session applet).  Strange to get used to when you’re used to Pidgin.
  • ALWAYS holds messages in the indicator-applet, even if you have the chat window showing.  This can be irritating, as I have to click on either the applet or the window for the glowing indicator to go away.
  • Not easy to change your user icon over all accounts (ie, must change user icon for each account separately).
  • Flaky file transfer (nonexistent for MSN and a couple of other protocols).

Advantages to Pidgin:

  • Cross-platform (I’m including Adium).
  • Plugins (OTR, guifications, etc).
  • Decent speed.
  • Uses Ubuntu’s libnotify implementation.
  • Uses whatever GTK setup you’re using.
  • Customizable buddy list.
  • Easy to use.
  • Easy to change user icon over all accounts.
  • Decent file transfer.  Sightly flaky on Linux, but I usually use Dropbox for that sort of thing.

Disadvantages to Pidgin:

  • Not integrated into Gnome.
  • Flaky audio and video chat (possible, but buggy).
  • No theming (unless you count the GTK theme you do when you change the theme of Gnome; otherwise there are no specific themes for the message window).

Now, there are many reasons to use what you like, and I’m not going to tell you to use Empathy.

I’ve been using it for the past week; it’s a very good messenger.  I happen to prefer Pidgin (I’ll be switching back tomorrow) because of the metacontacts.  When Empathy implements metacontacts, I will probably switch back to it from Pidgin.

Give it a shot, and see what you think.  Post your observations in the comments; don’t forget they’re moderated right now.  All comments will get through, eventually.  :)

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3 thoughts on “Empathy vs. Pidgin, the showdown”

  1. At the moment I still prefer Pidgin to Empathy for a few reasons with the chief reason being that Pidgin offers metacontacts. At the moment Pidgin does everything I need an IM client to do and if I need any extra functionality I can easily add it via plugin which is impossible to do in Empathy.

    Empathy definitely has a lot of potential though and once it manages to mature a bit more I’ll definitely give it another go.

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