Pidgin has Flown the Coop

Sunday, September 9th, 2007 at 9:55 pm | 2,076 views | trackback url

Pidgin, a pile of bird droppings that used to be a useful IM clientI am a long-time fan of Gaim, the multi-service IM chat client. With it, I can chat with friends and colleagues on MSN, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabber, Google Talk, ICQ and so on. I’ve used it for years, and it works great.

Then the developers decided that it had too many useful features, so they renamed it “Pidgin” and ripped out just about everything useful about it. Now it’s just a pile of broken garbage, and I’m not the only one who is upset about the changes.

If you look at the Pidgin bug reports, there are thousands of users who are upset and angry about the direction the project has taken. Here are two example bug reports and associated comments.

I’ve tried to talk to the developers with a sane, logical line of reasoning, but you can’t reason with people who just care about standing on their own soapbox. There’s absolutely no reason why they’ve made the choices they’ve made, other than to piss people off. Seriously. They’ve turned a useful client, into a crippled, GTK+ version of Adium.

Don’t believe me? Compare this screenshot of Adium with this screenshot of Pidgin. Look similar? It’s a direct ripoff.

My biggest problem is that the children maintaining Pidgin right now, seem to think its an IM client for “geeks, gamers, and nerds”, but not one that is used by business professionals and corporations. One major feature that was removed, was the ability to see which members of your buddy list were on which IM services.

For example, if “Mike Smith” is on Jabber chatting with me, I know not to send him Not-Safe-for-Work links or images or files. If however, “Mike Smith” is on AIM chatting with me, I know I can send him whatever, because he’s using his own machine at home, not his work machine at work.

With Pidgin, two “Mike Smith” names will appear, both with the identical green dot next to the username. I can’t tell which one is on which service.

They’ll argue that I can hover over the buddy name in the list, and it will show me which service they’re on… but that doesn’t work if “Mike Smith” pops up a chat with me, since I won’t know which “Mike Smith” in my buddy list it came from.

I’ve actually asked them why they’ve made some of these changes, and they claim its simpler and easier to just have one icon for all people in the list. I just can’t see that as being easier, since now it takes either 3 clicks, or an [Esc] + double-click + hover to discover which IM service a particular buddy is using.

Oh but I can go to “Send To” in the “Mike Smith” active chat window, and it will show me which service he’s coming from. Sure, so instead of an at-a-glance, I either have to shut down the chat window and open one from my buddy list, hoping to get the right “Mike Smith” service, or I have to click into a menu option to see which service he’s talking to me with.

It’s stupid, assinine, and ludicrous. The last time I tried to ask for the location of the last gaim source, the children in the #gaim (redirected to #pidgin) irc channel on Freenode told me to basically pound sand, because there was nothing requiring them to grant me access to the source, since I did not have a binary.

I tried to find the source for gaim on Sourceforge, but they’ve removed anonymous CVS access, and they’ve also removed all public releases and source downloads from the Gaim project page.

If you try to pull the svn source to Pidgin, you get the same sort of treatment. No source, no svn access, no downloads that are not releases.


Maybe some day when they realize what a real development environment, supported by a real development community is about, they’ll pull their heads out of their asses. Until then, I’ll just use some other IM client through Wine, or I’ll use KDE’s client.

Last Modified: Saturday, March 5th, 2016 @ 22:14

3 Responses to “Pidgin has Flown the Coop”

  1. It looks like you can find old gaim source from Debian and other distributions.

    After reading some of the blog posts, I can understand both sides of this issue. I tend to like the idea of simplifying products by providing fewer options, but I think the whole idea of network-dependent identities could be handled much better. And the removal of old source is really juvenile, IMO. Couldn’t someone with an old GAIM client could request a copy of the old source under the GPL and LGPL licenses?

  2. You’re absolutely right, Ben. I did find the source on a third-party mirror out there (gaim-1.5.0.tar.bz2), but there still is no real reason why they’ve pulled the existing/past releases from the pages and mirrors.

    I can understand not making current cvs/svn available, that can be a headache for development anyway with less-than-knowledgable users trying to build from bleeding-edge source and breaking things, clogging the -devel lists with their “bug reports”, and there is no GPL requirement to do so… but pulling past releases? It just doesn’t make sense.

  3. I fully agree that having one green icon for all networks is beyond stupid.

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