Battle Of The IM’s

Today I’m having a look at most Instant Messengers that can handle the MSN protocol.

I’m not very happy that I use this protocol but it’s the only one used in this part of the world.

I’ll take a better look at 7 IM’s and rate them according to my biased opinion.

Note: all applications can be downloaded from the Ubuntu repositories, unless stated otherwise.

1. Pidgin

This one is installed by default in Ubuntu.

It handles a whole range of protocols, but I’m only interested in the MSN protocol.

If you start the program you get greeted by a somewhat confusing window.

You have to navigate to “accounts -> manage” then press the “Add” button.

Then you pick the “MSN” protocol.

An extra level of confusion is added by the “unlucky” choices of names.

You have to figure out that you have to enter your email address in the “screenname” box.

That doesn’t make much sense.

And what they mean by “local alias” still remains a mystery to me.

But once you added you’re account, it’s pretty simple to sign in.

(ignore the missing picture in the right window, it’s because of a bad theme I installed)

Once you are signed in, you get a nice list of the people that are online.

If you hover above a contact in that list, you can see some extra info (has the person blocked you, are you in his/her list, …).

A part that I don’t like is the fact that the avatars of the people you talked to are small, and yours is not displayed when you talk to someone (on your end, the others aren’t affected by this).

An interesting feature of pidgin is it’s tabbed chatting.

The program supports lot’s of plugins. But most of them are worthless to most people. And the most important one, the music plugin, doesn’t appear to work.

You can easily change settings and behavior.

File transfers are supported but there doesn’t seem to be video or audio chat support.

Rating: 6/10

2. aMSN

A favorite of many, but I don’t know why.

Amsn does it job well, but it comes with a price:

A but ugly interface.

When you start the progam, the sign-in window pops up.

The sign-in procedure is easy and practically the same as the original WLM.

Your contact list is decent enough, but again it’s extremely ugly.

The chat window displays both peoples avatar.

It appears that there is webcame support and that audio chatting is possible.

I don’t use a webcam or have a microphone (by choice) so I can’t test those.

You can change settings pretty easily and once again file transfers are possible.

Rating: 5/10

3. Emesene

My personal favorite (nobody said this was going to be neutral :p ).

The reason I like this one that much is because it’s the only one (besides pidgin) that uses my gtk theme.

This IM client does all the basic things a MSN IM client should do (besides webcam and audio chat).

The sign in procedure is once again similar to WLM.

Some more screenshots:

Emesene has plug in support and in this client, the music plugin does work.

If you press the “music note” next to your secondary name, your music will be displayed for the world to see (after you set the player in the options menu).

Rating: 7.5/10

4. Galaxium

This application has to be downloaded here.

I almost recieve updates every day for this application, so it can only become better.

This program hasn’t been 100% stable for me (crashed once).

This is once again a client that support all the expected features, except audio chat and webcam support.

It doesn’t support plugins.

The only other thing I can say about this one is that the avatars are placed somewhat strangly.


Rating: 7/10


A very, very basic IM client.

It does nothing but let you chat with friends.

Not even avatars are supported.

Some people might have use for something like that, but not anyone I know.

It seems to be made for KDE, so it doesn’t use my gtk theme.

I wouldn’t want you to miss these screenshots:

This last one made me laugh so hard when I saw it:

There doesn’t seem to be a way to stop the program besides opening a terminal and entering

pkill sim

Rating: 2/10

6. KMess

A kde based IM client.

Again it supports the expected functions besides audio chat and webcam support.

Check out the screenshots to get a feel of the application.

Rating: 5/10

7. Kopete

It can be described as the KDE version of pidgin.

It has the same features but also webcam and audio support.

If you are looking for webcam and audio support, I suggest aMSN if you are on gnome.

If you are on KDE, then it’s a tie between this one and Kmess for the best MSN IM client.

Rating: 5/10


1. Emesene
2. Galaxium
3. Pidgin
4. aMSN
4. Kopete
4. KMess

Did I forget an IM client? You don’t agree?

Feel free to leave a comment.

    • George
    • May 20th, 2008

    Emesene is my favourate too. I’ve always been using it after I found it.

    And one another big problem with Pidgin: it cannot display offline messages that others have sent to you. Both Emesene and aMSN don’t have this problem.

    I’m gonna check Galaxium out.

    This is a great post. I agree with almost every point you’ve said.

    • freduardo
    • May 20th, 2008

    Well, there’s also finch, the cli version of pidgin. I’ve used it a while back, and it does what it needs to do.

    I doubt you’ll give it a high score, since it’s not the prettiest (although cli can be pretty imho!), and it’s pretty much the same as pidgin.

    • Tom
    • May 20th, 2008

    Ugh, MSN .. use something open! Don’t you mind having all your messages stored and data mined by M$??

    Jabber is way better.

    In a few months RetroShare should be more polished. It doesn’t even need a server and everything is encrypted by default and it makes sharing files with friends really easy.

  1. Can you connect to MSN with Jabber and talk to your MSN buddies? I’d hate to have to tell all the non-geek friends who have enough trouble using MSN to switch to Jabber.

    Pidgin, Kopete and KMess I tried and didn’t like. One thing that some messengers do is save your contact list locally and when you log in, merge it with the one on the remote server. This sucks because if you delete someone or move groups around on a different computer (ie. home and work) then it undoes the changes you did.

    For functionality I’d say I really like aMSN. I’ve never tried Emesene but will have to test it out. You’re definitely right on the butt-ugly part though, they should definitely ditch Tk and rewrite it in a more modern windowing system. It’s a bit of a memory hog too, uses about twice as much as Pidgin. There are also a few UI things that are a bit annoying, like having to click “Yes I want to send this offline message” or it not remembering where windows have been positioned.

    aMSN has the best webcam/audio support that I’ve seen, but it’s still not great. You can use webcam or audio, but not both at once.

    • @IllegalCharacter
      “Can you connect to MSN with Jabber and talk to your MSN buddies? Iโ€™d hate to have to tell all the non-geek friends who have enough trouble using MSN to switch to Jabber.”

      Actually, yes you can. Jabber has transports that allow you to connect to users on other messaging networks. (Yahoo, AIM, MSN, ICQ) The transports work through your Jabber server.

  2. you forgot funpidgin and my personal favorite bitlbee ๐Ÿ™‚

    • linuxowns
    • May 20th, 2008

    @ Tom
    I understand your point, and stated that I don’t like using this protocol, but if I don’t, I would be talking to myself.

    @ Dieter

    Funpidgin doesn’t really count :p

    I never heard of bitlbee, but I’ll give it a try.

    @ Freduardo,
    I won’t be including cli based programs.

    • peter
    • May 20th, 2008

    related to aMsn… try the svn version… they have lots of skins, and you can make your version. As for offline messages explore the preferences.

    • DarphBobo
    • May 20th, 2008

    I’ve tried all those except bitlbee. the notes made on them are correct, aMSN is butt ugly.. the reason i ditched it, and a big memory hog. but more feauture rich than anything else. pidgin funpidgin same thing forked over some stupid msg typing area resize thing or whatever.. i use emesene. for same reason as author, uses my gtk2 themes and some useful plugins.. would be perfect if they provided audio/video support. googling and reading forums and pidgin wikis i found out that they have no plan for adding audio or video support. which sucks… that was like 1 year back or so when it was called gaim.. there was a project somewhere around the net called gaim-vv but seems abandoned though. i’d use aMSN if they remake the UI, and ditch that obsolete tk stuff..
    finch is nice in a way caz i can easily use it with screen so i can ssh from anywhere..
    and about ditching msn.. ALL my friends use either yahoo or msn.. very few use skype as well as one of those..
    even if MOST of them used skype, i’d ditch msn stuff.. skype offers better video and audio support.. even better than msn messenger when i tested video and audio quality of both under windows..

    • DarphBobo
    • May 21st, 2008

    and one more thing… mercury messenger.. former dMSN.. java based feature rich messenger i’ll give 6/10..

    • chris4585
    • May 22nd, 2008

    very nice review, I personally like aMSN, it may be ugly.. but it supports webcam sessions, that’s all I need. I much like the interface more than the rest of the ones you’ve mentioned. I’ve tried kopete, pidgin, and aMSN.

    • a
    • May 22nd, 2008

    not worth reading!

    • linuxowns
    • May 22nd, 2008

    You can’t please everyone I guess.

  3. webcam webcams bedroom couple webcam bedroom

  4. I’m eagerly awaiting Digsby for Linux – the best IM client I’ve ever used, by a long shot.

    • Stefano
    • May 25th, 2008

    Not worth reading ( 2 )

    • Lando
    • June 22nd, 2008

    you forgot Mercury messenger! =[

    try it out, its the closest thing to Windows Live, but hogs memory sadly, as its Java.

    • Dich
    • March 7th, 2009

    Wasn’t that comprehensive, imho, you didn’t explore any of the messengers in depth, claim you didn’t have a webcam and a mic and thus didn’t count the pluses and minuses of the IMs, in the meanwhile aMSN is probably the stablest linux messenger for video chats, and sim indeed supports avatars (check the SVN version), and has a very normal way of exiting. Altogether a lame post, better isolate important features and make a table which messenger has what and to what level. I didn’t mean to be objective either, huh ? ๐Ÿ˜‰ sorry dude

    • luke
    • July 21st, 2009

    About mercury, very nice but does’nt like gnome alot !
    Webcam workt fine btw, if it was’nt that buggy it would be the best !
    Try it out, there should be no problems with it if you use KDE or any other windowmanager.
    Using pidgin and mercury now.

  5. Greetings could anyone tell me their views on a acceptable download torrent service. What free service would you recommend?

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply to chris4585 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: