Keeping Pidgin aloft

I’ve been chatting a lot on Facebook recently. For the few lingering hold-outs in igloos and mud huts that aren’t aware, Facebook comes with its very own tiny little chat facility. The Good: If a friend is logged into Facebook, you’ll see their name appear and then have the option of opening a tiny chat window in which you can both converse in real-time via the magic of your keyboard. The bad: that’s virtually all the chat window does. You can open it up to full screen to avoid the claustrophobic feeling of typing into a postage stamp but that’s really the only feature of note. No personalising the font. No saving message history. No customising your contacts. A smiley icon or two, but hardly an exhaustive list. The chat box functionality has obviously been targeted at short, concise conversations, as opposed to two people determinedly putting the world to rights.

Poor old Pidgin was becoming superfluous.

In these heady days of social networking I can count on one hand the number of friends I have that still use Instant Messaging (and even then, only rarely), even with Pidgin’s handy facility to connect to multiple IM protocols: AIM, GoogleTalk, ICQ, MySpace, MSN and many more. I have Pidgin set to run at system startup so it’s generally there, ready to use, whenever my PC is on (Unless I shut it down to free up system resources for Gaming). And yet all too often that small white box in the lower right quadrant of my screen was empty, unused and somewhat forlorn. I was giving serious thought to retiring the poor thing.

Thank the stars, then, for a plug-in that integrates Facebook chat into the superior Pidgin client! I love that solving problems on PC’s is often as simple as asking the right questions of a search engine. 🙂

Pidgin

Usage: Once you’ve installed the plugin, simply add a new account using your Facebook login details and you’re ready to go. As soon as someone logs in to Facebook they’ll appear in Pidgin’s main window neatly categorised in your contact list; Pidgin creates a permanent entry for new contacts although I’d advise entering an alias ASAP – if you close and reopen Pidgin for any reason you’ll be left with FB’s default reference codes, eg: 541109887.

I’m still working out exactly how this integration works within Pidgin. If I come across any useful tips or pointers (the website documentation doesn’t explain much beyond installing the thing) I’ll let you know.

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