Switching to Gaim

I’m not exactly a big Instant Messaging fan, but it seems life forces you to use it these days. The majority of use on AIM, some MSN, Yahoo, and sometimes my favorite Skype. All those clients are clutter. So I don’t use Yahoo much, and keep that one closed. I’ve complained several times about how AOL dropped the ball with AIM. It’s client is about as bloated as Real Player. It’s gotten progressively worse after each release, to get a new feature, or security fix, you need to sacrifice more of your computer. I personally don’t like that concept.

I’m now using Gaim full time, and it seems to work rather well for me, minus a few caveats. Anyone who can help me would be requested to leave a comment:

  • Gaim won’t load with cygwin in the PATH, crashing with no clear error. No clue how to fix this without killing cygwin yet.
  • I could really use a S/MIME encryption plugin so that I’m compatible with those using the official AIM client with security enabled (they use SSL and S/MIME I believe). Anyone know of such a plugin?
  • Way to enforce a minimum font size (windows users tend to use rather small font sizes for things like AIM profiles, I’d love to simply +1 a few off the smaller ones).
  • Not that I use it often, but AIM has somewhat unstable file transfer. Some improvements in that area would be welcome.

Overall, I’m rather satisfied. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than AIM is at the moment. Perhaps Triton will shape up at some point. Until then I think Gaim is the best solution.

Note: Yes, I’ve tried Trillian. It’s a good product, but not good enough to pay for. Sorry Trillian fans. It’s rather ugly (haven’t seen a skin yet that doesn’t fix that), it’s UI is just strange, and it’s just not featured enough for the money. Adium is bliss on my Mac.

8 replies on “Switching to Gaim”

I haven’t tried it (I don’t use Windows for IM much these days) but I’ve heard some very impressive comments about the Miranda IM client. I believe it’s a sourceforge project.

The problem with Miranda is AIM use is inhibited by using the TOC protocol rather than OSCAR (like the official AIM client, Gaim, and most others use). This results in many limitations.

Not to mention it doesn’t support multiple accounts on any service.

It is pretty fast though.

Found this site bc. I googled for problems with MSN and filetransfer. next step: installed gaim 1.3.1 under win2000. Impression: great – if it would work as expected.
a) Was not able to open more than 1 chat-session.
b) when clicking the online-checkbox on the accounts-table, a small login prompt opens for password – but cannot connect.
c) opening works with the login-window with the account selection button, but closing the contact list which opens consequently shut down the whole gaim
d) in the contact list in the title bar is the own name /account name not displayed. If there are multiple accounts defined as I have, it nees guessing which one is just open
e) the login-window disappears after the first succesful login – but to have multiple logins at the same time seemed to me would be a great plus of this tool. the other way – to start a second session via the accounts-list dident work
f) the login-window has no help/about menu to show the version
g) file transfert to and fro MSN worked fine, but i was not able to select a specific folder for downloading, only a drive. Behavior of this dialog is ‘unusual’ for windows user.
h) setting account infos is not so clear which effect it will have: If you collect server-stored account-infos about your own account, and you want to change it, it looks this is not supported.
i) Openeing the online-help opens in the last opened webbrowser-window instead of a noew one
j) online help is dated out as for current version 1.3.1
k) to give just feedback or report a bug you have to run through a registration process. it is questionable if it makes sense to make feed-backs difficult.

I think one of the biggest hassles with instant messaging is that it’s tied to the computer. If I’m away from the computer, like watching tv, I may miss an important IM. I can leave the speakers on the PC really loud, but then I’m always jumping up and running back to the PC to read an incoming IM in case it’s important. Most of the time it’s not. I can subscribe to a service with my cell phone—but that costs money. So here is (I think) the perfect solution, and a good GAIM plug-in that’s not too much work.

I just installed a Pluto Home system ( It’s a free, open source smarthome and media server. You put Bluetooth dongles on all the pc’s in your house, and then when you enter a room your Symbian Bluetooth phone turns into a remote control for everything in that room. It already tracks your movement—if you start listening to music in 1 room, your music will follow you as you move with your phone to another room. And it already sends messages to the phone based on events. For example, when the song changes, the cover art shown on my phone changes to show me what’s playing.

So that got me thinking… Why not make a GAIM plugin for pluto so that whenever I get an IM, I see it on my Bluetooth phone? That way I can either type a reply on the phone, or go back to the computer if I want to use the keyboard, or ignore it if it’s not important. And I’m not having to run back and forth to the computer to check IM. And it’s free since it uses Bluetooth! Plus, I think it’s such a real convenience it would be a great way to get people to switch to GAIM.

I talked to the programmers at Pluto and they said it would be really easy since their stuff is already written in small modules and plugins. However, since we’re all open source, we could also just take whatever pieces were useful and do something completely new using the same concept.

Many of the other GAIM projects listed are either specific for only some users (like Apple iChat), or would only be used by geeks (like the Perl interpreter). But not having to run back and forth to the computer is something everybody wants (imho). I don’t see how to recommend a new idea for GAIM, so I’ll just try the forums and hope somebody else likes it too.


I’m new using GAIM. It works great for MSN and AOL.
I’m just getting on my nerves when I try to make my MSN font larger, cause It’s so tiny when I type that I cant even see sometimes.
Do you know how I can change that? Those options in the chat window are not available. I can change my font size when I’m using an AOL window though.
Hope to hear from you soon.

I’ve been pulling my hair out with GAIM not working. I’ve had Cygwin and GAIM installed together for quite a long time with no problems, and just recently had the issue where GAIM wouldn’t start. I finally found the solution.

You need to take any reference to cygwin out of your PATH. Take a look at these two sites for help in that.

Basically the fix is (on WinXP) Right click My Computer->Properties->Advanced Tab->Environment Variables-> In the bottom section (System Variables) look for Path in the ‘Variable’ column -> click Edit, look for any reference to cygwin and take it out->click OK a bunch of times -> Enjoy GAIM.

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