I’m sure some of you are in the same situation: during the time you’ve been on the internet, you’ve gathered a bunch of people whom you keep in touch with through messaging programs. In Belgium, most people use Msn Messenger nowadays, but in other countries, other messaging programs are used. I have contacts on Msn Messenger, on Yahoo Messenger, on AOL Messenger, on ICQ … There was a time when I had all of the official messenger clients installed, but I soon discovered that 1) Most of them suck, being ad-invaded and all wanting to start automatically when my Windows boots up. And 2) Running three or whatever such programs at the same time consumed a lot of system resources. A few years ago, Trillian came into the spotlight, a free multi-protocol messaging program, meaning you could talk to almost all of the different networks, in one and the same program. For a while, Trillian was my preferred messaging client. But it’s made by a company, and the company wanted money. The I discovered Gaim, a free and open source multi-network client that exists for a lot of operating systems. On Linux, it’s my favourite program. On Windows, on the other hand, due to the way it is programmed, Gaim acts slow and can behave weird from time to time. And then there’s Miranda IM (IM= instant messenger), also free and open source, multi-network, and designed to be very light on system resources. Miranda works with plugins, if you want a certain feature, you add the appropriate plugin to the program. I you don’t need that, you don’t install it, so you end up with a messenger that loads only the things you want, only the things you’ll use. It leaves a very small memory footprint, and looks very clean.
Alas, some features are still best supported in the original, closed client, offered by the likes of Microsoft, Yahoo … The webcam function for example is mostly not, or poorly supported. And file transfers can be difficult to get going. But in the case of Gaim, camming is among the things that the team is working on very hard to improve. So give Gaim or Miranda a try, it won’t hurt!