Pidgin as default IM client in GNOME 3

Empathy is a good IM client. It’s pushed as a default one in Ubuntu, its remixes and all other distros using GNOME environment. It has one big lack, witch makes it really bad choice for your default one. Off-the-Record messaging (OTR) is somethin’ that any modern IM client should support. You can find it in Kopete from KDE, even Adium on Mac OS X has it… Where is this support in GNOME? Nowhere… There is a bug reported in 2008 and yet it’s still not implemented.

So how can we change the default IM client in GNOME 3 and still get this eye candy and handy support? There are two choices (but of course you can use also QT based clients like Kopete or PSI if you want): Gajim (supporting OTR since 0.15) and Pidgin. I’ve chosen second one (you should too if you want to connect with users of other networks than xmpp).

At first we need to install Pidgin with OTR support (I’m using Debian):

sudo aptitude install pidgin pidgin-otr

Next step is of course enabling OTR encryption support done by clicking on Tools → Plugins. Now we have to enable GNOME 3 support with extension written by kagesenshi:

git clone git://
cd gnome-shell-extensions-pidgin
mkdir -p ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/
cp extension.js metadata.json ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/

Now restart GNOME Shell (Alt+F2 type r and hit enter). There are few ways to manage GNOME Shell Extensions, my favorite is GNOME Tweak. We have to install it by running the following command:

sudo aptitude install gnome-tweak-tool

Then open it and enable Pidgin IM Integration extension in extensions tab and again restart GNOME Shell.

It’s done, now you have full support for Pidgin workin’ as good as the original for Empathy. To get full experience from Empathy you can also tune it in preferences by disabling notifications on your contacts coming on/offline.

[flattr /]

From now when you start new conversation Pidgin will try to run it in OTR mode if your frient is using client with the support for it (it’s default behavior for most im clients supporting OTR). For anyone else than you and your friend talking with OTR encryption logs from your talk will look like this.

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