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aMSN
aMSN is a powerful, highly configurable and feature-rich client for the WLM (formerly known as MSN) protocol with support for skins, plugins, system tray integration, webcam, tabbed chat windows, multi-accounts, offline messaging, chat history, display picture and many, many more. The configuration options are abundant via the Account->Preferences menu.

Pidgin
This is the well-known IM client for the GNOME desktop environment with support for a wide variety of IM protocols, including AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, MSN or Yahoo. Piding also comes with a basic IRC client, support for multiple accounts, logging, system tray integration, themes, plugins.

Empathy
This is yet another GNOME instant messaging client with support for Google Talk, MSN, IRC, Salut, AIM, Facebook, Yahoo, Gadu-Gadu, Groupwise, ICQ and QQ. You will have to install specific Telepathy Connection Manager components in order to support all protocols e.g. sudo apt-get install telepathy-haze. Empathy features popup and sound notifications, smileys, spell-checking and themes.

Kopete
Kopete is the default chat client in KDE, offering support for a all the popular protocols (including IRC), tray integration, notifications, multiple accounts, tabbed chat windows, smileys, logs, video support and plugins.

Finch
Included in the Pidign package, Finch is a text user interface IM client which runs in a terminal and is based on libpurple, the same library Pidgin uses. This means Finch supports all the protocols that Pidgin has support for, including Yahoo, WLM, IRC or Google Talk. A full guide to Finch is located on the TuxArena Blog, here.

Emesene
Emesene is yet another powerful WLM client for GNOME with support for plugins, themes, notifications, webcam, configurable interface.

KMess
KMess is a WLM client for KDE with support for notifications, message stacking, avatars, logging, chat styles, emoticons, mail integration.

Ayttm
Ayttm is a graphical messaging application with support for Jabber, MSN, Yahoo, IRC and AIM. It features tabs, smileys, sound notifications, logging system.

Skype
Although Skype is renowned for being one of the most popular voice calls application, it also supports instant messaging, file transfers and webcam. Skype is closed-source and the official download page offers packages for all the major distributions out there.

CenterIM
This is a fork of CenterICQ, a terminal-based client for popular IM protocols. CenterIM supports ICQ, Yahoo, MSN, AIM, ICQ, Jabber, IRC, Live Journal and Gadu-Gadu. A feature which I found very useful was the possibility to enable Emacs or Vi bindings in the text editor, making it easier for persons who are used to these two IDEs to write text in a faster way.

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glococo says:

What a Shame to put FIRST on the list the major copocrime proprietary network protocol client.

@Craciun Dan, please, learn the power of SMTP/POP/IMAP and the new XMPP. (Jabber, gTalk, Ovi Contacts, Jabbim, etc..)

Please, remove aMSN or at least, put at the end like skype (another copocrime proprietary network protocol)

As soon as we eliminate proprietary network protocols, PSTN will became old story and everyone will place calls, video calls and much more over XMPP (emails)

Empathy is the best from this list. Also want to recommend you:
http://swift.im/releases/swift-1.0beta8/
http://psi-im.org/
http://www.jabbim.com/

ps: SIP/Simple will never succeed.

Best wishes and Happy new year.

omix says:

& gyachi ?

mato says:

Screen+Irssi+Bitlbee is all you need. I don’t understand why other IM-clients aren’t keybord-driven. That’s why they’re useless for me.

Howard says:

While I think GUI programs are ok, I think some console apps should be listed as well. For IM, I use CenterIM. CenterIM is a pretty good IM client that supports multiple protocols (I’m using it on AIM and Google Talk (Jabber) right now. As a plus, you can configure it to use vi or emacs key bindings.

Howard says:

Bummer. After I posted, I saw the last entry IS CenterIM. Maybe I haven’t had enough coffee yet… ;)

GrueMaster says:

Also worth mentioning is Quassel for KDE. They have a single IM app, and a client-server set for chat logging and remote backscroll access. Coupled with bitlbee, it is very useful, especially if you travel and don’t want to miss any chatter.

jco says:

It’s funny to see that someone can turn Google search results into an article. I see nowhere any information on compatibility with the official (proprietary) clients, especially WLM (MSN).

I know there’s people who doesn’t care about that (see comments above), but for people using Linux for the first time, how transparent the migration is, is the most important factor (and the more penalizing for current non official MSN clients).
For those already used to Linux and FOSS, the article is shallow to say the least…

JMTC, jco

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