InfoWorld's Test Center picks the best open source productivity software and mobile tools of 2011
Chat clients have gone from being single-use programs (IRC only, AIM only) to frameworks into which you can plug any number of chat networks. Pidgin not only supports a very wide array of old and new chat systems, from AIM to Facebook chat, but also has gobs of plug-ins to enhance the behaviors of the chat client or the use of each of those systems: logging, encryption, message presentation, icon sets, and more.
Pidgin's biggest drawback, especially on Windows, is the use of the GTK+ library for its interface, which makes it feel a little clunky and unrefined. One promising new competitor based on some of the same core library code as Pidgin is Instantbird, which uses Mozilla's XUL for a far slicker interface. InstantBird is still only in its 1.0 revision and so lacks a lot of Pidgin's features, like proper rich-text support in chats, but it's one to watch.
The Bossies 2011 index:
This slideshow, "Bossie Awards 2011: The best open source desktop and mobile software," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in applications, mobile technology, and open source at InfoWorld.com.