Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time communication between two or more individuals based on typed text. The text is conveyed via devices connected over a network such as the Internet.
There are so many different instant messaging clients available, some software supports multiple protocols, others confine themselves to supporting a single protocol only.
To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 13 high quality open source Linux IM clients. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wants to converse with their family, friends, colleagues, and clients.
|Open Source Instant Messaging Tools|
|Signal||Fast, simple, secure instant messaging|
|Franz||Messaging app for WhatsApp, Slack, Telegram, Facebook Messenger and more|
|Wire||End-to-end encrypted collaboration software|
|Pidgin||Graphical multi-protocol instant messaging client|
|Empathy||High-level library and user-interface for Telepathy|
|Jitsi||Innovative open source voice, video conferencing, and instant messaging|
|Kopete||Advanced multi-protocol instant messaging and chat application|
|Psi||Multi-platform and standards-based instant messaging client|
|Gajim||Client for the Jabber/XMPP protocol using the GTK+ toolkit|
|ICQ||A simple way to communicate|
|Jami||Universal communication platform|
|Rambox||Messaging and emailing app|
|BitlBee||An IRC to other chat networks gateway|
Learn more about each application by clicking the above links. Each application listed above is released under an open source license.
While we are strong proponents of open source software, it’s only fair to also recommend no-charge closed source software provided it’s sufficiently high quality. And the applications below are certainly highly respected software with huge user bases.
Telegram’s client-side code is open-source software, whereas its server-side code is closed-source and proprietary.
While Discord is an extremely popular VoIP chat tool among the gaming community, it’s instant messaging functionality is particularly impressive. Discord uses Markdown, a simple plain text formatting system that helps you make sentences stand out. Discord also supports code blocks.
Skype revolutionized the communications world with its supreme internet telephony / instant messaging / videoconferencing functionality. There’s a lot of animosity towards Microsoft, in part because they did not embrace an open source model for Windows, but more because of their predatory tactics. But the fact that Skype is powered entirely by Microsoft-operated supernodes doesn’t mean it should be excluded from this group test.
|No-Charge Instant Messaging Tools|
|Telegram||Cloud-based instant messaging and voice over IP service|
|Discord||A hugely popular all-in-one voice and text chat - not only for gamers|
|Skype||Make free phone calls and communicate with good instant messaging support|
The massively popular messaging app WhatsApp surprisingly doesn’t provide a desktop client for Linux.
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Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.
The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, alternatives to Google, fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.