Best Free Linux Instant Messaging Clients

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.

An increasing number of instant messaging clients use Electron, a framework for creating native applications with web technologies such as JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Signal, Franz, Wire, and Rambox (as well as Discord) all deploy this framework.

Open Source Instant Messaging Tools
SignalFast, simple, secure instant messaging
FranzMessaging app for WhatsApp, Slack, Telegram, Facebook Messenger and more
WireEnd-to-end encrypted collaboration software
PidginGraphical multi-protocol instant messaging client
EmpathyHigh-level library and user-interface for Telepathy
JitsiInnovative open source voice, video conferencing, and instant messaging
KopeteAdvanced multi-protocol instant messaging and chat application
PsiMulti-platform and standards-based instant messaging client
GajimClient for the Jabber/XMPP protocol using the GTK+ toolkit
ICQA simple way to communicate
JamiUniversal communication platform
RamboxMessaging and emailing app
BitlBeeAn 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
TelegramCloud-based instant messaging and voice over IP service
DiscordA hugely popular all-in-one voice and text chat - not only for gamers
SkypeMake 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.

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, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Corel, and Autodesk. There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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