See also: Instant Messengers | AIM

Home Page: (SourceForge)

A useful multi-network, chat client for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and BSD. A tool similar to Trillian and Odigo but fully open-source. One of the most activly projects on the SourceForge site, where it continues to grow. The default chat tool of the most popular Linux distribution, Red Hat.

Best of all, GAIM is “under constant development, and releases are usually frequent.” (From the site.)

This client connects simultaniously to possibly the most available chat networks of any multi-network client including:

Also supports those networks’ features like “Away” messages and profiles.

Unlike many multi-network clients, it integrates well with IRC’s channels and /msg system.



GAIM uses far less system memory of other similar Windows clients and is ideal for slower machines. As of a Feb, 2004 test, the Windows version works well, using half the system memory of other similar programs (such as AIM). IRC functions work well, as do file transfers and most other basic features, excluding advanced features such as videoconferencing and remote-control options allowed by MSN Messenger.

In order to chat with people on the different networks, you may need to have an account on each of them (most support web registration, in the case of Jabber, an account can be created directly from within GAIM). When the application is started, it can automatically log in to all the specified networks.

Users are not listed by network but organized in groups. They have an icon next to their name that represents both the availability and the network they are on.


Two plugins are available to enable secure exchange:

  • OTR – Off-the-Record Messaging – high security with “Deniable” encryption, meaning it is unclear what messages are forged and which are real at any time other than during the actual conversation. Included by default with Adium for Mac OS X and a proxy plugin that allows for other chat clients to use it.
  • GAIM encryption plugin that enables one to establish a secure chat with other GAIM users.


GAIM was originally a Gnome AOL instant messenger or GAIM, later it became multi-protocol.


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