For years, I had been using the standard AOL IM client and the standard MSN Messenger client. But then I thought how cool it would be to have both AOL and MSN in the same program. So I did some searching and found Trillian from Cerulean Studios. I used Trillian for a few years, but then I got interested in open-source software and I wanted to support an open-source chat client. That is where Gaim came into play.
From Gaim’s about menu, “Gaim is a modular messaging client capable of using AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, Jabber, ICQ, IRC, SILC, Novell GroupWise, Lotus Sametime, Napster, Zephyr, and Gadu-Gadu all at once. It is written using GTK+ and is licensed under the GNU GPL.” I have liked Gaim from the first time I tried it. Some have said that the user interface is clunky and ugly, I think its just simplistic. I have been running the 2.0 Beta and do like the way the Gaim developers reordered that menus. By spliting up the menus into different categories, it has made hard to find options much easier to spot. For example, for quite some time, I could not for the life of me find the option to change my MSN name. But now all the account options are grouped under one menu for accounts.
I also like the simplistic, clean look to Gaim. Trillian uses a more detailed, drawn up interface. Whereas, Gaim is simple and, to some people, boring. However, I think a good comparison for the different interfaces is the default Windows XP theme versus the Windows classic theme. I prefer the classic theme as it feels like home and the taskbar and menu bars actually take up less room. And I also hate the standard WinXP start menu. That is the first setting I change when I have a clean install of XP. I think the reason people use the default start menu is because it puts the frequently used programs in prominent places on the start menu. Well, my frequently used programs are in my quick launch bar. Plus, I had personalized menus in MS Office, so I tend to turn off alot of default settings.
Back to Gaim, it does support many, many protocols. Though, I haven’t tried all of them, just the main 3, MSN, AIM, and Yahoo. I have used IRC through Gaim, but I much prefer using mIRC for my IRC sessions. So if you use more than one protocol or just are looking for a better IM client than the default ones, give Gaim a try. I think you might like it.