The Fruitless Search for an IM Client

I have 2 IM clients running on my Netbook – Windows Live Messenger and Google Talk. Between them they take up over 200MB of memory.

So, I’m looking for an Instant Messaging client to run on my netbook that will run Windows Messenger and Google Talk. Optionally, Gmail notification would be good too. I don’t think that’s too big a wishlist.

In all cases I installed them on my Netbook whilst on my work’s wireless network – this is relatively open but has some port restrictions. None-the-less, both the aforementioned clients work at present.


First up was Miranda, which got installed and, not long after, uninstalled. It doesn’t appear to support Google Talk by default – if it did, it wasn’t obvious. I tried searching the site for plugins to do this but came up empty-handed.

A search on the forum seemed to show people messing around with changing server names in config. files, which I’m hoping was not the default way to get Google Talk working. Anyway, I didn’t find anything.


When installing you are prompted to install a “Digsby Donates” browser plugin and then, later, a Babylon toolbar (you have to decline for it not to install). At the end there are a number of advertising options to untick before completing.

Digsby uses its own account system, making it easy to use elsewhere. The interface is simple and adding accounts is easy.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work, hanging for some time when attempting to connect before failing. It works fine at home, so this must be down to port limitations at work.


During the Pidgin install you can select whether various URI handlers are supported – all are abbreviated terms with no explanation as to what they are. Also, you can choose a language localisation from a list which appears to be in no particular order. I eventually found EN_GB, which I assume is British English. When it comes to adding in the spell checking support, the languages are listed alphabetically and in full.

After that it was relatively straight forward and I was able to add my chat accounts easily.

Unfortunately, like Digsby, nothing was able to connect.

Trillian Astra

Installation is swift, with few options to choose. However, it does try and get you to install  the Ask toolbar and make Ask the default search provider – just be wary that you have to untick TWO boxes to prevent this. Once installed, you have to sign up as a Trillian account, which provides a single sign-in solution.

The default interface is a bit over-engineered so I swapped it to the simpler alternative. My chat account were easy to add and I can also show Twitter and Facebook. If any of your logins are attached to a mail account (e.g. Google Chat) then notifications can be made. This provides a simple interface to all your social networks, but it can be a bit cramped running it all from a small chat window.

The one problem I did have was that new mail notifications are shown on the screen only for a set amount of time. After that, there’s no icon animation, etc, to show that mail has arrived.

Trillian does has a wide range of available plugins and, once set-up and minimised, uses just 22.8 MB of memory.


Meebo is an online IM client – simply sign up for their site and you can add all your IM details onto the site for instant access. They also provide a desktop notifier tool which will inform you of any incoming IMs and emails.

You can’t send a message without signing on the Meebo website and, more crucially for me, their mail notifier is damn annoying – the mail icon remains there until you click on it to launch your email, even if the mail has been read and gone (for example, from a phone or another PC).

I know it sounds a small issue, but its a damn annoyance that ruled out Meebo for me.


From the above you’d think I’d chosen Trillian. But, no, the mail notification is an issue for me. So I’m left with my original Windows Messenger and Google Talk installations.

Miranda was too difficult to set-up and Pidgin and Digsby simply wouldn’t connect through my companies security settings.

If anybody has any further suggestions then, please, let me know.


Talk to me!

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