Collection Spotlight

Adium: One Instant Messenger to Rule Them All

- 2007.08.22 - Tip Jar

Author's note: This is the first in a new mini-series I am doing which I am calling "Spotlight on Software". I will still continue to look at old Macs in my collection, but I'm mixing it up.

Adium duckThis week, I want to talk about one of my favorite Mac OS X apps, Adium. For those who aren't familiar with it, Adium is an instant messenger program. But it's not just any old instant messenger, for it combines most other instant messengers in one handy app. This includes, but is not limited to, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Yahoo Instant Messenger, Microsoft Messenger/Windows Live, and Google Talk.

It combines instant messengers - so what?

I would like to run as few programs as possible and to have less clutter in the Dock and less open windows - and I know there are others out there who feel the same way. That is a major plus to anyone who keeps a half dozen windows open at once, as do I.

This, however, is not this pony's (or should I say, ducks) one trick. It has several more up it's sleeve (or feathers), all of which, make this the best IM app out there, even beating Gaim.

Free and Open Source

First off, it is free open source software (FOSS).

What does that mean? Let's say you write a simple Web browser and decide to make it FOSS. You include the source code with the application, and then another person comes along and decides to add tabs to your browser. They can take the source code and modify it any way they want, but when they upload the program, they must also upload the source, so the next person who wants to modify the code doesn't have to decompile the program first.

Almost all programs come with a software license, and FOSS is no different. It may be under the GNU GPL (General Public License), which is the most popular, but others exist. This way others can easily make changes to the software without getting in trouble with copyright.

Lots of Options

Adium's purple icon in the DockSecond, Adium is highly customizable out of the box. It comes with a number of themes and windowing options, including making it transparent and have it stay in front of other programs. You can even change the Dock icon's color.

Adium can handle an unlimited number of IM accounts, which is great for a lot of people.

Adium's buddy listThe greatest feature of all, however, is that it's officially extendable through the use of plugins. This makes it easy to add other IM protocols, themes, sound sets, or whatever. Most of these plugins are FOSS as well. This feature is highly supported by the development team, and they even have tutorials to help you with plugins, if you are so brave. The developers of these plugins are also quite helpful. I recently had an issue with one and got a prompt and helpful response.

My verdict on Adium is I love it.

The only major downfall I can see is there is no Classic Mac OS version, which I think many people would benefit from. If they could make it work back to System 7, that would be great. The official MSN client only works on Mac OS 9.2.2, and another one, Mac Messenger, only works on as far back as Mac OS 8.6.

You can run a version of Adium with an version of OS X. If you want to run the latest (version 1.1), you must be running Mac OS X 10.4.0 or later. You can run version 1.0.6 on an Mac running OS X 10.3.9, and version 0.89.1 will run on older versions of OS X. All of these versions are universal binaries.

If you're running Mac OS X 10.2.8, you can run of Adium 0.89.1, but it's somewhate outdated as most plugins only work on version 1.0 or higher. But you can still have the "One Instant Messenger to Rule Them All" experience. LEM

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