Torn between Pidgin and Digsby

Aug 2, 2008
Updated • Aug 2, 2008

I’ve been a longtime Digsby advocate all the way back to the private alpha stage of development.

Given the growing number of social networks, chat addresses and email accounts I had I found it a brilliant solution to keeping it all under check. I also liked the simple but effective design and of course there was that warm early adopter glow of being there to support a growing service from the very beginning.

6 months later and I started to use Pidgin.

This wasn’t a deliberate choice at first, I started dual booting Ubuntu and of course Pidgin is the default chat client. I was immediately impressed by what I saw, it was fast, a lot faster then Digsby and supported a whole lot more chat networks while additionally having some great plugins available.

While Digsby is great in the way it keeps track of social networks like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter the reality is I wasn’t actually using those features very much at all. When I did use them it was through Flock. It did have the very real advantage of Facebook Chat integration which I did use a lot, however I quickly discovered that Pidgin also had a plugin available to achieve this.

Also I found Pidgin had support for IRC Chat which is something I have begun to use a  fair bit lately.

The fact was I was using Digsby, a IM client which was way too resources heavy and susceptible to RAM spikes when Pidgin would do the job better.

I felt a little guilty, but I’m not writing Digsby off at all. I still think it’s great and I really like the direction it’s going in, but I just found a better alternative for my needs at this point in time. Digsby is still a very young client and has a lot of potential. A promised update is coming up to address lots of performance issues and hopefully introduce some new features and I’m looking forward to that.

For now however Pidgin is my stop-gap.


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  1. Sudo Nonimus said on March 2, 2009 at 4:08 am

    The current iteration (2.5.4) of Pidgin leaks RAM like a sieve on my system – I’ve seen RAM usage in excess of 540 MB before I killed it! (Vista x64 SP1). It’s sad because I’ve been using pidgin for a long time. Now I’m trying out Digsby, and I’ve liked it so far..

  2. Matt said on February 13, 2009 at 8:49 am

    i was a fan of digsby, until they violated the privacy of their entire user base by using idle time for research purposes without notice to end-users. i was looking for an alternative and it looks like i’ve found it. cheers.

  3. Warloc said on August 20, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Pigin’s pretty good I found it a bit of a challenge to configure and I love Digsby it’s fabulous except its RAM wastage and I say wastage because its not necessary however, because I’m on Linux I’m using pidgin at least until Digsby is released and then i will make an in depth comparison and choose which i prefer

  4. Sasha Kovaliov said on August 4, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    @sal thanks a lot :)

  5. Sal said on August 4, 2008 at 4:13 pm


    here is a Facebook plugin for Pidgin

  6. Sasha Kovaliov said on August 4, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Unbelievable. I have the same concern right now. What to choose pidgin or digsby. Pidgin is lacking facebook notifications though.

  7. Josh said on August 3, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    @LethAL… yes thats a good ay of putting it… perhaps thats why it never really appealed to me before either, it does have a bit of a different aesthetic to most windows apps.

    @Nohbdy: obviously you didn’t even read what I wrote, so why comment?

    @Kyle: Let me know how you find it!

  8. liz said on August 2, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    I don’t use any social networks at the moment, and I’ve always loved lightweight, minimalist applications with simple UI’s. I therefore absolutely LOVE Pidgin, and have never felt any desire to use Digsby.

  9. Sal said on August 2, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Is there a plugin for Pidgin to chat with the notifications as mentioned above?

  10. Nohbdy said on August 2, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    You think Digsby’s memory hogging is intentional? The developers are quite aware about it, especially noting it within their IM-like update announcements.

    Digsby is still being worked on. Don’t knock it.

  11. Kyle Judkins said on August 2, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    I am a big Digsby fan, but after reading this article, I think I’m going to give Pidgin a try.

  12. unruled said on August 2, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Digsby looked incredible when I first used it…

    that is, until I opened task manager. 80mb of ram used with no chat windows open is just not acceptable, even in this day and age of cheap RAM.

    Just because we have more resources doesn’t mean we should waste them needlessly.

  13. double051 said on August 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Pidgin does have a lot going for it, being open source, multiplatform, and lightweight. However, I still find Digsby to be the superior client. It’s webmail integration and it’s ability to chat within notifications is what seals it for me. They’re both great but I feel that Digsby wins hands down despite it’s memory issues.

  14. LethAL said on August 2, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I’ve never really liked pidgin: it felt like something you’d see on OS X. On windows, I’ve been a long-time miranda user, but there’s still no linux port around (despite it being GPL). For now though, I have to use Pidgin/Carrier when I’m using Linux.

  15. Bob said on August 2, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    I’ve been a longtime user and advocate of Pidgin/Gaim. When Digsby introduced Facebook Chat integration, I gave it an extended testrun, but was put off but the exact memory issues you mentioned. So, as soon as Pidgin got the FB plugin, I abandoned the Digsby ship. As you mention though, it is a new app, so great things may follow

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