I don't like the Empathy chat client, and I want to use Pidgin instead, but I want to maintain the functionality Empathy has in the messaging menu.

How can I do this in the cleanest way possible?

4 Answers 4


The IM system in Ubuntu is called Telepathy. Empathy is a GUI for some aspects of it. But Telepathy is really different from Pidgin. It is designed to be accessed by different applications at the same time, for instance. IE, a contact application would simply make a request for a phone call, and then you'd get a GUI to end the phone call, etc. The contact application would not have to worry about the kind of protocol used, etc. That's Telepathys job.

So you could use Pidgin instead of Empathy, but Pidgin cannot replace it because it's a completely different thing. You'd want to get a plugin to integrate it with the message indicator. I don't know if such a plugin exists, but you could always program it yourself. Both Pidgin and Indicators have good APIs and documentation.

Pidgin could potentially be used as a GUI for Telepathy though.


You only need two steps

  1. Install pidgin

    sudo apt-get install pidgin
  2. Remove empathy

    sudo apt-get purge empathy


sudo apt-get install "package name"

"package name" can be one of:

pidgin-audacious       pidgin-facebookchat    pidgin-nateon
pidgin-awayonlock      pidgin-festival        pidgin-nateon-dbg
pidgin-blinklight      pidgin-guifications    pidgin-openpgp
pidgin-blue            pidgin-hotkeys         pidgin-otr
pidgin-bot-sentry      pidgin-lastfm          pidgin-plugin-pack
pidgin-data            pidgin-libnotify       pidgin-privacy-please
pidgin-dbg             pidgin-librvp          pidgin-sipe
pidgin-dev             pidgin-microblog       pidgin-skype
pidgin-encryption      pidgin-mpris           pidgin-skype-dbg
pidgin-extprefs        pidgin-musictracker    pidgin-themes

Note: after installing pidgin you need to add your account since pidgin and empathy don't share any user data or information about the accounts

  • 2
    It's fairly easy to get Pidgin working. Simply install it. But how do you change the name from "Pidgin Instant Messenger" (in the messaging menu) to the default "chat"?
    – Gonzoza
    Feb 25, 2012 at 13:14
  • Just edit Name field in /usr/share/applications/pidgin.desktop. Backup it first for the safety, then use sudo with your favourite editor. This file will be replaced with every Pidgin upgrade though, so you'll need to repeat this fix every time.
    – whtyger
    Aug 1, 2014 at 11:56
  • Three years late, but if you copy /usr/share/applications/pidgin.desktop to ~/.local/share/applications/pidgin.desktop, and edit the latter, it won't be overwritten by package upgrades. Side-effect: if package upgrades include actual changes to the .desktop file, you won't see those, either: the version in ~/.local/share/applications overrides the one in /usr/share/applications.
    – Darael
    Sep 24, 2017 at 16:16

Apparently this guy switched Evolution completely with Thunderbird, and then says he completely switched Empathy and Pidgin by simply:

  1. sudo apt-get install pidgin
  2. use your package manager to remove empathy (commenters said there were problems when removing from command line, so use package manager)

Though I'm not really sure how that would get Pidgin integrated like Empathy is by default.. From reading the comments, though, it seems other people have had success, so I won't judge.

(See this web article: replacing empathy with pidgin on Ubuntu)


I had this somewhere on Internet and it worked like a charm for me :

sudo apt-get install pidgin ( if not installed)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/gnome3
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-extensions-pidgin
sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool ( if u have not installed already)

Open advance setting in Gnome-shell and just make sure that the pidgin-integration-extension in shell extension is in on position. If it is in on then every thing going to be fine as it is not supported on some Gnome-shell , if it is not in on position or if is somewhat like disabled or if you are not able to toggle it to on/off position then I think integration will not be possible (not sure), try to update your system and try again.

If the pidgin-integration-extension is running fine i.e. it is on position then press alt + f2 then type r and press enter or just log out and log in to restart shell.

Remove empathy : sudo apt-get purge empathy ( not necessary )

note: to avoid getting both the standard Pidgin notifications and the new ones, in Pidgin select Tools > Plugins and un-check the box next to "Libnotify Popups".

  • gnome-shell-extensions-pidgin only shows up in advanced setting if you logout and log back in. Not entirely sure how the extension works though, because gnome-shell still appears to have tight integration with empathy
    – Antony
    Jun 10, 2012 at 6:35
  • I get the error E: Unable to locate package gnome-shell-extensions-pidgin even after adding the report and running update as instructed.
    – Ben
    Feb 23, 2013 at 18:29
  • @Webnet same here, did you mange to solve it?
    – 0R10N
    Aug 29, 2013 at 15:57
  • @0R10N - No didn't
    – Ben
    Aug 30, 2013 at 2:25

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