Build Pidgin and Plugins

Build Pidgin and Plugins

Pidgin is an easy to use and free multi messenger application that supports a whole bunch of instant messaging protocols (like ICQ, MSN, XMPP(Jabber), AIM, Yahoo, …) It is free and open source. It runs on all platforms.

I run a 64bit Debian Lenny on my box. There may be some differences when using other distributions but the main part should be equal.

I try to keep this HowTo up to date as soon as a new version of Pidgin is available.

If you have an old version of Pidgin already installed, please uninstall it before you go on.

This HowTo is for Pidgin 2.5.5

Build and install Pidgin

1. Step: Download and unzip the source code

The first thing you have to do is to get you the source code of Pidgin. You can get it here:

Download the source and unzip it in a folder of your choice. You can either unzip the source by using your mouse (right klick -> extract) or using the terminal by entering the following command.

tar -jxvf pidgin-X.X.X.tar.bz2

The “X” stands for the version number.

2. Step: Dependencies

To compile Pidgin you need some additional development libraries. If you compile a program for the first time, you may also need some little helpers, depending on whats already (or already not) installed with your distribution. The terminal output will give you all the information you need if this is the case.

The following dependencies are essential to compile Pidgin:

libxss-dev libstartup-notification0-dev libgtkspell-dev
libmeanwhile-dev libavahi-client-dev libavahi-glib-dev
libdbus-glib-1-dev network-manager-dev libperl-dev
tcl8.4-dev tk8.4-dev gettext libxml2-dev
libgstreamer0.10-dev libgnutls-dev libpcre3-dev
libotr2-dev intltool libidn11-dev

To save some time, you can copy and paste the libraries above and install them with one command.

After this, jump into the folder you unziped Pidgin in and run the configure-script.


If you want some additional information type:

./configure -h

This opens the help to the configure-script. It gives you additional informations about the libraries and some other flags you can set for the process of compilation.

The configure-script should run without errors. If you still have errors, there may be some other dependencies missing. The terminal output gives you detailed information about what is wrong.

3. Step: Compile

If the configure-script finished without errors, it is time to compile Pidgin.


This step takes most of the time, depending on how powerful your box is, you will have to wait more or less long.

4. Step: Install

If the program has been compiled successful you can install it.

To install a program you need root privileges. Either you switch the user with su or you use sudo.

sudo make install

After this the program files are in the right place on your system. Now it is time to start Pidgin for the first time.

If everything was OK, Pidgin will show its start screen and will ask you to configure an account. You can now remove all the development libraries you installed before. They are only needed to compile the code.

With this method you will install Pidgin to /usr/local/lib and there will be an icon added to the start menu. If you want to change the directory you have to add some parameters to the configure-script. See the configure help as mentioned above. Like always when you compile a program by yourself, you also have to check for updates by yourself (if the program does not have an update checker). Remember, your packet manager does not know that you have installed this program and therefore it will not check for any updates for Pidgin. If you want to install a new version, start again with Step 1 :-)

5. Step: Troubleshooting

If you start Pidgin but nothing happens, we have a problem. to get some information about what is wrong start Pidgin from a terminal.

Sometimes this error message occurs:

pidgin: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory”

To solve this problem open a terminal and run:


It creates the necessary links to shared libraries found in the directory you run it from.

Compile and install Plugins

Here I will show you a short list of plugins and a short build instruction.

Recommended Plugins

This section contains some, of course not all, in my opinion useful and recommended plugins for Pidgin.

Extended Preferences

This plugin provides some additional configuration options for interface, conversation and buddy list.


Extended Buddy List Sort

This plugin adds some nice sort options for your buddy list.

Music Tracker

This plugin reads the currently played song from your music player and sets it as your status message.


Off-the-Record Messaging (OTR)

This plugin provides a strong end-to-end encryption. This method does not use public and private keys. You can use it with other messenger clients that support OTR, too . To gain more information on how OTR works and which clients support it, view the Wikipedia article about OTR. I strongly recommend this plugin if you care about your privacy.



This plugin provides LaTeX support for your conversations. It is very useful if you have a conversation in which you need to show your partner some more complicatet mathematical equations.


Purple Plugin Pack

This plugin pack provides 50 different plugins. Some of them are useless but a few are really nice. You can compile the plugin pack in once but some of the plugins do not compile with the pack by default. For example the “Message Group” plugin which enables an option to make you able to send a message t a whole group. The reason here is the high abuse potential.


Build and Install

Depending on the plugin, you will find (or not) a configure file in its folder after unpacking it. If the file is present, just do it like with Pidgin before:

sudo make install

If the file is not present, do this:

make install

For the “not by default” build plugins from the Purple Plugin Pack, you have to jump into their sub-directory and build them separate.

Thats it. Enjoy a great messenger!


About 4nndee

This entry was posted in HowTo, Linux, Software and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Build Pidgin and Plugins

  1. Man says:

    otr DOES use a public/private keys system. it has session keys also within that. you have a mistake on this page.

  2. 4nndee says:

    No it does not, at least not in the way GPG/PGP does. It is a strong and easy to uses encryption method with deniable authentication, because it does not use persistent keys. Messages are only encrypted with temporary per-message AES keys, negotiated using the Diffie-Hellman key exchange protocol. That is a big difference to PGP/GPG. That’s why I wrote the section in that way. The user does not have to care about any keys.

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