Software

Alternative IM Clients For Whatsapp, Messenger, and Telegram on Linux

Alternative IM Clients For Linux
Written by Jesse Afolabi

Whatsapp, Messenger, and Telegram are by far the most used instant messaging clients in the world and while they are used by millions, Whatsapp and Messenger, both of which are owned by Facebook, do not have an official desktop client for any of the desktop platforms.

Telegram, on the other hand, has got official clients on all the main platforms including Linux and while it’s mostly appealing, it’s always nice to have alternatives.

Whatsapp Alternatives for Linux – Whatsie

Whatsie – While Whatsapp via a web browser is seemingly functional with notifications and the norm and basic features, it might be a little inconvenient or a distraction for some to switch tabs in order to reply a message or to fire up a browser to use the service.

This is where Whatsie comes in; Whatsie is essentially a wrapper for the Whatsapp web service that integrates with your desktop to give you the experience you’d normally get with other desktop IM applications.

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The added advantage of Whatsie is basically more customization options and flexibility it allows while on using Whatsapp on your PC.

Whatsie incorporates three theming options alongside standard notifications support on your desktop, launch on startup, update from app, keyboard shortcuts, spell checker and autocorrect. For Whatsie to remain functional, however, you must have your phone paired like you normally would when using the Whatsapp web service.

If you’re on Ubuntu or any of its derivatives, you may go ahead and download .deb packages after which you may double click and install the program or if you’d like, go with the terminal way of doing things – proceed to your download directory right click and launch your terminal after which:

$ sudo dpkg -i filename.deb

If you’re on Fedora, CentOS, Red Hat however, you may run the following commands consecutively:

# wget https://bintray.com/aluxian/rpm/rpm -O /etc/yum.repos.d/bintray-aluxian-rpm.repo
# yum install whatsie.i386      # for 32-bit distros
# yum install whatsie.x86_64    # for 64-bit distros

For Arch Linux users on the other hand, you can get Whatsie from the AUR.

$ sudo yaourt -S whatsie

If you’re on other platforms, you can find build instructions on their Github.

WhatsApp Messenger (unofficial on Chrome) is also Whatsapp web wrapper too like the former but can be downloaded from the Chrome web store and it functions singularly like an app on it’s own and works well most of the time.

If you don’t necessarily like the idea of installing Whatsie on your PC, then “WhatsApp Messenger” is the way to go.

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Head on to the Chrome store to make a download.

Facebook Messenger Alternatives for Linux

Messengerfordesktop has been around for quite sometime and it’s a renowned alternative Facebook Messenger client for the desktop made by Aluxian. The application is cross-plaform and features quite a features some nifty features that will make it work your while.

Asides being able to call, and do basically everything you’d normally be able to do with Messenger on the web you also have three theme options built in which are dark, mosaic, and white (default).

Head over to messengerfordesktop.com and download an appropriate package for your system and execute it like you would a normal .Deb file.

In the case that you’re not familiar with such, fire up your terminal using the key combination: CTRL+ALT+T and change directory to your downloads folder “cd Dowloads” and then:

$ sudo dpkg -i filename.deb

Its worth noting that the messenger for desktop client is in no way affiliated to Facebook.

Messenger ( unofficial on Chrome) – Alternatively, you can get get Aluxian’s build of Messenger for desktop and web from the Chrome app store. It functions the same like the client on the desktop with the exception of no theming options.

Head over to Chrome store to make a download.

Telegram Alternatives for Linux

Cutegram – Telegram’s messaging service currently holds the reputation as the most secure IM platform. It’s free, open-source, cross-platform, secure (heavily encrypted), self-destructing messages,open API and protocol, has servers around the world (for security and speed), messages sync across devices, Supergroup (up to 5K) support for sending any type of file no matter the size and widely used.

Cutegram IM

Cutegram IM

While Telegram’s native client is great, Cutegram is better and incorporates some neat features that aren’t available in the former.

Cutegram includes support for drag and drop, Twitter emojis, an intuitive UI built using QML, integration with most desktop environments/windows managers, and uses Faenza icons.

Cutegram is also an open-source app and you can head over to their website to make the appropriate download for your PC.

Telegram (unofficial on Chrome) – optionally, if you spend most of your time in a browser or you generally prefer using Chrome apps, then you’ll find the Telegram wrapper for the web version of the service by Igor Zhukov pleasing to say the least.

it’s basically Telegram’s web version that was formerly known as Webogram with all the bells and whistles the service has to offer.

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Telegram CLI If you’re like me and quite fond of the command line interface, a developer, hacker, or you just spend most of your time using it, then you’d love Telegram CLI – afterall, a true messaging platform should be limitless.

Installing Telegram CLI on Linux Systems
------------- On Debian/Ubuntu 64-bit ------------- 
$ wget https://bugs.launchpad.net/~miry/+archive/ppa/+files/telegram-cli_0.0.20140125-1_amd64.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i ./telegram-cli_0.0.20140125-1_amd64.deb
$ sudo apt-get -f install
------------- On Debian/Ubuntu 32-bit ------------- 
$ wget https://bugs.launchpad.net/~miry/+archive/ppa/+files/telegram-cli_0.0.20140125-1_i386.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i ./telegram-cli_0.0.20140125-1_i386.deb
$ sudo apt-get -f install
------------- On Fedora Systems ------------- 
# yum install telegram-cli
------------- On Arch Linux ------------- 
$ yaourt -S telegram-cli-git
------------- On FreeBSD ------------- 
$ pkg install libconfig libexecinfo lua52 python
------------- On OpenBSD ------------- 
$ pkg_add libconfig libexecinfo lua python
------------- On OpenSUSE ------------- 
$ sudo zypper in lua-devel libconfig-devel readline-devel libevent-devel libjansson-devel python-devel libopenssl-devel

Then configure and build scripts on FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and OpenSUSE.

$ ./configure
$ make

You can find out other modes of installing or building for other systems on their Github.

Multiple IM services

Franz – if you use all the aforementioned IM apps, there’s no doubt that you’ll find switching from window to window cumbersome. Franz is an IM client that supports multiple instant messaging services (14 in total at the time of this writing) and built using the Github Electron framework.

Franz IM Client

Franz IM Client

The app is basically a browser – that connects to all the respective web versions of the services it supports – with features like notifications, auto-update, and auto-start that makes it well suited for use in a standard desktop environment.

However, Franz isn’t open-source (if that’s a concern) and they promise to not log your data too as there’s no middle man doing the bidding for you…like I mentioned earlier, its basically a glorified browser especially suited for IMs.

Download Franz from here and extract the package. Right click on the Franz file as indicated in the image below and run it.

Whatsapp Web (unofficial on Chrome) – the so-called Whatsapp Web app on the Chrome web store is similar in functionality to Franz; that is, it supports multiple IM services with the exception of the fact that it’s ad-supported, limited in supported IMs (7 in total) and not all that in the looks department.

If you feel Franz isn’t your thing or none of the others above are pleasing enough, then you may go ahead and download Whatsapp Web from the Chrome web store.

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About the author

Jesse Afolabi

Jesse is that tech enthusiast you never heard of...he's mainly into things relating to Linux and Android and has an unending passion for both platforms which is why he writes about them.

  • Aaron Kili K

    Great article here…..

    • Jesse Afolabi

      Thanks Aaron..

  • paul374

    What about Pidgin and Empathy?
    (I don’t actually use Empathy so I don’t know much about it.)
    One can get plugins for Pidgin to make it work for way more than 14 services, though the modern ones usually have to be manually installed (or even built).

    My favorite part of Pidgin besides the many many plugins is that the chat log is locally saved, and the window resizing is a whole lot more flexible, unlike the web Messenger where you can’t rid of the contact list no matter what you do.

    I suppose one advantage of Franz over Pidgin is that it’s a lot easier to get the different services up and running, though since it’s “basically a glorified browser”, I doubt there would be very much window resizing flexibility. (I like my chat window nice and thin on the edge of the screen so that it doesn’t disturb my workflow)

    • Jesse Afolabi

      you’re certainly right about pidgin however, it fails to integrate properly with modern IM services like hangouts, messenger, etc….the XMPP protocol that was meant to support these services has been deprecated. On the other hand, i know nothing about Empathy cause i’ve never had the chance to use it…however, i’ll give it a try and probably update the article afterwards..

      • paul374

        Yeah that’s the main problem with Pidgin, though the new messenger, Line, Telegram, and Skype messaging works. (The plugins have to be manually built though)
        Line lacks a few features, like links can’t be sent, and I don’t use the Telegram and Skype plugins anymore. The new messenger plugin supports all features except for Chess (in my knowledge)

        • Jesse Afolabi

          i had no idea these plugins existed….i only knew that of Hangouts…i’ll test run pidgin with these plugins and see how well they work and probably have an article up for that later on..

  • eMcE

    There is Signal. Pretty cool as for those days with a strong privacy options.

    • Jesse Afolabi

      never heard of it..but will certainly look it up..

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