How to Use Google Hangouts on Pidgin with the Purple Hangouts Plugin

Do you love Google Hangouts but wish you could use something other than the official client? With Purple Hangouts, you can. This is a plugin that uses the Google Hangouts platform and brings it into the Pidgin Chat client (and other chat clients that support Pidgin plugins).

Before you even think about using Purple Hangouts, you should probably have Pidgin installed. If for some reason your Linux distribution doesn’t ship with the well-known IM client, install it. It should be easy to find. All that’s required is opening your Linux distribution’s package manager, searching for Pidgin and installing it to the system.

pidgin-hangouts-project-page

Fedora

sudo dnf copr enable xvitaly/purple-hangouts

followed by

sudo dnf install purple-hangouts pidgin-hangouts

Arch Linux

Arch Linux, like Fedora, has a quick and easy way to install the plugin. Yes, you still have to compile it, but the good news is that you’ll be able to find this plugin in the Arch User Repository. With the help of your AUR helper, it’s a fairly hands-off process.

Ubuntu

For Ubuntu there is no fancy “user repo” or even a PPA. To get the Purple Hangouts plugin working on this distro, you’re going to need to take the source and compile it. (Run the following commands line by line.)

Note: this method also works on Debian.

sudo apt-get install libpurple-dev libjson-glib-dev libglib2.0-dev libprotobuf-c-dev protobuf-c-compiler mercurial make
hg clone https://bitbucket.org/EionRobb/purple-hangouts/
cd purple-hangouts
make
sudo make install

From Source

Building from source on a Linux distribution that is not listed above is fairly similar to the Ubuntu section. Some libraries and package names will need to be changed, but if you have the skill, head over to this page and try your hand at it.

Using the Purple Hangouts plugin is pretty straightforward once you have it installed onto your system. Just launch Pidgin and go to the “Accounts” section. Click the “Add Account” button.

pidgin-add-account

From here you’ll see a drop-down menu filled with many, many different services. Find and click on the one that says “Hangouts.”

pidgin-select-hangouts

Once clicked, another menu will appear. This time you’ll be asked to enter your username. Your username is your Gmail (or email associated with Google) minus the @ sign. Enter it and fill out your name in the local alias section as well.

pidgin-hangouts-add-username

With the information filled out, a browser window will open. This browser window is an Oauth code. You’ll be prompted to select your Google account and copy the code provided on the page into an “Authorization Code” dialog box that pidgin shows.

pidgin-oauth-code

After the Oauth code has been added, you’ll be able to access and message your Google Hangouts contacts. If you are in any group chat rooms in Hangouts, those will show up as chat rooms in your Pidgin buddy list as well.

pidgin-hangouts-buddy-list

Google’s Hangout client on the PC is good, if you don’t mind using the Chrome browser and a web app. However, this method has some bad shortcomings. For starters, good luck getting Chrome to run reasonably fast or reliably on an aging machine, or even just on a machine with a low amount of RAM. It’s painful.

Users looking to still access their Google contacts and use the Hangouts platform on machines like these should be excited, as this plugin makes it easy. However, access for low-resource computers isn’t really the main selling point here.

Since its inception, the point of Pidgin (and other applications like it) was to take many messaging platforms and bring them together into one single place. For a long time this has worked out great – Google, Facebook and others in one place. That is, until recently.

See, for a few years now, big social media platforms have been moving away from open messaging protocols – ones that were easy to implement into any old thing. Instead, they’ve moved towards more closed-source solutions. Sad to say, the Google protocol that Pidgin has is now broken because of this, until now.

With this new plugin, it re-adds the ability to use Google’s messaging in Pidgin. It’s not a perfect solution, but considering that Hangouts is closed, it’s impressive how well done the plugin is. If you’re an avid Hangouts user and you love Pidgin, definitely check this plugin out.

Do you use Pidgin? Why or why not? Tell us below!

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