Linus Torvalds originally developed Linux in 1991 as a result of personal interest and the need for a free and open-source operating system kernel. Since its inception, it has gained a myriad of users globally.
Features such as security and stability, affordability and open source nature, adaptability and customization, community support and development, compatibility, and performance are some of the factors contributing to its rapid traffic.
According to EnterpriseAppsToday, Linux occupies the third position in the global desktop operating system market share, with a 2.09% share. In addition, it is the market leader in both servers and mobile devices, powering 85% of smartphones, 39.2% of websites, and 96.3% of the top one million web servers.
Out of the box, Linux supports instant messaging (IM) apps. These IM applications enable users to exchange text messages, multimedia messages, audio and video conversations, and more.
Future trends in Linux instant messaging (IM) applications are probably going to focus on better cross-platform interoperability, increased security, better service integration, and more engaging multimedia features.
There are a few important aspects that can substantially enhance your communication experience when looking for instant messaging (IM) applications for Linux. The following are some crucial elements to consider:
- Security and Encryption: To protect your data and communications, choose apps that provide end-to-end encryption.
- User Interface and Customization: Find an app that has an easy-to-use UI, layout options, font sizes, and themes that can be customized to improve usability.
- Collaboration Tools and Group Chat Support: Apps with collaboration capabilities such as polls, file sharing, and screen sharing are helpful, particularly for communication in the workplace.
- Offline Mode Support and Synchronization: Select IM applications that allow you to send messages while offline and have them sync when you connect back.
- Accessibility Features: If you’re concerned about accessibility, pick an app with features like keyboard navigation, compatibility for screen readers, or high contrast levels.
To help you get the most out of these IM apps, we’ve curated the best Instant messaging apps for Linux below, along with their descriptions and distinguishing features.
1. Skype – Connect with Your Loved Ones
With it, you can make audio and video calls (including conference calls), send instant messages, share media files and even call mobile and landline numbers using Skype credit.
Its client app for Linux received a recent update that indicates Microsoft still has a love for Linux, and even though it is not my favorite number on this list I can’t deny that it has maintained its user base in the Linux community.
2. Pidgin – IM All Your Friends in One Place
Pidgin is an instant messaging client whose multiple chat protocols provide it with the ability to support almost every chat service available including Google talk, Yahoo, Aim, and SMPP.
It features plugin support with which you can extend its functionality, multiple accounts access, and built-in NSS support.
Pidgin isn’t available as a pre-built package for Unix and Linux distros so you would have to perform the installation from your system’s standard package management tool.
3. Telegram – A New Era of Messaging
Telegram is a WhatsApp alternative with a blue theme color and a bot API known for its user friendly interface, offering end to end encryption. It ensures secure and confidential conversation and file sharing and a commitment to openness is evident through its extensive API support, fostering a vibrant ecosystem of third-party apps. One of my favorite feature is editable messages.
Unlike WhatsApp, Telegram lets you edit messages even after the receiver has read them. Its outstanding features includes self-destructing messages, large group capabilities, and a diverse array of stickers.
With cross-platform synchronization, users seamlessly switch between devices both emoji and stickers like Facebook’s messenger app.
4. Viber – Instant Messaging and VoIP App
Viber is a versatile instant messaging and VoIP application, revolutionizes communication with its seamless interface and feature-rich platform. It offers free text messaging, audio and video calls, gif as well as Unity integration. End to End encryption prioritizes user privacy and security.
Beyond standard messaging, viber connects users globally engaging features like stickers, multimedia sharing, and group chats, enhancing user experience. Viber ensures accessibility across devices, making it a go-to choice for staying connected effortlessly.
Whether for personal or professional use, With cross-platform compatibility, Viber remains a reliable and dynamic communication tool in the ever-evolving digital landscape.
5. Wire – Modern Communication with Full Privacy
Wire is a fantastic instant messaging app for Linux, focusing on privacy and strong security. It makes sure your messages, calls, and shared files are encrypted end-to-end.
It’s a free and open-source app with cool features like gifs, HD group calls, and audio filters. You can use Wire on different devices, making it easy to communicate everywhere.
Whether you’re chatting with friends or using it for work, Wire is a reliable choice. It gives you modern communication tools while keeping your privacy a top priority.
Wire’s interface is one of the best on this list and since it is available for both mobile and desktop, if it isn’t the perfect Skype alternative then I don’t know what it is.
6. WICKR – Escape the Internet
WICKR has gained renown for its automatic self-destructing message security feature, combined with its military-grade encryption.
WICKR stands arguably the most secure instant messaging app available for Linux. Surprisingly, a Linux client was only introduced last year, acknowledging the demand for self-destructing messaging among Linux users.
Catering to both business and personal use, WICKR prioritizes user privacy by refraining from tracking usage or displaying ads. Its commitment to robust security, coupled with the unique self-destruct feature, makes WICKR a compelling choice for those seeking a highly secure instant messaging experience on the Linux platform.
7. Slack – Where Work Happens
Slack Slack is one of the great choices as the messaging app almost every startup company in the world uses because it is excellent in team communication and collaboration. Specifically designed for Linux, Slack’s instant messaging app enhances efficiency and coordination within teams.
Apart from the conventional messaging features and security, it seamlessly integrates with third-party applications like Trello, GitHub, and Dropbox.
Furthermore, its compatibility with bots, including the PayPal bot, extends functionality, making it a versatile platform that caters to diverse business needs. Experience the power of streamlined communication and expanded collaboration with Slack on your Linux system
RetroShare is a completely decentralized app for sending files, emails, and multimedia messages. It is decentralized in the sense that it has no central servers as it is based on a peer-to-peer network built on GPG IGNU Privacy Guard).
It offers no ads, or terms of service, and is completely free. In as much as RetroShare implements sound encryption methods to keep its users safe, peers are at liberty to exchange certificates and IP addresses among themselves.
9. Tox – A New Kind of Instant Messaging
Tox, similar to RetroShare, operates as a peer-to-peer instant messaging application, boasting end-to-end encryption and the absence of a central server.
This platform facilitates accessible communication devoid of any advertisements and is freely downloadable across various platforms.
10. Ring – A GNU Crossplatform Messenger
Ring is another cross-platform VoIP Skype alternative for Linux. It provides free audio calls, video calls, and instant messaging services while respecting user privacy by not tracking usage data or offering ads.
It also provides security by being a decentralized peer-to-peer network-based app with End-to-end encryption with authentication based on RSA/AES/DTLS/SRTP technologies.
11. Discord – Place to Talk and Hang Out
Discord is the ideal cross-platform VoIP application designed to fit gamers’ needs and possibly overthrow Skype. It is a proprietary software that is secure, free, properly documented, beautifully designed and has over 25 million users.
Discord is free to use but it offers a paid service with which users can make their customization adjustments by adding custom emojis and stickers.
12. Session – Send Messages Not Metadata
Session is a chat software that prioritizes user security and privacy. It is a product of the Loki Foundation that uses decentralized, end-to-end encryption to protect private chats without compromising usability.
It has the following built-in features:
- Users can set up group chats with several people and keep them private and encrypted.
- To ensure their anonymity when using the software, users can create accounts without providing their phone number or email address.
- The session uses a relay system to mask the sender’s IP address, giving the communication process an additional degree of anonymity.
- To further improve privacy protection, Session does not gather or store user metadata, such as IP addresses or location information.
- It allows you to send voice messages, which in turn enables you to be a little more intimate and ensures that nothing is misinterpreted.
Overall, Session has drawn interest from people looking for secure texting options, particularly those who value privacy and need chat software that doesn’t compromise security.
13. Jami – Private Communication Software
Jami is a private, end-to-end encrypted communication program that is free/libre. It was developed by the Savoir-faire Linux company, and it offers a range of communication options with a primary focus on decentralization, privacy, and security.
Top features include:
- Jami uses an end-to-end encryption mechanism for all communications, including phone, video, and messaging. This makes sure that only the intended recipients can view the content.
- Users can use it anonymously and privately without having to share any personal information or create an account.
- It enables users or groups to communicate via text.
- It enables user-to-user audio-only calls.
- It enables safe file sharing between users.
- It enables users to record voice and visual messages.
- It also allows users to stream media and screen-share.
In general, these attributes position Jami as a privacy-focused communication application that places priority on security and anonymity without depending on centralized infrastructure.
14. Element – Secure Collaboration and Messaging
Element is a feature-rich IM application built on the Matrix protocol. It highlights safe, distributed communication and provides a range of functionalities for people, groups, and communities.
Among the features it packs are:
- Element provides end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for private communications, guaranteeing that the contents of calls and messages are only accessible to the designated parties.
- Users can build private or public rooms for teams, communities, or interest groups with the group chat feature. It provides functions including threaded chats, integrations, file sharing, and more.
- Element lets visitors join discussions without the need for an account. With Bridges, users can connect to other chat networks, such as Slack, Discord, or IRC.
- It offers solutions for content moderation, user permission management, and maintaining a safe and secure atmosphere in chat rooms and communities.
Due to its emphasis on collaboration features, Element has been embraced among those looking for a flexible and safe communication platform, as well as teams, organizations, and open-source communities.
15. Rocket.Chat – Communications Platform
Organize communications, tasks, and projects in one location, and watch as your team’s output soars to unprecedented levels with Rocket.Chat.
With tools for file sharing, video conferencing, group chat, and more, Rocket.Chat brings you an adaptable and expandable communication solution.
The top features of Rocket.Chat include:
- It allows users to hold audio and video chats right within the platform by supporting both voice and video calls.
- It enables instantaneous text-based communication between users, providing real-time chat features for individuals, groups, or teams.
- Users can set up private groups for team conversations and channels for particular projects or subjects.
- The platform complies with regulations such as GDPR and provides security features like two-factor authentication and end-to-end encryption.
- It allows users to work together more easily by sharing files, papers, photos, and other media types in chat rooms or channels.
Rocket.Chat is the ideal choice for groups or companies that want versatile communication that can be customized to meet their unique requirements.
It is appropriate for a variety of use cases, from small teams to large enterprises, thanks to its extensive feature set and open-source nature.
16. Franz – Free Messaging App
Franz is a messaging tool that unifies many message providers into one interface. It provides a unified interface for accessing many accounts across several services, such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Slack, and others. It’s quite useful for centrally organizing all of your interactions.
Key features include:
- It ensures you never miss a communication by offering centralized notifications for all added accounts.
- It allows you to add and manage several accounts from various messaging providers.
- Each integrated service has settings that users can change, including the look, notifications, and others.
Franz provides a free version with limited functionality. Additionally, Franz’s premium edition offers extra features like cloud sync.
17. Gajim – Instant Messenger
Gajim is a cross-platform open-source instant messaging client for the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP). Gajim offers a simple-to-use interface for file transfers, chat, and support for a number of XMPP extensions.
Key features include:
- End-to-End Encryption: OMEMO and OpenPGP encryption are supported, guaranteeing safe user communication.
- Group Chats: Users have the ability to start and join groups, make their own chat rooms, and have conversations with several people at once.
- Message History: By storing chat logs, users can look back on previous exchanges.
- Plugin Support: Gajim has a system of plugins that let users add more features to the program in accordance with their tastes or particular requirements.
- Integration: It ensures interoperability with a range of XMPP services and functions by supporting a number of XMPP extensions and features.
- Presence Information: Through the presence indicator, users can view the online status and availability of their contacts.
Overall, Gajim is renowned for providing users with a powerful and adaptable messaging experience by adhering to XMPP standards, emphasizing security through encryption, and providing flexibility through its plugin system.
18. ICQ – Stay Connected
ICQ is one of the first instant messaging programs created in the late 1990s by an Israeli firm named Mirabilis.
It experienced tremendous growth in popularity in the early days of the Internet. To date, it still continues to offer messaging services with some current features and maintains the user base.
Some of the features it offers include:
- Allows users to have audio and video discussions by supporting voice and video calling functionalities.
- In keeping with tradition, ICQ provides a large selection of emoticons and stickers to express feelings and reactions during discussions.
- To converse with several contacts at once, users can start or join group conversations.
- It lets users see one another’s online and offline statuses, as well as send and receive status messages and private comments.
- Users can maintain communication continuity by syncing their contacts and conversations between various devices.
- To protect user chats, ICQ has introduced a certain degree of encryption.
In addition, ICQ lets users convert audio to text, initiate fast video and voice calls, send, delete, or edit messages, and share their usernames without the need to share their numbers.
19. Jitsi – Free Video Conferencing Software
Jitsi is an open-source instant messaging and video conferencing software that offers outstanding and safe video conferencing, chat, and meeting services that are compatible with multiple platforms.
These are some of its salient features:
- Allows users to easily share their displays during conferences or video meetings, which is useful for group projects or presentations.
- Jitsi has a chat function that lets users message each other privately in chat rooms or during video conversations.
- Some Jitsi versions allow users to record meetings and broadcast conferences live to websites such as YouTube.
- Jitsi simplifies the access procedure by enabling users to attend meetings without requiring them to first register an account.
- It easily schedules and joins meetings straight from calendar invites, thanks to its integration with calendar apps.
Jitsi has become widely recognized for its comprehensive features, simplicity of usage, and open-source architecture, which lets developers customize and expand it.
20. BitlBee – IRC Instant Messaging
BitlBee is an instant messaging (IM) client that doubles as an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) gateway. With their IRC client, users can access multiple instant message networks.
For those who don’t want to run an extra XMPP, Facebook, or Discord client on top of their constantly running IRC client, BitlBee is an excellent option.
Key features include:
- Within an IRC client, users can send and receive messages, maintain their contacts, and receive notifications from other instant messaging networks.
- BitlBee’s IRC interface keeps track of friends from different instant messaging networks and creates a single buddy list.
- BitlBee is software that is available for free, enabling developers and users to add features and alter their functioning.
- It enables users to run the program in the background and keep continuous access to instant messaging networks on servers or other systems that have shell access.
- By creating plugins or scripts, users can increase the functionality of the product.
Overall, BitlBee allows users to access many chat networks from a single IRC client by converting different instant messaging protocols into an IRC interface.
21. Empathy – Instant Messaging
For Linux desktop environments, Empathy is an instant messaging (IM) and voice-over IP (VoIP) program that is basically connected to the GNOME desktop.
It has a simple, user-friendly interface and is tailored to work well with the GNOME desktop environment.
With Empathy, you can transfer files via numerous protocols as well as text, voice, and video chat. You can perform all of your chatting within a single application and inform it about your accounts on all of those services.
In addition, Empathy has a Gossip-based user interface and uses Telepathy for protocol support.
Key features include:
- File transfer over local networks and XMPP.
- SIP, XMPP, and Google Talk can be used for voice and video calls.
- Support theming conversations
- Viewing and exchanging location data.
- Group and private chat (spell check and smileys included).
- Conversation logging
- Reconnecting automatically with Network Manager.
- Support libempathy and libempathy-gtk Python bindings
- support group applications (also known as “tubes”).
22. Kopete – Instant Messenger
Kopete is an open-source, free instant messaging client that works with a variety of protocols, including Novell GroupWise Messenger, AIM, ICQ, and more.
It is a component of the KDE Software Compilation, which is a set of programs and add-ons for the desktop KDE environment.
With Kopete, users can enjoy a unified, user-friendly interface for all of their instant messaging platforms, while developers have access to an adaptable foundation for building new features and plugins.
Key features include:
- To guarantee safe communications, Kopete offers encryption and privacy settings for supported chat protocols.
- During chat sessions, users can share documents, photos, and other items by exchanging files.
- Kopete enables users to call their contacts via voice and video, contingent on the protocols that are available.
- Kopete features a plugin system that lets users add new protocols to be supported or expand its functionality.
- Kopete strives to offer a consistent user experience for KDE users by integrating smoothly with other KDE programs as part of the KDE desktop environment.
Overall, Kopete is a feature-rich and adaptable instant messaging client for the KDE desktop that enables users to connect from one interface across several chat networks.
23. Rambox – Workspace Simplifier
Rambox is a productivity and communications app that provides a single workspace for multiple teamwork and communication tools. Access to many services can be streamlined and centralized within a single application, thanks to its architecture.
Key features include:
- It integrates with a multitude of messaging and collaboration platforms, including major ones like Microsoft Teams, Trello, WhatsApp, and others
- It provides a single, unified interface through which users can concurrently access and manage numerous accounts on various services. This makes it simple to switch between accounts without opening new tabs in the browser or apps.
- By grouping and classifying services, users can establish customized workspaces that facilitate improved workflow management and organization.
- Rambox lets users stay informed without constantly checking numerous apps by providing aggregated alerts for messages, mentions, or updates from all integrated services.
- It places a strong emphasis on security measures, like a lock feature that adds extra privacy by limiting workplace access to approved users only.
- Rambox allows users to access their preset setup from several computers by allowing them to synchronize workspaces and settings across many devices.
Rambox has also gained recognition for managing several messaging and collaboration platforms at once, offering a simple way to organize and access different services from one interface.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Following are the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) involving the best instant messaging apps for Linux
Can I customize the interface of these IM apps on Linux?
Indeed, you can frequently modify the user interfaces of different instant messaging (IM) applications on Linux to some degree.
It’s a good idea to read over the options and preferences of an IM client carefully if you want to alter its interface on Linux. Additionally, see whether there are any themes, plugins, or scripts available for customization by visiting the app’s official website, forums, or community resources.
How do these IM apps contribute to the future trends in Linux communication?
Linux instant messaging apps set the pace for future trends by supporting open standards, boosting productivity and teamwork, emphasizing security and privacy, welcoming customization, encouraging cross-platform interoperability, and spurring innovation in the communication tools available to the Linux community.
Since the inception of Linux, the number of free and open-source applications for the Linux ecosystem has been continuously increasing.
You can be sure that you’ll find the best instant messaging program for your needs because we’ve carefully chosen a range of options to suit both personal and professional demands! Which is your preferred IM app? Let me know in the comment section below.