Empathy has been the default messaging program in Ubuntu since version 9.10, when it replaced Ekiga. It supports text, voice, and video chat and file transfers over many different protocols. You can tell it about your accounts on all those services and do all your chatting within one application.
For more information about Empathy, see: http://live.gnome.org/Empathy
Empathy is part of the standard installation, but you can add more functionality/integration with the following packages:
- SIP: telepathy-sofiasip
- MSN Live / Messenger: telepathy-butterfly
- IRC: telepathy-idle
- Empathy applet: empathy-megaphone-applet
Voice & video: libtelepathy-farsight0 python-tpfarsight
- Other: galago-eds-feed python-galago python-galago-gtk
For example, to install support for SIP, MSN, IRC and voice & video all at once:
sudo apt-get install telepathy-sofiasip telepathy-butterfly telepathy-idle libtelepathy-farsight0 python-tpfarsight
Empathy is currently a pretty poor IRC client. It might be better to install xchat-gnome.
If you still want to use Empathy: You need to have at least one non-IRC account. Then you can connect to the IRC server by creating an account.
If you wish to get help regarding Empathy, you can ask your question in the live chat channel #empathy on IRC (Gimpnet). Note that the #empathy channel is specifically for discussing the Empathy chat client. For general help with Ubuntu, continue to use #ubuntu on IRC (Freenode).
This is what awesome looks like - blog post showing video + voice chat and remote desktop sharing via Empathy