State of Pidgin: Splitting the Tree

Gary Kramlich grim at
Tue Oct 3 01:58:06 EDT 2017

Greetings Programs!

If you have not yet seen the introduction email with a subject of "State of
Pidgin: Introduction", please go read it first.

I've mentioned a few times now that I believe we need to split the tree
into at least four separate repositories.   My proposal is to split it into
libpurple, pidgin, libgnt, and finch.

I firmly believe that right now that any convenience of having everything
in the same repository is actually more of a disservice to each of the four
distinct projects in the current repository.

Splitting the repository gives us some benefits for each individual for
each project individually.  The biggest of which is smaller and more
focused releases that can't get blocked by the other projects.  It also
gives us the ability to bring in other maintainers that would focus on that
repository specifically.  This is by far the biggest benefit I see from
splitting the repository.  I don't expect this to happen immediately, but
having the possibility to do it will better serve that project in the

Splitting libpurple into it's own repository makes it easier for packagers
and third party user interfaces to work with libpurple.  The natural
division that we would create would avoid any confusion around what
dependencies are libpurple and which are Pidgin.  It would also force us to
make sure that no UI code will ever reach libpurple.

Splitting Pidgin into it's own repository allows us to focus on that UI
specifically and improve it.  And let's face the facts here, while Pidgin's
UI is fully functional, it is very much showing it's age.  By splitting
this, Pidgin becomes just another Gtk+ application which happens to talk to
a library that does all of the heavy lifting.  This lowers the barrier to
entry quite substantially.

Since the creation of libgnt I've been saying it should be in it's own
repository.  This is due to many reasons, but I've only become of the
biggest one recently.  libgnt has basically zero exposure.  I know a few
finch users who happen to be developers and they had absolutely no idea
that the UI toolkit was a separate library that they could use in their own
projects.  By splitting this out and promoting it as a Gtk+ like toolkit
for ncurses it can develop it's own community and continue growing instead
of hiding in the shadow of the Pidgin repository.

Like the other three, Finch will benefit from a focused approach to it as
well.  Like libgnt, Finch also suffers from a lack of promotion.  By giving
finch it's own spotlight it can grow in the ways its users and developers
need it to grow.

There is still the question of where, if we decide to split these
repositories, they should go.  A quick search on Bitbucket shows that the
team names for finch and gnt are already in use.  However, we could put
them under pidgin or the imfreedom teams on Bitbucket.

Please discuss.


Gary Kramlich <grim at>
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