Did you know that Pidgin (formerly named Gaim), a Free and Open-source multi-platform (Instant Messaging) IM client, can be used to send and receive SMS text messages for free? This is made possible through Chikka, a wireless application service provider that's based here in the Philippines. 45 mobile carriers in fourteen countries including the US, UK, India, and Japan are currently supported by Chikka.

At present, Chikka client doesn't have a Linux installer. However, Chikka’s recent interoperability with Google Talk gave it the ability to send and receive text messages through Google Talk.

Since this is about sending and receiving text messages for free using Pidgin, I’ll cut to the chase and show you how to do it.

Assuming you already have a Google account, let's set up Google Talk in Pidgin by simply adding an account, and then filling up the necessary 'Login Options'. --Refer to screenshot below. After you have saved it, it will try to connect and login to your Google account.

Once you have successful logged in, you can now 'Add a Buddy' or in this case, a textmate. Here's the not-so-secret way to do it. --The "Buddy's screen name" should be: CellphoneNumber(with country code) + @chikkatalk.com. e.g. 639177777777@chikkatalk.com. --See screenshot below. Click on 'Add'. And that's about it.

Here's me and Beth exchanging text messages...

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