Pidgin is a service independant instant message client. It lets you talk to multiple IM services in a single client. It is very well featured and has a number of very useful plugins so that you can tweak use to suit the way you work.
If you are a Gmail or Google Apps customer (or both…) you get an IM service based on the XMPP protocol standard called GoogleTalk. You can use a desktop client or an AJAX web front end to the service – using it from the Gmail application for instance.
If you have a smartphone running Android, or indeed a tablet running Android, you also get Talk as an instaklled application and that is a front end to the GoogleTalk service.
Lovely – you can chat wherever you are. But, by default Google implement their services to speak at priority level 24 within XMPP so that means that if you use Pidgin as your front end to Googletalk AND you use a phone/tablet, the status set on the mobile device will take preference to your Pidgin set status. This happens if your Pidgin resource name starts alphabetically after the non-modifiable resource names used by Talk (these all begin with the word Android, reasonably enough). Setting your resource name in Pidgin is easy but you might not want it to say aaHome or whatever (and of course you can only modify the Resource name when you have disconnected from GoogleTalk by disabling the connection).
So what to do? Pidgin doesn’t have the ability to modify the XMPP priority but you can add the XMPP Priority plugin which you will find in the Purple Plugin Pack. Download the pack and place the plugins in your Pidgin Plugins directory, and place the single file in the Bin directory in the Pidgin Bin directory (or in the same folder as the application if you don’t have a Bin directory).
You can now modify the account/advanced settings in Pidgin to give a priority of, say 25, to your main machine and the status set their will override the status set by the mobile device. This is most useful if you have your mobile device Talk application set to say you are Away when the screen is off.
Note: You may need to disable and then enable the GoogleTalk accounts in Pidgin for the settings to be set.
One word of caution/information – Your status in Talk is carried between mobile devices, so if you set it on your phone, it will also be visible and active exactly the same on your Tablet, despite the different resource names. This is a bit annoying but is probably something due to be fixed (as of March 2012).