Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 15:07

The year 2021 starts with a big moment of #DeleteWhatsApp. It is when millions of people leave this proprietary software and look for better alternatives. At January 20th, I made a poll in Mastodon titled What is your choice after switching from WhatsApp? which I never thought would attract so many people. I put three choices in that poll Telegram - Signal - Element and people responded with some other alternatives such as XMPP - Threema - Jami and more. Now I present you this article as an introduction to alternative messengers mentioned in the discussion with short explanations so you can try them or refer to good sources. Enjoy sharing once again!

Subscribe to UbuntuBuzz Telegram Channel to get article updates.

(The poll at Mastodon | Don't have a Mastodon account yet? Signup freely at and let's be neighbors!)

Note: this article is a long version of Help Quit WhatsApp.

How To Play Messengers

This article is for everyone so a simple explanation for mass is required. The term instant messenger (IM) is a term that includes the likes of WhatsApp, Telegram, and Line. There are many IMs with diversity of choices. Every name mentioned here is either a software IM, or, a standard of IM. Software IM is like Signal: you can install it. Standard IM is like Xmpp and Matrix: you do not install one, but rather choose a software that works with that standard, such as Kaidan and Element respectively.


Main article: Element Review
Element is a complete communication solution. It is cross platform, require no phone number nor email, and extensible with widgets. It is accessible from web (no additional app required) as well as desktop and phone apps. For office purposes, it can be alternative to Slack (groups, team collaboration, file sharing) while for daily ones clearly it is capable to replace WhatsApp (voice & video conferences). What makes Element different is federation, social independence (companies can create their own messengers), and bridges (connect to other brand messengers outside). Download Element at


Main article: Jami Review
Jami is the new challenger to all, that is, a modern messenger without server. You can try it instantly without phone number, and your account is stored in your device not in a company's server, and it can work within local area network (see, it's really unique, right?). It is under High Priority Projects of Free Software Foundation, an official part of GNU Project, and also already a built-in part of the fully free distro Trisquel 9. I already reviewed it (see here) and showed you it's voice-video calls are functional. Download Jami at


This is not a software IM, but a standard, and is the technology behind Element.  Known software choices that work with this standard, other than Element, are Fractal and NeoChat. This advanced technology is the one that allows us to communicate without phone number, federate, achieve social independence, and equipped with voice & video conferences, and beyond, to be extensible with extensions.


Main article: Session Review
Can you imagine a messenger that combine Bitcoin, Tor and Signal? Session, derivative of Signal, is a serverless messenger whose slogan is "Send messages, not metadata.". It is cross platform, features group chats, and with a unique feature on phone that forbids you to take screenshot. However, up to today it does not have voice and video calls yet. Download Session at


The rising star! Signal is a secure messenger praised by security experts and the secret is that actually the security technology behind it is used by WhatsApp. Now everybody talks about it right after the #DeleteWhatsapp events not to mention some popular persons recommended it (see here, see here). According the Mastodon discussion, there are so many participants who use and recommend it. Download Signal at


The most user friendly as well as feature rich messenger among ones here. It is GNU GPL licensed, available in all platforms including web access, has incredibly useful bots system, and really fast. It is very easy to invite WhatsApp users to Telegram according to my experience. I use it myself and Ubuntu Buzz had a channel there. Download telegram at


Threema, the previously proprietary software, is now Free Software (GNU AGPL). It is available as phone and web versions. On the Mastodon discussion, surprisingly, many participants use and suggest Threema. Currently, you can also follow the discussion at FSF's LibrePlanet about its change. It features basic chats, file sharing, as well as voice/video calls. Download Threema at


Gajim | Kaidan | Conversations | Dino | Movim | Blabber

Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol or XMPP (also known as Jabber) is a long standing standard of internet direct communication. It is among the pioneer of our modern federation and decentralization. It existed long before Matrix, loved by many, and you can see in the Mastodon discussion most people who didn't choose presented choices chose XMPP. To communicate over XMPP, you choose an application, with choices mentioned above. For now, thanks to friend @LPS's suggestion, I can say Blabber is good as it supports mainstream features like groups and video calls.

Further Readings

For you with capacity and readiness to study, you can learn further from these:

Proprietary Sabotage
- The GNU Project has a nice saying we can learn a lot: "This demonstrates what we've said for years: using proprietary software means letting someone have power over you, and you're going to get screwed sooner or later."

Switching.Software - the most user friendly resource of alternatives for computer beginners. You will find things from here mentioned there.

Droid-Break.Info - very user friendly resource of alternatives for your Android phone.

Infosec Handbook - "When it comes to security, privacy, usability, and support for different operating systems, Signal is the clear winner. "

PrivacyToolsIO - you will find Signal, Jami, and Element mentioned there.

PRISM Break - gives you XMPP, Signal, and RetroShare.

High Priority Projects - you will find the Swiss-based Wire from here.

Free Software Directory | PRISM Section - FSF's recommendations on messengers.

Secure Messaging Apps - comparison of all mentioned above from a security measurement that currently recommends Signal.

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.