The version which ships in Debian Lenny is rather old (2.4.3), so in order to install the latest release of Finch in Debian Lenny (which, at the time of writing is 2.6.5), just follow the next steps:
Make sure the sources repositories are enabled, so that the needed development libraries are available. That is, a line like the following should be available in the /etc/apt/sources.list file:
deb-src http://ftp.fi.debian.org/debian/ lenny main contrib non-free
As root, update the packages list:
And install the development libraries:
apt-get build-dep finch
Next, download the Pidgin source code (which also includes Finch source) from the official website (direct link here), uncompress it:
tar -xjf pidgin-2.6.5.tar.bz2
Change the current working directory to pidgin-2.6.5 and compile and install it using:
./configure --disable-gtkui --disable-vv --disable-nm
The --disable-gtkui switch will not build the GTK interface, and the other two will disable voice/video support and NetworkManager support.
Now issue the usual:
The last one as root. Alternately, you can install Finch as a local user, by specifying an install prefix:
./configure --prefix=/home/USER/usr --disable-gtkui --disable-vv --disable-nm
In this case, make install should be run as normal user. Replace USER with your username and make sure /home/USER/usr/bin is included in your $PATH variable. Run Finch by typing finch at the command-line.
Pidgin 2.6.5 running in a terminal