Empathy is an instant messaging application that is shipped with Ubuntu 10.04 and 9.10. It works very good, although there are some small details that I do not like about it like the fact that the contact window is not shown by default.
For showing the contact window when empathy starts, you need to create a custom script. I will show you how to do that now.
Open the terminal (Applications->Accesories->Terminal) and write the following:
Now gedit will open with a blank screen. Just copy and paste the following text:
#!/bin/bash gconftool-2 -t boolean -s /apps/empathy/ui/main_window_hidden false empathy
Save the file and exit. You can do this by selecting File->Save and then File->Exit.
Now you should be again in the terminal. You are going to give the script execution access. You can do that from the command line by executing the following command:
chmod +x empathy.sh
Done. So now every time you want to start empathy just run (double click) the empathy.sh file which is your home folder.
If you want empathy to automatically start every time you login, you can add this script to the start-up by adding it in System-> Preferences-> Startup Applications.