XMPP/Jabber IM

n7ipb's picture

What's all the Jabber about?

XMPP is an XML-based, open-source system and protocol for real-time messaging and presence notification.

Formerly known as Jabber it is now an IETF standard.

Most of you are familiar with Instant Messaging like ICQ or AIM or maybe even MSN. The problem with all these services is that they all use different protocols and none of them interoperate with each other. With some friends on ICQ and others on AIM and still others on MSN it's a mess. What do you do, run three or more clients? Sure you can use a client that understands more than one protocol (Trillian, Gaim, etc.) but that doesn't solve the other problem that most IM systems have, and that's overload. What would be nice is a protocol that all could use, one that let you setup your own server for your own private IM. And yet one that could (given minimal cooperation from ICQ, MSN etc.) still talk to other networks.

Jabber is designed to be the internet standard IM protocol. Jabber is an XML based IM protocol that provides for messaging, one on one chats, group chats, conferences, whiteboards, etc. In addition it can have gateway plugins for other IM services like ICQ, AIM, Yahoo! and MSN.

Google's 'Google talk' uses XMPP and links up with all the other jabber servers, including ours.

Wetnet runs an XMPP server called Openfire with gateway links to ICQ, AIM and MSN. Given a Jabber client (more about them later) you can register as a Jabber user, chat with other Jabber users and still chat with those left behind to suffer on other messaging systems.

Client programs are available for all the popular OS's. For a look at what is available go to: https://xmpp.org/software/clients.html for a list of clients, many of which are free. For those looking for a suggestion I'll suggest PIDGIN which works for Windows, Linux and OSX. And for you KDE users Kopete works really well,

Things to Know as You Configure for Jabber

  • Unlike ICQ for example, Jabber doesn't use a number to ID you. Instead it uses a combination of a username and a server name. This gives you a Jabber ID (JID) of something like this: n7ipb@jabber.wetnet.net. Looks a lot like an e-mail address, doesn't it?
  • The server name for Jabber at wetnet.net is jabber.wetnet.net. So when registering make sure you use it, not some other Jabber server like jabber.org.
  • Unlike other IM systems, you don't need one account for home, one for work, one for your laptop etc. Instead Jabber uses something called a Resource to keep them straight. You can set the Resource when you're setting up your initial registration. Resources like home, work, laptop are common.
  • You can also choose (or choose not) to fill in the Jabber User Directory (JUD) information. The user directory contains information about you such as your name, e-mail address, etc. Be aware that this information is available to all the other Jabber users, so you might want to only fill in part of the info.
  • Once you install a Jabber client and get yourself registered with jabber.wetnet.net you treat it just like most other IM clients. You have the usual contact lists, message and chat capability that any IM program has. For help, either ask on the Seatcp mailing list or if you have a client up and running come on over to the public chatroom called 'wetnet' and see if anyone is around.
  • MSN,  AIM, ICQ support: After you are setup and registered you can configure your Jabber client to connect to any other Instant Messaging systems that you might belong to (if the Jabber server you are connected to supports a transport for the other IM system). On most clients there is a menu entry for browsing ("Browse Agents/IM systems" on Gabber, "Jabber Browser" on Exodus). Browsing will show you the various services available on the Jabber server. If you select one of the services you will generally be given the ability to find out information about the service and in some cases the ability to register with it.  For example: if you have an MSN account, just select the MSN service, click on "register" and fill in your MSN account information. Jabber will act as your agent and register itself with MSN From then on, you can add all your MSN friends to your contact list and talk to them just like you always did with the MSN client, only this time you're using a Jabber client.  This allows you to gather all your IM systems together and make them available via one standard system.

    This also means that no matter where you are, when you log into jabber.wetnet.net with a jabber client, all of your IM contacts are available to you.