[linux-elitists] IM servers for Linux

David L. Sifry david@sifry.com
Sun Jan 5 21:16:37 PST 2003

I'm a big fan of Jabber, and I've created a number of infrastructures
that use it.  The upsides:

* Central control of the server, and no data leakage (you can run it
completely behind a firewall if you like)

* SSL-encrypted connection capability

* Open protocol

* Large OSS developer community

* The O'Reilly "Programming Jabber" book.  This is the best
documentation on Jabber, bar none, and if you're thinking about
installing Jabber, go get this book.  See my comments below about

Here's the downsides:

* No decent Jabber client available for Windows or Mac OS.  Believe me,
I've tried them all, and they all suck in one form or another.  Gabber
is a great client for Linux, but nothing like it exists on the windows

* No guarantee of message transmission.  I'm working with the Jabber
developers to get a heartbeat spec included in the Jabber protocol, but
as it stands, if your client becomes disconnected (like they
suspend-resume a a laptop), their Jabber client will ACT as if it is
connected to the server but messages sent from it go into the ether. 

* Poor user and administrator documentation.  Go to jabber.org and
jabbertudio.org - the documentation is so scattered and of different
quality, it relly plays with your head.  It is all there, but finding it
and sifting through it is a huge pain.  The "Programming Jabber" book is
good, but again, it is not for a windows admin.

* Dificult to set up and run for the first time.   You've gotta get
someone to come in and set it up for you.  Hmmm, I bet there's an
opportunity for some company to put a front-end around Jabber and sell
pre-built boxes with an auto-setup wizard.  It is just too hard for
normal people.

* The promise of talking to AIM, Yahoo, MSN, etc., is one that it just
can't deliver on yet.  Well, that's mostly because of the idiots at AOL,
Yahoo, MSN, etc., who want to keep their users locked in, but it is
still a PITA at best to get the Jabber server to do intermediation
between these services, and downright frustrating at worst.  Don't count
on it if you want production-ready compatability.  But then again, you
may not want it, for internal IM only.

All in all, Jabber just isn't ready for prime time, IMHO, and the reason
for this failure is because of the lack of good windows/OSX clients out
there.  People are so used to AIM, MSN, and Trillian clients (which
include cool features like voice chat) that have a spiffy USABLE
interface, and they get turned off by all the freeware Jabber clients
out there.  Hmm, another funding opportunity - get someone to write a
good windows Jabber client, and it would be killer in driving

On Sat, 2003-01-04 at 22:29, Larry M. Augustin wrote:
> I think that I have an opportunity to sneak a Linux server into an otherwise
> all-Windows shop.
> They currently use AIM for instant messaging.  They know this is not secure,
> and want to move to something with reasonable security.  I would like to set
> them up with a Linux system running an IM server.
> Requirements, roughly in order of importance:
> 	1. Security.  Some instant messages may contain confidential
> information.
> 	2. AIM-like UI.  They like AIM.  They are not technical.  They don't
> want to spend a lot of time learning something new.
> 	3. Low admin overhead.  They have one part-time sysadmin who only
> knows Windows.  The Windows client needs to be easy and trouble free for
> them to install.  The server has to just always work.  Basically, once I set
> it up it needs to be able to run assuming virtually no sysadmin support.
> I have never setup and run an IM server.  Based on a quick survey of the
> net, I'm thinking jabberd2, w/ gaim or exodus on the clients.  Thoughts?
> Larry
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David L. Sifry
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