[unisog] Instant Messaging and the University

John Kristoff jtk at depaul.edu
Tue Jul 16 01:46:59 GMT 2002


On Tue, 2 Jul 2002 11:42:23 -0700
"John Stauffacher" <stauffacher at chapman.edu> wrote:

> Anybody implemented a campus wide instant messaging platform? I have
> been thinking of implementing jabber, but also have ms exchange at my
> disposal (thought I shy away from M$). Anyone know of any open-source

We've been playing with jabberd and some jabber clients.  We would like
to roll-out a University-wide pilot sometime this year, but so far its
just not on our priority list.

While is seems to run fairly well, we've had to restart it a couple of
times over the past couple of months.  Its unclear why at this point, we
just haven't bothered to do that much troubleshooting.  The setup and
configuration isn't as streamlined as it probably should be, but if
you're comfortable in playing with typical packages it shouldn't be a
big deal at all.  You may want to spend a little extra time securing the
way its installed and run.

Some key security issues to consider include:

  Running the daemon as non-root
  File permissions, system privileges, using chroot
  Using SSL for across the wire privacy
  Using pgp/gpg for end-to-end privacy
  Logging and service monitoring
  Privacy issues (server can log chat rooms and other stuff)
  User id management

Its definitely a good time to start playing with it if you have the
time.

Its very easy to use once setup.  Customization is pretty easy as well.

The one issue we want to solve before rolling it out is a way to prevent
just anyone from registering any or as many ids as they want.  Currently
you can either make it an open system where anyone can register a nick
as often as they want or a closed system where you'd have to setup users
manually.  We are planning to build a web front-end that allows users to
setup an account (and only one) by authenticating to a back-end
authentication service and closing the open registration service. 

A few people in my group use it fairly often and it seems to work well
enough for our needs.  A number of people have asked about integration
between other IM systems, but we haven't tested this yet.  This may
definitely be a problem for some as they often change to prevent other
IM systems from interoperating.  We recently found out Juniper Networks
TAC uses Jabber internally.  It would be interesting to hear of other
organizations that do.

We primarily use the Gabber client on Linux and Exodus on Windows.  Here
is our reference list you may find useful.

Jabber homepage
http://www.jabber.org

Gabber, Linux client
http;//gabber.sourceforge.net

WinJab, Windows Jabber Client (being replaced by Exodus, but stable)
http://winjab.sourceforge.net

Exodus, Windows Jabber client (still buggy, but Winjab's successor)
http://exodus.sourceforge.net

JabberCentral, info and resources for Jabber
http://www.jabbercentral.com

Install the Jabber server, excerpt from Programming Jabber, O'Reilly
http://www.openp2p.com/pub/a/p2p/2002/01/18/jabber_chapter3.html

Jabber Technology Basics, excerpt from Programming Jabber, O'Reilly
http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/jabber/chapter/ch05.html

Jabber Chatbots
http;//www.openp2p.com/pub/a/p2p/2002/01/11/jabber_bots.html

John



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