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Fun with Jabber

Over the last couple of weeks I've been developing an intimate relationship with the open source Jabber instant messaging system. It's an IM technology that's intended to offer end users a similar experience to tools like MSN Messenger and AIM, except for one thing: it uses XML and the protocol is fully documented.

A colleague of mine had initially set up a Windows service, but we really needed to move it to UNIX to improve security, and add the extra functions we need to make IMs part of the company's knowledge sharing culture. So for the week I've been tweaking make files to work under old versions of Solaris, porting users from the Windows box, and investigating ways of getting us a secure way of allowing folk on client sites to use the service as well as those of us in the office. A simple pilot among the secretarial team had already proven its worth, as they could use it to exchange information while on the phone to clients without having to put them on hold.

As of this afternoon, I've pretty much got the server in the shape I want. After much wrestling with someone else's install of openssl, I have constructed the appropriate signed certificates to produce a SSL secured connection (as well as getting a SSL compile of Jabber working, which meant another round of configuration). I've locked down user registrations so we can control who uses it and where. Now all I need to do is close down file transfer so our clients feel happy, and get groupchat up and working.

It's been a while since I had to get my hands this dirty. I've rather enjoyed it. Makes a change from Visio and Word.