Oct. 4th, 2012

XMPP

Oct. 4th, 2012 06:40 am
gothfvck: GF logo (Default)
XMPP which stands for eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol is another protocol to use for instant messaging (IMing). It is also known as Jabber. You've probably used it before in some form and not even known it because popular services make use of it such as Facebook, Google with Gtalk, and LiveJournal.

If you have an account with any one of these you can sign right in and start using a dedicated jabber client immediately. However, I strongly advice you to create a new account on another network because at least two out of the three listed don't value your privacy and log all your conversations forever. I suggest going with an independent host that isn't some big international corporation such as chatme.im, jabber.org, jabber.at or another one you may know of. Some e-mail providers give you a XMPP account but it's up to you if you want to give out your e-mail address to everybody. I'd suggest only using that account for close friends that you can trust or those you exchange e-mails with.

Creating an account is easy, you just open up any application that supports XMPP, go through the application's menu and add an account when check the box that says "create account" and type in whatever username you wish along with a password, preferably a password you don't use every/anywhere else. Some of the jabber service providers allow account creation from their website but this is unnecessary and some times is handled via Flash and personally, I hate Flash, especially for communication.

From here you can set it up to connect to many of the other protocols you may be using such as AIM, Y!, MSN/Windows Live/.NET messaging-whatever-it's-called, MySpace and others. Just go to "discover services" and find what you need. Note that not all support all that they possibly can so check the website beforehand and make sure they support the gateway you need. Once you do this you can connect to your new XMPP account and in turn connect to all your other networks and from one program talk to your lame buddies still using AIM.

Another great feature of XMPP is the presence part, the ability to set a resource. What this means is that you're able to sign in at multiple locations and/or multiple clients and set a priority and status for each one. By default, whichever has the highest priority will get an incoming message unless the sender specifies to send to a different resource. This is very handy when you've got a desktop, laptop and handheld (read as Android) computer or if you are able to sign in at work, school, or elsewhere and at the place you sleep. If you sleep at work then... well, at least you've still got that job but make sure you really wash up in the bathroom and wash your clothes in the sink! Not that not all clients can send to a specific resource but most, if not all, XMPP-capable clients can at least read different status messages and will show you the resource they're coming from.

What's great about using XMPP is that it's decentralized. There's no one company that's reading, censoring and logging all your conversations which is something all the major networks do weather they admit it or not, I've seen it happen. You don't have to worry about them making some weird proprietary changes making it impossible to do something or them going out of business/someone buying them out and changing privacy policies & terms of service agreements (and possibly you won't even know prior to it happening). It's open source and uses open standards. Most servers value privacy and security as much as you or I do (and that's quite a bit on my end). There probably won't be any advertisements and your information won't be sold. Of course, find these things out for yourself before you create and start using an account because you may find the one that doesn't follow these rules!

One more note: make sure you enable any encryption plugins available such as off-the-record (OTR) and talk all your friends into using encryption to make sure everything's kept private and each of you gets all the messages intended untempered with. Remember your Miranda Rights, everything you said can and will be used against you. Just because you aren't doing or talking about anything that's illegal (today) doesn't mean that you don't need or shouldn't use encryption. Privacy is one of our basic rights and we should keep things that way because if we don't bother to fight for our rights they will all disappear.

Suggested clients:
Gajim - Great for Jabber as it allows choosing which resource to message the person at if they're signed in multiple places. GTK
Pidgin - Also supports IRC and every IM network. GTK
Jitsi - Good support for A/V conferencing.
Psi - Another cross-platform client. QT
Kopete - The KDE instant messanger. Multi-protocol. QT
Xabber for Android.
ChatSecure for iOS devices.

Check out the long but incomplete list of servers over at http://xmpp.net/

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