How to Configure The Jabber Instant Messaging Server
Jabber is an open source alternative to instant messaging technologies from vendors including AOL, Microsoft and IBM Lotus. Here's a guide for network administrators on setting it up.
Jabber is an open source project designed to provide
secure real-time messages and presence information transfer between
multiple entities on the Internet. Due to the wide variety of
developers who work on jabber, it is highly configurable for a range of
different situations. For example, a server can be used privately by a
company, or open to the public Internet. In this guide, you will learn
how to configure a jabber server for a private organization, as well as
how to setup some more advanced features.
The natural question is, why use jabber? There are other instant
messaging systems, such as AOL, Lotus SameTime and Microsoft Messenger. What
makes jabber different? The first benefit to jabber is how many
different operating systems is runs on. Most major Linux/Unix platforms
can run a jabber server. Secondly, the system requirements are much
lower for jabber. An average to large jabber server can be run on a
Pentium class computer with about 512 Megabytes of RAM, and takes less
than 50 Megabytes of hard drive space for a complete install. AOL requires Red Hat Linux or Windows, a database such as Oracle 9i, a
Pentium 4 at 2GHz, 512MB RAM minimum, and at least 100MB of disk space,
not including the disk space for the user data. Lotus SameTime requires Windows, at least a Pentium II 400MHz processor, 500 Megabytes of RAM
minimum, and at least 500 Megabytes of free hard disk space. If you
look at the requirements for Microsoft Messenger, you will see that the
official client runs only on Windows, and there is no possibility of
running a server. And Microsoft Messenger simply uses a single instant
messaging protocol for every user, there is no site access control.
Jabber is a smaller and more efficient server which is capable of
being available only to a corporate network or specific users. The
source code is freely available, which allows administrators to add or
restrict features as they need. This flexibility makes jabber a natural
choice for internal real-time communications.
The jabber server is capable of being restricted to internal use only. But if gateways
to other instant messaging systems are installed (such as AOL IM, MSN,
ICQ, etc), users registered with those messaging systems will be able
to contact users outside of the restricted site. Because the other
messaging systems rely on a single central server, you cannot restrict
access to those systems, you may only allow or deny it completely by
installing or removing the gateways.
What is Jabber
Let's take a look at what jabber really is. The Jabber Software
Foundation says that jabber is a set of
protocols for the real-time exchange of messages and presence
information between entities on the Internet. The jabber protocols are
implemented in several projects, all of which offer the same basic
functions. This guide will be focusing on the jabberd server project.
Jabberd was designed as a simple jabber server that implements the
latest additions to the jabber standard. It is available for Linux,
Solaris, BSD, and Windows. Jabberd is a very widely used server, and
has had many developers to help secure and stabilize it. If someone
wants a new feature implemented, they are free to do so under the terms
of the Jabber Open Source License (JOSL). We will be setting up the
server for Linux (or other compatible Unixes). Unfortunately, the 1.4.2
version does not work on Windows 2003 or XP.
Preparing for Installation
The jabberd server is a very powerful piece of software. It was
originally designed as a proof of concept project, but it has been
tested with 10,000 simultaneous users. Before we jump into setting up a
server, make sure that you have the following software available to
OpenSSL is highly recommended, especially
if anyone is going to connect to the jabber server from outside your
All three of these packages are typically installed
by default on most Linux distributions. If you do not have these
packages installed, you can obtain the source code from the links in the previous paragraphs. Compiling the packages is very straightforward. Simply
unpack the source code, enter the software's directory, and type
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