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Cross-platform, Easy-to-Use Local LAN Chat? 39

Posted by Cliff
from the simple-communication dept.
Ars-Gonzo asks: "I was at a conference last week, and had a surprising number of people connected to a peer-to-peer wireless LAN during the lectures. I saw several Mac users typing away during the lectures, and I found out later that they were using iChat's Rendezvous-based local chat to talk to each other. iChat's local subnet chatting functionality is supposedly based on Jabber, but I can't get a Jabber client (on Windows or Linux) to connect to iChat, locally. Has anyone seen any iChat compatible LAN-chat apps for a platform other than Mac?"
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Cross-platform, Easy-to-Use Local LAN Chat?

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  • IRC? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Vaevictis666 (680137)
    Provided you all agree on an IP to host the server at any rate :P

    Either that, or depending on how many people are involved, you could always use MSN or Yahoo IM and invite people into one big happy conversation.

  • What about the built in Windows Messenger service? All you have to do is hand out a list of computer names and you're good to go.

    if that is not your style, then write a frontend for Net Send using VB and just "net send ' Response with your computer name" That's worked wonders for me on school networks in the past.
    • speaking of net send on school networks... be careful with the *. I sent 'Happy Mole Day!' to my entire school one day in the computer lab and not they have completely disabled net send. :(
      • I have seen high school students almost expelled for using net send *. Be VERY careful.
        • when I was at university (UND in south africa) one of the lab tech's used a net send (or novell's equiv, it was a while ago) to send a message to everyone in the lan about a broken printer I think. As I vaguely knew the lan admin I replied and we spent the next hour chatting via net sends.

          at that point I was using 3 computers at once. one with windows 3.11 loaded and netscape 2 running from disk, one in dos running several ncsa telnet sessions to the CS student unix box (beastie for anyone who remembers)
    • Not even necessary in a domain environment, the network will find a user name and send the message to them. Not sure exactly how it handles multiple logins but I've never failed to contact someone I knew was online.
    • Dude, that's exactly what I did back in Grade 8.

      VB program for messaging around the school network? I was -selling- this program! Had some registration key thingy for it, sold the keys for 50c each, and they are locked per user, so they can't share keys.

      It was all good until I was experimenting with net send one day, and accidently sent it to the domain. Simultaneously, every computer on the school network went "ping!". I logged off and slowly walked out of the computer room...

      Needless to say, it g
    • Except it's slightly limited shareware...

      http://www.rjlsoftware.com/software/utility/nets en d/

      You'll have to create a text file with a list of everything you want to send to, though.
  • by mrpuffypants (444598) * <mrpuffypants&gmail,com> on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:00PM (#8710108)
    I'm going to argue that iChat's LAN chatting mechanism probably isn't based upon Jabber at all. Jabber is a server that clients all connect to, whereas Rendezvous is a true P2P technology, where everybody connects to everybody else.

    And good luck on getting 3rd-party support for other protocols in iChat. Apple's got that bolted down to AIM and Local LAN chatting.
    • If nothing else, the discovery mechanism is Rendezvous, so if you've got an open source AIM client that's willing to implement Rendezvous discovery, I bet it would be simple enough to 'sniff' the LAN and figure out how to chat with the iChat clients.

      No harder than figuring out any other chat protocol.
    • The message format is exactly Jabber (just load up ethereal if you don't believe me), but the discovery mechanism is based on Rendezvous. The conversations themselves happen peer to peer (the ones I've seen are on port 5298, but since the port is specified through multicast dns that could probably be anything). Creating a client for linux would be easy, but the most difficult part would be setting up the multicast DNS. Mandrake 10.0 ships with a multicast DNS responder but afaik no other linux distros do
    • iChat Rendezvous uses ports 5297 and 5298. Or at least those are the ports that are opened up if you enable iChat Rendezvous in Mac OS X's firewall setup.
  • easy
    winpopup [internet4classrooms.com]
    • It works totally differently on NT/2000/XP/2003. Fire up a command line, and type "net send ", then the computer or user name you wish to send to (and a space), then the message you wish to send. You do not need WinPopup running on the client if it is one of the OSes mentioned above, but Windows Messenger Service must be enabled (it is by default, but it is often disabled for security reasons).
  • irc, of course (Score:2, Informative)

    by jleq (766550)
    just set up an irc server, give out the IP address, and let the conversations begin! i've had some good experiences with bircd (http://www.xs4all.nl/~beware3/irc/), it's quite lightweight, and works well
    • Re:irc, of course (Score:3, Informative)

      by cgranade (702534)
      I agree. IRC may not be fully P2P, but it is very reliable and complete. There's a client for every known OS, and its name is X-Chat [xchat.org]. Only one big problem: seizure of the server can reveal who connected, which isn't good for sharing files. For chatting, though... it works wonders.
  • old school (Score:1, Redundant)

    by buttahead (266220)
    phone over rj11, said like "forge-eleven"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    about a year old, not much has changed...
    Jchat [dotlocal.org]
  • iTunes chat (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dixie_Flatline (5077) <vincent@jan@goh.gmail@com> on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:55PM (#8710401) Homepage
    My sister got involved in this one day while she was sitting around in an office at her university.

    She and her friend were both working on their laptops, and they both had iTunes opened. They were sharing their playlists, and came across a playlist with some good music (belonging to someone that I'll name GuybrushT). Clever person that she is, she changed the name of HER playlist to say 'GuybrushT is cool!'. He noticed, and she and her friend and GuybrushT had a conversation, all in their shared playlist names!

    Your other alternative is, of course, to buy yourself an iBook and just give in to Apple and OS X. It's a pretty cheap way to buy an addition to your social life.
  • Searched - Eimp (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cyberop5 (520141) *
    I searched the web for about an hour and I wasn't able to find much. The UPNP vulnerabilities in Windows XP seemed to have scared many people away.

    I was able to find this http://eimp.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net], but rendezvous support isn't fully integrated. The feature status is at 50% now and the developer hasn't posted anything in 4 months. There are rendezvous libraries in the latest release.

    I'm in the process of trying out Eimp. Its not a very robust program, but it does seem to offer rendezvous support.
    • Re:Searched - Eimp (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cyberop5 (520141) *
      it only seems to support Rendezvous discovery. I can see my other system online, but I cannot chat with it. This is very buggy software. I can't remove persons on my contact list either, even if i create them. I can however, see their status. IOW, Eimp has a ways to go.
  • It's somewhat open (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eyeball (17206) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @12:02AM (#8710836) Journal
    I'm no expert in rendezvous, but it uses open (although not too commonly used) protocols like multicast-DSN. See Apples FAQ on Rendezvous [apple.com]

    As for iChat LAN (which I'm pretty sure is much different than AOL's protocol). Looks like these guys reverse engineered and built a LAN iChat plugin [wiretapped.net] for Proteus (the multiprotocol IM client). They have the source available for download.

    It would be possible to port the rendezvous+iChat protocol to a Jabber server plugin.

    • Rendezvous is Apple's implementation of the open standard of zeroconf... Linux could just as easily have a compatable equivalent if someone coded it. Apple employees the main(or one of the main) developers/writers/originators of the standard, which is why they have adopted and used this super-awesome protocol so quickly.
  • ...but nothing useful for your purposes, in this case. The local messaging uses a subset of the Jabber protocol (as opposed to the AIM protocol used for peer->server->peer messaging). I think the file transfer code is also based in part on Jabber, although I do know that some of the essential specifics are proprietary and undocumented (the original developer made the note a few weeks ago that he can't even remember how it works anymore).

    So while it does borrow from Jabber, it doesn't "use" Jabber.

  • Search #1

    Search #2

    I can't say I haven't used any of them except ntalk, but that's what I would have done first to find some choices. All of them appear to work fine for what you want to do... just make sure to get one that's java or has source code so you can build on OSX.
  • Vypress chat (Score:3, Informative)

    by psergiu (67614) on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @02:42AM (#8711638)
    http://vypress.com/products/chat/
    All windowsen ...

    http://vypress.com/products/chat/unix/
    All unixen ...

    It broadcasts the messages on the local subnet, udp port 8167.

    Protocol compatible with another 2 or 3 simmilar chat programs.

    Used a lot in Romania in the residential networks.
  • Not iChat related, nor cross-platform, but... On my neighbourhood-LAN(includes coax, tp & wireless heh..) we use Cheezepopper [ctcinternet.cl]. It's not fancy, it's not filled with dozens of cool features - but it does list all computers on the LAN and allow you to send messages either directly to said computers or to the domain/workgroup they're on.

    A potentially hazardous (to your own health) program for big LAN-parties where lots of people have neglected to turn off their Messenger-service in Windows before booting
  • by hsa (598343)
    Forget iChat, get Fire [sourceforge.net].

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