My instant messaging communications platform

I’m using this setup for quite a while now. It’s great in many ways – here some of the reasons:

  • I can access it from multiple hosts at once
  • I can use one unified user interface for all instant messenger protocols and IRC
  • I can access the platform even through my mobile phone via GPRS / WLAN
  • I have logs of all communications in one central place

This is how a few free software components work together to make it possible:

Overview (OpenDocument format)

Or as PNG file (rendered with GIMP):
Overview (PNG)

9 Responses to “My instant messaging communications platform”


  • This is pretty cool. Can you provide any further details on your implementation? I’m pretty tempted to try this out.

  • Sure, where do you want me to start? 🙂

  • Well I guess my only fuzzy part is the “irssi proxy module” what exactly is that, I’ve not heard of such a thing

  • It comes with irssi (see http://irssi.org/documentation/proxy). You can autoload it by creating a file called ‘~/.irssi/startup’ with the line ‘/load proxy’ in it. Configuration (in ‘~/.irssi/config’) goes like this:

    settings = {
    proxy = {
    irssiproxy_ports = “bitlbee=6789 freenode=6788 oftc=6787”;
    irssiproxy_password = “secret”;
    };
    };

  • Okay, so you’re using irssi to maintain connections to bitlbee and some other networks. And it is exposing each of these connections as its own irc “server” so you can connect multiple times from *other* IRC clients.

    Doesn’t that mean that messages recieved while you’re not connected are more difficult to access? Why not use irssi + ssh + screen directly (as I see on your other branch)

  • Yes, that’s right, you can’t just ‘scroll up’ – but it has its advantages:
    When you’re on a high-latency link (like, let’s say Eastern Asia < -> Europe), character-oriented ssh somehow sucks when it comes to typing a lot. So it’s much more convenient to have line-oriented IRC on top of the encrypted high-latency link.
    There are other reasons, too – for example I like the way my favourite IRC client Konversation integrates into my desktop environment (KDE), when it comes to notifications and so on. And when I need to ‘scroll up’ in a conversation that took place while I wasn’t connected, I can still quickly connect to irssi via ssh and do it there, until I’m up to date, and then take part in the conversation through my local IRC client – it’s seamless 🙂

  • The only big problem with bitlbee is that you can’t receive files with it.

    Although file transfers are often considered out of scope for instant messaging (and i agree with that) , it got so tiring for me to always explain this to friends and other people wanting to send files to me that i started using pidgin. As soon as this is working in bitlbee i switch back immediately 🙂

  • I agree in both points – that it’s out of the scope of IM, and that it’s tiring to always have to explain why you can’t receive files 😉
    I usually refer people to https://patrick-nagel.net/put where they can upload their file to my server over an encrypted connection. After they’re done with the upload, I get a mail that contains an sftp:// link that I can open in Konqueror with a click. The only thing people are complaining when they want to give me huge files, is, that the website doesn’t give any feedback until the upload finishes. I have yet to implement a progress meter of some kind…

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