Getting Started with Jabber
by Eric Murphy

If you want to chat with other people, then using Jabber is your solution. This is that new instant-messaging fad that is the topic of (seemingly) 50% of tech articles nowadays.

Jabber is special among instant-messagers because it is open-source, uses an XML protocol, and is easy to use and develop for. Also, depending on how the server is setup, it can talk with a variety of other protocols such as ICQ and AIM. See for more information on all the details.

Of course, I want you to use Jabberzilla for your Jabber client (eventually), but unfortunately it does not yet have the capability to setup a Jabber account. However, we can easily use one of the other excellent Jabber clients to get started.

There is a large listing of clients on, and you are probably going to want to use either WinJab (Windows) or Gabber (GNOME). There is a Perl/Tk client called Jarl also if you don't want to use those two.

Go ahead and install the client and load it up. You will have a login screen with an option to create a new account. Now it is time to learn a few of the fundamentals of Jabber:

  1. Jabber ID is your address for logging in and being contacted. It looks like your e-mail address (and can be the same). For example, my Jabber ID is

  2. Resource is something extra that identifies a login. With Jabber, you can be logged into the same account as many times as you want, but only if each has a unique name. For example, I could have and Even if you are logged in once, you must have a Resource named.

  3. Roster is a list of other Jabber users that you want to be associated with. You can see if they are online and click on their name to chat.

  4. Presence is your status online. You set it so other people can see if you are online, away, or whatever else you want.

  5. Messages and Chats are the same except for their GUI which is determined by the client. Messages are usually for short notes, while Chats are for longer conversations.

Those are the big five right there. Of course there are other features, but you can learn those easily on your own.

Now, go ahead and enter in the login information you want, and create your account on It is now time to add some people to your roster. There should be a menu option for doing this.

There will soon be a listing of Jabber accounts on, but until then you can just add me,, or ask your associates for their jid.

Once you get that person added, you will have to subscribe to their presence. The client should do this for you automatically. On the other side, that person will need to approve your request (I will be sure to add this to Jabberzilla ASAP).

Once all that happens, you should be able to see if that person is online by an indicator in the roster next to that person. You can send a message to the person whenever you wish, even when they are unavailable. The server will then send it when they come back online.

I look forward to Jabbering with you soon!


Jabberzilla is rapidly becoming a good, usable client. It has its problems, however, and you will probably be best off on using another client through January before you make the transition. Feel free to try it out though, and let me know what you think.

Hopefully with have groupchat capability soon, and maybe even transports to other protocols like IRC as needed.

Here is a nice Jabber FAQ.

The jabberzilla project can be contacted through the mailing list or the member list.
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