OpenFire vs iChat Server

October 29, 2008

I turned to OpenFire shortly after discovering that iChat server doesn’t support group-based buddy lists. There’s only the really crude jabber_autobuddy script, but even that has to be run every time you add a user and sometimes users get stuck at a “Waiting for authorisation” message. No thanks.

A list of things I really like about OpenFire:

  • Support for group-based buddy lists
  • Conference support and chatroom management
  • Has a real admin interface
  • Can work with any LDAP server
  • Runs on 10.4, including Workstation
  • In all, a comprehensive instant messaging solution (+ they even provide a x-platform Jabber client)

There’s some gotchas with the Open Directory integration, but thanks to the LDAP wizard it’s not impossible to figure them out.

Stuff I haven’t figured out thus far:

  • AV support
  • Screen Sharing (which would be great for end-user support)
  • Avatars (I think this is because OD stores the user picture as data while OF expects a URL)

Anyways, definitely worth a try if you’re fed up with iChat server and it’s animic admin features. I think it’s a much better product altogether.

IM in the Enterprise is a Good Thing - it helps alleviate interruption (email), improves communication (esp. sending files, screenshots of error messages etc.) and improves the SNR of corporate email. Maybe the biggest factor in the adoption rate is automatic buddy lists (there is no way you can get your users on board if they have to manually add each employee to their contact list) and it’s really sad that Apple couldn’t get this right.