So Openfire is one of those REALLY cool projects that I have happened to stumble across recently. It’s a real time collaboration server program that has made my neighbors and I very happy.
My wife and her friends approached me a few months ago after a huge catfight with some other friends of theirs. They wanted a private place they could chat, swap files, and be happy. This is where Openfire and its sister project Sparkweb came into my life.
The set up of Openfire is relatively straightforward. I built it from source, choosing not to go with a precompiled binary. For Openfire, all you really need is the latest version of Java, MySQL, and an XMPP client like Pidgin or Spark. You could use their built in database but from first hand experience you’re better off with MySQL, PostreSQL, etc. Later I’ll add create instructions for getting a basic Openfire Server up and running.
Now, Openfire's great for stuff around the office or in my case around the neighbor hood. But lets say some one goes on holiday in Florida (like one of them did). This is where Sparkweb comes in really handy. It allows anyone to login via the web browser. Or in my case, I got sick of trying to get certain XMPP clients to work so I installed LAMP and use Sparkweb to chat.
Aside from the really cool fact that you could be the next Yahoo! of the neighborhood or office its free, open source, and stable. Administering it is a breeze. All the setup and admin functions are web based. I love the fact that you can install plug-ins that allow you to do virtually everything from broadcasting messages, transferring files, and integration with other networks.