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Wed, 01 Dec 2004
Zephyr vs Jabber

Mark Eichin commented on the Growl vs Jabber post by reminding me about the Zephyr Notification service that we both used at MIT's Project Athena. Mark was one folks who worked on Zephyr (here's original paper -- danger, postscript file), so he was in a perfect position to point out some features that XMPP appears to lack (I haven't read all the RFC's). As Mark pointed out, this work is only 15 (actually I think it's more like 17 or 18 -- we were using the blasted thing before I graduated) years old. A few minutes of googling failed to turn up the source code for Zephyr, but did turn up the Jabber Windowgram Client. It also turns out that Adium can act a Zephyr client. I suppose it's somehow just desserts that I get reminded of history, and history that I had actually used, no less. Consider this post my penance. Additional slaps upside the head, er, factchecking welcomed.

I will point out that this isn't getting me closer to the thing I care about most: a single client that I can use to do IM, group chats, system notifications, voice, and video, and which will let me communicate with all the people I want to keep in touch with. Maybe in another 15 years?

[00:06] | [computers/internet] | # | TB | F | G | 3 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

There's also Gale, which was intended to be a next-generation Zephyr (I think). I don't think there's been much progress on it of late.
Posted by Ted at Wed Dec 1 08:50:35 2004

GAIM is another multi-protocol (AIM, Zephyr, Jabber, and a half dozen others) multi-platform (windows, mac, unix/X) IM client.

Gale was popular among "crypto paranoids" because it had a public-key based model - which is probably also why it didn't catch on that much beyond it.

Zephyr source is in a couple of places - there's a sourceforge project, there should be a somewhat recent version in ftp://athena-dist.mit.edu, and the freshest probably in /afs/dev.mit.edu/source/src-current/athena/lib/zephyr/ (which is probably reachable through various web->afs gateways like www.mit.edu.)

Zephyr is still gets a surprising amount of use today, for something so old; what with places like MIT, CMU, and IASTATE where it is still the primary notification system,  and a few commercial sites that I won't "out" here but run private zephyr islands, there are easily 10K regular users, though I see reported that UMICH started to phase it out this year.

There actually was even a (trivial prototype of a) voice-messaging extension to zephyr - when the NeXT cubes first came out, someone came up with a client that used zephyr to pass socket info and then directly channelled audio over tcp, bypassing the servers.  Since there were only 5 or 6 NeXTs on campus at the time it never really went anywhere.
Posted by Mark Eichin at Sat Dec 4 02:04:27 2004

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