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Is there a portable app that includes an instant messaging feature that would work over a local area network?
Do you mean like the old net msg protocol? That's disabled on nearly all networks these days. If you mean standard instant messaging, you can just use one of the regular IM products and use the wider internet. Or was there something else specific you had in mind?
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I did once use a program that had it's own LAN messaging protocol. It was basically an instant messenger for LANs. Of course, do you think I can remember the name of it or find the website. It's probably very old anyway and no longer developed (although fully functional). Can't remember if it was portable or not.
I think I stopped using for two reasons:
1. Getting people to buy into was hard because it was yet another program they had to install and use
2. People already had other Internet Instant Messengers open so they just expected to use though.
And I think for these reasons you'll have a hard time finding one.
If I remember it or come across I'll post again.
An alternative is to set up your own Jabber server (which you could then use internally). I don't know much about doing that but I would guess it's not exceedingly hard.
Update: I found it! It's called NetWriter, and as I said, it's well... ancient! However, when I did use it, I seem to remember that it was pretty reliable. It looks like it's "portable" but I honestly don't remember.
Let me give you a little background as to what I'm doing so you can better understand what I want this for. I've been tasked with setting up an Emergency Operations Center for a small rural community. Long story short, the government and FEMA is so picky about things that we need to do this in order to qualify for federal funds related to whatever disaster might occur. Since we're rural and don't have a huge budget, the core members of the community will report to the town hall and set up the EOC and in doing so will be providing their own laptops. It's my goal to put together a USB drive with portable apps that each can just plug in and run with. This way I can have a ready to go email app configured for each role within the EOC, ie email@example.com, PIO@whatever.org, etc. I expect the place to be busy once activated and it might be nice if each computer could instant message any other on the network. I'd like to keep things as self contained and as simple as possible so if finance wanted to send an instant message to communications they could without going through the email server.
In all honesty the simplest solution would be to create accounts on [pick your favorite IM network] and install PidginPortable or MirandaPortable on the USB drive preconfigured with the appropriate IM account for each USB drive (presumably you have distinct USB drives for each role, as you said the email is preconfigured, so the same would apply to the IM client).
Naturally if this is for emergency purposes then you need to take into account single-point-failure and redundancy and all that good stuff. Such that if one IM network wasn't available for whatever reason you'd have to consider how users would then communicate. As I mentioned, depending on how in-depth you wanted to get you could look at setting up your own Jabber server, which can be isolated or not register with Jabber masterservers, and still use Pidgin or some such for instant messaging over your own Jabber network.
I don't think LAN messaging would be the way to go because suppose people are on the move with their laptops jumping from wireless network to wireless network? Or suppose for whatever reason, they can't get to the town hall in the first place? Under those circumstances it would be possible they could be emailed the IM details and use a service like Meebo.com, so they wouldn't even have to install any software. Additionally, using something like Pidgin is probably something that people are already familar with (another consideration) AND if they wanted to they could add their own accounts if they need to communicate on other networks (for either personal or public purposes). My general feeling is that you're better off using existing, well-established technologies as using something unfamiliar can, even with extensive testing, throw unexpected curve-balls at you.
With that said, the above Netwriter would do what you want it to do if everybody is on one fixed LAN, but as I said, it's extremely old, unmaintained software, it may contain bugs and it wasn't designed for today's modern Windows operating systems. Given those criteria and that intended for use in a emergency situation I'd be extremely relunctant to use it. Now you might be able to find something like it, but then as stated above you're moving away from familiarity for yourself and your users, and run into potential risks which should be minimized in emergency situations.
I don't envy you, this is no easy task. You're going to need an extensive and well-thought-out disaster recovery plan. I hope this is at least somewhat useful.
I'll see if I can cobble Netwriter in. I really want to keep this traffic off external servers. The LAN comms would be a good way to pass discrete info between areas in the EOC if we didn't want media types to overhear, etc.
I've been doing some casual browsing and another possibility that has arisen is to use Apple's serverless (alledgedly industry standard) "Bonjour" protocol, and then use something like Pidgin to allow computers to talk over a LAN. The advantage of this is that it's platform independant so Mac users and Windows users can communicate freely. In addition, there's no server to setup and configure since it's a protocol meant for LAN services discovery. The disadvantage is that it requires the installation of the Bonjour protocol software. However, if somebody is using certain other Apple software like iTunes then there's a good chance that it's already installed. I don't have any more details on it since I've never used it personally, but it would be an option.
I've looked for other stand-alone LAN software but it's pretty hard to come by, especially software that makes use of it's own protocol. Stuff that uses the Microsoft LAN messaging is pretty much no good for the reasons that John stated (it's basically no longer used and typically not turned in Windows by default these days).
I think I'm out of ideas at this point. Good luck!
I'm all thunk out on this one too. Maybe email will work just as well.
Run XAMPP (XAMPP Lite would actually be sufficient) for MySQL and PHP, then install PHPFreeChat, an open source, realtime chat program for websites. All users need is a browser (e.g. FirefoxPortable). I've used PFC and it's pretty good, it has sound notification when there's new messages and you can set up different "chat rooms", you can even have "private chat" between individuals. Since this is all on a LAN, you wouldn't need to do anything fancy with the webserver/LAMP, no port forwarding necessary or anything like that. Should be reasonably straight forward and configuring PFC is well documented and fairly straight forward (Just editing a text (PHP) file).
The PHPFreeChat has a demo on their website so you can try it out and see what you think.
(This is also makes me think of setting up a local IRC server but that's something I've never done. Functionality would be equivalent as above, except you'd need something like PidginPortable rather than a browser, although I guess you can get IRC plugins for Firefox, not sure).
That's actually a great idea...thanks.
I'd be curious to know what you end up going with, just from a personal, nosey standpoint.
I'll let you know, but it may be a while. Right now I need to prioritize other parts of the infrastructure. Lots of meetings to attend yet as well. Most people in my position just order the hardware and someone else installs it. Not here. I order it, install it, operate it...things were so much simpler when I was just a fire department hose grunt.
I was looking for something like that.
I was wanting to have an IM with others in a private local network without the data being transferred to the vast internet. I was hoping it would be sent only over the local wireless network.
You link to XAMPP did not work. After a search I found HFS.
I have done some work with networking but nothing like this.
Well... I found my own answer:
Does HFS support server-side scripting such as CGI or PHP?
No, HFS currently does not support popular server-side scripting such as CGI, PHP, or ASP. A simple scripting language was introduced in version 2.3, but keep in mind that HFS is only meant to be a simple file sharing server.
Any other suggestions for a local chat server?
Interchat3 , BigAnt Office Messinger , HeyJoe
After a little search....
There are a few listed on Snapfiles. The user feedback is helpful.
Hopefully there is a portable one.
Here are a few suggestions I'll look into. Some on Softpedia.
There is a XAMPP Portable Launcher which adds XAMPP to the PortableApps.com Menu; XAMPP (or XAMPP lite) must be downloaded separately (just get the .zip and unzip it to the root of your flash-drive)
Your file structure should look like this
| +---Folders for other PortableApps you have on your flashdrive
| | XAMPPLauncher.exe
| \---Other files & folders necessary for "PA.c Format"
\---XAMPP (or XAMPPlite)
| XAMPP's files + folders full of XAMPP's internal parts
| \---htdocs (check your security at localhost/security)
| | xamppsecurity.php (secure XAMPP at localhost/security/xamppsecurity.php)
| index.php (default page that redirects to /xampp delete [or replace] this file when you have your own site here)
☆ ★ ☆ ★ | The Files and folders That Make Up Your WebSite Go Here
| (configuration & demo pages at localhost/xampp)
Note: If you're accessing XAMPP from a computer over the network replace localhost with the IP address of the computer running xampp (e.g. 22.214.171.124)
You could try EasyComm. It's portable and looks like it would satisfy your requirements.
It can be found at http://personal.inet.fi/business/toniarts/ecomme.htm#download
That looks great. I'll have to set it up on a couple of laptops later today and see how it works. I tried sending an email to the program author suggesting he take a look at portableapps, but it bounced with a message that the mailbox was too full so I'm guessing it's abandonware at this point.
Since people will be showing up "with their own laptops", for planning purposes, I'd assume they have their firewall turned on (I know I would). If that's the case, if any of these older, non-standard programs use some funky port # to do their comms, people's firewalls will block it and that means more pain for you.
The XAMPP server idea above uses the standard port 80 and all the firewalls will let outgoing port 80 requests through with no issues, so I'd go down that road.
Hopefully you get something good setup that makes your life easier, not harder (when a real/practice emergency happens).
PS: The US military recently standardized on XMPP (i.e. Jabber) messaging for Command and Control networks. Openfire is a free XMPP server you could setup in the Ops Center and all the users could use Miranda or Pidgin connected to that server. If you set the server to a static IP you could pre-configure the clients on the USB sticks to that IP and it'll "just work" if their machines use DHCP. That way you could have a USB stick labeled "Fire Chief" and the username for the IM program on the stick is already set to "FireChief".
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Setting up an XMPP server (e.g. Openfire or Prosody) somewhere on your network and connecting to it with a Portable IM solution (e.g. Miranda, PChat, or Pidgin) sounds like a great solution. Not only can you keep it all on your network and have an easy system (that they might well already know) to connect to it with, but if you decide to make it available via the internet later, it wouldn't be too hard to switch over, and your people wouldn't have to learn a new system.