After this weekend’s revelations about the NSA Prism program, I saw in my Twitter feed a mention of prism-break.org. Besides the pun, this sort of “alternatives to major cloud providers” site is not uncommon. Since I run owncloud, have tried friendica, and already run email on my own domain, my eyes wandered down the list to IM.
For a while, I was a regular user of Google Talk, so, as I looked at Pidgin plugins and CryptoCat, I wondered if the client made a difference if you were still routing through a server whose owner might share data with goodness knows who. “I have a site,” I said to myself. “Maybe I can self host XMPP.” After having no luck with Installatron, I headed for search engines (DuckDuckGo, since it has less logging). It turns out that running an XMPP server (also sometimes referred to by its former name, Jabber) is resource intensive — too intensive for a shared host.
So it was off to see if I could find third party XMPP hosting that I could tie to my domain. I stumbled on hosted.im. Since IM is not a mission-critical app for me, I decided to give it a try. They offer up to 5 accounts free (big enough for my household) and are owned by a company headquartered in Paris, so presumably have to deal with EU privacy rules (a definite plus). Signup was straightforward, but actually configuring the hosted instance requires adding SRV records to the domain DNS entry. Hosted.im gives you the entries you need to add, but you can’t add SRV records through CPANEL.
Here’s where being a HippieHosting client was great. A tweet from Tim Owens, our friendly sysadmin, revealed that I couldn’t add the records, but he could if I sent him the entries. One email and 15 minutes later the instance was live, allowing my IM and email addresses to match. Now to update my .vcf file again.