What can be used for computers to send each other quick messages over a LAN

The situation may seem familiar to some users, that they are hosting numerous computers on their LAN, and that they’d like to send a message from one to the other. Some users who were accustomed to ‘WinPopup’ and ‘LinPopup’, have been longing for a replacement. Because WinPopup is no longer a part of Windows, and because LinPopup is no longer a part of the standard Linux repositories, their use is extremely limited. For example, even if we custom-compile LinPopup and install it to our Samba server, there is no way for an up-to-date Windows computer to send us a message, because we cannot and should not install this to Windows. And, when sending a message from a Linux machine, it will often work best to do so from the ‘smbclient’ command-line, and not even to use this old program / GUI. [:1]

Yet, If we choose to install this type of software, we would like for it to be compatible between Windows and Linux machines. Otherwise, we could just be installing any software, from any programmer, paying a subscription fee per machine, and only find that our solution does not support Linux.

And so one solution which I have gone with, is called “IP Messenger“. This software is popular in Japan, and has Windows installers. There is only one note of caution from me though: Version 3.52, which I have installed under Windows, does not allow us to disable the Autostart feature, and this behavior can seem a bit malware-like. Also, if we have this daemon running, it can prevent a Windows machine from going into standby correctly. The computer could just keep waking itself up. And so my standard behavior is to terminate this program from the Systray Icon’s Context Menu manually, after every reboot.

What some people may like about this solution, is that there are at least two working Linux versions which we can install directly from the package manager: ‘xipmsg’ and ‘iptux’ . ‘g2ipmsg‘ does not work on recent Linux versions, due to “Attempting To Unlock A Mutex Which Wasn’t Locked”.

‘xipmsg’ is a bit of a kluge, an old implementation based solely on X-server-libraries, that has few of the features which IP Messenger is supposed to have. ‘xipmsg’ will simply allow a text message to be sent and received, and that is all, while the full version will also allow for messages to be given simplistic encryption and for file attachments. ‘iptux’ has more of a full-featured GUI, and allows for these features to be used under Linux as well – assuming that the machine on the other side also has these extensions installed.

Another way in which ‘IP Messenger’ differs from ‘LinPopup’ though, is that the old solution would virtually guarantee that we can receive a message, even if we don’t have this service running, “as long as our computer is turned on”. ‘IP Messenger’ cannot offer this. We would need to have the service running, in order for messages to be received, at the time they were sent.

Dirk

[Edit 1: ] If we did try to send a LinPopup message to an up-to-date Samba server, in my experience, the server will request a password authentication from the sender, even though none should be necessary. Thus, the ‘smbclient’ command-line used would need to specify an ‘-N’ parameter, in addition to the ‘-M’ parameter, the former of which suppresses the password prompt.

However, when the LinPopup v2.1.0 GUI was written in 2009, there was no awareness of this specific need on the side of the sender. Hence, LinPopup would try to invoke ‘smbclient’ without this parameter, and then some users were mystified as to why the message was not sent.

So that GUI cannot even be used to send, to a current server version.