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Setting up Prosody for XMPP

I setup Prosody yesterday—here's how I did it

Remember the IRC for DMs article I wrote a while back? Well…it’s safe to say that IRC didn’t hold up too well. It first started with the bot. Buggy code, crashed a lot—we eventually gave up and didn’t bring the bot back up. Then came the notifications, or lack thereof. Revolution IRC has a bug where your custom notification rules just get ignored after a while. In my case, this meant that notifications for #crimson stopped entirely. Unless, of course, Nerdy pinged me each time.

Again, none of these problems are inherent to IRC itself. IRC is fantastic, but perhaps wasn’t the best fit for our usecase. I still do use IRC though, just not for 1-on-1 conversations.


For one, it’s better suited for 1-on-1 conversations. It also has support for end-to-end encryption (via OMEMO), something IRC doesn’t have.1 Also, it isn’t centralized (think: email).


Prosody is an XMPP server. Why did I choose this over ejabberd, OpenFire, etc.? No reason, really. Their website looked cool, I guess.


Setting it up was pretty painless (I’ve experienced worse). If you’re on a Debian-derived system, add:

# modify according to your distro
deb https://packages.prosody.im/debian buster main 

to your /etc/apt/sources.list, and:

# apt update
# apt install prosody


Once installed, you will find the config file at /etc/prosody/prosody.cfg.lua. Add your XMPP user (we will make this later), to the admins = {} line.

admins = {"user@chat.example.com"}

Head to the modules_enabled section, and add this to it:

modules_enabled = {
    -- uncomment these
    -- and any others you think you may need

We will install the omemo_all_access module later.

Set c2s_require_encryption, s2s_require_encryption, and s2s_secure_auth to true. Set the pidfile to /tmp/prosody.pid (or just leave it as default?).

By default, Prosody stores passwords in plain-text, so fix that by setting authentication to "internal_hashed"

Head to the VirtualHost section, and add your vhost. Right above it, set the path to the HTTPS certificate and key:

certificates = "certs"    -- relative to your config file location
https_certificate = "certs/chat.example.com.crt"
https_key = "certs/chat.example.com.key"

VirtualHost "chat.example.com"

I generated these certs using Let’s Encrypt’s certbot, you can use whatever. Here’s what I did:

# certbot --nginx -d chat.example.com

This generates certs at /etc/letsencrypt/live/chat.example.com/. You can trivially import these certs into Prosody’s /etc/prosody/certs/ directory using:

# prosodyctl cert import /etc/letsencrypt/live/chat.example.com


All the modules for Prosody can be hg clone’d from https://hg.prosody.im/prosody-modules. You will, obviously, need Mercurial installed for this.

Clone it somewhere, and:

# cp -R prosody-modules/mod_omemo_all_access /usr/lib/prosody/modules

Do the same thing for whatever other module you choose to install. Don’t forget to add it to the modules_enabled section in the config.

Adding users

prosodyctl makes this a fairly simple task:

$ prosodyctl adduser user@chat.example.com

You will be prompted for a password. You can optionally, enable user registrations from XMPP/Jabber clients (security risk!), by setting allow_registration = true.

I may have missed something important, so here’s my config for reference.

Closing notes

That’s pretty much all you need for 1-on-1 E2EE chats. I don’t know much about group chats just yet—trying to create a group in Conversations gives a “No group chat server found”. I will figure it out later.

Another thing that doesn’t work in Conversations is adding an account using an SRV record.2 Which kinda sucks, because having a chat. subdomain isn’t very clean, but whatever.

Oh, also—you can message me at icy@chat.icyphox.sh.

  1. I’m told IRC supports OTR, but I haven’t ever tried. 

  2. https://prosody.im/doc/dns 

Questions or comments? Send an email to ~icyphox/x@lists.sr.ht—my public inbox.

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76b554e on 2020-06-24


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