Klaus Zimmermann's Corner

Internet Messaging done right

Technology did a fantastic job with facilitating communication between distant people over the internet. Unfortunately, this also came at a price: privacy concerns, hardware and software requirements, walled gardens and censorship to name a bit.

These are some of the things I use (or used) to communicate with my close friends and family in the age of surveillance:


It isn't really that bad when you add two things to it:

If you can convince your concerned parties to communicate via encrypted email (and they understand how it works) awesome. Next, make sure you use a proper lightweight email client and that it supports PGP. mutt is a must on the command-line, otherwise claws-mail is pretty nice.

There's even an app that uses email as IM, plus enabling opportunistic PGP-like encryption when possible. Check out Delta Chat

Instant Messaging

Say what you want, I still vote for XMPP.

Yes, classically it was naked without encryption, kind of verbose and standards are slow to move. But as of 2020, this reality has changed dramatically.

OMEMO, a modern multi-device encryption standard has matured and has been adopted into clients of many different platforms (no longer Conversations-only!), and for single sessions like a desktop, there's the classic option of OTR.

Plus there's the advantage of the Federation unlike IRC, the implementations are basically universal. There are even Javascript-based clients.

Video and audio

Hard to beat Jitsi Meet for this one, although I wish more implementations of the service were available (are there?)

Some XMPP clients may do audio-only calls in a P2P fashion through the Jingle Protocol)

P2P communications

It's worth looking into Tox if you have a single device and would like to add a one-stop-shop solution for IM, Video and Audio chats.

Tox has many implementations with varying amounts of features, ranging all the way from the barebones command-line client (toxic) all the way to full-fledged all-inclusive graphical clients for desktop (qtox, utox).

There's also an app (Antox) for Android, but be aware that it consumes quite a lot of bandwidth and battery life.

Things to avoid

Last updated on 09/22/20