ConferenceRoom -- Entry-level/Mid-Range/High-end Conferencing/IRC server for Windows

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jun 25, 2002


IRC servers are not known for their ease of use. Aside from the popular WircSrv server and the competing ChatSpace server, only ConferenceRoom stands out for its surprisingly simple installation, configuration, and administration. After installing ConferenceRoom all you need to do is run the program and you're immediately ready to accept client connections. Configuration can be completed by stepping through ConferenceRoom's menu and dialog screens which allow you to modify the server and network information, choose a Web-based interface theme, authorize operators, restrict access to certain users, allow client-side channel creation, implement security features, and so on.

If you need extra help, ConferenceRoom provides extensive documentation that explains the use of each menu option as well as common IRC commands via the integrated Web-based manual. The online Web support site also offers access to the user manual. Additional support options from the Web site include an IRC discussion forum accessible from the Web or any standard IRC client, an e-mail support address, and a telephone number for support. ConferenceRoom offers 30-day telephone and 90-day e-mail support for registered users. Users of the evaluation release can access the e-mail support option for help in getting up and running with the server. IRC servers are not known for their ease of use. Aside from the popular WircSrv server and the competing ChatSpace server, only ConferenceRoom stands out for its surprisingly simple installation, configuration, and administration. After installing ConferenceRoom all you need to do is run the program and you're immediately ready to accept client connections. Configuration can be completed by stepping through ConferenceRoom's menu and dialog screens which allow you to modify the server and network information, choose a Web-based interface theme, authorize operators, restrict access to certain users, allow client-side channel creation, implement security features, and so on.

The best of ConferenceRoom's many selling points is that it allows you to add real-time chat capabilities to your existing Web pages. In turn your users can talk with others using either a Java-enabled Web browser or any standard IRC client like Visual IRC, mIRC, OrbitIRC, or PIRCH. While your users will need one of the above two types of clients to access your ConferenceRoom-enabled Web site, they can use any hardware platform or operating system to access the site. The server itself is currently limited to Windows 95/NT platforms, but Web and IRC clients of any and all operating system work with ConferenceRoom.

ConferenceRoom features include open standards compliance (with full support for RFC 1459 and complete IRCD v2.8.21 compatibility), a variety of built-in themes (which allow you to set the look and feel of the conferencing interface for your users), tools for creating your own themes, easy dynamic and registered channel creation capabilities, private and 'party-line' chat functionality, registered nickname services (Nickserv), multiport support for allowing multiple ports to be used for connections, and the ability to link with other ConferenceRoom servers to create larger chat networks. The server also offers advanced security features like client class filters, automatic kill capabilities (Klines), flood protection capabilities, and Nospoof protection against spoofing attacks.

The latest release (v1.5) adds critical new features to an already abundant feature-set. These include Web-based administration capabilities, improved channel management (with permanent channel registration and automatic administration of channels) and nickname management (with permanent nickname registration and tighter integration with channel management), Zlines (for proxy/firewall support), global operator options, user ban capabilities (by prohibiting specific nicknames), multiple IRC operator host masks, complete Dalnet DreamForge v4.6.5 compatibility, and a new silence command. Version 1.5 also receives a performance boost when used with the new winsock2 standard.

The server is offered in a variety of packages, giving businesses of all sizes the ability to add the ConferenceRoom technology to their Web sites. The low-end Personal Edition is a single server configuration that supports up to 100 and is priced at $99. This edition lacks channel management and server-to-server functionality. The mid-range to high-end Professional Edition includes a nickname server and offers support for up to 1,000 users, server-to-server networking, and channel management, all for $495. A Developer Edition is also available that bundles the Java client source code with the Professional Edition for $995. The $3,995 ultra high-end Enterprise Edition supports up to 10,000 users and includes an event server, nickname server, intra-server functionality, and the Java client source code.

While ChatSpace compares favorably with ConferenceRoom, it does lack some of ConferenceRoom's newer features (most notably the Web-based administration tool, Zlines support, silence command, winsock2 support, and the status monitor) and its customizable client interface options. Aside from ChatSpace no other chat server currently available offers support for real-time, interactive chat and conferencing capabilities from within a Web page. With ease of use, performance, scalability, reliability, and an extensive feature-set all in its favor, ConferenceRoom stands far above other chat servers.

Pros: Easy to use, solid performance, scalability, extensive set of features and security capabilities
Cons: Windows 9x/NT and Unix only - no Mac/Win 3.x versions, lacks voice-based chat

New: Winsock2 support, Web-based administration capabilities, improved channel/nickname management, basic server to server functionality, nickflood protection; List of Features

New in v1.5: New java client with server-side parameters, Java client displays and sends colors; definable colors for Java client interface; local server agent, channel, server to server, and security Web admin pages; configurable clone detection and triggers; /as command (for changing oper password); /restart, /AKILL, and /QLINE commands; private message windows; bug fixes
Upgrade Meter: 5

New in v1.6.0: Language/profaniy filtering, enhanced java client (includes multi-channel capability and NewsFlash Ticker), ChanServ and NickServer admin panels, Control Panel (Windows only), better responsiveness and thread management, /FURL command for WebTours server support, "sanity check" port ranges, minor Keep-Alive fixes in Web server, numerous bug fixes; Notes
Upgrade Meter: 5

New in v1.7.6: New Java client (with reduced size, client background images, channel tabs, and floating/embedded icons), improved memory management, base code for HTML client (Scribe/Enterprise), services bug fixes, Web server fixes; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 4 - (next update expected August 21st)

New in v1.8: Enterprise Edition — No chanops when a client first enters a channel, front-end source for user authentication, and event Moderation Control System; Developer Edition — Set/Get system allows users to customize the information that is tied to a user in the server; Both Versions — Changes made to chennel modes, time stamps, user mode options, and security; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 3 - (this update is only for the Unix version; an update for the Windows version is expected to follow soon)

New in v1.8.1: New native hooks; better server-to-server support for SAJOIN; support for selecting the outbound IP for server-to-server connections; +N propogation bug fix; Master/Slave propogation enhancements and bug fixes; HTML client enhancements; Java-only detection/security improved; oper config flag "h" works correctly; support for server-to-server configurations with different user name lengths; bug fixes in open proxy detection; %!?variable% to check for true/false/yes/no values; support for %httpproto% replacement variable; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 3

New in v1.8.4: New module Encryption (SSL 56/128 bit) incorporates SSLv3 and encryption; connection throttling; SNTP time client; added quit/kill to log files; evolving log files; name server configuration; user mode +q; channel mode +z (only in the Enterprise version); external API enhancements (only in the Enterprise version) various builds made obsolete; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 2

New in v1.8.6: New manual; encrypted, SSL-secure network; auto-zline on Kline/AKILL enforcement; new native hooks and callbacks for Enterprise edition; improved HTML client; improved logging (log QUITs/KILLs); user mode 'q' (can't speak); can add or remove nameservers on the fly; outbound IP binding: '/as server bindip'; support for log rotation: '/as general set logrotate'; improved field support to list all of a user's fields: '/get *'; log 'as' commands: '/as security aslog all|config|off'; server-side time stamping: '/as general set timstamp on|off'; server-side echoing to ensure message was received by server: '/as general set echo on|off'; added support to join all channels (up to 100): '/sajoin all'; allows only channel messages: '/as security set channelonly on|off'; master/slave channel compaction, propogation improvements: '/set #channel master 0'; added new help system support in ConferenceRoom; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 3

New in v1.8.7.1: new nickname protection schemes; fixed the signed java client; various bug fixes; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 2

Version Reviewed: 1.7.4
Date of Review: 6/17/99
Reviewed by: Forrest Stroud
Last Updated: 3/28/02


Operating Systems / Latest Versions:

Windows 95/98 - v1.7.6. Windows NT: Intel - v1.7.6
Unix: Linux, FreeBSD, SGI IRIX, Digital Unix, and Sun Solaris - v1.7.6


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