27 January 2012

Connecting with IBMers via Sametime in 5 easy steps.

UPDATE 7 Feb : the previously published settings did not work with Win7 - I have updated the pidgin settings below so if you had problems before please try again

Those of you who have worked at IBM will be familiar with IBM's Sametime product, a windfall of the Lotus acquisition.
Sametime is an incredibly rich IM protocol that in addition to standard chat and group chat, allows file transfer, screensharing, voice calls, online meetings. If you work for IBM it's great because the entire company is using it, because of it's integration with Lotus Bloats Notes, most employees are active on Sametime when they start their email client.

Although Sametime is sold to enterprises as part of the Lotus suite, IBM themselves represent the largest user base with >400,000 employees. So, if you work at all with anyone inside IBM - being able to talk via Sametime is a real win. So here's how you do it....
  1. Sign up for an IBM.com ID
  2. Choose and install your client. There are multiple cross platform, free and open source clients that support the Sametime protocol. I personally use Adium on Mac; if you are a Windows user, Pidgin has the best support. If you have a Lotus Greenhouse ID, you can even grab a evaluation copy of the native Sametime client which will give you access to some of the richer functionality, but I recommend sticking with Pidgin or Adium. 
  3. Configure your IBM.com account in your client. The server to specify is extst.ibm.com, port 80. The user name and password details are your IBM.com ID that you created in step 1. 
  4. Hax0r your client so it appears to be a legitimate Sametime client. This is not necessary if you are running the native Sametime client. First shutdown your client, make then edits, then restart your client.
    • Adium : In Adium Preferences -> Accounts -> Sametime -> Options tab, tick "Hide client identity" then open the Terminal.app and run the following command:
      defaults write com.adiumX.adiumX AISametimeMinorVersion -integer 8511
    • Pidgin: First backup, then open and edit the following file (location is Windows 7 specific) with your favourite text editor :
      Now add or edit the following lines within the Sametime settings section under protocol prpl-meanwhile.
      • <settings>
           <setting name='fake_client_id' type='bool'>1</setting>
           <setting name='port' type='int'>80</setting>
           <setting name='force_login' type='bool'>0</setting>
           <setting name='server' type='string'>extst.ibm.com</setting>
           <setting name='client_id_val' type='int'>4676</setting>
           <setting name='client_minor' type='int'>8511</setting>
  5. Congratulations! You should now be connected to IBM's internal Sametime server. To add contacts or buddies, first find their email address. If you don't already know your buddies email address, you can search for it using this IBM Employee directory. When you add an internal IBM email address, prefix it with @E. For example, to add Sam you would user name "@E sam@us.ibm.com". This tells the external Sametime Gateway to add an external contact via email. To add non-IBM users who are also using the Sametime gateway (like me) you can just add them by email address, without the @E prefix.
If you get an error when connecting about a client version mismatch, go back and check you have completed step four correctly, if not that's it, now you can pester all your favourite IBMers to your hearts delight. Thanks to Matty for the tips!


  1. This blog was very helpful for our team who works closely with IBM. I was familiar with Sametime as well since I had been an IBMer once upon a time. I found your comment about adding the "E@" particularly useful since they don't have to add the external network (just another annoying step just to communicate with them). Our team uses mostly Macs and we are not crazy about the bloated native Sametime client.

    We did come across one interesting issue with Adium. We are working with another large IBM partner who also uses Sametime. Our IDs since they are are email are the same for IBM and for the large partner. We are not able to run the simultaneously in Adium since I believe Adium identifies each user account by IM Protocol and username. Thus, we cannot log onto another Sametime Community if the usernames are the same. Pidgin does nto have this issue on our team. Do you have any idea of how to fix this?

  2. Hello again! We are having problems connecting both Sametime and Adium to the IBM Sametime external network. Interestingly enough, I'm the only person on our team who can connect via Adium/Pidgin (I connect with Adium). We've checked all the settings versus the ones I have. One person on my team who is running Sametime 8.5.2 native client continually has problems on his Mac OS X 10.9.4. The only solution seems to be to do a total uninstall (e.g. removing the app and the files in the hidden Library folder). His Sametime will come up and connect to the network, but he won't be able to operate it and the buddy list is blank. I'll be able to see him on the network and send messages but he won't be able to see them. Do you have any ideas?

    1. Hi there, thanks for stopping back. The Sametime network has been pretty stable for me. I occasionally have issues connecting from behind some corporate firewalls, but generally it works. I'm not really much beyond a casual Sametime user I'm afraid so can't even tell you where to start looking. All the best resolving the issue.