Self hosted open source video conferencing

I have tried various open source video conferencing apps. Actually, as it happens my first introduction to open source was through streaming back in the day. Since WebRTC came on the scene I have been excited by the possibility of open source web-based video conferencing. However, the promise seemed to take a while to deliver. I tried many products, the most sophisticated and promising being, for a while, BigBlueButton. But BBB, and other softwares, just seemed so clunky and hard to install, ugly UI etc. We installed and ran BBB for Coko but no one really wants to use it and we had bandwidth issues etc. Sorry to say it, but open source has been lagging behind the closed source world with regard to video conferencing.

I have been keeping my eye on Jitsi for some time. It looks pretty good. But I was caught up with my legacy understanding of such systems and it took a while, also, for Jitsi to evolve. I tried out their demo for a few meetings but it had some lag issues. Of course, trying out a demo ‘for real’ is a bit dumb and I should not have expected anything like you want in a real world production environment. But… I was a little deterred. I also assumed it would be hard to install.

Finally, this weekend I thought I would give it a go…so I started up a digitalocean droplet (a server) – which costs $20 a month and took about 2 mins to get going. I then followed these instructions – I had a Ubuntu install at digitalocean so followed those steps. But I expected complications…the install mentions it relies on jitsei-videobridge and I thought… I bet this doesn’t work…I’ll have to install some mad java app or something…What do you know…within 5 mins I had a working version of Jitsi-meet! amazing! The process worked as described, basically 3 commands and it was running.

If it works for Coko it is also very interesting because Jitsi on the front end is all JavaScript and there seem to be some react components…which means we could integrate into xpub/editoria (publishing systems) etc…

We will try it out in the next weeks. Expect more info soon!