Moving away from Zoom: ColloCall (co-op hosted solution)

Zoom sucks. We all agree for different reasons. However, the call is pretty good thanks to their mass of venture capital funded servers.

I wonder if we could try an open source co-op hosted alternative from our friends in Germany:

It uses Big Blue Button which is a Jitsi Meet alternative. I haven’t tested it yet but it must be good if folks like @hng are offering it.

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I’m going to spend May working on sysadmin / devops for Big Blue Button servers with the aim to have a co-operative, open source alternative to Zoom available in June.

We should also be able to integrate it with our Nextcloud server.

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Nice one, we just discussed it earlier today at the call.

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I have just tried this with my brother who tutors school kids for living - it worked very well including the whiteboard and application sharing! We were in different parts of Japan :smile:

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We at hypha.coop also started hosting both Jitsi and BBB, and made the services available to public in support of covid. Here is the issue tracking the deployment (custom configurations and some user feedback): https://github.com/hyphacoop/organizing/issues/246

We used to meet on our Jitsi, but have since moved half our internal meetings (with 4-7 callers) to the BBB instance, and quite impressed with it so far.

Our instances are currently manually provisioned but now that our internal infra has become more public facing, we are also thinking to transition into more standard devops practices https://github.com/hyphacoop/organizing/issues/253

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Hi,

I have been contemplating on starting an “IT” worker coop in Japan and have been wondering - is it possible for worker coops offering communication services such as Jitsi BBB or bulletin boards like that one we are using here (mattermost?) to get together and discuss?

For example, I wonder if it’s possible to work together globally (Follow-The-Sun) to offer 24x7 system support, etc.

I think the economy of scale is very important for infrastructure systems.

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GreenNet is offering a Jitsi instance for our customers and wider network.
Based on long experience of trying to get it to work reliably, we’ve set up a server specially, and so far it seems to be working really well.
Welcome to give us a shout if anyone wants access

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@yasu this is a very timely initiative, it would be splendid to synchronise the efforts! @chris has been researching options for quite some time (e.g. we’ve been using WebArchs Talk instance), and he just stated he will be implementing BBB throughout May.
You could also reach out to @hng from IT Kollectiv since, as @kawaiipunk mentioned, they are already running an instance. If we want to think about it in ‘Follow-The-Sun’ manner it’s probably worth to reach out to @nicolasdimarco and @Neto from FACTTIC.
FACTTIC have set up a lush Mattermost instance where we could all discuss the topic in a more real-time manner, alternatively could set up a dedicated category on this forum?

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Hi @SzczepanOfAnimorph ! Yes, I sent a short inquiry message to https://collocall.de/ and I also briefly checked how easy it would be to install BBB in NixOS :slight_smile: and Oh Man, it looked complicated! (NixOS package for BBB is currently work-in-progress)

I have sounded out the idea to a few of my friends in Japan and I see a great potential for worker cooperatives, NPOs, etc. They want to avoid Zoom if possible.

My cell phone is +81 90 6523 2640 and I’m on the usual proprietary suspects including Signal/Telegram/Skype/Iphone (FaceTime)/etc :slight_smile: I would love to discuss further with anyone interested!!

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Ethical Consumer magazine - https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ (site developed by CoTech member Agile) - is planning a piece on video conferencing. Ethical Consumer has a wide readership and many web visitors.

In its reviews Ethical Consumer does a forensic job on ownership and supply chain. Here too, although it’s a bit harder than reviewing - say - laptops because the market is so fluid at the moment. It’s also a chance to raise some interesting issues about privacy as well.

I have already signalled the existence of https://collocall.de/index.html and https://meet.collective.tools/ but it would be great if we could have a more comprehensive response from CoTech - we’ll get a mention!

Not counting these, here’s the list they have so far:

UHC, Product
8x8, Jitsi
Savoir-faire Linux, Jami
Kopano, Kopano Meet
Nextcloud, Nextcloud Talk
CarrierX, Free Conferencing Corporation, freeconferencecall.com
Video Communication Services AS, Whereby
Blue Jeans Network, Inc…, BlueJeans
Lifesize, Inc, Lifesize
CyberLink Corp., CyberLink U
Cisco, Cisco webex
Epic Games, Houseparty
Zoom, Zoom
LogMeIn, GoToMeeting
Microsoft, Skype
Microsoft, Teams
Google, Hangouts
Google, Duo
Amazon, Amazon Chime
Facebook, Facebook messenger
Facebook, Whatsapp
Apple, Facetime
Slack Technologies, Inc., Slack

So:

a) What to add to this list? GreenNet, Webarchitects, Hypha? Ready for that?

b) Any comments on the list?

Shaun

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We won’t have a BigBlueButton service ready for a few weeks, but I’d suggest adding BigBlueButton to the list as it is the most complete Free Software alternative to Zoom.

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Hi guys … im not tecchy at all so im afraid ive gatecrashed this chat, ive been reading about this group as part of MBA and really like the idea of this
Im a manager in the NHS… we are awash with different IT video conferencing platforms and there is not one good one that meets my criteria- advice very welcome. We need-

  • to link in with our carehomes who dont have all the IT kit at hand and have variable levels of skill
  • we need to have easy downloadable with our laptops and samsung tablets- nhs iT
  • patient identifiable info -so needs to pass governance expectations re gdpr etc…
  • basically easy tech wise and clear -

your views as experts on what would be the best to use would be extremely helpful-

thankyou in advance
Kerry

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Hi!

Would you be open to discussing further with me to see how we might be able to provide BBB hosting in Japan?

I am looking to create or join a worker cooperative and this could be an ideal project to start, given there seems to be a huge interest in remote work tools - I think there are certain people who would prefer a transparent services like BBB instead of Zoom, etc.

Cheers,
Yasu

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@chris I just discovered your amazing repository of ansible scripts are you planning to add BBB to this? One of us at Hypha already has an Ansible deploy for Jitsi and we are planning to create a BBB one.

There are a couple people asking to do something relating to BBB, such as deploying on their server resource or whether our “public instance”(machine specs) would work for their use case.

We have been collecting information and feedback from teachers, looking on forums, doing network measurements and experimenting on our own instance, to get a better sense of what is possible, limitations, and costs, especially in relation to our Jitsi.

Some of our observations:

  1. Audio quality is better in BBB (even with few participants)
  2. BBB has more features for conference type setups
  3. It’s widely used for large gatherings and you can find plenty of examples

And scalability findings:

https://twitter.com/chaslinux/status/1253377834413969408
https://twitter.com/mscarrhasclass/status/1042595600569704450
https://twitter.com/chris_davey/status/1245671114979803143
https://twitter.com/jed_prickett/status/1206615616934875138

I am quite interested in exploring how international cooperatives can share common resources to run reliable digital services, as @yasu suggested, whether that be research/experience, Ansibles, or even servers and support channels. Obviously the latter requires more coordination, but definitely want to express interest in the general direction.

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Hypha currently offers a BBB and Jitsi instance, but they aren’t on a production environment. We basically made our internal services available bc of covid-19, and we have no guarantee that they will be available some months from now, although we are exploring making it a permanent service.

We published this resource https://covid19.hypha.coop/#videoconferencing and it also contains some links to videoconferencing resources that we find particularly useful. I hope that helps!

Also +1 to what @chris said, BBB is in my opinion the best option out there, ethical videoconferencing that works :slight_smile:

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Thanks @benhylau @chris

@benhylau will share your resource with EC magazine, thanks.

As I understand BBB doesn’t offer a service other than one aimed at education?

Plus, an issue with jitsi is it won’t work except on Chrome and Firefox (and pushes you to use Chrome/Chromium). BBB hints at a similar restriction?

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What about:
https://openmeetings.apache.org/
?
Anyone know anything?

Thanks @benhylau, there is lots I want to do to improve all the Ansible roles I’ve written, although most of them are being used in production to build and maintain our own servers and servers we have built for clients, they are not quite ready to be published on Ansible Galaxy, I’m not yet following best practices, for example, I’m not yet using semantic versioning, some roles will need renaming, the documentation needs a lot of work and some of the older ones are really in need of total re-writes — I’m learning all the time so there is a lot of room for improvement!

Regarding:

I am quite interested in exploring how international cooperatives can share common resources to run reliable digital services, as @yasu suggested, whether that be research/experience, Ansibles, or even servers and support channels. Obviously the latter requires more coordination, but definitely want to express interest in the general direction.

I’m also very interested in this and something as demanding in terms of hardware, bandwidth and syadmin / DevOps as BigBlueButton is an obvious thing for co-ops to pool resources around, all the public roles I’ve written are GPL’d and I can’t think of a reason for that changing in the future, I’m hoping to have something to announce around this very soon.

Regarding @shaun’s question, “What about: https://openmeetings.apache.org/, I don’t think it isn’t currently at a stage of development that makes it suitable, the latest version removes the dependency on Flash but “might be not production ready”

jitsi is it won’t work except on Chrome and Firefox (and pushes you to use Chrome/Chromium). BBB hints at a similar restriction?

As far as I’m aware there are basically only two browser engines left aren’t there? The Netscape, Gecko, Quantum Firefox one and the KTHML, WebKit, Blink Chrome one. I understand that currently Chrome is better for video conferencing but work is being done on Firefox to catch up.

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I believe BBB doesn’t directly offer a “service”, there are organizations that use BBB to offer a service. It is definitely not used only in ed context. Companies run BBB internally for meetings, conferences, etc.

In our experience, Chrome works better with Jitsi. We also observed that when the Jitsi server is low on resources, Firefox clients are hit harder, but that is quite anecdotal. There are technical reasons for it though, because the two browsers have different support for videostreams and it seems Firefox uses more bandwidth in the same call (something with simulcast). I think it also works on modern Safari, and this code says so but personally I have not tried.

BBB works on mobile without an app. Jitsi has Android and iOS apps for mobile, and does not work in mobile browser.

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@chris @benhylau thanks.

Jitsi flatly refused to work with Safari last time I tried (a couple of weeks ago) and also refuses to work with Microsoft Edge. I don’t use Microsoft Edge but a lot of people do.

Back to our (stalled - my fault?) cooperative hosting discussions re pooled hosting of BBB…