Remote_Communication en en
As of 20220228, Remote Communication lists 72 projects.
This list is work in progress. We have not audited the software listed on this page for security or privacy concerns beyond what developers of the software, and potentially other sites tell us about it. We have done some initial research into software licenses. Entries with Free Software Directory links have been thoroughly reviewed from a licensing perspective.
This page is a shared resource, and we encourage others to add to it, so some of the entries here may be added by members of the community. We check this resource periodically, and know that others check it too, but it's a wiki, so errors may be added before they're fixed. We encourage you to review licenses and information about the software you're interested in before using it, and to update this page with your findings.
As more people are going remote, there is an outbreak of proprietary software happening around the Internet. Many are suggesting to use proprietary, SaaSS, and/or privacy invading video conferencing software as an alternative to meeting in person. Proprietary vendors are hopping to the task by offering services that are temporarily free as in cost, and that would lock organizations into continuing to use those vendors. Let's work together to promote free software instead.
Join the RemoteCommunication mailing list https://lists.libreplanet.org/mailman/listinfo/remotecommunication to coordinate!
Posts about this topic:
- Better than Zoom: Try these free software tools for staying in touch - FSF
- Saying No to unjust computing even once is help - RMS
- Remote education does not require giving up rights to freedom and privacy - FSF
- Better than WhatsApp - FSFI
The FSF is hosting its own freedom-respecting videoconferencing service. FSF associate members can create a channel by logging into the server using your member credentials. Any person or group can then participate in the conversation. Nonmembers can be invited, but cannot start a channel. Read more.
Real-time voice and video chat is an item on the FSF's High Priority Projects list.
- BigBlueButton (BBB)
- Video streaming, and audio connections tend to be quite stable. Integrates with Canvas, Moodle, and other Learning Management Solutions (LMS) systems (see below). LGPL-3.0
- BBB currently depends upon MongoDB for part of the stack which uses a nonfree license. We hope that an workaround is found.
- Frontend for BigBlueButton that adds more administration functions such as users, permissions, etc.
- Install doc: https://docs.bigbluebutton.org/greenlight/gl-install.html
- https://github.com/bigbluebutton/greenlight LGPL-3.0-or-later
- Note: Requires a separate BigBlueButton instance.
- BBB Live Streaming
- Streams a given BBB Meeting to an RTMP Server.
- https://github.com/aau-zid/BigBlueButton-liveStreaming GPL-3.0-or-later
- Jitsi Meet
- Easy to use, and good for a couple of people to video or audio chat with each other. Not always reliable with more than two people. Sometimes it's necessary to reload the page to get audio working in both directions. Apache-2.0
- https://jitsi.member.fsf.org/ for FSF associate members
- GNU Jami
- Broadcast streaming video. It is possible to share your camera or desktop screen with many people in a one-way relationship using command line scripts. This method combined with Mumble allows for a school teacher to give a presentation, and to be available for questions via audio.
- https://gitlab.xiph.org/xiph/icecast-server GPL
- https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/gstreamer/gstreamer/ LGPL-2.0
- Note: The video feed would likely be about 5-10 seconds behind due to buffering of the video stream. See more options below.
- OBS Studio can be used in conjunction with the nginx web server to screencast or stream via RTMP. Viewers can tune into the RTMP stream on your web server using VLC, mpv, or any other compatible player.
- https://github.com/obsproject/obs-studio GPL-2.0
- https://trac.nginx.org/nginx/browser Cryptix General License/BSD 2-clause
- NextCloud supports audio/video conferencing, with further features listed below. AGPLv3
- Apache OpenMeetings
- SIP Thor
- SIP based video chat
Real-time voice and video chat is an item on the FSF's High Priority Projects list.
- Audio chat room server with clients for all major operating systems.
- French guide: https://www.chapril.org/Mumble.html
- Note: Mumble is pretty easy for end users, and there are free native clients for major platforms. On the server, it has a low memory footprint, but can use a lot of server bandwidth if many people are talking at once in a channel that has many people listening in. Clients would see an increase in downlink bandwidth at these times, which is okay, since most asymmetrical residential connections allow for a larger downlink. Event in direct face to face communication, it is generally only possible to understand what is being said when no more than a few people are speaking at once. BSD-like
- Mentioned above already, but Icecast is commonly used to broadcast audio for live podcast recordings and radio stations.
- GNU Social
Text and possibly document sharing
- Email and mailing lists
- Email is already commonly used by many people, and is a decentralized social network. One option is to email your coworkers, friends and family by listing multiple people in your email's To: or Cc: fields. Setting up mailing lists is a better long term strategy, especially if people are expected to join or leave groups, or they want to read the full history of, or stop following a long-running thread.
- IceDove/Thunderbird - Popular email client for desktop. Also includes chat functionality (IRC/XMPP).
- Encryption can be added on top of email through GPG.
- The FSF has a guide for configuring and testing GPG called Email Self-Defense.
- Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
- IRC is a text based chat protocol that works well for groups regardless of connection speed. There are free software IRC clients for all major platforms.
- Libera.Chat IRC
- Libera.Chat is the most popular IRCd server. If you want to create a channel on Libera.Chat and your channel is not about free software or broadly licensed creative works, you can still create topical channels that begin with '##'. Note that in this case if you need help from Libera.Chat staff from #libera, your request will not be as high priority as requests for help with a free software project's channel.
- Self-host an Internet Relay Chat daemon (IRCd) server
- Off-the-record (OTR)
- KiwiIRC is a self-hosted web interface for IRC with a simple design that can make its usage easy for newcomers to IRC.
- https://github.com/kiwiirc/kiwiirc Apache-2.0
- Freedom note: Do not add a captcha key in the site config, otherwise it will add a non-free captcha system when users try to log in.
- The Lounge is a self-hosted web interface for IRC with an elegant design that can make its usage easy for newcomers to IRC.
- GitHub MIT
- Note: On public instances of The Lounge, connections to IRC servers are dropped after closing your browser tabs or losing your connection to application's Web page. If you use a private instance, you will need an account created by an administrator to log in, and connections to the IRC server are kept active even after closing your browser tabs or losing your connection.
- A web-based IRC client
- https://github.com/qwebirc/qwebirc GPL-2.0 with MIT and BSD parts
- Discord replacement, based on IRC server and channels + Audio/Video by Jitsi.
- GitHub Artistic License 2.0 :(
- Mentioned above, but it works great an an encrypted text application as well.
- P2P chat that would even work without Internet by creating a meshnet through available WiFi and Bluetooth connections.
- Self-hosted GitLab GPL-3.0-or-later AGPL-3.0-or-later
- It seems like Matrix does quite a lot, including federation, bridging between networks, and VoIP. Apache-2.0
- Note: The desktop Riot client uses Electron which is controversial in the free software community.
- matterbridge can connect mattermost to just about anything else: https://github.com/42wim/matterbridge Apache-2.0
- Anti-feature: the freedom respecting version of Mattermost has less features than the enterprise editions, which are likely non-free. Multiple licenses for different components (MIT, AGPLv3, Apache 2.0)
- Anti-feature: the freedom respecting version of Rocket.Chat has less features than the enterprise editions, which are likely non-free. MIT
- XMPP / Jabber
- XMPP has been around for a long time. There are free clients for major platforms, and a variety of free server codebases to choose from if you want to run your own server.
- It looks like Zulip's enterprise edition is a support contract for the free software, which is great. Apache 2.0
- Sandstorm makes it easy to install and use free software applications on your Web server.
- Includes document writing and document sharing.
- https://github.com/sandstorm-io/sandstorm Apache-2.0
- Note: It comes with many free applications, and it is probably best to confirm the licenses of the applications before you install them.
Document Writing and document sharing
- Collaborative Markdown editing with a live view of rendered text. AGPL-3.0
- LibreOffice Online
- Collaborative document editing. MPL
- CryptPad is an encrypted realtime collaborative editor. AGPL-3.0
- Can be used for installing Etherpad. See more details about Sandstorm above.
- Wiki Software
- Used in quite a lot of places. It supports many different extensions. It's a good choice for public wikis that anyone can edit, or for internal wikis.
- https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/source/mediawiki/ GPL-2.0-or-later
- Command line tool to remove EXIF data from pictures.
- Example command: exiftool -all= -tagsfromfile @ -Orientation PICTURE.jpg
- Source GPL or Artistic
- Scrambled Exif
- Mobile app to remove metadata from photos before publishing.
- https://gitlab.com/juanitobananas/scrambled-exif/ GPL-3.0
Learning Management Solutions (LMS)
Voting / Communal Decision Making
- Note: Does not scale to country wide project.
- GNU FREE (deprecated in 2002)
- Free & Fair
- Software Defined Radio (SDR)
- Kiwix - Offline webpages such as Wikipedia
This page was a featured resource in May 2020.