Remote Communication

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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:

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.

Chat

Video

Real-time voice and video chat is an item on the FSF's High Priority Projects list.

  • NextCloud
    • NextCloud supports audio/video conferencing, with further features listed below. AGPLv3
  • OpenTokRTC
    • https://tokbox.com/developer/
    • https://github.com/opentok/opentok-rtc
    • Now a part of nexmo / Vonage video API. At least parts of the original TokBox code are free software, but it's not clear whether it's possible to use without any non-free software. As an anti-feature, Vonage offers enterprise editions that may run on your own server, or may require running non-free JavaScript.

Audio

Real-time voice and video chat is an item on the FSF's High Priority Projects list.

  • Mumble
    • Audio chat room server with clients for all major operating systems.
    • https://www.mumble.info/
    • https://directory.fsf.org/wiki/Mumble
    • 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
  • Icecast
    • Mentioned above already, but Icecast is commonly used to broadcast audio for live podcast recordings and radio stations.

Social Networking

Text and possibly document sharing

  • 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.
    • Freenode IRC
      • Freenode is the most popular IRCd server. If you want to create a channel on Freenode 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 Freenode staff from #freenode, 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
    • The Lounge
      • The Lounge is a self-hosted web interface for IRC with an elegant design that can make its usage easy for newcomers to IRC.
      • https://thelounge.chat/
      • https://github.com/thelounge/thelounge 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.
    • qwebirc
  • Jami
    • Mentioned above, but it works great an an encrypted text application as well.
  • Matrix
    • It seems like Matrix does quite a lot, including federation, bridging between networks, and VoIP. Apache-2.0
    • https://matrix.org/
    • Note: The desktop Riot client uses Electron which is controversial in the free software community.
  • Rocket.Chat
    • https://rocket.chat/
    • Anti-feature: the freedom respecting version of Rocket.Chat has less features than the enterprise editions, which are likely non-free. MIT
  • Zulip
    • It looks like Zulip's enterprise edition is a support contract for the free software, which is great. Apache 2.0
    • https://zulipchat.com/

Document Writing and document sharing

  • Sandstorm
    • Can be used for installing Etherpad. See more details about Sandstorm above.

Publication

Learning Management Solutions (LMS)

Voting / Communal Decision Making

  • Note: Does not scale to country wide project.

Music

Misc

This page was a featured resource in May 2020.