Remote Communication

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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.

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 to coordinate!

Posts about this topic:




  • Mumble
    • 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's generally only possible to understand what is being said when no more than a few people are speaking at once. BSD-like
    • French guide:

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.
  • IRC
    • IRC
      • There are free software IRC clients for all major platforms. If you want to create a channel on Freenode (a popular IRC server), but your channel isn't 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, your request won't be as high priority as requests for help with a free software project's channel. Alternatively, there should be other IRC servers that meet your needs.
    • KiwiIRC
      • KiwiIRC is a self-hosted web interface for IRC with a simple design that can make its usage easy for newcomers to IRC. Apache-2.0
      • Freedom note: Don't 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
      • The Lounge is a self-hosted web interface for IRC with an elegant design that can make its usage easy for newcomers to IRC. 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.
  • Matrix
    • It seems like Matrix does quite a lot, including federation, bridging between networks, and VoIP. Apache-2.0
  • Mattermost
    • 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)
    • matterbridge can connect mattermost to just about anything else: Apache-2.0
  • Rocket.Chat
    • Anti-feature: the freedom respecting version of Rocket.Chat has less features than the enterprise editions, which are likely non-free. MIT
  • Wire
    • On their client source code repo, they say "a. You agree not to change the way the Open Source App connects and interacts with our servers;...". It's not clear whether this is acceptable for software under a free license.
  • 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.
  • Zulip
    • It looks like Zulip's enterprise edition is a support contract for the free software, which is great. Apache 2.0
  • Sandstorm
    • Sandstorm makes it easy to install and use free software applications on your Web server. It comes with many free applications, and it's probably best to confirm the licenses of the applications before you install them.
    • Includes document writing and document sharing.

Document Writing and document sharing

  • Etherpad
    • This is a very useful tool for collaborative text editing. It's great for meetings, brainstorming, and interleaved writing and editing flows. Apache 2.0
  • Ethercalc
  • Drawpile
  • CodiMD
  • LibreOffice Online
  • NextCloud
    • NextCloud is a featureful Web service for document editing, file storage, audio/video chat, and more. AGPL-3.0
  • CryptPad
  • Sandstorm
    • Can be used for installing Etherpad. See more details about Sandstorm above.
  • Wiki Software
    • ikiwiki
      • Write wiki pages in Markdown, via a Git repo, or via the Web (which commits to Git). Great for internal wikis, ie for documenting procedures, policies, article drafts, etc. Extensible with plugins. GPL-2.0 +
    • MediaWiki
      • 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. GPLv2+

Learning Management Solutions (LMS)

Voting / Communal Decision Making



This page was a featured resource in May 2020.