With the imposed lockdowns around the world due to the novel Coronavirus, many universities, schools, companies and other organizations were forced to have their classes and meetings remotely. Most of them turned toward Zoom, a famous proprietary solution for video conferencing.
What Happened With Zoom?
But it sounds like the Zoom developers where depending on security through obscurity; Their so-thought private chats and calls were discovered to be publicly accessible, and their claimed end-to-end encryption wasn’t actually an end-to-end encryption. Many other security vulnerabilities were discovered in their infrastructure too. (Here’s a full list of them).
All of this happened because Zoom was closed source, and no one was able to review its source code and make sure of its claims. This isn’t to say that open source software don’t have issues or security vulnerabilities, but to highlight how important it is to have many eyes upon the source code when needed.
But not anymore. You’d be glad to know that there are many open source Zoom alternatives for video conferencing. And in today’s article, we’re gonna introduce 3 great ones of them to you.
Open Source Zoom Alternatives
Jitsi is one of the best open source alternatives for Zoom, because it is not just a client/server app. Instead, the Jitsi team releases all their libraries, APIs, server instances and infrastructure as open source. This makes you capable of inspecting any single component you may think of (E.g for government requirements) or deploying your own instances of everything.
Their clients are open source too. They provide mobiles apps for iOS and Android, and a web client for everything else.
The main software has the following features:
- Video & audio conferencing for multiple people, with file-sharing, screen-sharing and etherpad support.
- Built on top of WebRTC, with improved communication quality.
- Web client to do your conference immediately without installing anything on your machine or other participants’ machines.
- End-to-end encryption support.
- Built with privacy in design.
- Beautiful, simple and functional user interface.
- Its user interface is also similar to Zoom.
- Fully open source!
For more information about Jitsi, visit their official website. Also check their GitHub profile.
BigBlueButton focuses more on the integration part. It has built-in integration support for most content management systems and learning management systems in the wild (Like WordPress, Drupal, Moodle, Canvas and much more). That’s why using it could be a good option if you are looking into integrating it with other components in your infrastructure. It has a built-in API too in the server instances.
BigBlueButton bundles its software as an HTML5 app so that it can run everywhere. There are no special client programs to install, as BigBlueButton runs only inside your web browser (For both desktop and mobile users). Users get together in “rooms” which are controlled by a host that can share files, quizzes, screen and other data with the participants. The system supports recordings, so all your meetings can be saved and retrieved any time later.
It is a great option for online learning, especially for schools and universities that are transferring now to distance learning.
The software is licensed under the LGPL 3.0 license. Check its source code at GitHub or get it now from the official website.
The last one in our list is OpenVidu. Built on the top of WebRTC, providing many-to-many and one-many video conferencing. It supports recordings, IP camera streaming, screen-sharing and has clients for all major operating systems. It even has browser addons for Chrome and Firefox to use the web client.
OpenVidu is open source and licensed under the Apache 2.0 license. But there is another premium subscription the developers provide for those who want managed instances and support, beside some other extra features such as P2P streaming.
Other Open Source Video Conferencing Software
There are also some other open source Zoom alternatives that you can check:
- Wire: Actually is much better to consider it as a WhatsApp/Telegram alternative, but it can also be used for video and audio group meetings. Uses extensive security options (Like E2E encryption) by default, but requires a fee in order to use it (The source code is still available nonetheless).
- Jami: An open source video conferencing software which does not employ the concept of a central server. In other words, users directly communicate with each other and send video/audio data directly. That’s why it may be good for small meetings (<10), but not for more than that.
Here ends our list of open source Zoom alternatives. There might be some other open source solutions that you can use too, but these ones are enough to get you started. Probably the biggest issue of using a proprietary solution on a large scale is pricing, which you – hopefully – can now solve with these open source programs.
If, however, you think there should be another open source zoom alternative addition to this list, we would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Hanny is a computer science & engineering graduate with a master degree, and an open source software developer. He has created a lot of open source programs over the years, and maintains separate online platforms for promoting open source in his local communities.
Hanny is the founder of FOSS Post.
Jami (https://jami.net) is a good alternative. peer to peer and so does not require server installation.
An excellent alternative to Zoom is Spreed-Webrtc out of Germany, found at: https://www.spreed.me.
Not only can you download and use the FOSS software, but a SpreedBox Appliance can also be purchased as complete Web conferencing hub. One of the many major benefits to Spreed over Zoom or Microsoft Meetings and the like is full adherence to European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), for which technology companies out of USA have an aversion.
I have deployed Spreed-Webrtc recently for smaller USAfirms and International firm in Bermuda without any breakdowns or security breaches, which are common for Zoom and other highly publicized, proprietary USA services and products.