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Re: [] online conference with libre software

From: Danyl Strype
Subject: Re: [] online conference with libre software
Date: Sat, 22 Aug 2015 23:27:32 +1200

Kia ora koutou

Further to the discussion on video conferencing possibilities, there
has been a good discussion here:

As an alternative to Skype, for community conferencing purposes, I've
started experimenting with getting non-technical folks using Mumble
for voice meetings, with the generous help of some locals running a
gaming server. As I expected, a bit of hand-holding was required to
get clients installed, audio fully working, push-to-talk working, and
everyone in the same channel on the same server. But once we got past
that, everyone found it pretty easy to use, and the sound quality and
stability better than Skype with the same number of users.
Significantly, all were keen to keep using it.

There are so many options now that even people really keen to delete
their Skype account once and for all (like me) are struggling to know
what to use or recommend to less technical users. I'm collecting
information about candidates here (excuse the shameless self-promotion
;) More suggestions welcome:

There are a number of questions which are often hard to answer without
quite a bit of poking around. A table on a website ( answering these questions would be really helpful. Some

* Is it peer-to-peer? With the exception of Tox which is so alpha I
got blood on my hands just reading their blogs about their internal
fallings out, AFAIK there are no P2P chat clients in development.

* Is it client/ server? In which case, who is running the server, and
what guarantee do users have that a server will continue to be
available, and a cost won't suddenly be imposed, or in the case of
subscription services, jacked up?

* If it's web-based, is it HTML5 compliant, or are there legacy
dependencies on proprietary formats like Flash or Silverlight? Also,
can it be used in a fully libre browser like IceWeasel, IceCat, or
ABrowser? Until FF/ Abrowser 4.0, could not be used with
any libre browser (again AFAIK).

* Is the whole stack free code, including client (desktop/ mobile/
web), server, and any middleware involved? Like a lot of people, I got
excited about FireFox Hello, then realised it depends on a proprietary
back-end, run by a telecoms corporation. also has some
proprietary dependencies.

* Are all formats/ codecs libre (text/ audio/ video)? Even some free
code WebRTC systems use patent encumbered formats like H.264 instead
of royalty-free formats.

* Is it interoperable? Is it using well-documented open protocols to
pass communications (text/ voice/ video) back and forth between users?
If so, does it federate properly and securely with other services?

Frankly, until we all have GB ethernet, end-to-end, video conferencing
with more than 2-3 people, using only libre software, is probably a
bit of a pipe dream. A libre one-to-one, end-to-end encrypted video
telephone, which integrates conveniently into multiple devices with
reasonable security (ie better than libpurple), is probably more
achievable in the short term.

Ma te wā

Daniel Strypey Bruce
Community Developer

"Geeks are those who partake in our culture."
- .ISOcrates

"Voting... is the next to last refuge of the politically impotent. The
last refuge is, of course, giving your opinion to a pollster, who will
get a version of it through a dessicated question, and then will
submerge it in a Niagra of similar opinions, and convert them into -
what else? - another piece of news. Thus, we have here a great loop of
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you can do nothing except to offer them as more news, about which you
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- Neil Postman, 'Amusing Ourselves To Death'

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