LibreServer Blog / Collaboration during Crisis

The pandemic is undoubtedly a huge crisis, but it's not as if the time before that wasn't also a different kind of crisis. Many people are now working from home and using videoconferencing, and the problems with the proprietary systems for that are starting to become well understood.

During the pandemic it may be even more important than before that your communications remain private. You don't need to use proprietary tools which spy on you or leak your data. This is where self-hosting or running p2p apps gains additional importance.

So does Freedombone have any better alternatives? The answer is yes.

The main apps which you can install for videoconferencing are NextCloud and Matrix/Riot. There is an app installable within NextCloud called NextCloud Talk, which then allows you to do video chat between multiple participants.

Riot (the web client for Matrix) can do video chat on a one-to-one basis, and you can do chat between three or more participants via the Jitsi integration. The particular Jitsi server which is used can be configured from the Freedombone Web admin system by selecting the Riot app and then choosing Settings. Unfortunately, Jitsi isn't an app within Freedombone because it's just not stable on low power hardware.

If you only need voice chat, not video, then Mumble is the best app to use. It has been around for a long time, works even with low bandwidth internet connections and is reasonably secure. This may be a more practical way to hang out with friends during lockdown.

When it comes to getting work done in a collaborative real-time way then CryptPad or EtherPad apps can be useful for that. Etherpad permanently stores documents on the server, whereas CryptPad is designed for more ephemeral document creation within a Tor browser. CryptPad even has a collaborative spreadsheet and source code editor. One thing to watch out for with CryptPad is that the first time you access the site your browser window may appear blank for a while and perhaps ask to continue waiting. This is because it's downloading a lot of javascript from the server into your browser. Just wait and it will eventually appear.

Outside of the Freedombone project there is also other Free Software which you can try. Jami also does videoconferencing and so does qTox. qTox can also be routed through Tor for extra security. Jitsi Meet is also installable on Android or LineageOS via F-droid.