Tuesday, May 28, 2024

    Top 5 open source video conferencing tools for virtual meetings

    video conferencing tools for virtual meetings
    Source: Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

    Since remote work is the new normal due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, virtual meetings have become as common as checking your email box.

    For today’s employees, holding a virtual meeting is no longer something extraordinary, it’s just a repetitive task.

    Meeting and interacting with your colleagues in the same space without physically being present is an indispensable part of remote work. Nowadays there are plenty of video conferencing solutions which allow employees to communicate with each other through different channels like webcams, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.

    In this article, we have put together top 5 tools and platforms that offer videoconferencing as their main feature. Some of these solutions are free, and some of them have commercial options. What they all have in common is that they are 100% open source, which implies more visibility, security and trustworthiness.

    1. Jitsi

    Jitsi is probably one of the most famous open source solutions. Developed and maintained by a huge contributors community, it is a secure, easy-to-use and scalable video conferencing tool that you can use as a stand-alone app or embed in your web application. Jitsi supports multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS and Android.

    Key features:

    • Screen sharing;
    • Streaming a conference to YouTube live;
    • Shared document editing with Etherpad;
    • Auto re-connect, auto-answer and auto-forward call options;
    • Instant messaging encryption with OTR;
    • Integration in other apps/websites;
    • Telephony interface that allows users to dial into a conference.

    Source code on GitHub

    2. BigBlueButton

    BigBlueButton is another leading open source video conferencing tool which is primarily known for its integration with Moodle. The goal of this project is to provide remote students with a high-quality online learning experience. With this solution, you get the core features that you would expect from a commercial web conferencing system, but under an open source license.

    Key features:

    • Real-time audio, video, presentation and screen sharing;
    • Live whiteboard the ability to zoom, highlight, draw, and write on presentations;
    • Recording sessions for later playback;
    • Breakout rooms;
    • Real-time polling;
    • Unlimited number of connected webcams in a session;
    • Seamless integration with all the major learning management systems (LMS).

    Source code on GitHub

    3. OpenMeetings

    Distributed under the Apache-2.0 License, OpenMeetings is an open source powerful solution which provides video conferencing, instant messaging, whiteboard, collaborative document editing and other groupware tools. It uses API functions of Media Server for Remoting and Streaming Kurento and works on HTML5 and Flash. 

    Key features:

    • Four options to select during a conference session (audio + video, audio only, video only and picture only);
    • Advanced File-Explorer in every conference room;
    • Drag and Drop interface for managing uploaded files;
    • Flexible moderating System to adjust user permissions;
    • Private message center;
    • Meeting planning with an integrated calendar;
    • Backup all user-generated data.

    Source code on GitHub

    4. Linphone

    Linphone is an open source softphone for voice and video over IP calling and instant messaging. It can be used for audio and video direct calls and calls through any VoIP softswitch or IP-PBX with VOIP phone numbers. Compatible with the open standards from the telecommunications industry (SIP and RTP), Linphone is interoperable with most PBXs and SIP servers, so you can communicate freely with other people over the internet via voice, video and text messaging.

    Key features:

    • HD audio and video calls;
    • Integration with iOS/Android push notifications systems;
    • Instant messaging with group chats and file sharing;
    • “Invite your friends” option;
    • Multi-device support;
    • Audio and video encryption with SRTP and ZRTP;
    • End-to-end encryption for 1-to-1 and group messaging.

    Source code on GitHub

    5. Jami

    Last but not the least, Jami is a free and open source universal communication platform which focuses on the user’s privacy. This highly secure solution is built on a distributed architecture which doesn’t require a server for relaying data between users. The main aim of the project is to provide a communication framework and end-user applications to make audio or video calls, send text messages and make generic data transfers.

    Key features:

    • Audio and video calls with screen sharing;
    • Available on Linux, Android, AndroidTV, Windows, macOS and iOS;
    • All communications are peer-to-peer and end-to-end encrypted;
    • Reduced latency and transfer speeds due to the direct peer-to-peer connection;
    • No personal information is needed to create an account;
    • No restrictions on file size, speed, bandwidth, etc.

    Source code on GitLab

    Although all the mentioned above open source video conferencing solutions offer similar functionality in terms of audio and video calls, they stick to different security approaches. It’s up to you to decide which solution suits your needs. However, you can use other open source tools to enhance your productivity when working remotely:

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