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Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-18 13:56
by kedaha
Now, with the corona-virus pandemic, people are being urged "to work from home", naturally free software enthusiasts in general and Debian users in particular, are put under pressure by Windows users, who use Skype and expect everyone else to do the same. I fear it may not be so easy to get such people to use alternative free software. Any views on this? Thank you.

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-18 14:00
by arochester

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-18 19:27
by Head_on_a_Stick
Would Facebook's video chat on firefox-esr be acceptable?

I don't use it myself (obviously) but my family uses it regularly and it works in Debian.

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-18 20:42
by Bulkley
kedaha wrote: . . . naturally free software enthusiasts in general and Debian users in particular, are put under pressure by Windows users, who use Skype and expect everyone else to do the same. I fear it may not be so easy to get such people to use alternative free software.


I fought that battle and lost. Even worse, there isn't any alternative that is compatible with Skype. There are apps from both Apple and Google that are better than Skype but I don't know if they would solve your problem.

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-18 21:12
by kedaha
Thanks everyone for your replies and suggestions.
It seems to me that the corona-virus lockdown in a number of countries and the push to get people "working from home" are related. It looks like the opportunity to get vast amounts of people to use proprietary videoconferencing software and other so-called "free" options. But, mindful of the saying, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch", one naturally looks for other software which respects users' privacy and freedom.
I was easily able to do videoconferencing with Jitsi without installing any software by following the steps given at jitsi.org and the result was good but was warned that for optimal results either the latest version of Google Chrome or Chromium were recommended, so I've installed stevepusser's latest chromium, which I thank him for, as detailed in his recent topic but which have yet to try.
The advantage, I think, of jitsi is that a link can be sent by email, for example, to a Windows user and no software needs to be installed if they use Google Chrome.
I am considering other possibilities like doing it through my own server, with jitsi or maybe something else.

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-19 08:13
by pylkko
Skype has a web version, but it appears that it is now only possible to use in chrome or edge.

https://www.skype.com/en/unsupported-browser/

Another similar is Zoom, which has client program and also a web interface.

These are the kind of proprietary corporate video conferencing options that many work places will use. Microsoft Teams, obviously.

Many of the phone apps that people use also have either web clients or native linux clients (Telegram, Whatsapp, Viber etc)

Google hangouts still exists (both the app and web)

https://hangouts.google.com/


Then there are the p2p/open source kind of things, but chances are nobody you know will want to/know how to use them. Riot.im has both clients for linux, android and web. (uses decentralized matrix network), Signal etc. Insane amount of sip clients exist... and actually some versions of Android have inbuilt http://wiki.ezuce.com/display/sipXcom/A ... IP+Calling

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-19 15:20
by wizard10000
MS has a Linux Teams client - if your company's Skype for Business backend is configured to support Teams you can use that. I do it all the time :)

https://teams.microsoft.com/downloads

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-19 15:27
by Danielsan
I am using Zoom on Testing and Stable. jitsi-meeting would work but you would need to create your own server and this cost more than paying for a pro Zoom account, other alternative I found interesting is Rocket.chat but also with this you have to create your own server.

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-19 18:48
by pylkko
can you elaborate on how creating a server costs anything; you can create a server with one line in python... does the software actually require you to use physical hardware external to the computer that you are using? Could it then be run on a cheap thing like raspberry pi?

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-19 20:23
by Danielsan
pylkko wrote:can you elaborate on how creating a server costs anything; you can create a server with one line in python... does the software actually require you to use physical hardware external to the computer that you are using? Could it then be run on a cheap thing like raspberry pi?


The cheapest server on Digital Oceans costs like $60mo... And I don't think any RPI can handle 25/30 WebRTC connections, and you have to consider an upgrade to a professional broadband internet connections, power consumption plus the cost of the hardware; even if you want use a RPI4 eventually you will end up speinding something around 100/150 bucks. Zoom costs $15 mo... :wink:

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-20 06:34
by pylkko
Yes, I doubt that an rpi can hande 30 webRTC connections. But you can still run a server on any computer, and it can be the same computer/laptop that you use the client on yourself (like online games do). I doubt you need to rent a full dedicated server for this. Even if you don't have the hardware already at home, you could get a VPS that costs less than the Zoom (although, it really depends on how many people you are going to interact with as you can always find an amount that will be too much for any hardware to handle).

So, I don't want to sound like arguing for the point of arguing. I really am interested in whether or not your estimate is realistic. This person here is using jitsi server with 8 connections on a free (low level) Ec2 instance, and shows that top is 0% cpu and 450 RAM:

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/475 ... nvironment

To me that sounds like it would probably run on any laptop/rpi. But 8 connections is still not 30...

Also, where I live the crappiest internet you can get is 10 Mbps and 100+ is common (even 1000). But I understand that it really depends on where you live (remote places don't get wired connections even).

EDIT:

projects using rpi with jitsi:

https://www.linux-projects.org/uv4l/tut ... itsi-meet/

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-20 07:57
by Bloom
Jami: https://jami.net/
You can find it in the Debian repositories.

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-20 09:28
by oswaldkelso
https://alternativeto.net/software/skyp ... form=linux

is better but still meh...

If your going to use non-free you undermine all efforts at a libre alternative. The other thing to watch out for is free clients and non-free back- ends which the above link doesn't even consider.

I don't get why folks worry about running X as root but happily install and run non-free binary applications from some of the most untrusted corporations in the world. Running X as root is a risk. Running slaveware is just plain stupid.

I currently use tox and mumble. Have used pidgin and Ekiga (is it still called that?) in the past and I'm sure there are lots of others in Debian main.

I don't put my ugly mug on the internet so no need of video but video on tox works.

tox: encrypted peer to peer so no server required. My favourite. Light, secure, lots of front ends and easy to setup and use.

Mumble: very good sound quality, lots of servers out there if you don't have the skills/inclination to run your own.

My friends and family know I don't do skype, face-time etc and call or email me. If I work for someone and they want me to do this sort of crap they provide me with the hardware.

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-20 16:25
by Danielsan
pylkko wrote:Yes, I doubt that an rpi can hande 30 webRTC connections. But you can still run a server on any computer, and it can be the same computer/laptop that you use the client on yourself (like online games do). I doubt you need to rent a full dedicated server for this. Even if you don't have the hardware already at home, you could get a VPS that costs less than the Zoom (although, it really depends on how many people you are going to interact with as you can always find an amount that will be too much for any hardware to handle).

So, I don't want to sound like arguing for the point of arguing. I really am interested in whether or not your estimate is realistic. This person here is using jitsi server with 8 connections on a free (low level) Ec2 instance, and shows that top is 0% cpu and 450 RAM:

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/475 ... nvironment

To me that sounds like it would probably run on any laptop/rpi. But 8 connections is still not 30...

Also, where I live the crappiest internet you can get is 10 Mbps and 100+ is common (even 1000). But I understand that it really depends on where you live (remote places don't get wired connections even).

EDIT:

projects using rpi with jitsi:

https://www.linux-projects.org/uv4l/tut ... itsi-meet/


Based on my knowledge I found Zoom more convenient that building my own server, even the connection available in that area is not good enough. Anyway your links are really interesting, thanks for sharing those!

Re: Alternatives to skype.

PostPosted: 2020-03-21 11:21
by kedaha
Thanks everyone again for their replies. In addition to the links already given, I found this: opensource.com/alternatives/skype, which is interesting.
So far I have used jitsi successfully simply by going to their website and sending a link via email. However, my preference is to try and use it from my own "home server" so I used yunohost, currently based on oldstable. However, installing the jitsi packages threw out an error and did not work. I also noticed that no one maintains it on Yunohost at the moment. I think I will try jami on my own manually-configured server next.
I installed Debian on a friend's laptop and now that Windows 7 is obsolete they've started using it; however Microsoft Teams was needed and I can confirm that the version for linux installed OK on Buster and the user is now singing it's praises, saying, for example, that the video quality is much better than with jitsi and why didn't I use it myself? I felt a bit miffed by this.
I have yet to try some of the other alternatives.
EDIT:
Bloom wrote:Jami: https://jami.net/
You can find it in the Debian repositories.

Thanks Bloom for this.