Home office tools: Not everything that glitters is gold...
(Open source) alternatives to commercial messaging and video conferencing tools
The current life situation is limited due to Covid-19. But possibilities of communication in home office are unlimited: Phones, private landline phones, chat programs, email, video conferencing and much more. The increase in home office jobs is pushing the use of collaboration solutions and video conferencing tools and giving them a boom that has never been experienced before. The increasing popularity is now fatal for many providers.
A look at well-known providers underlines the rush for messenger and video conference tools: Slack reports an increase in connected users from 10.5 to 12.5 million within a few days. Microsoft Teams has now passed the 44 million daily user mark. Google is also benefiting from the boom in virtual meetings: The use of Google's "Google Hangouts Meet" solution is 25 times higher than in January. Zoom was also able to benefit from the current situation. The video conference tool is most notably valued for its user-friendliness, its price structure and its simple deployment. But Zoom has now attracted a lot of criticism, especially when it comes to security: insufficient encryption of calls, security gaps, data exchange with Facebook or leaked emails and photos of users.
Fortunately, there are many exciting alternatives that are also available as an open source solution. We have selected three safe and user-friendly messenger and video conference tools for you:
Mattermost, riot and Zulip
The web-based messaging solutions Mattermost, Riot and Zulip score with cross-platform availability. You have your own desktop clients as well as clients for mobile operating systems. Direct messages, group messages, archives and data transmission are available in all three applications. Riot also offers video and internet calls. These functions have so far only been available to a limited extent with Mattermost and Zulip. Riot can also score with end-to-end encryption; the other two services have transport encryption.
Jitsi Meet, Kopano Video Meetings and Mikogo
Jitsi includes several open source projects that make it easy to conduct secure video conferencing. The open-source software Jitsi Meet enables video conferences with one or more participants. In addition to video or audio chat, Jitsi Meet also offers the functions of desktop sharing and screen sharing of certain windows to present content. In addition, an integrated chat function is available to share text-based content with other participants. In addition to the web interface, Jitsi Meet is also available as an app on Android and iOS.
The device-independent software Kopano Video Meetings was developed for use in companies and allows "peer to peer" encrypted communication. It can be rolled out within a private cloud. Features include video and audio calls, one-to-one calls, and group calls.
You can display your own selected screen content via Mikogo and thus make it accessible to other authenticated users. Remote control of the screen is a big plus for this provider. After the necessary rights have been assigned, the presenter can take control of another computer and vice versa. With the integrated whiteboard function the presenter can also mark out screen contents or add comments. Locking and unlocking participants, recording sessions, and a session planner are also useful features.
One last thing:
If you want full data sovereignty, you should set up your own server. If you lack the know-how or the time required to do this, many providers can host their own servers. We also take care of the setup, the individual configuration, the ongoing operation and the required power. We are always available for questions!
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