Local first or local only video calls

Local services are a very useful resource in Community Networks as we usually have much more bandwidth within our local network than with the outside world, and there is a big chance that many members of our community need similar services, so we can get the most out of our locality.

In this chance I was researching about what services could be used for video chat or videoconferencing.

My priorities were:

  • simple to use
  • use of local bandwidth, ideally works without being connected to the internet
  • ideally can talk with the internet if possible
  • Free/Libre Open Source Software

Within this priorities I found these:

  • jami.net : It has the advantage of allowing local and global calls, as well as one to one and party call (though party call is difficult to do, the user experience could be improved).
  • meshenger: It provides local-only one-to-one video calls.
  • steves.app: It is a tool to share your screen/camera with someone else. Requires access to the internet if using the hosted version, or you can host your own locally and it would work disconnected to the internet. Once all the parties are connected, it doesn’t use internet bandwidth for video transmission, only for

Do you know of any other options?

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At NuestraRed.org we have a small local server with a https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/odroid-hc1-home-cloud-one/ Odrioid-hc1 on it we have running RIOT which is a very good chat tool, that allows video calls and audio calls. We also have a local version of Jitsi running.

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So the video component of your Riot.im instance would be a Jitsi.meet local instance (with the open-source implementation of Jitsi Meet). Awesome!

Jitsi Meet is playing a great part on the wider internet to connect people with each other nowadays, as it is as simple as sharing an url to start talking with someone else, while respecting your rights as a user (as much as a webpage can).
It is really tricky to put it up and working though, so is not one of those that I tend to go to, but if you have the skills. there is a (it seems) good guide on setting up Jitsi Meet on a Raspberry Pi 4 Small Board Computer here: https://gist.github.com/krithin/e50a6001c8435e46cb85f5c6c78e2d66

I really want Jitsi to be successful, but I found it challenging to set up on my own server also. Maybe that raspberry pi article can help me. Thanks for encouraging me to try again.

In most community networks, I imagine you could just run a Jitsi server on any node and advertise the IP address (or MDNS if you have that on the network) to others in the community. Getting it to work both on the local mesh network and the wider internet might be a little more difficult and require some firewall/routing rules, which would have to be done on a mesh-by-mesh basis.

I’m not sure of many other legitimate options besides Jitsi or Jitsi bundled inside of something like RIOT or Rocket Chat. Though the projects mentioned by @nicopace sound interesting.

For those already using Nextcloud offline (or online), their talk add-on (https://nextcloud.com/talk/) is a quick install and works well. I’ve used it on a Pi4B 4GB without issues.

Matrix/Synapse (behind Riot) and Rocket Chat are more taxing but well regarded.

Mattermost works offline but I don’t know anyone using it.

Good to know. Thanks @nicopace

NYC Mesh is discussing this in their #mesh-services slack channel.

@olivermesh have you bridged slack and mattermost? I see https://meet.nycmesh.net/ is live.

Thanks @Eric for jumping on this thread.
It is very interesting to see NextCloud get involved in this topic… I heard about Spreed (the software behind NextCloud Talk) some time ago, and it is great that it has evolved.

Matrix and Rocket Chat are not doing any videocalls, but relying on Jitsi Meet for it.
MatterMost again, is integrating with other tools.

I think Elon from Toronto Mesh got Jitsi working on a local network and built an Ansible for it. But we also found the BigBlueButton seems to work better in general and have been documenting about our BBB instance. I don’t see why BBB wouldn’t work for local-first but we haven’t tried it.

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