Everyone loves to communicate. And synchronous communication rules – whether text, voice, or video. Now we have our own server, so we can add private to our online communication.
Like Zoom? Like that sometimes they route conversations through China? (This means the stream is decrypted on servers in another country, and under the laws there, such as government access to all content on demand.)
Well, we now have a self-hosted video chat server for the family where we can invite anyone to participate without that particular risk – the service is end-to-end encrypted. Our Jitsi service is hosted in Canada. While it is not currently set up to handle hundreds of participants, it could be in a few minutes, and even as it is can deal with about 15 without breaking a sweat.
Like most of modern services, Jitsi does not require a special client. Anything with a reasonably-current web browser will do, whether it is a box built for gaming or a $150 pinephone.
But the browser will not be quite as nice an experience as a dedicated client software. Basically, a client software does not have as many layers between it and the camera or microphone, so it is a little bit faster, and can get a little bit higher resolution because it is built specifically for your device and operating system. Don't worry, there are apps in all the stores, just search for Jitsi-Meet, the current client.
Can you use it for video/audio calls? Yes! It is, in fact, SIP-compliant, one of the several layers of its somewhat daunting stack. We are working on allowing call-in, too. However, our server is 'locked', meaning only people with accounts - the meeting 'Host' - may create meetings. Contact Wayne if you would like to be a host.
We suggest Hosts add a password, or a lobby (or both!) to any meeting. The password means you can publish the url of the meeting publicly, but only people with both the url and the password will gain access. No video meeting bombing!
Chats can be accessed either by their name, or their url. A longer name is more likely to be unique, although that is much less an issue in our small family community!
Video, audio, and text streams are all end-to-end encrypted, so should be reasonably safe from hackage. Nothing is perfectly safe - given enough time and computing power any encryption can be defeated.