In chapter 8.1, I talked about a great alternative to Zoom and other 'work from home' video apps. Today, I want to dig deeper into the fine tuning of an own server setup and other apps to use.

dt.gl - Jitsi Meet is a solid video conference with encryption option
Since the lockdown, Zoom had become the goto tool for video conferencing. But the list of incidences, including their claim of End-to-End Encryption that was never actually implemented, have made Zoom one of the worst choices you can make. One product that you can use is Jitsi Meet.

There are many free use Jitsi servers all over the internet. Riot and Mattermost have the option, via widgets, for one click activation. Unfortunately with Riot you are forced to use their Jitsi setup and therefore not allow you to use your own. Of course, that's an easy fix by just sharing your own or favorite server in the group chat.

One step at a time...

Let's assume you want to host your own Jitsi server, perhaps on Hetzner or DigitalOcean or any other cloud server you trust, follow this for the offical setup on Jitsi:

Jitsi Meet - Instant Free Videoconferencing
Jitsi Meet offers free, secure, flexible, open-source video conferencing. Start using Jitsi Meet today. Build and deploy secure videoconferencing solutions.
Hetzner Online Community
Hetzner Online Community – a free collection of high-quality tutorials

or the one click marketplace droplet on DigitalOcean:

Jitsi Server Hosting | DigitalOcean Marketplace 1-Click App
Jitsi is an open source app for videoconferencing and chat. Works with Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Android clients.

Next things next

You do not need an account on Jitsi, all you need is a browser or an app! And here is the first big issue!

The iOS and the official Google Play Store app of Jitsi hosts some trackers:

  • Google CrashLytics
  • Google Firebase Analytics
  • Amplitude

Use the f-droid version on Android or just the browser of your choice on any desktop. The f-droid version is stripped all analytics and is safe to use, and the browser option is as clean as your server instance is ;)

Profile

If you chose a profile that shows your name and lets you configure your own server, we have another small problem, but with an easy fix. The app will then try to connect to gravatar.com!

Since we are not keen on connecting to 3rd parties, use the terminal of your server thus:

nano /etc/jitsi/meet/<domain>-config.js

disableThirdPartyRequests: true,

Now there is no connection anymore to gravatar, except with the STUN-Server, easily fixed, open the terminal:

/etc/jitsi/meet/<domain>-config.js

this is what you will find in the config.js:

stunServers: [

   stunServers: [
   { urls: 'stun:stun.l.google.com:19302' },
   { urls: 'stun:stun1.l.google.com:19302' }
],

replace it with one that you trust!

Public STUN server list
Public STUN server list. GitHub Gist: instantly share code, notes, and snippets.

If you have your own sever you might want to do some fine tuning on the config.js:

nano /etc/jitsi/meet/<domain>-config.js

standard language:

defaultLanguage: 'en',

change resolution from 720 to 480:

resolution: 480,

constraints: { 
   video: {  
      aspectRatio: 16 / 9,   
      height: {    
         ideal: 480,   
         max: 480,    
         min: 240     
      }      
   }     
}, 

Perhaps for additional privacy you can force the Jitsi feed to start with voice only (and then the user can activate it once they are on).

startAudioOnly: true,

Jitsi is working on E2EE in video conferences for 2 or more people. Remember at this very moment Jitsi is maybe still your best bet when it comes to all the conferences options out there, but its still only encrypted on one 2 one video chat.

This is what end-to-end encryption should look like! - Jitsi
Work in Progress! Some of the people watching our repos have been asking us what the deal was with this little new HIPS project (which by the way stands for Hidden In Plain Sight). Well, …

Taking everything into consideration, Jitsi is safer than Zoom, Facebook or Google.

Plus you can self host it!

Enjoy your video conferences during this transition to the strange 'new normal' world.

Switch to Jitsi and stay safe! WFH with a more private twist!