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(Video) conference calling with meet.jit.si

With the Corona crisis we’re all working from home. You can use the free, end to end encrypted, open source software from jitsi to make calls and video calls! (And you don’t have to work you can also video call your parents or grand parents 😉 ).

On this page:

Jitsi vs. Zoom

There are many alternatives. If you use your phone you can securely call one-on-one with Signal. There is also Skype and Zoom. Jit.si has a couple of advantages:

  • Made privacy conscious people – it is encrypted and peer 2 peer (meaning no data goes through a centralized jit.si server)
  • Open source – anyone can check if there are no back doors installed, see if there are security risks etc
  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Integrated in Rocket Chat

Unfortunately, performance might be a bit less stable than Zoom (they are working on it!). So in practice, especially for big meetings you might still want to use Zoom. But remember! Zoom is made by a California (USA) based for profit company with centralized servers and known security flaws… Don’t forget to reserve the Zoom channel in the “Zoom channel reservation” agenda on the cloud so the Zoom channel is not double booked!

Some of the recent Zoom scandals:

Enough for US states to start investigating Zoom for security and privacy issues. BUT IT IS OKAY! The boss of Zoom have said they are sorry.

How does Jitsi work?

You cybersurf to https://meet.jit.si/ (The fully supported browsers are listed here – at the moment of writing only Chrome & Chromium). Choose a meeting name in the box where the pink one points to. I have chosen the name “mysecretmeeting”. Then you press the GO button (the one the pink 2 points towards).

meet.jit.si welcome screen

You are launched to the actual meeting room. Jitsi needs your camera and webcam.

Note, what this does is create a URL based on the name, in this case https://meet.jit.si/mysecretmeeting . Anyone with that URL can join the meeting!

Alternatively you can also create a meeting room by going to such a URL straight away, for example https://meet.jit.si/techmeeting works just the same.

Brief intro for a Jitsi meeting

Jitsi needs your camera and webcam. Then you might see something like this:

I have a piece of the red SMF sticker on my webcam, hence the red image from my webcam!
  1. The URL you can send to other people is based on the meeting name, in this case: https://meet.jit.si/mysecretmeeting . Other people who go to this URL will join the meeting! It is a simple as that!
  2. You can set a password here or copy the URL.
  3. You can mute yourself or turn off your camera here.

Once the meeting has started, you’ll see something like this:

  1. You can open chat here or raise your hand. Not quite sure how the second thing works
  2. You see the number of participants here
  3. You see your name here, and you can change it as well! Otherwise other people see you as “fellow jitsi-er”
  4. You can see the other people in the meeting here

Alternative Jitsi servers

Since jit.si is open source anyone can host their own jit.si server. Use a different server when you notice exceptionally bad quality. You can find a list of servers at the bottom of this page: https://vc4all.nl/ .

Another alternative that is (at the time of writing) not in the server list on vc4all is https://calls.disroot.org/

To use a different server simply replace the part of the URL that is “https://meet.jit.si/” part the part of the URL of the server. For example:

https://meet.jit.si/mysecretmeeting becomes https://calls.disroot.org/mysecretmeeting.

Jitsi on mobile

If your microphone doesn’t work or if you somehow have trouble with getting it to work in your browser, then you can also use the app. Download it through F-droid, the play store, or iTunes store.

As you can see it is still quite easy to join/create a room. It also lists the previous rooms you have joined.

In Rocket Chat

A (video) conference meeting is just one click away in Rocket Chat! You can easily start a meeting with your working group OR contact someone one on one.

Rocket Chat and Jitsi integration, gotta love the open source community! <3

At the top right corner of your screen you press the three vertical dots. You then click “Video Chat”. A screen will open for you to a meet.jit.si URL. Those who you are chatting with you will see a nice blue button they can press to join the meeting:

Aww yea, so convenient

Tips & tricks for (video) conference calling

Though they are working to improve it, it might happen that Jitsi won’t work as well as intended. If one of the participants has a crappy internet connection the whole meeting might suffer. So make sure you have a good internet connection:

  • If you have an internet cable, now is the time to plug it in. This way you do not have to rely on WIFI.
  • Turn off your (torrent) downloads and have others using your network turn them off as well.
  • Don’t use video, it takes up more bandwidth than just voice

Some general advice to make everyone’s live in the conference call world a little better:

  • Mute yourself if you’re not talking
  • Use chat (with a * for reaction or ** for direct reaction) or “Raise / lower hand” button to coordinate speaking turns.
  • You can also use chat to indicate support for ideas (with a + or a – ).