Submitted by sudo moderator in freeAsInFreedom (edited )

Last week's thread.

This week's Free Software Application of the Week is Jitsi, an Apache 2 - licensed, encrypted teleconferencing program.

Yes, I know I said I was going to review I2P-Bote. I asked a few people for help with testing it out, but we all ran into technical difficulties, so this will be delayed until we can actually test it out.

I previously reviewed Ring, which is functionally very similar to Jitsi, so I thought I should compare it to Jitsi. After having used both for calls lasting several hours, I believe Jitsi is currently the better of the two. Here's why.

Jitsi and Ring do have different approaches to how communication is done. Ring is peer-to-peer, so it functions as both a client and a server. Jisti, however, only functions as a client. It can use several different protocols (such as SIP and XMPP), which you can set up your own computer to be a server for if you want, but I don't think it's necessary, since both riseup.net and disroot.org offer XMPP accounts. So, if you don't trust anyone else to host your XMPP account, then making Jitsi be just as secure as Ring will take more effort. But, since ZRTP (encrypted calls) are an option, the worst a spying XMPP server could do is tell which computer you're talking to, which your ISP is already capable of (unless you route the entire thing through Tor, perish the thought).

So, Ring is slightly better for anonymity, but Jitsi is better for quality. As I mentioned in my Ring review, Ring sometimes drops calls, or drops one end of the call. Jitsi has only done this once for me, whereas Ring has done this for about 1/3rd of the calls I've made. Jitsi also has a screen-sharing feature that works (Ring's doesn't work, last time I tried). The person I tested it with said they could see my screen crystal-clear throughout the entire call, which lasted several hours. They could even read small text I was typing, with a font size of about 10 pt. I did notice the audio lagging behind after a while. After about an hour of talking, there was about a 1 second delay between when I said something, and I heard my voice through their microphone (they put their mic right next to their speaker, just to test this). That's slightly distracting, but not too big of a problem, and it's fixed by hanging up and calling them back. It also won't be a problem for short calls.

The video quality was poor, but then again, both of us have crappy webcams, so it may not have been Jitsi's fault. We were able to make out each other's faces (I know this person in real life, so anonymity wasn't an issue), but whenever one of us moved around a lot, it left several video artifacts that remained until the next keyframe. They held up several pieces of paper with text on them, and I was able to read the text after a couple of seconds of them holding it completely still in front of their webcam.

I think Ring has the better user interface of the two. Jitsi's isn't bad, but it's not very visually pleasing. It uses the default Java GUI style. You know the one. Ring looks better, since it uses something more akin to the Gnome style. I also think Ring's UI elements are arranged in a way that makes them easier to find than Jitsi's.

Ultimately though, performance beats aesthetics, so Jitsi is the winner. If Ring fixes all of the performance bugs, then I think Ring will be better, but for the moment, Jitsi is the better of the two.


And that's it for this week's Free Software Application of the Week. Join me again next Monday, for a review of OpenRCT2!

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