The present crisis has, of course, seen a surge in video conferencing,
and as someone who is passionate about free software (and now, of
course, involved as a GA member in the Free Software Foundation Europe)
I've watched with some annoyance as everyone, including progressive
academics and other intelligent people, throng to Zoom, the latest
surveillance capitalist invention.
I briefly considered if I should consider this "force majeure" and
accept invitations to Zoom meetings, but instead I decided to double
down on my free software stance and refuse to use anything that requires
me to install non-free software on my computer.
Instead, in order to show how feasible it is to run such infrastructure
ourselves instead of relying on surveillance capitalism to solve all our
problems, I decided to set up a video conferencing server in my own house.
Some years ago I tried to run an instance of the otherwise brilliant
Jitsi Meet, but I found that it was complicated to "tweak" to get a
really satisfactory performance.
Instead, I set up an instance of the e-learning server BigBlueButton,
which can be accessed here:
Feel free to try it and use it as you please!
Some Germans tried it and told me that it worked fine with 17 active
participants, 12 on camera, so I suppose it works. I've mainly been
using it for my piano lessons. :)
The main limitation is that my Internet is "only" 100/100, which
"limits" the capacity to e.g. 20 5-person meetings with camera activated
at a time.
If you decide to use it, you need to register a user to start a meeting
- participants can just access the link you send them with no registration.
If capacity becomes a problem, I might limit new registrations, but then
maybe people can feel inspired to set up their own. It's not that hard. :-)