Opensource replacement for WebEx-like solution
This article is about the different existing open source solutions for web conferencing.
For the needs of our Bid Right project we wanted to have an easy to use tool to make presentation and demos to customers and prospects. Over the last few years we tried several open source web meeting solutions with varying degrees of success, nothing that compared to proprietary solution like WebEx until recently...
DimDim, OpenFire and OpenMeetings¶
DimDim was the most advanced solution back in 2009. After spending some time installing it on CentOS (pretty much the only distribution on which it was possible to install), several components weren't working right.
The fact that there was no screen sharing on Linux was the biggest hindrance for us. Also the project didn't seem very community friendly. Open source releases were usually lagging several month behind proprietary ones, and the solution itself was such a mess to install that lots of people gave up before even trying.
Now that they have been bought by salesforce.com they simply stopped development on the open source version, and so the project's future doesn't look too bright.
In 2010 I had another go at this project by also trying `OpenFire`:http://www.igniterealtime.org/projects/openfire/ (through `Elastix`:http://www.elastix.org/) and `OpenMeetings`:http://code.google.com/p/openmeetings/ with different level of success. OpenMeetings was the most robust and everything was working well (except the memory consumption of the Java screen sharing applet), but no solutions fit exactly our needs.
Back in 2010 during my last test `BigBlueButton`:http://bigbluebutton.org/ was looking the most promising but again our most wanted feature (flawless screen sharing on linux) wasn't fully functional as it lacked the ability to select a screen region. Now that we released the new version of `Bid Right`:http://www.bid-right.com/news/bid-right-083-released people are asking us about demos and presentation, and so I had another look at all these solutions. I was pleasantly surprise to see that BigBlueButton has now evolved in a very complete and usable solution.
For those who don't know, BigBlueButton is a fantastic software for video/audio-conferencing complete with screen/document sharing and whiteboard. It is unfortunately using Flash, and Java for the screen sharing, but with HTML5 implementation on customers/prospects browsers being still emerging it was a safer bet to use Flash although a buggy one. Hopefully we will see some more interesting standard solution using `webRTC`:http://sites.google.com/site/webrtc/ and HTML5 sockets in a near future.
So after years of watching these solutions' evolution I finally build a BigBlueButton server for our internal needs and found that the instructions on the website were overly complicated, so I jumped on the opportunity to write another How-To see How to Install BigBlueButton on a Debian Squeeze in our wiki.
Again if you want to migrate away from proprietary solution like Cisco's WebEx, and try BigBlueButton do not hesitate to `contact us`:http://www.personalized-software.ie/contactus.