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4 Open-Source Video Conferencing Tools for Small Businesses

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One of my favorite events I ever attended was the 2015 ISFLC. While I had attended this conference in the past, this year was special because the organization hosted a live video address and Q&A with Edward Snowden.

This experience was unique and exciting for me, since Snowden is obviously unable to travel to the United States (he is a personal hero of mine). Of course, Snowden’s appearance would’ve never been possible without the internet, event management software, or the video conference software used to broadcast his address.

Video conferencing software provides your events with the unique opportunity to bring popular speakers to your own that otherwise would not be able to attend. Video conference software covers large events as well as small internal meetings, and tends to offer features like chat, video streaming, and application sharing.

Online video apps can cost businesses a ton of money, but it doesn’t have to.

Free and Open-Source Conference Software Options

Thanks to open-source software, you can host your video conferences for free so long as you have a rudimentary knowledge of programming. (Buyer beware: you must feel comfortable operating technical software without live support from the software vendors.)

If open-source software appeals to you, then here are four free open-source conference software options you need to try. Software was chosen based on their list of features as well as their integration capabilities and user-interfaces.

Software options are listed in alphabetical order.

1. Apache OpenMeetings

No open-source list is complete without an addition from the Apache Software Foundation, one of the more popular open-source creators, next to Oracle. OpenMeetings is a fully stacked meetings and conference software that offers video conferencing, instant messaging, a whiteboard, viewer collaboration, and document editing.

As for the user interface, the design is not exciting. The flat look and Windows 98-ish design of OpenMeetings won’t appeal to the artistically inclined, especially when contrasting this program to the more attractive design of other Apache projects, such as the newest renditions of OpenOffice.

Features:

  • Audio/Video Conferencing
  • Meeting Recording and Sharing
  • File Explorer and Sharing
  • Moderating System
  • Whiteboard
  • Chatrooms
  • User and Room Management
  • Private Instant Messaging
  • Meeting Planner and Calendar
  • Data Backup

Used OpenMeetings? Leave a review!

2. BigBlueButton

BigBlueButton positions itself as an open-source presentation software made for online learning. While this categorization difference separates it from other options in this list, BigBlueButton still has a place for event presentations and internal meetings due to its standard conferencing features. BigBlueButton offers video conferencing, recording, chatrooms, polling, and whiteboards.

What gives BigBlueButton its edge is the clean and attractive user interface. The presentation software takes a lot of the functionality seen in Apache OpenMeetings (reviewed above) and works in a calmer aesthetic, softening up hard lines and flat tones. BigBlueButton even offers plenty of layout customization for your presentations.

BigBlueButton also offers mobile capabilities for Android phones, but not for iOS or Windows mobile devices.

Features:

  • Audio/Video Conferencing
  • Meeting Recording and Sharing
  • File Explorer and Sharing
  • Moderating System
  • Whiteboard
  • Chatrooms
  • User and Room Management
  • Private Instant Messaging
  • Meeting Planner and Calendar
  • Mobile Access

Used BigBlueButton? Leave a review!

3. Jitsi

Jitsi is an open-source video conferencing software that offers many of the features you should come to expect, including audio and video conferencing and online chat. Unfortunately it lacks some of the more in-depth features offered by others solutions such as whiteboards, scheduling and planning, and polling.

What Jitsi specializes in is the video conferencing capabilities and security features, such as noise suppression, echo cancellation, and encrypted passwords/messages. Another key benefit of this system is its integration, which extends to Google Hangouts, AIM, Facebook, and Microsoft Outlook.

Out of all of the options on this list, Jitsi has my favorite user-interface of these four software options. It’s color scheme and layout remind me of an Apple OS design, which I am partial to. This software is best for any conference or event firm looking for an attractive system made particularly for video, especially in terms of broadcast quality.

Jitsi also offers mobile capabilities on their iOS and Android Jitsi Meet apps.

Features:

  • Audio/Video Conferencing
  • Meeting Recording and Sharing
  • File Exploring and Sharing
  • Moderating System
  • User and Room Management
  • Private Instant Messaging
  • Mobile Access

Used Jitsi? Leave a review!

4. Mconf

Mconf is unique because of its origin: it was originally built on top of BigBlueButton’s source code, but is now an expanded, totally free and open-source video conferencing software. Mconf certainly took their cues from BigBlueButton when constructing their software because their user-interface is just as appealing.

Mconf offers mobile apps both through Google Play and Apple (unlike BigBlueButton, which only offers Android capabilities). All of the features offered by BigBlueButton are also available with Mconf with additional mobile functionality.

Mconf also offers a newly created web portal making conference browsing (by topics) much easier for interested viewers.

Features:

  • Audio/Video Conferencing
  • Meeting Recording and Sharing
  • File Explorer and Sharing
  • Moderating System
  • Whiteboard
  • Chatrooms
  • User and Room Management
  • Private Instant Messaging
  • Meeting Planner and Calendar
  • Mobile Access

Used Mconf? Leave a review!

More open-source video conferencing tools?

Now that you have your software, it’s time to broadcast your speaker or conference to a meeting or event. If you are interested in any other forms of streaming services, be sure to also read the Top 5 Free Tools to Live Stream Your Event Online.

Have you used these or any other open-source conference software options? Tell us what you think about them in the comment section below!

Looking for Event Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Event Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a Content Writer for Capterra, a free resource that matches buyers and sellers of business software. He has a background in politics, economics, and journalism, which he dedicates his off-time to contributing his thoughts to other political sites. In his free-time he enjoys reading, playing guitar, writing, cooking, and dominating the world of video games.

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