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7 Free and Open Source Digital Signage Software Options For Your Next Event

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UPDATED 2/27/2018: This piece has been updated with recent review numbers, revised features lists, and new screenshots.

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Now that everything has gone digital, it’s time for event businesses to bring their signage up to speed. As the use of paper/non-animated advertising continues to taper off, digital signage is on the rise due to its ease of use and benefits over static signage. You’ve got the event management software angle covered; now it’s time for your signage to move into the 21st century.

Digital signage gives event planners new ways to deliver content, and allows faster transitions than traditional signs. It can up your event’s visual aesthetic game, taking you from tried and boring to innovative and engaging.

Use digital signage to advertise your sponsors and display an event schedule all on one screen, notify your attendees of event changes in real time, display an event map, and reduce your event’s environmental impact.

These benefits are just a small segment of the robust return on investment you can achieve by adopting digital signage.

Free digital signage software lets you be creative on a budget

Transitioning your event signage from static to digital is realistic for even the smallest of event businesses due to the availability of free and open source software options.

You don’t have to shell out a ton of money to make the switch; if you have access to TVs/monitors and computers with internet access, digital signage is within your reach.

I’ve compiled a list of seven free digital signage software options for you to explore and use at your next event. Most of the below systems are open source, and each offers a media library and remote deployment functionality.

Software options listed in alphabetical order.

Seven free and open source digital signage options

1. Concerto

A screenshot of Concerto

Screen management dashboard (via Concerto)

Concerto is downloadable, open source, digital signage software created in 2008. The system is under constant development by its creators at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

While this software was originally developed for students and college campuses, Concerto works well for small businesses and organizations.

To run Concerto, you need a web server capable of running Ruby on Rails (ROR) applications, as well as a database. If you have an IT team at your disposal, personal technical know-how, and meet the ROR/database requirements, this system offers content scheduling and multi-screen support features.

Concerto is an APT-based Linux system that can run on Windows and MacOS through a virtual machine or by partitioning your hard drive to run a separate OS.

2. DigitalSignage.com

An example of DigitalSignage.com

Signage creation (via DigitalSignage.com)

Digital Signage offers a free version that includes core features such as access to its SignageStudio (digital signage creator), SignagePlayer (manages and pushes your signage to the display), and hundreds of pre-made templates. This system can run signs on multiple screens, letting you seamlessly manage signage across your event floor.

Access to the software’s application programming interface (API) is only available to enterprise subscribers. You won’t be able to make any alterations to Digital Signage’s source code unless you buy the enterprise version.

The free version limits cloud storage to one gigabyte, and is best suited for small events with limited signage needs.

Digital Signage is available on Windows, MacOS, and Linux/Ubuntu systems.

3. ScreenHub

Screenshot of ScreenHub

Signage playlist management screen (via ScreenHub)

ScreenHub brands itself as “all-in-one” free digital signage software, complete with content design, management, and player features. The web-based software lets you control your signs from anywhere, schedule signage ahead of time, and display signs on multiple screens.

While some digital signage software options recommend specific display types and sizes, ScreenHub’s system can adjust to any display size.

ScreenHub is available on Windows, MacOS, Linux/Ubuntu, Android, and iOS.

4. Screenly Open Source Edition

Screenshot of Screenly Open Source Edition
Signage schedule overview (via Screenly)

Screenly Open Source Edition is the free version of digital signage software Screenly, developed and backed by its user community and maintained by WireLoad.

Screenly can be used to create live dashboards, advertisements, info screens, event maps, and digital menu boards. The program automatically detects TV and monitor dimensions to render your signs in the highest resolution possible. Screenly’s management features also let you schedule signage to display in specified time blocks.

Screenly’s display player solely runs through Raspberry Pi devices (small, single-board devices used for a variety of unique computing tasks) and will display anything you throw at it, including videos, images, and web pages.

5. ViewNeo

A rendering of ViewNeo

Signage developer (via ViewNeo)

ViewNeo is web-based digital signage software that offers a free starter tier and the option to upgrade to a more robust system. The free option has a few limitations, including five gigabytes of free cloud storage and a one display at a time restriction.

The software offers a sign studio for designing new materials and sign scheduling functionality.

ViewNeo is available on Windows, MacOS, Linux/Ubuntu, iOS, and Android.

6. Xibo

A screenshot of Xibo

Display management dashboard (via Xibo)

Xibo is a fully stocked, open source content management system made for digital signage. The software offers layout design features, scheduling, display management, analytics reporting, user permissions, and support for most media file types. Additional features and source code information is available on the software’s GitHub page.

Xibo began as a university project in 2004, and has been developed and supported by Spring Signage since then. The system offers cloud-based versions as well as app access for Android.

Xibo’s content management system is available on Windows and Linux/Ubuntu. Its player software—which renders content on displays—is available for Windows and Android (Linux/Ubuntu support is on the way).

Looking for other ways to upgrade your events?

Taking your events to the next level shouldn’t stop at digital signage. Keep an eye on new tech trends influencing the industry by following Capterra’s event management blog, which is full of tips, news, and information on event technology and software.

Here are a few posts to get you started:

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, drawing, photography, playing guitar, writing, and cooking.

Comments

Xibo has some great hosting companies available now a days. Here are two: https://www.mysignage.rocks and http://www.xibohosting.com . No need to install these yourself anymore.

You might want to add Yodeck (https://www.yodeck.com ) to your list as well. Yodeck is raspberry pi based digital signage platform and offers free-forever plan for single screen usage.
More info on the capterra listing: https://www.capterra.com/p/157879/Yodeck/

Here is another great option: Promota (http://promota.net). Promota is the new Chromecast-enabled digital signage app for your small business! Please try the iOS app (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/promota-digital-signage-for-promotions/id1252719880)

What about RiseVision? Completely Free, easy to use and has a TON of features.

Great article. You might also want to check out inTouch Display Systems. Their software is very user friendly and was designed for commercial events. It is a Windows based software. More info at http://www.intouchdisplay.com

There are a growing number of digital signage resellers and customers that are exploring how they can replace their current digital signage content management system (CMS). At Sysview we offer those looking to make the switch to our platform, all of the support and advice required.

I have tested https://signagecloud.info, it is free too, but only for 14 days. very nice signage cloud with many features

Maybe it is not that important now, but I would recommend DWall app. It’s a mobile app that allows for media content management from any corner of the world. There’s only one condition: you need an Internet connection to be able to operate this app. It is quite comfy and quick, because you will be able to manage your monitors in only three steps. This app helps manage TVs and panels and download different types of media like video, images, and text. If you want to try it, please visit: https://dwall.online/

I’ve been using https://playsignage.com and absolutely love it. Their free tier offers all functionality of paid subscription, but only limited to one screen.

I have tried a couple of these, and ended up with http://www.optisigns.com/ and Amazon Fire TV Stick as solution. It’s simple, easy to set up and more importantly stable.

Cheap Android stick devices are very unstable, resulted in random crashes.
I like Raspberry Pi, but take more time and understanding of Linux to set up.
And PCs are clunkier and more expensive.

You might also want to check out Foyer – Digital Signage for WordPress (https://wordpress.org/plugins/foyer/).

Foyer is a free and open source plugin for WordPress websites. It lets you create simple slideshows and show them off on your networked displays. Just upload some images or videos and type some text, to quickly create slides. Or select existing website content, like posts or upcoming events, you would like to feature.

I’m the developer of the Foyer plugin, and professionally have built many websites and web based solutions for event driven organisations like festivals, theaters, venues. Foyer is inspired by the need to not only show your events to website visitors, but also to visitors at your venue.

Screen Hub Changed recently to free for 1 screen only.

Zeetaminds offers the CMS for free for a single screen or free trial for 14 days on any number of screens

https://zeetaminds.com/ offers the CMS for free for a single screen or free trial for 14 days on any number of screens

http://xogo.io has first screen free and then 15/month. It would be free for small SMB and mom and pop shops with a path to larger installs.

And here I am looking at the possibilities of an FTP server on droid, Video looper (Free app) and OpenShot (free app) to edit videos into one long-play video. That and an auto-start app on Droid to load the playable video.

(Why pay when you don’t have to? or live with 1 screen limitations?)

You need to be careful when it comes to “free” digital signage systems. Often the software will be free, but you’ll need to pay for cloud storage, training, phone support, software updates, integration with social apps or weather, etc. You get the point. Often when you add all these “extras” up, it’ll cost more than a service that has a monthly or yearly fee. As they say, nothing in life is truly free.

However, if you are looking for truly “free” and are willing to be hands on yourself and are a bit of a self-learner… then there are lots of options. I’d recommend looking on Github.com which is a large repository of open-source projects (recently bought by Microsoft). Just search for “digital signage” on there. Again this isn’t “free” because you’ll be investing a lot of your time. But you won’t have to ever pull out your credit card. Especially if you can re-purpose some old desktop computers as signage players. So it’s really up to the individual to weigh the pros and cons and figure out what is best for their specific situation. Everyone and every situation will be different.

With that said, even some paid Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) digital signage providers have provisions for free or “donated” service. One such example is Signera (http://www.signera.net) who offers free service to qualifying non-profits. I’d recommend reaching out to the SaaS signage providers and seeing what they offer. It really can’t hurt to ask.

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