Take control of your video conferencing for FREE

Scared of all the Zoom Bomb? Afraid that your personal data maybe be compromised or sold?
1. Zoom sued for selling personal data
2. Zoom sued for hiding security flaw
3. South African parliament zoom call hacked

Why do you need to deal with all these negatives for a free software that does nothing but potentially harm you? You may also heard or woner, there are other free options like skype or google meet out there but with any online free services, you would require a user id on their system too to be able use their service. If you do not want to compromise your private data and want something of your own that is secure and anonymous or you control it however you please then there are good news.

You have an old server lying around in your IT dept.? Or if your requirement is not more than 8-10 people on the video call at a time then you can just rent a $5 server (VPS) from digitalocean or vultr and setup your own personal videoconferencing solution.

[FREE OFFER] And if you just want 5-10 servers totally free for the next 2 month during this lockdown then head over to digitalocean with this link and get $100 free for one month. You can fire up 10 x $5 servers or 5 x $10 servers and use them as you please for the next 2 months totally FREE. Click this link to get your $100 now https://m.do.co/c/592cdba16572

[FREE OFFER] Another limited time offer from vultr and they are also giving away $100 of credit for trying out there servers too. They also have $5 servers. And GOOD NEWS is that they have just recently setup a script to install the video conferencing automatically. Get your $100 by clicking here now: https://www.vultr.com/?ref=8568996-6G

NOW LETS GET STARTED

Once you signup with a provider. You can build or spin up servers within minutes in any location you would like. So here are 3 main steps of setting up your own video conference my-own-better-than-zoom. (Additional tips on extra stuff at the end):

  • STEP1: Signup and/or spin up a server
  • STEP2: Install Jitsi sofware on your server
  • STEP3: Install Mobile phone apps

STEP1:

First you need to get a server. If you have one laying around, install Uubuntu 18.04(LTS) 64Bit version server image. You can find a lot of installation instructions online for this as this instruction will strictly focus on getting you going with Jitsi Installation. It is assumed that you already have some knowledge in installation linux systems. If you dont have a server and would like to install on a virtual machine Digital Ocean will give you $100 to use for the first 60 days of opening your account using the link below: https://m.do.co/c/592cdba16572

So Once you signed up with Digital Ocean you can create virtual machines on their data centers, digital ocean calls them Droplets – go to Create Droplets and follow the images shown below

The easiest way is to use the built in script from Digital Ocean’s marketplace.

Click on the Details link above for the steps to install using their marketplace script. They recommended a 4GB Performance server but a general purpose $5 server works fine for me. I was able to have 7 concurrent video calls 3 from laptop/desktops and 4 from mobile phones with less than 40% cpu resources used up. I am not sure what else the script ends up installing as all my installs are from scratch. If you feel excited to install everything from scratch yourself then go ahead and install an Ubuntu Server 18.04LTS 64bit version and follow the install instructions found in jitsi.org’s website. I will not go into details of how to install in this article as it’s already explained in details.

Here you have two options – use an SSH Key of your own or use a one time password. It’s recommended to always use SSH Keys for security. Here is a good document found in Digital Oceans library on how to create SSH Keys. Basically I have multiple SSH keys. One for myself and one for work related etc. There are two parts one is a public key and one is a private key. You keep the private key with you and never share it with others. Anyway, this details everything about How to create ans SSH key in windows and how to add SSH keys. If you want to use password instead, Digital Ocean will email you a temporary password and you will then have to change it to your own STRONG password.

It is recommended to use a Domain Name with your Video Conferencing system from Jitsi. You can signup for a domain name like myvideoconference.com here – register.doyelsystems.com or any other domain registration providers and use a subdomain of that domain as your hostname. If you dont have one for now just name anything for now like meet1, meet2, etc.

Finally the big moment: Press the Create Droplet button and see all the actions. This is the end of Step 1.

STEP2

If you have chosen to use the built in script you are already done with the installation of the Jitsi Server if not then head over to jitsi.org and follow their documentation. Once jitsi is installed, I would recommend installing a few other applications and making a few configuration changes:

Change the default ssh port by editing the ssh config file here /etc/ssh/sshd_config – Once you are in the editor look for #port 22 , un comment it and change 22 to something else like your birth year 1901 🙂 then do a CTRL X to save and exit

nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Then issue this command: service ssh restart

service ssh restart

I like to use monit and cockpit for system monitoring. You can install both or just cockpit for now. Use the following command:

apt install cockpit

Once installed create a user with sudo privilege to login and monitor the system. Use a strong password and don’t use root to login.

adduser meetadmin
passwd meetadmin
usermod -aG sudo meetadmin

I would also recommend using iptables to create some firewall rules. There’s a lot of documentation on firewall and would be hard to cover here but if you are like me prefer GUI then there is web based system admin application called webmin. Head over here on how to install on ubuntu. Again, I always change the obvious, so if you install webmin, change it’s default port from 10000 to something else like 11901 (1 + your birthyear). hahaha.

At this stage you should be able to access your video conferencing by simply visiting the IP address or the domain and start using the video conferencing from your laptop or desktop browser but now a days without a smartphone option is no option at all.

STEP 3:

Follow these settings to set it up on your mobile phone. See the images below on how to set it up on an android phone. Setup for IOS is identical too.

For the server URL use your IP address or the sub-domain you should have created for your domain. If you would like to know more about subdomains and how to point them keep on reading.

Additional Readings:

DNS or DYNAMIC DNS (DDNS) Settings:
DNS: If you have a domain name like example.com then you can create a meet.example.com subdomain and point this subdomain to the IP address of your video conferencing server you have just crreated by adding an A record in your DNS records. Where to find the DNS records depends on several things. Usually you start by investigating where you registered your domain name. In many cases people register and host their webpage with the same provider. Others register with a registrar like godaddy and host their website with someone else.
The best way in my opinion is to:
1. Register domain with a registrar like godaddy or at my own registrar: register.doyelsystems.com
2. Use a well know DNS management provider cloudflare, dyn, noip, cloudns, freedns/afraid, etc.
3. Host your website with a website hosting company
(I provide 1 & 3)
Here is a list of DNS service providers. Some of them provides free DNS management:
1. freedns.afraid.org
2. cloudflare.com
3. cloudns.net
4. noip.com
5. dyn.com

Once you find out where your DNS records are managed, go there and add an A record for the subdomain. Here is an example of :

DDNS: If you dont have domain like example.com then you can use some of the free dns providers and use their own domain name to create your subdomain.
Following are some of these free dns providers:
1. freedns.afraid.org
2. noip
See below for an example on how to create a subdomain "meet1.us.to" to point the IP address of server 1.2.3.4. in fact. This meet1.us.to will also take you to my test video conference server as well. Give it a try!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the service providers mentioned in this article other than deshilink.com doyelsystems.com. These companies mentioned here are simply from my personal and professional experience in using their services. The free offers from digitalocean and vultr that gives you $100 free credits and I only receive a one time bonus credit when your spending reaches a specific amount and after that no matter how much more you spend I do not receive any further bonus or points. I am simply giving you a guide on how to save money and enjoy some free services while the offers are available. If you would like to avail my services for any linux or other open source related products please feel free to reach out to me.

webmin
Author: webmin

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