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Mumble – Open source, low latency, high quality voice chat software (mumble.info)
620 points by LinuxBender on Mar 26, 2019 | hide | past | web | favorite | 214 comments

I still use mumble with friends for general voice chat.

I really wish more games implemented its MumbleLink API for positional audio between clients. https://wiki.mumble.info/wiki/Link

For example, GW2 implements so people sound relative to where your characters are if they are on the same map. https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/API:MumbleLink

The API has also allowed for other tools such at GW2 Tactical Overlay (http://www.gw2taco.com/) to present additional positional information.

Happy to see people using that! :) I implemented that Mumble integration while I was at ArenaNet.

Awesome, thanks for that! By the way: that integration has been co-opted for use by a bunch of overlay software, like gw2taco [1].

So, even if not used for Mumble, it's now a pretty big feature for other 3rd party software. I use it regularly myself.

(For the unfamiliar: gw2taco et al use position/viewport data, I guess, from the GW2 Mumble API to draw an overlay on top of the game with navigational markers/aids.)

[1]: http://www.gw2taco.com/

Cool, that was actually what I had hoped would happen! It was fun creating public APIs; the ArenaNet leadership was extremely supportive.

I don't use Mumble for voice chat, but I do really appreciate mumblelink api being implemented in GW2 for things like gw2taco, so thanks!

Spatial audio support in mumble was just coming around in its early stages when I looked at integrating mumble as a VoIP solution to a Unity3D training simulator project. Good to see it's still around and kicking!

I remember using that in Minecraft with friends. Easy way of finding where your friends are without having to deal with coordinates. That was long ago though so I'm sure there are better built-in ways now.

Didn't personally play with it, but UHC (ultra hardcore, aka PVP with only one live) from a bunch of streamers used it for one season. It was pretty fun to watch: https://youtu.be/WfHtL07nvcE?t=73

I remember project reality, a bf2 mod used mumble positional audio it was very cool.

I've put it in a few games, the biggest hurdle is that the mumble client doesn't seem to have the link plugin enabled by default.

Spacial audio really adds a lot to a game. Day of Infamy and Resistance and Liberation are a lot of fun because of it (although RaL is pretty much dead)

TeamSpeak 3 has a great mod for the Arma 3 series that allows use of positional audio along with virtual radios.


I really appreciate Mumble's dedication to lowering latency.

Latency is a silent killer of conversation quality. When it's relatively small, you don't notice it's there, but it makes conversations more stilted because everyone's responses are just a bit less immediate. You chalk it up to the person or situation, rather than the software.

I'm not seeing anyone make significant attempts to solve or reduce this problem. To my ears, 2010-era Skype had lower latency than any VOIP software in mainstream use today, including Skype. And of course, latency over POTS was fantastic, albeit with terrible audio quality.

> To my ears, 2010-era Skype had lower latency than any of the modern VOIP systems in use today (including Skype).

Yeah! What happened?

For Skype specifically, I noticed latency get worse around the same time Microsoft switched from P2P to dedicated servers.

Skype went from point to point systems to routing through a server backend.

Any idea why? Sounds stupid, considering latency losses and increased server costs.

Surprised no one mentioned the documented reason: the VirnetX parent lawsuits, which were also why Apple had to stop using P2P in FaceTime.


Apparently patents in this form need to be abolished ASAP. Human society can't afford anything like this standing in the way of widespread usage of such well known and well available technologies.

Please, let's all go and short that patent troll.

Apparently that troll also forced changes to Apple's handling of on-demand VPNs: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/04/apple-says-vpn-chang...

IMO, all patents need to be abolished ASAP. They're a bad idea to begin with, and this case is just particularly ridiculous.

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Maybe for technology. The patents are still somewhat useful outside IMO. The whole idea about patent was that you could enjoy temporary monopoly in exchange of disclosing information about your invention.

For example thanks to patents we have generic version of medication, instead of them being trade secrets. Yes I know there are other things like drug approval that requires disclosing this information but that works together with patents.

Go back through history and you'll find otherwise.

Can you cite some knowledge and links for us, beyond "go back through history"? :)

Radio, light bulbs, steam, diesel, and Otto-cycle engines, television, software, pharmaceuticals, ...

Software patents, yes. They never should have happened. Stallman was right etc. Other patents have very different behaviour and consequences. One of the worst things about "IP" law is that it causes people to bundle together vastly different concepts.

Patents are fine when the invention is truly novel. However, we should be much more strict about what we are willing to grant patents for.

Can anyone explain to me why so many companies invest in VirnetX? it's pure evil. https://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/vhc/institutional-holdings

Money is the root of all evil, etc

"Love of money is the root of many evils."

It's a subtle but important distinction: money of any kind is a tool, existing for a valid purpose; otherwise inert.

Accumulating money in a manner viewing it as a score versus others easily leads to looking down on those who have less, and to practices that optimize return over anything else. This can dehumanize others in the eyes of a money lover.


Most of the top holders of any big public company are funds that invest in every big public company.

Some big company should try to to buy up enough stock to control the patents.

> VirnetX filed suit in the East Texas judicial district that it favors

That sounds like good patent troll. Did they create any product using the patented technology or just Sue everyone?

A lot of people are giving legal reasons but there were real technical ones as well in 2011 that forced the migration.

When skype was first launched 95% of users were on desktop or laptops that basically never got disconnected. Skype leveraged this by designating some users as "super nodes" that basically acted as the backhaul servers that eventually replaced them.

This worked well until mobile phones became prevalent and began to outnumber desktop and laptops on the network.

Mobile phones have two issues:

1) They aren't always on/connected so can't be used as "super nodes," especially because even today mobile phones suck at mulit-tasking, but were even worse back then.

2) Even if 1 wasn't an issue the short battery life of mobile phones meant that they wouldn't last very long.

At a certain point it became impossible to support the increased number of phones with the current infrastructure choices. So they moved to something else.

This alone doesn't explain why couldn't they leave the "super node" infrastructure in, with an extra bit of code ensuring mobile users are never designated as "super nodes". This way, quality would remain the same for the desktop/laptop users, instead of being degraded for everyone.

Not to mention that supernodes, though fewer in number, could still help reduce latency for those on mobile.

The switch from crowdsourced supernodes was mostly about link quality with:

- asymetric links (ADSL)

- WiFi

- usage-based plans

- people shutting Skype down on varous occassions,

- suspended laptops,

- bandwidth competing applications (video).

I remember past Skype had lot of quality issues, sometimes connection was very choppy, dropped unexpectedly, or took long time to establish.

Current Skype still has those same issues. I'm lucky if I go a day without some bizarre "I can hear you but you can't hear me" type bug or a dropped call.

I said this downthread, but I'd happily put up with those quality issues (and I remember them, they were real!) in return for the reduced latency.

In the online gaming space, Skype used to be a big enabler of DDoS attacks due to its P2P nature. Almost everyone used Skype back before we had Discord and other alternatives, and there were plenty of sites that you could paste in someone's name and have their IP in seconds. Even if they weren't online, Skype servers cached a bunch of previously seen IPs. Then they would paste that into a $5/mo "stress test" tool and the victim gets a short DDoS (1-5 minutes) but enough to disrupt / kick them out of the game.

> Almost everyone used Skype back before we had Discord and other alternatives

Yeah except for when gaming, Skype "always on" voice was very annoying for any games and the latency was way higher than Mumble or Teamspeak so we would use those for our gaming groups but Skype for person-to-person calls rather than group chats.

I guess if you didn't have anyone technical enough to setup a Teamspeak or Mumble server in your gaming group YMMV but they were 1000% better than using Skype which had worse quality audio, no push to talk and huge latency.

See....Skype has had PTT...They've always had it...Discord is the biggest garbage app ever created It will NEVER be ANYWHERE close as good as mumble or hell even teamspeak

this was done well after skype stopped using p2p routing

Primary reason not to use Skype back then. Ts/Ventrilo existed longer than Skype however. So a money issue then? But public servers were/are available too.

Probably one of two reasons.

1. Control. They would control the medium, an thus have full control over the communication. Maybe even apply wiretapping if needed.

2. Anonymity. P2P usually means that you know the address of the other participants, with a central server you don't get to know their address. Professionals might need this extra layer of protection.

So the NSA could listen in.

Well, it happened around the same time Microsoft bought the company. That's not an answer per se, but probably had something to do with it.

In fairness, Skype seems to be a lot more "stable" now than it once was. I recall having to frequently restart calls due to the audio suddenly crapping out in a variety of odd ways. That seems to happen much less often now. Can't say for sure if the two are related, but it would make sense.

But, I'd take a VOIP system with decreased latency over stability any day. Particularly since the problems could almost always be fixed by restarting the call.

So that the data can be captured, analysed, etc.

Mobile phones.

Hole punching through routers. It's hard to generically connect two NAT'd devices directly. It's simpler to route through a central server.

Skype's original USP was that it resolved the NAT issues that plagued SIP based VOIP implementations, exactly by performing hole punching through routers (I suspect just UDP hole punching)

Hasn’t this been a solved problem for a while with STUN / TURN servers?

The centralized server just handles the negotiation, so that the p2p clients can do their thing.

I don't recall this ever being a problem with Skype, and I used it quite extensively at the time.

(Mumble is another matter...)

This isn't that hard. It's even easier now that many people have IPv6. IPv6 still usually requires rendezvous due to stateful fireballing but it otherwise behaves like 1:1 NAT. (IPv6 is occasionally deployed with NAT, but in that case it is 1:1 NAT without port remapping which is also P2P-friendly.)

So Microsoft ol buddy the NSA could gobble all that data from a central point.


If it can negotiate a peer to peer connection, it still does and it's the preferred route. It's only in the case that there are firewalls, certain types of NATs etc that the calls is hairpinned via a server.

P2P vs using central servers.

This is all thanks to NAT. Skype had very creative functionality to pierce through NAT.

The distributed architecture was not conducive to spying on users.

3 letter agencies demanding access to private conversations happened, so this is very likely the result of all traffic being routed in a more centralized and less efficient way.

One thing is just the significantly higher latency on consumer/business Internet connections. ISPs all optimised for bandwidth, not latency. They don't market latency. This is thanks to things like packet interleaving. Back in the early 2000s it wasn't uncommon to get a sub 10ms round trip to a server in the same country. Now you'll be lucky to get sub 30ms.

So we get things like HD video of the person's head bobbing around, but can't actually have an enjoyable conversation with them.

It looks like voice packets are intended to be OCB2 (CryptState.cpp, cryptstate go package in Grumble). I haven't read the code through to figure out how to mount it (and it looks slightly funky), but if it does what it says on the tin there's a trivial, one-encryption-oracle-message forgery attack for that.

Also: I don't think that means you shouldn't use Mumble. I just think someone should see if they can exploit that bug and then get someone to fix it :-) I went on their IRC and someone talked to me within 5 minutes, which is a Good Sign(TM).

(I wish I had more time to just do random audits of open source projects, but the incentives aren't really lined up for that to happen, and I do more than a bit of open source work already.)

[cryptstate]: https://github.com/mumble-voip/mumble/blob/4976c1ad2e0802755...

[ocb2-go]: https://github.com/mumble-voip/grumble/blob/master/pkg/crypt...

[ocb-forgery]: https://eprint.iacr.org/2018/1040.pdf

Is it the last step of the encrypt function which would need an additional XOR operation added (XEX va XE for the encryption of the tag) to mitigate this attack? [1]

  XOR(tmp, delta, checksum);
  AESencrypt(tmp, tag, &encrypt_key);
[1] - https://crypto.stackexchange.com/a/63642

The cryptographic answer is: yep, that sounds about right (with low confidence because the model violation is subtle).

The cryptographic engineering answer is: use OCB3 instead which doesn't have this problem :)

Wow. When was it written? OCB3 is almost 8 years old. Wonder why it wasn't used.

It was written in 2005, thus changing all the code to use OCB3 may be an unreasonable amount of breaking things that work.

I don't know why they wrote it themselves, but if they don't want to use third party code, implementing OCB is faaaaaaaar simpler than implementing GCM or just about any other AEAD. But I suspect ChaCha20 would be a better fit since a stream cipher is a good fit for streaming audio.

Discord has pretty much completely eaten Mumble's market. Free servers and a way better chat system ate Mumble's use case.

TeamSpeak is still used by milsim/flightsim communities because it support plugins which integrate the in-sim radios with the VoIP system.

EDIT: Got Vent and TS mixed up

Discord merged the voice channels of Teamspeak/Ventrilo with the text chat system of Slack. Therefore what I have seen is people leaving both Slack and Ventrilo in order to put it all on Discord.

As someone who managed a gaming guild since 2005, I have seen many iterations. In the beginning it was all Skype, then we switched to Ventrilo and PhpBB, then many went to FB for text, then to Teamspeak for voice, then to Slack for text again, and now Discord for both text and voice.

The needs of the community didn't really change. They wanted persistent chat for text and images, put up announcements to guide new players, have votes/elections, and use team voice chats during play sessions. Each combination above solved those problems, each with its own unique benefits and drawbacks. Mumble's use case is exclusively on the team voice chats but it lacks any direct support for anything else which is likely why we never used it, even after I provided a server for free.

Nowadays I use my Mumble server for cooperative remote work, a job which it works perfectly for.

Would you believe it if I told you: there's a few game groups out there that use both. My milsim group uses discord for general chat, recruiting, linksharing and planning for our weekly weekend missions. I think there's one voice channel. For us, the Discord is the public facing entity where you'll find members from the group interacting with people who just hang out and chat and aren't enrolled in the roster.

But our TeamSpeak server has 20 something channels, there are plugins written by community members that integrate with ARMA. And any other general group gaming that requires actual voice comms, it's Teamspeak or bust.

It was quite something to behold when I first joined the group, I had grown used to groups using one, the other, but not both. This group does it really well.

Discord is definitely a great evolution above Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, and Mumble.

Though if you want to get old school, MPlayer did voice chat before it was "cool", way before 2005. If you remember what MPlayer is, you know you're already old.

Back then MPlayer was free, which is kind of where TeamSpeak/Ventrilo/Mumble fell off, either you had some technical know-how to host it yourself (and the bandwidth to do so properly) or you paid for hosted solutions. It was only a matter of time before a free solution came around and stole the user base with intelligent marketing, nice interface, and a decent product.

Indeed, I remember going from PhpBB and other forums a lot in early days, alongside Ventrilo. We then moved to Mumble and Slack, but now it's just 100% Discord is most communities. It's really hard to beat the free aspect for most people, and it doesn't help that most Mumble/Vent providers charged ridiculous prices (10$/month for ~25 people).

I remember when Ventrilo supplanted Roger Wilco back in 2003. It was such a great improvement.

It's unfortunate because Mumble is great, secure free software with interesting features. I used to be a linux distro package manager for Mumble. Once my friends discovered discord no one wanted to join my mumble anymore. I think the biggest problem was setting the damn thing up on the client side.

Murmur server is free though. It even runs great off of a home internet connection if you have the technical know-how to open the ports and set up a dynamic dns service.

Yeah, I ran a Mumble server for my group of friends for years. Basically zero maintainance beyond ensuring the package was up to date. The client was fast but as you said, setting it up was less friendly than Discord. Same thing happened, everyone moved to Discord.

Is there a guide or at least a pointer to what the server binary is? I haven't been able to find a headless one on a cursory search.

It's called murmur (mentioned elsewhere in the thread)

Thank you, once I knew the name, it was pretty much just an apt-get to set up.

My friends and I used to use Mumble, but setting it up was a pain in the ass. I spent several hours trying and failing to set up a local server before giving up and switching to a service whose bottom-tier servers were free (but also required a fair bit of setup). You had to do some tweaking just to use the client, too.

When the service I was on started charging even for their bottom tier, switching to Discord was a no-brainer. It just works right out of the box, at least for most people.

We used it for talkback in a video capture project I was doing at a broadcaster (before they built that functionality in natively) worked a treat.

Same here. I used to use Mumble as a way to get a bunch of remote voices into live video. Now I just use WebRTC via vMix Call, where I can mix it straight into my audio panel. Which is a better experience from a production side, but does have marginally more latency to deal with.

Mumble is great when you don't want a persistent chat.

I've been invited to like a million different discord groups from friend groups that overlap in various ways, and they always seem to be full of a bunch of people I don't know reposting memes off of reddit in the chat channels.

All I wanted was a voice chat with the 5 people who I know and am hopping into Overwatch with. Mumble does that job better, and guzzles less of my RAM to do it.

Of course there’s room for UX improvements, and there’s more work involved in using it since the server is self hosted, but once you have it going it does a thing and does it well.

The feature that got us on the mumble train years ago was how well it auto-balances the sound volume coming from different users. Other software we tried at the time you’d have some people much louder than others. This is probably pretty standard by now though.

EDIT: missed edit window on my parent comment, but a funny note related to Electron system resource usage. In addition to the RAM thing, it's based on Chromium which means it's using the GPU for rendering. There's an option in the config to disable this, otherwise it makes you exit the Discord client when you install GPU driver updates.

Not a huge deal, but it feels real silly when you get that popup. Like "I get that I need to close games to update GPU drivers, but my voice chat? Really?"

They actually update this in the newer builds so you can finally set per-user volume controls, after years of hating on that :)

> I don't know reposting memes off of reddit in the chat channels.

I'd love if that was it. It's when you see horrifying 4chan greentext that I start to cringe.

Overwatch has voice in-built that is very good both for public games, parties and teams - why need Mumble at this point?

Mostly the consistency, we play other games too with varying quality (or nonexistent) in game voice, so it’s convenient to just have a server that we connect to and use regardless of what game we’re playing.

For an Overwatch specific if more unusual use case, if you want to have a group of 12 people organizing private 6v6 matches, this is much easier to coordinate when you can all hop into a single shared voice channel between matches to chat, talk trash, reshuffle teams, etc.

I haven't used the Overwatch/Blizzard voice chat but can people outside of the game talk to people playing?

I refuse to use Discord because I don't know how or to whom they are going to sell my data yet. It's possible they go to a subscription model but I doubt it, it seems more likely they'll be acquired by one of the big data brokers at some point.

Discord already has a subscription model (nitro).

They tried to pivot themselves into a game store, but that appears to not have gone particularly well.

Not too sure on the privacy front. I don't believe they sell any user data, yet.

Hopefully they won't provide chat data or metrics to others. If Discord were acquired or partnered with anyone shady, they are certainly in a position to Big-Data-AI (and other bs bing words) everyone. They brag about storing all messages. [1]

[1] - https://blog.discordapp.com/how-discord-stores-billions-of-m...

Getting acquired is their business model.

>Not too sure on the privacy front. I don't believe they sell any user data, yet.

Oh please. The CEO's last company got sued for that and this time he made sure to make it obvious in the ToS.

How do you think they provide a FREE service...in there TOS it says they mine all data you put on discord and essentially resell it...It's been shitcords way since Day 1....If you don't see that IDK what to tell you cause people just don't HAND out free services unless they are getting something in return

Good point, I remember the game storefront being announced but had not heard about their subscriptions.

I still wouldn't recommend using it for anything because of the potential gold mine they have with the user data. I can imagine Tencent or someone similar coming in for the data alone.

> but that appears to not have gone particularly well. source? numbers? leaks?

I felt similarly until I re-framed my expectations. I think of it as speaking in public -- even if I'm in a direct message with a single other user, I imagine it's like sitting next to them in a coffee shop. Probably nobody is listening to me speak, but I won't be surprised if I'm overheard by people. Not a perfect analogy but eh.

For hanging out with people and just having casual conversations I think it's fine. Don't say anything you want kept private. I do think it's unfortunate that people don't consider where their data is going or how it's used on a broader scale, but for those of us who use technology more intimately I think we can afford to make these sorts of decisions. I'm happy with the convenience and the interface and I'm okay knowing that the communications are likely going to end up in the hands of some big marketing company some day.

"Probably nobody is listening to me speak, but I won't be surprised if I'm overheard by people. Not a perfect analogy but eh."

Which is fine, except the analogy in this case is someone who is always sitting next to you and has access to all your conversational history - which may be public in isolation but private in aggregate.

Yea, the person sitting next to you doesn't have your entire chat history and a server farm to de-anonymize you.

Their model is to sell video games, and that has been clear for years before properly announced.

That doesn't mean they can't also sell your data, but if your root concern is where they're getting their revenue, game sales is where.

Which doesn't mean they won't do both -- because prosaically their costs are going to be higher than Steam.

I doubt that's a viable business model for Discord. It feels like something to go after in order to reassure reactions like the one you were replying to. (Plus any money never hurt anyone, but it doesn't seem viable at all).

>I don't know how or to whom they are going to sell my data yet

You do know though, absolutely everyone. Read their ToS and they make it pretty obvious.


- The ToS has nothing to do with data usage

- The privacy policy explicitly states they don't sell user data

- Multiple employees are on the record as saying they don't

- There's no evidence they do

- They've said that nitro subscriptions and game selling are done to avoid ever needing to do ads/data selling.

- They're VC funded to the tune of over $100 million and thus have taken their time with monetization options.

Discord "selling data" is nothing more than a (very) weak conspiracy theory.

They have a subscription model (Reddit gold style) and also sell games.

Agreed. I think the Mumble project is awesome for what it is, but it's always never had the same design goals and simply doesn't have the ease of use (whether through lack of capacity/will or through it's server-based structure versus Discord's centralized server platform) of Discord.

Where I think Mumble particularly shined was being one of the first to broadly introduce the Opus codec which really set low latency communications into play. Mumble was really a champion in this space.

I find it hard to believe that Discord, in its design, didn't evaluate its competitors at one point and decide to follow Mumble in implementing Opus.

Doesn't Skype also use Opus under the hood?

I'd hope so, considering they were a part of the group standardizing it. Opus, in broad strokes, is Skype's SILK codec for low bitrates, Xiph's CELT for high bitrates, and a mode that is a blend of both codecs for the middle.

It might. Using Opus does not equate to low audio latency. (I don't actually know Opus, but I have passing familiarity with it's predecessor speex). Assuming Opus has the same design goals as speex, Opus gives you the tools necessary to implement a low-latency audio application. As in - the audio codec piece is "solved", now you need to do the engineering work around client/server/framing/network etc. to actually get to your latency goals.

What Mumble did that was great was getting people to use certificates. I never actually checked the thumbprint of the certificate, but it was a big step forward. I think it could have succeeded with "minimal" changes:

* Have you ever tried to self-host a server, especially on your own Windows machine? Setting it up is a confusing mess, especially the documentation. I couldn't get DBus working the first time I attempted it, so I gave up and paid for TS. Would it have been so hard to include a Murmur configuration dialog in Mumble?

* Ice? Why couldn't a simple HTTP interface work? Just look at all this troubleshooting overhead: https://wiki.mumble.info/wiki/Ice

* UX/UI matters.

I haven't seen vent in half a decade at least. The milsimers mostly seem to use Arma and Squad, the former basing most it's mods/plugins on TS. Not sure what Squad players use though. The flightsim community is mostly moving over to DCS which has its own self contained mod for VOIP [1] but those staying on FSX/P3D seem to use a plethora of other weird applications with VATSIM.

[1] https://github.com/ciribob/DCS-SimpleRadioStandalone/release...

Yep, this is right. Arma players stick to Teamspeak because of TFAR [1] and ACRE [2]. I'm not sure of Squad's actual milsim community... I don't think there's any advanced radio mods for Squad? Squad is also not really built for milsimming.

Supposedly the next major release of Teamspeak will be Discord-like, which is somewhat concerning. Discord is apparently also working on a more robust voice API which would allow for some of the same mods to get ported over.

[1] http://radio.task-force.ru/en/ [2] https://github.com/IDI-Systems/acre2

> Supposedly the next major release of Teamspeak will be Discord-like, which is somewhat concerning.

Yea, this could go very badly or be the UI and permissions cleanup that TS desperately needs.

You're right, I got Vent and TS mixed up in my head

I really like Mumble, and I never use the audio channels in Discord because of the horrible quality.

With that said, I never use it. I use TeamSpeak for audio and Discord for persistent chat. My biggest problem, and the reason I think a lot of people are discounting, is purely the aesthetics of the UI - Discord just looks nicer than Mumble. The programmer-art style of user interface seems all too common among open source software, and I don't really understand why.

You are right it is a bit sad...but with a few easy moments you could have Mumble lookin' like this https://puu.sh/CG0tv/add34e27ef.png which I think is sleep & clean. Download the Mumble Beta can you choose the window color...also able to mute / change volume of each individual person now. Mumble also only uses 16,000K of resources where discord is about 170,000K

We live and die by Mumble in Eve Online. The hierarchical chat room setup is essential for large fleets.

Funny story, as part of a mega alliance we have had issues with a couple hosting providers blackholing our mumble servers. We have so many new connections when big events happen that they auto-detect it as a DDOS.

That sounds like a really interesting feature! Trying to find some documentation on this specific feature but it's hard to find exactly what you're talking about.

1) Can you elaborate how "hierarchical chat room" works and how fleets in Eve Online use this?

2) Do other game chat apps like Discord implement anything similar?

Mumble's channel system allows nesting channels, in addition to that, each channel allows specific access control list that could be both inherited from top-level channel or be inherited to a lower-level one. In addition to that it has the possibility of creating groups of users to whom the permission applies. It's really sophisticated. Discord has only role-based rooms, but nothing hierarchical.

I don't have any experience with gaming so this is a bit hard for me to understand. Are nested channels used as a way of grouping channels in a hierarchy in the UI? Or does the hierarchy affect what people hear? In the latter case, I'm imagining something like: "Everyone in subchannel can hear everything said in parent channel, but not vice versa".

The hierarchy can be set up to affect what people hear, and where they can speak. This is invaluable when you need to coordinate dozens or hundreds of players in real time. You can set up overlapping rooms where team leads hear their team member's voice chatter and their superior's voice chatter, and have the option of communicating in either direction. I usually had the two side buttons on my mouse set to push-to-talk, one that for talking up the hierarchy, one for talking downward. The exact setup everyone uses varies, but at minimum you can have a room for higher-level voice chat among team leads, while each lowest-level team is isolated to their own channel and can focus on the tasks given to them by their team lead. Mumble is also flexible enough that you don't need to strictly adhere to a hierarchy, you can have your lower-level players also be able to communicated laterally to groups of specialists who are handling specific support tasks.

This is all a difficult communication problem, but it's doubly difficult because decisions need to propagate up and down your communication hierarchy in seconds. Being able to manage this level of communication without it being a hopeless clusterfuck is a defining feature of effective organizations of players.

How do you configure where your push-to-talk transmits? I installed it but can only find one PTT function, and the documentation didn't really help...

You transmit in the channel you're in usually.

Correct. In example, you've got your "logisitics" wing; in this context that's your healers. A commander ("logi-FC") within the channel issues orders to the sub-channel members, and no one outside the channel hears that. All members can still hear the parent channel.

In fights with 20-50 on each side particularly, it's really something to have the "pulse of the fight" because as a healer you can tell how well that's going.

A mumble server can be hosted with fairly low requirements if you're an org with less than 50 members in voice comms, and it's pretty embarrassing that a seemingly large majority of corporations can't even get 5 people into a call without an act of congress when gamers have tools like this so well explored.

That really sounds like an indispensible feature. Is Mumble the only voice chat system that provides this kind of hierarchical linking of channels, or is it available on other systems as well?

If it's not available on, say, Discord, why is that? Do people just somehow make do without it? Or is there some other compensating feature?

Teamspeak does it too, but it scales a lot less.

Discord only allows you to be a membere of one channel at a time.

It is not an uncommon set-up for fleets to have the important people have their own channel talking about secret stuff and another one for the rest of the fleet.

Then the ones from the secret channel have two buttons set up, one to talk just to them and one to talk with the entire fleet.

Discord is all about being dead simple, and nested channels necessarily require more configuration complexity on both the server and client.

So, while the feature is a must-have for a small subset of users, it's probably not seen as being worth the trouble when just supporting several flat channels is more than enough for the 99% of Discord's potential user base.

I'd still hope they at least add some kind of "broadcast to several channels" option, since that seems like the simplest version that would still be useful, but I don't really expect it.

It's a niche, rather than indispensable feature - most games don't require dozens of people to voice-communicate in real time. Eve is a bit of a holdover but the trend has been away from giant mobs of chattering users. Apex Legends (a popular new multiplayer game) is getting a lot of praise for reducing the need for teammates to actually talk to each other to about zero.

In large eve fleets, it's not a chattering mob, you couldn't run things if it's like that. Things are normally quite terse with a small number of people, scouts, FCs, logi talking while most people get on with the important business of pressing F1.

it's not a chattering mob

I'm going to need a number crunch on that.

More seriously, my point was not (heaven help me) that Eve players are disorganized but that 'massive raid requiring structured multi-party voice comms' is not a common problem gamers in the current market find themselves needing to solve.

Sorry, missed the point, I see what you mean now. Kinda sad in a way. I love the massive fleet aspect of eve. Even tho TiDi fights can be pretty awful, they're amazing in their own way.

The key part for eve is that you can configure it so that fleet commanders (people running raids/operations in game) can broadcast to players under their chain of command, without squad level chatter going the other way.

Not from direct experience, we used a much simpler setup for some events on a minecraft server to allow for team voice.

You could just like you know, start up a mumble client and test it yourself.

Also important is the "priority speaker" function which let's a certain group, or channel automatically be louder than local chatter. So you can have a small subgroup actively coordinating and the fleet commander can give orders which don't get lost.

Mumble also has much better security/permissions. Last time I looked it was pretty easy to dump the list of active users on a discord "chat". That means you could always know if someone was forming for an attack etc.

I still haven't figured out the hierarchical channel structure/channel linking.

The use case I had was if I wanted teamchat/allchat done via different hotkeys, like if I were playing with some friends on an RTS and wanted to talk crap on all while strategizing on team.

Edit: my two cents: I've been running Mumble for a long time, and though it isn't as multi-tooled as TS, I love its simplicity and its quality.

When I tried to get into Eve, I applied to a couple corps, and they both used discord. Maybe because they were newbie-focused?

We actually use both. Discord is great for "pinging" fleets, i.e. sending out a bat-signal to all members that a fleet needs to form for whatever reason. It's also good for general text chat (talking about market/industry/memes). If the corporation you joined was small and not a member of a larger alliance, then they may not have needed Mumble.

However, if you join a large alliance/coalition, fleets can easily get to 100+ player counts, and a single discord voice chat room becomes unusable. It is extremely important that you follow the fleet commander's instructions during a fleet. That is where Mumble shines with the fleet commander residing in a top level voice channel, with other members in lower-level voice channels that he cannot hear. It also allows for lower-level members to join voice channels designated as "quiet", so you don't have to listen to the chatter of 100 drunk Eve players during a Friday night fleet.

Discord is generally used for day to day chat in corps, then you'll be told to get on Mumble for fleet ops. Some corps continue to use Discord for small fleet ops but as soon as you're doing ops with Alliances or blue corps you'll nearly always end up on Mumble.

Lots of corps use discord, but at an alliance level you'll often end up with mumble for comms. Another 'dead' open source software that's used is Jabber (XMPP) for 'pings' aka broadcasts to tell people there's a fleet up.

I still regularly record podcasts via Mumble. It's got solid built-in recording with decent options, such as whether to record users individually or as to record the entire chat as one audio feed. Because we have users drop from time to time, having this built-in capability makes it easy for us to have at least two people on recording duty at any given time.

I do take mumble.com up on server hosting, because it's so dirt cheap, I mostly forgot how few dollars I spent on a multi-year subscription for a server. It might cost me a month of Netflix for a year of Mumble.

> I do take mumble.com up on server hosting, because it's so dirt cheap


The cheapest tier is 90 $ for 24 months, i.e. 3.75 per month. That buys me nearly two entire virtual servers.

Ah, that is what I paid. I recall it being less but I checked. The difference, of course, is that I don't manage any virtual servers, and don't even really think about my Mumble server, it's just there. And $3.75 per month is not a significant cost for running a podcast, even if you make no revenue on it.

Do you have guests on your podcast? Does Mumble have a one-click web client for the session? Interested in this as I had an idea about remote-recording interview app, but I don't really know the space as of now.

No, it doesn't. We have self-hosted mumble server, and guest set-up is quite easy. Enter couple parameters and you're good. But again, it's a techie podcast, so may be it is harder than click here and start talking Discord's approach.

Occasionally, getting people connected and push to talk configured is a couple minute walkthrough with people, but it hasn't ever been a huge problem.

I use Discord now since most of my friends are on it, but I've always been a fan of Mumble (and murmur server) since it's high quality software and open source.

I also made https://guildbit.com years ago for gamers that want to just quickly spin up a temporary server with their friends. I still operate it today since there's still a few users out there.

I think it would be cool if someone were to create an open source Discord clone using Mumble/murmur.

I'm a huge fan of guildbit, it makes it really easy to get a quick temporary server. We use it all the time.

Thank you! I'm glad you like it! :)

Here's a mumble web client: https://github.com/Johni0702/mumble-web

Indeed, I've just found it myself! That's something I've wanted for literally years. Wit a bit of polish, this could be a credible one-click alternative to most proprietary solutions. It just needs to see some murmur integration. Being able to embed this inside a Riot chat room is a nice touch as well, but that kind of integration is always a double-edged sword with Matrix clients, as it will only work on electron apps.

There is also a WebRTC bridge, it seems: https://github.com/Rantanen/mumble-web

This submission reminded me of Mumble, which I'm definitely going to use instead of trying to come up with a common WebRTC platform, that works for every one of us.

I think mattermost is working on a couple plugin.


I'm always amazed how many video games have shitty built in voice chat when they could have just embedded mumble.

no one uses in game voice chat, literally no one. even the friendliest most inclusive games with really amazing voice chat systems(all 3 needed to belong to this list) like overwatch had players use voice chat for maybe 3 weeks after launch and then go back to their private discords.

I play Overwatch and CS:GO and in competitive matches it is the norm to use in-game voice, if you don't - you'll get flamed about it.

Casual game modes - that's different.

Yeah but in fact almost no one solo Qs.

In game voice chat is pretty common on CS:GO. Trying to get you group of 4 random teammates to hop on a specific discord is an annoying step.

For over 10 years I've been running a semi-public Mumble server. It's pretty much zero effort, low CPU and low bandwidth usage.

These days mainly just as a backup for when Discord lags, which over the past few weeks has been often. It's so nice to have a very good, open source, self-hosted, encrypted communications app as an alternative to yet another Electron app.

That also makes the server requirements very simple. I have a tiny VM that can handle a lot of users.

[edit] removed e2e, the clients are not using pfs yet.

It's not end-to-end encrypted?

It's only encrypted going to server, I'm quite certain of it.

I stand corrected. [1] I will see if I can find a way to replace a voice stream. Perhaps I am thinking of a forum thread about PFS.

[1] - https://security.stackexchange.com/questions/58568/is-mumble...

Even PFS doesn't really work well with Mumble due to the fact that most clients are using Qt4.

I've managed to keep a group of friends using Mumble instead of Discord, and I think we've all benefited from it. My privacy-focused friend appreciates the encryption and everyone else appreciates the ability to locally mute people if they walk away with their headset hot-mic'ed. We use discord for text communication, but when people are online for games or just to chat, we use Mumble.

I mean, you can locally mute people in Discord too so I'm not quite sure why that is in the "pro" side for Mumble.

However, I'll agree that Mumble is great if all your looking for is somewhat privacy-forward low-latency voice chat with minimal bloat.

Oh, fair enough, I didn't know people could local-mute in discord, when I used it I didn't notice the feature. The low-latency and lack of bloat is still a major plus though.

I'd add "difficult to use" to that list. Difficult even for an engineer to use. Terrible.

It works great once you figure it out, but it could use a better user and admin experience.

I've heard this before, but between myself and nine of my friends who regular a Mumble server, none of us ever had much difficulty using it. I've always thought it was simple and relatively intuitive. What about it do you find difficult as a user?

From what I vaguely recall experimenting with Mumble years ago - my biggest gripe was the lack of support for anything other certificate based user authentication which complicates the common case of "User X would like to be able to access Mumble from multiple machines".

You can export and import certificate files across machines. I've done something like this in the past, and found little issue. I prefer this to something like Discord's centralized account & server system, although I know there should be better alternatives for achieving decentralization.

Right. The problem was is that the majority of my users were non-technical. So I was left with the choice of:

1) picking voip software that supports username/password authentication that they would be familiar with since virtually every other service on the internet works in a similar fashion


2) picking Mumble and trying to explain to them how to import/export their identity certificates for all their owned devices and also explaining that they need to keep the cert handy on a flash drive or store it in the cloud so that they can import it on machines that they might not own

> import/export their identity certificates

Experienced this for the first time last year when I started my current job at a company that is still using lotus notes. I get that it's possibly more secure than username/password but dang is it annoying.

Yeah, there should be option in the server to permit multiple clients with the same username.

Most common users aren't even aware this is a thing, let alone how a CA or Certificate works. So there the setup stops, because certificates are foreign and scary to some users. Discord? Just a e-mail / username / password login like any other online service.

It's a huge tripping point in Mumble, and for sure holds it back from use.

You can just let anyone who knows the password join the server, or even a specific room?

Yes. Certs are for identity which is only required if you need to create/manage channels or if a channel ACL is set to require registered or specific users. You can create public channels.

Interesting, used to be in a clan of over 100 people that used it no problem, very few of which were engineers. Not sure what particular functionality held you up?

The only issue I've ever had with it was that friends couldn't seem to connect to my self-hosted server when I shared the URL in Steam chat. Turns out that when you copy/paste from Steam's chat interface (on the old one at least) it automatically prepended "http://" to the URL which Mumble was upset about.

These were engineers too, and they didn't realize that pasting an http://URL to an IP/Port entry might not jive. So take anecdotes with the grain of salt they deserve because his "engineers", my "engineers" and your "engineers" are all vastly different people.

This was 2-3 years ago. I set up a server and a client. Install some packages, edit some config files. That was the easy part.

Once connected to the server, with a friend (another engineer) also connected to the same server, neither of us could quickly figure out how it worked and how to talk to each other. We managed to after a few minutes, but it wasn't immediate, and I presume a normal person would have just given up.

My guess is that it imitates some other programs which happen to be similar (I heard about teamspeak?) but that neither my friend nor I have used, and that unlike these programs (presumed) it doesn't have a tutorial or enough cues as to how it works.

Setting up the automatic transmission is notoriously causing problems. The lack of echo cancellation and no normalization of audio levels are interfering with discussions as well.

The 1.3 snapshots have echo canceling and normalization.

You click next a few times, speak while looking at a colored bar and move 2 sliders.

You’re arguing against someone’s subjective lived experience. Stop that. You could, instead, ask about exactly what part of the “next” clicks and sliders were difficult, but you can’t argue with what someone think they have experienced.

The only thing that's annoying about mumble is the `mumble.com` namesquatting, distributing outdated clients to people I've tried to get to use Mumble.

Ah, mumble!

In a former online life of mine, this was one of the key components for my clan to advance into the Eurocup finals of 2006 (or maybe it was 2005?) in Rocket Arena for Q3A =)

All the other teams were on (I guess) teamspeak2, and latency was noticably higher for them due to the inferor audio/voice codec employed. I originally considered mumble and murmur attractive due to the fact that the client and server were both proper FOSS, but it proved a secret ingredient to our success back then.

I still use it to this day, but since most games include a voice chat thingie of their own these days, I can understand it isn't more popular. Awesome piece of software, and very polished for a FOSS desktop project!

I still prefer to use Mumble over Discord for its low latency, low system requirements, simplicity, free software license, and voice activity options / wizard. I created a Discord server to fill the void of a Slack-like chat for our group, but even after we had created the Discord, we still preferred Mumble for VoIP.

We ended up replacing the Discord chat with Riot.im eventually anyway.

Purism (https://puri.sm/) uses Mumble for all-hands staff meetings. Works pretty well and, of course, is free software. :)

One of my favorite features that Mumble has that Discord doesn't is the ability to suppress a keypress you're using for push-to-talk. For example, I use Caps Lock for my PTT, as it is right there and not used in most games anyways. With Mumble Caps Lock will not toggle at all with that option, allowing me to type or do other things fine.

I used to run a gaming server(s) for about four years, we peaked at about 3500 registered users, with 200 concurrent users.... We used Mumble in the community before I came along, we ran Mumble, after I came along, I took over the server and hosted it on a 1 core, 512mb memory linux server.... never went above 2% cpu and... I forget, probably 150MB memory usage with no restriction on quality (users can transmit CD quality audio)... this worked great, I set it up in about 10 minutes with little experience at the time, and the mumble server ran for years without issue until someone dictionary attacked the password.

Big advantages:

1. Free

2. Very low resource requrements, even for hundreds of users. Probably runs great on a google micro-f1 (Free forever) instance

3. Crystal clear audio

4. Lots of in-game plugins, such as positional audio in game (Battlefield: Bad Company 2, you could hear your teammates talking as they came up the stairs behind you, etc)

5. Cert based identity management. Used private key auth to verify you were you; no other user could sign in and impersonate you. Certified users had a big yellow C next to their name.

Probably the biggest thing for me, is that there was never, ever an audio glitch where the computer was not able to send/receive audio. We regularly run in to audio problems in Meet/Hangouts where audio does not work properly.

When I looked in to online gaming a couple of years ago I was stunned to see that everyone had moved to Discord, I didn't see the advantage of "upgrading" to something with a web client, but I suppose there's less friction to using a web client, even if mumble is a very easy install on Windows.

Mumble... What a blast from the past. Used to use this for gaming alongside Vent.

If I'm not mistaken, the last update was in like 2017? Is it even in development any more?

> If I'm not mistaken, the last update was in like 2017? Is it even in development any more?

A 1.3.0-rc1 was tagged 9 days ago (17 March 2019): https://github.com/mumble-voip/mumble/releases/tag/1.3.0-rc1 But it does look like the previous stable release was in January 2017.

They update the the 1.3.x branch every couple months. It is quite stable. My semi-public server has been running on 1.3.x latest without issue.

Yeah, back in the day it seemed like Mumble and TeamSpeak dominated the gaming market that's now been completely swallowed by Discord.

I remember our transition from ventrilo to mumble. Everyone kept talking over each other because of the low latency, we were used to start talking before others finished. Jumped the ship to discord on day 1 though, mostly for the chat features but also different communities you find there and easily can keep track of.

I went from Teamspeak->Ventrilo->Mumble. Never got onboard with Discord just due to life timing when that was on the rise.

I would probably just use Steam voice chat for 1:1 gaming sessions or in-game today. I know League of Legends has voice chat for parties now, which is the only use case that I could have.

Mumble has been the highest-quality group voice chat system for many years now. It's unfortunate server is such a pain in the ass to get running properly. I'd rather pay for a commercial Mumble server than go through that troubleshooting nightmare again.

Mumble definitely works, and the voice quality is very good, exceptional maybe, but the user interface is atrocious.

Don’t expect non-technical users to be able to figure this client out.

I know Discord isn’t open, but it’s a lot easier to figure out by most people.

I used mumble with friends years ago. Mumble was a pretty nice experience for gaming with friends back when I could do that kind of thing more often.

I see that there is a mumble client for iOS. Has anyone here used it? If so, is it any good?

i prefer discord, imo. Ive tried most of the popular voice chat clients out there, including Mumble, Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, RaidCall, Google Hangouts, and Skype. Discord is (so far) the best out of all of them in my opinion.

Huge fan of mumble. Me and my friends still use it over discord. It barely beats discord for us but that small improvement over quality and latency is enough to keep using it

Low Latency makes it ideal for voice trading.

Ah, good old mumble. I had contributed a patch to it a few years ago, made it sometime in 1.2.9

The community I was in all moved to discord though. Explaining new users how to use mumble was also too hard as I recall. And it didn’t have such a great user interface but I don’t remember vent/TS being super great too.

funny that they rolled their own license, where the terms seem compatible more well-known licenses. Maybe the project started before convergence to standard permissive licenses?

Would it even be possible for them to change it at this point? I'm guessing it would be difficult at the least.

Anyone tried this? How is it on echo cancellation, VOX, and conference noise rejection?

Is there a Mumble with video feed?


Posted in 2011, lol. I wouldn't hold your breath.

"However, I don't really want to know what a 2mbit/s commercial hosting is going to cost. I doubt it's cheap."

reading on that page is like time traveling :)

Unless you live in about 80% of the US where ISP monopolies still only get you 2-3mb upload at best.

Looks so 2000s to visit this website.

for some reason all the open source wikis look really bad in their base state, i dunno why they try to look like v1.0 wikipedia

Wikipedia's software is open source. They literally are Wikipedia without the design customizations.


Could you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News?

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