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Show HN: Zoom / Teams Open Source alternative for online learning (github.com/fmeringdal)
154 points by fmeringdal 14 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 43 comments

This is a really brilliant project, and I love that it's open source! I'm certain that for tutoring, this is a much-needed self-hosting option! When it comes to schools, I'd be curious to know how it works in practice. Having supported a lot of schools in the past year using Coding Rooms with integrated Daily.co for remote learning, I have to say that the biggest challenges have always been related to just getting video to "work" with students. From the instructor's perspective, it's just so challenging to get 30 K-12 students on the same page with audio, video, input devices, and UIs -- not to mention stuff like just getting everyone signed in or using the right link. A system (perhaps hardware-included/based) that could do that would be ground-breaking for remote learning in my opinion. This is also the reason, in addition to school policies in some cases, that instructors feel like they have to stick with what they know in situations like this.

It's also worth noting that we started by integrating Jitsi, then BigBlueButton, and finally settled with Daily.co because stability, UIs, and support were such huge issues for us with the other solutions. While Daily.co doesn't do everything perfectly, I have to say their coverage of edge cases and support has been a lifesaver scaling our product for schools.

Daily.co looks easier to use than Jitsi, however I can't justify paying based on minutes when there is no "real" resource consumed

Yeah there is, the video chat is not P2P, everyone uses the SFU model where all your media goes through daily's server, so they have to pay for the instances and the bandwidth

Thanks for the kind words. Our goal is to asymptotically approach doing everything perfectly, and we really value feedback. So please let us know where we can improve and what you'd like us to add. Relatedly, sometimes we have sample code for features that aren't nicely abstracted into APIs, or which we haven't documented yet/well. So don't hesitate to ping us.

I can certainly vouch for you and your team's commitment to that level of perfection and use of feedback even during what I can only imagine was a truly unprecedented year of usage. The majority of our (relatively few) issues were small UI issues that confused students and instructors, but with the new beta of the pre-built UI I believe those have been addressed! Some of those less well documented patches have also been really useful in tuning performance for certain use cases!

How does Nettu compare to https://bigbluebutton.org/, which is more directly in the educational space?

I notice Nettu has a built-in graphing calculator, and BBB doesn't.

Will you also be offering a turn-key service? I use BBB though https://meet.coop.

Having more open source options with corresponding hosting services would be great.

Big Blue Button is bloated and poorly maintained, has old documentation and is pretty heavy to host and use.

Unlike Jitsi it also automatically throttles FPS, provides shared note-taking, moderation tools and recording.

and saves every session for some weeks on the server by default. Even when not recorded.


This is (very unfortunately) true, and I honestly don't know people get it to work in larger school implementations. The idea behind BigBlueButton is spot on and ultimately I hope another FOSS tool can help to fill this void

Looks good. But does it scale?

And Firefox is not supported?

Why is this downvoted?

Anyway, this open source alternative doesn't work with the open source browser and suggests to install two proprietary ones instead.

> And Firefox is not supported?

Sorry about that! I had actually commented out firefox support in the frontend, but I pushed a new updated now that uncommented it.

Firefox is supported

Maybe the demo server needs to be restarted, because it still does not work.

I forgot to update the demo :) Now it works

You should consider allowing Edge browser as well (since it's based on Chromium anyway, I imagine it should work fine).

I thought Edge was supported but I havent tested it. This is a list of the browsers that are supported: https://github.com/fmeringdal/nettu-meet/blob/main/frontend/....

Are you running an old version of edge? If not, do you mind filing a issue in the repository?

Ah, that must be the issue. I'm using Edge on Linux (I know, it's weird).

I'll go ahead and file an issue for it now :-)

It is not horizontally scalable right now, but that is not hard to implement either. You can have a look at the dogehouse project: https://github.com/benawad/dogehouse if you want to see how to horizontally scale mediasoup which is the media handler and stateful process within the servers.

I think vertical scaling will be more than enough for most of the users that are going to self-host this.

What would you say is the maximum of users in a single session if everyone has Video sharing activated.

I was wondering the same thing. How scalable is it? Any recommendations for deployment/production use?

Yep, I wonder what are the technical reasons not to support Firefox. Some missing codec as (maybe) for the lack of support in FaceTime web?

Firefox WebRTC support isn't missing anything big, but it's missing a lot of little things from the 1.0 spec that Chrome (and, increasingly, Safari) have. But, much worse from a support perspective, recent Firefox releases have been fairly likely to have WebRTC-related breaking changes and regressions.

We all try to support Firefox. But given the relative usage numbers of Firefox, Chrome/Chromium/Electron/Edgium, and Safari, it's sometimes hard to devote resources to testing and workarounds.

This is so cool. Sending this to my school district, some of whom decided the best way to teach was to open webcamtests.com and share the screen, instead of just using the camera within MS Teams.

Woow, that's really cool. Thanks for sharing the project :)

Very cool!

A speech therapist friend of mine recently lamented about the lack of good solutions for online therapy in this space, and this seems to check most of the marks. Two feature additions would make this viable and also very valuable for her use case:

- Ability to save/load different whiteboards (with multiple slides) as templates, to prepare material for the patients to fill out/work with. There might be hundreds of slides needed for one session, so setting it time and again would not be an option.

- Ability to export all (filled out) slides as jpgs or a single file pdf at once

Definitely keeping an eye on this one.


I am definitely going to work hard on this project. I would love to hear more about what usecases you think might be missing, dont hesitate to add feature requests as issues in the repository on github when you think of something else.

Unfortunately when connecting from Firefox I get the following message: "This browser is not supported, please use the most recent version of Chrome or Safari."

Is there any serious reason for this kind of omission in an open source project?

Sorry about that! I had actually commented out firefox support in the frontend, but I pushed a new updated now that uncommented it.

Firefox is supported

Would you describe the issues and differences between Chrome and Firefox when it comes to developing for nettu-meet?

That's great news, thank you!

Would be great if it had a richer whiteboarding experience:

1. Text. It has no ability for text other than drawing it. This might be fine for some use cases, but typing is much faster when you are on a computer.

2. A better set of tools for diagramming (including the text that I just mentioned). It can still be simple. See whimsical for a very good example.

Thanks for your feedback. Text and diagrams are certainly on the roadmap.

Friendly reminder that if you still can't afford (as in, it's not your call to make) to migrate away from Teams, at least you can ease the pain a little bit, or contribute to ease it:


Wishing the project had an active roadmap.

Well, I'm randomly working on it, but the roadmap (at least to get to a stable version) is kind of obvious. The core features of Teams must be replicated, so that the original application should be only used for calls.

Do you have any suggestion?

Perhaps you can say this already, but please make sure you have some moderation capabilities. As a teacher, there are occasional jokesters/pranksters to take negative advantage of screen sharing, chat, etc.

The Google (new) meeting moderation abilities are a good starting point.

There is certainly some features missing before it can be a production ready classroom tool with 25+ students, in particular having different roles and policies for the participants. Luckily that is something that I am going to focus on implementing next.

Any plans to support pressure sensitivity in drawings? The difference in the quality of the handwriting is drastic and I avoid teaching with whiteboard tools that do not react to different stylus pressure.

That is definitely one of the most important features on the roadmap. It is indeed quite difficult to draw with a mouse.

Also Jitsi is a good alternative.

Jitsi is great. But Jitsi doesnt have a shared whiteboard (with graphing calculators etc) yet which I think is Nettu Meet's main strength when doing online learning

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