FOSS Communication Thread - The Fugitive's Choice™

Slav Power

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Local Moderator
kiwifarms.net
Considering the current climate I think it would be worth creating a thread dedicated to sharing and discussing various software dedicated for communication, with the most important criteria being:

— being Free and Open Source
— being decentralized
— Having encryption
— Not requiring personal info

I believe those are the main four criteria for messaging software to be safe from censorship. Therefore Signal or Threema are out of the question, as the former requires your phone number and the latter is paid, despite being Open Source.
Also, if the software belongs to a major corporate entity, it should be properly evaluated if it can be built from source and if it does phone home in any way. It's a bit paranoid, but you never know.

Suggestions for this roundup are:

XMPP
It is FOSS, it is a federated system, it has encryption support, and doesn't require personal information, since you can make e-mail accounts without them. There is a variety of servers and clients available, but it lead to oversaturation, where there is too many elements to choose from when trying to set yourself up in this ecosystem.

Mumble
It is essentially like TeamSpeak, but free, open and encrypted. It's much easier to set up a server for your friends to talk in, but overall it is more video game focused, it also doesn't seem to have text chat archives.

Tox
Very much a newcomer to the scene, Tox offers encrypted P2P messaging, VoIP calls, file and webcam/screen sharing, all with just a randomly generated ID, no personal data needed. But do keep in mind this is an experimental program, with slow development and janky apps for desktop and mobile. It does seem promising though.

Ricochet
Very similar to Tox, with the addition of Tor routing, except it only offers text chats and hasn't been updated since 2016.

Matrix (Thanks to @Coolio55 for reminding me of it)
Very similar to Discord in terms of the interface and functionality, except it doesn't have the same channel managment as Discord, plus it's an even bigger hassle to set up a Matrix server than it is to set up a Mumble one.

Jitsi Meet (Thanks to @Citation Checking Project for mentioning it)
A video conference focused piece of software, definitely more work-focused than the rest of the propositions. The server setup seems to be as complex as Matrix's though.
Note: Jitsi is a subsidiary of 8x8 Inc, a corporation based in California.


If you have any other ideas, please feel free to share your suggestions in this thread.
 
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Coolio55

<(0_0<) <(0_0)> (>0_0)> KIRBY DANCE
kiwifarms.net
There's always the matrix protocol which is basically open source discord.
Didn't kiwifarms have a server at some point?

Any BBS you can SSH into is encrypted and decentrallized by nature (Tons of free option and scares normies off with the text window of doom)
 

Citation Checking Project

Independent Journalist with a 10 year legacy
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
I always assumed Mumble was centralized, good to know.

I help run a Jitsi Meet server. To my knowledge it has client-to-server encryption, (they're going for E2EE) is FOSS and can be self-hosted, provided you have a web server and can open an UDP port. Accounts are optional. It got quite popular with the rona, and it's not without merit.
 

Slav Power

Polski Moderator
Local Moderator
kiwifarms.net
There's always the matrix protocol which is basically open source discord.
Didn't kiwifarms have a server at some point?

Any BBS you can SSH into is encrypted and decentrallized by nature (Tons of free option and scares normies off with the text window of doom)
Oh yeah I forgot about Matrix, except it's biggest problem is how cumbersome it is to set up a server, and it's not exactly as good as Discord, but it's close.
I always assumed Mumble was centralized, good to know.

I help run a Jitsi Meet server. To my knowledge it has client-to-server encryption, (they're going for E2EE) is FOSS and can be self-hosted, provided you have a web server and can open an UDP port. Accounts are optional. It got quite popular with the rona, and it's not without merit.
As far as I know, Mumble doesn't rely on any kind of center server for the program to work, and I'm not exactly sure how the server propagation works, but it's not crucial for the user to connect to your server, it just makes finding servers easier. And this Jitsi stuff looks promising too, I'll look into it.
 

sidekek

kiwifarms.net
Didn't kiwifarms have a server at some point?
we still do, matrix.kiwifarms.net

i know it doesn't fit the requirements for federation and encryption, but i just want to say that a toddler can make their own irc client/server, and that has to count for something.
 

Kosher Dill

Potato Chips
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
but i just want to say that a toddler can make their own irc client/server, and that has to count for something.
A lot of ISPs won't let you run IRC servers because of their universal use in botnets.
 

Coolio55

<(0_0<) <(0_0)> (>0_0)> KIRBY DANCE
kiwifarms.net
we still do, matrix.kiwifarms.net

i know it doesn't fit the requirements for federation and encryption, but i just want to say that a toddler can make their own irc client/server, and that has to count for something.
IRCv3 (https://ircv3.net/irc/) seems interesting and is hopefully less of a HTTP clusterfuck than matrix.
It's an oldschool clusterfuck instead (That they're trying to properly standardize)
 

MarvinTheParanoidAndroid

This will all end in tears, I just know it.
True & Honest Fan
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You forgot Fediverse.

Also, there's an app that lets you use Androids as walkie talkies called Intercom & Apport for iPhones, all it requires is you enable Bluetooth to use it.
 
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White Devil

As in this world there are degrees of evils
kiwifarms.net
Mumble can be a bitch and a half to properly set up and admin. I still think it had the best voice quality of all the VOIP programs though.
 

Slav Power

Polski Moderator
Local Moderator
kiwifarms.net
Mumble can be a bitch and a half to properly set up and admin. I still think it had the best voice quality of all the VOIP programs though.
Opus is one hell of a codec, I'm telling you man. Look up how it compares to other lossy formats, it's essentially the king in terms of audio quality. Forget about MP3's, if you need more compact music files, just convert FLAC into Opus.
 

lemmiwinks

кремлеботы
True & Honest Fan
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KeyBase might apply here, It's available for iOS, MacOS, Linux, Android, and Windows.

I'm not sure if it is technically decentralized, since it makes use of a PGP keyserver. You can specify one or more keyservers you wish to trust, it's not hardcoded. Either way it is good E2EE communication software.

It is used in the console hacking community and 3D printed firearms also have a big presence on KeyBase. The software includes a ICQ/MSN Messenger type GUI client, but also can be used through a command line interface. It has GIT integrated for file sharing, crypto-wallet integration (and I think they have their own crypto currency too?)

One thing I think is worth mentioning is that it was recently purchased by some company (I forget which) ZOOM acquired KeyBase and this may have had an impact on the security and how open-source they are in the future. Here's their GitHub if anyone wants to scrub through it.
 

Slav Power

Polski Moderator
Local Moderator
kiwifarms.net
KeyBase might apply here, It's available for iOS, MacOS, Linux, Android, and Windows.

I'm not sure if it is technically decentralized, since it makes use of a PGP keyserver. You can specify one or more keyservers you wish to trust, it's not hardcoded. Either way it is good E2EE communication software.

It is used in the console hacking community and 3D printed firearms also have a big presence on KeyBase. The software includes a ICQ/MSN Messenger type GUI client, but also can be used through a command line interface. It has GIT integrated for file sharing, crypto-wallet integration (and I think they have their own crypto currency too?)

One thing I think is worth mentioning is that it was recently purchased by some company (I forget which) ZOOM acquired KeyBase and this may have had an impact on the security and how open-source they are in the future. Here's their GitHub if anyone wants to scrub through it.
Yeah I think that is a definite red flag for this project, then again Jitsi Meet is a subsidiary of 8x8 Inc, which is based in California. I think this should be added to the criteria, although not as a direct disqualifier.
 

lemmiwinks

кремлеботы
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Yeah I think that is a definite red flag for this project, then again Jitsi Meet is a subsidiary of 8x8 Inc, which is based in California. I think this should be added to the criteria, although not as a direct disqualifier.
I agree. I don't think it is something should automatically exclude an app, but it is worth making note of it. Of course, this is your list, and it should follow your criteria.

KeyBase claims that they are not changing anything in their app. They were hired to improve security in ZOOM (it was right after the lockdowns started and ZOOM was under fire for their security).

Here is from the blog post:
...Initially, our single top priority is helping to make Zoom even more secure. There are no specific plans for the Keybase app yet. Ultimately Keybase's future is in Zoom's hands, and we'll see where that takes us. Of course, if anything changes about Keybase’s availability, our users will get plenty of notice.
...we'll be in touch if anything changes with Keybase. There's a pending release with much improved team management in it, which we'd been holding off on while distracted with this deal. That will ship shortly.

Many open source projects I have followed over the years change significantly once they are acquired. I haven't used it much in the last 6 months, but I haven't noticed any significant changes in the app. What is more concerning to me is future changes to the structure of the KeyBase organization itself.

When this has happened in the past, either someone forks it from wherever they think it's gone south, or alternatively with less complex apps (like with the Etcher app being bought by Balena) people will just use the earlier version, and if it is included in open-source distros they just keep the free version in the repo.
 

Sage In All Fields

πr8 of the $777Cs
kiwifarms.net
You can actually self-host your own MTProto servers for Telegram if you really want but it's a ton of work and you have to use custom server software and probably a patched client
 

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