Posts in Category: Software

Top open source alternatives to Slack team chat

There are a lot of open source alternatives when it comes to team chat software.

As it is with every team collaborative environment, communication is very important. What software works best in your case depends on your requirements and preferences.
The first collaboration tool that comes in mind is the indispensable team chat. It does not matter if your work colleagues are sitting across the room from you or on the other side of the planet. Communication in real-time makes conversations faster, easier, reducing confusion and misunderstandings.
While some circles still think that chat applications van be distraction. And they sure can be one if not contained. But I believe that if you are committed to your work, you can come to agreement to reel of-topic chats. Creating “general” channels can help loosen up, leading to better work flow. But it is equally important to be able to give yourself the space to work uninterrupted. While writing this article I have three team collaboration tools running in background. Still I keep all my notifications silenced and I check them only when the breaks in my work allow for it.
 
I recommend using an open source tool that is made exclusively for work. I like to separate work from personal communications and that is the main reason for me to try the software listed bellow.
 

Slack

Slack is the corner stone when it comes to collaborative chat software. It is preferred by the software development companies and for a good reason. It is stable, well designed and with all the right options. But Slack is not open source not to mention that it is pay to use. As such it is not very flexible. As a simple example is that you cant self host it. For big companies with lots of sensitive data this is a major turn off.
 
Open source with its access to the code helps you ensure that all communications stay private. Of course I should mention the option to add or remove features to further improve your work flow.
 
Let’s check five open source Slack alternatives. From the classics to brand new applications, for your team’s communication needs.

IRC

An honorable mention. The truth is that it has no place in any modern company. IRC has been around for a while – about 30 years actually, and it has tons of open source implementations.
As always with the age, come the drawbacks. It lacks features that are must for every modern chat. Security and Identity management barely exist (they are implemented with bot services).
 
On the good side, IRC is universal. Both servers and clients are available for every platform you can think of. The interface while not something to brag about is intuitive and fast. And if you have been developing open source, you most probably already installed or used IRC.
 

Let’s Chat

Let’s Chat has a more modern approach to team chat. Its program (also called Let’s Chat) is with MIT license and written on top of the popular Node.js platform. You will find many of the things that are expected of chat client like Slack. Image embeds @mentions, logging and file management. With Let’s Chat you can create chat rooms for every team, or project. It can integrate with your existing authentication servers. This way you can use the same login across all your software in your organization. As an addition Let’s Chat has a nice API that allows it to connect with other tools too.
The program is easy to install and self hosting is not a problem too. You can do it by Vagrant or Docker, or as part of Sandstorm.io. There is an online demo, that does not implement all the features of the project. You can still get the general Idea of the program.
 
 
 

Mattermost

Mattermost is another app with modern approach. It is advertised as private cloud Slack alternative. It is written in Golang with a bunch of JavaScript under the hood of React framework. It supports both public and private chats as well as one on one conversations. It saves archives and is very similar to Slack interface wise. You can find all the expected team chat features. For people switching from Slack there is an import function that will import channels and chat archives.
Sadly as of late only the Team Edition is open source and free.
 
 

Rocket.Chat

Rocket chat is my personal favorite. While it can be buggy at times if you are not using the Rocket chat+ client it is a descent program.
Rocket.Chat is written in CoffeeScript and JavaScript on top of Meteor framework. It is available under MIT license. Like most others it is with descent interface and available for both desktop and mobile. It is feature rich with the only thing that I am missing is the “talk to self” option.
Installation is easy and everything is well documented. The server can be on-premise or cloud based on their servers (paid option). As with most programs now days its available on every viable platform. There is an online demo that you can check.
Rocket.Chat features an online demo, and you can check out its source code on GitHub as well. Rocket.Chat is available under an MIT license.
 
 

Riot.im

Riot.im was one of the less popular chats but things have changed fast. It rightfully sits among the top alternatives of Slack now. Riot has quite a bit of mobile and web tools that connect to Matrix network. Matrix is open network for secure and decentralized communication. Among the functions I should mention its VOIP implementation. Bridge integrations with Slack, Gitter and IRC are available, for easy replacement with the open source client.
 
It is the easiest tool to try since it is web based (both client and host). Riot is licensed under Apache 2.0 license.

Other options

This is my personal favorites list and it is far from exhaustive. I encourage you to try and find a few others before you decide what chat to use.
Don’t take everything written in this list for granted. Lately more and more open source software companies are turning the back on free software. Some time has passed since I used some of the tools above and can I give no guarantee that they are still free or open source.

Top 10 Free PBX Solutions – detailed comparison

Which are the top free PBX business solutions

Adopting an existing VOIP service from the top PBX providers will get the job done for most businesses. But no one said it is easy to find the right one. Providers do their best to fit the needs of every business on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, with gaps in usage cases, business team sizes, required features or safety, it may be about impossible satisfy everyone. For all those cases where a service won’t fill in the gaps, businesses can turn to open source solutions or platforms. And yes there are open source PBX software solutions out there. With them any business can develop and tailor their own in house PBX applications. Since these platforms are open source, all the source is available for free online, and can be tailored for every specific scenario.

Asterisk

Asterisk is the godfather of all open source PBX and VOIP solutions. And it continues to function as gold standard. It is the leading open source telephony platform, with an enormous feature lists which only continues to grow each year. The Asterisk tool kit is used by a mass quantity of developers around the world. Many of the suppliers on our list have either begun with, or are based completely on the Asterisk project. It is packed with the standard PBX VOIP features. Consisting of automatic telephone, an interactive voice response menu, conference calling, and voicemail. Asterisk makes it easy workable to turn any computer. The program is free and open source. To help get you started, Asterisk provides live web classes, as well as an Asterisk Definitive guide. Asterisk can be considered The Platform when it comes to creating your own VoIP or PBX.

SIPFoundry

SIP Foundry provides much of the solutions that the Asterisk engine can power. With SIPFoundry you can construct your own voice and video communications. In addition it support conference calls, messaging and chat. Like with Asterisk, the platform includes everything you might need to build your own PBX solution. Nevertheless, whilst Asterisk is 100% free and open source depending on guides. SIPFoundry has a somewhat different spin. It offers professional paid assistance to developers based upon customer needs. While an excess cost to think about, adopting a support team might be a essential step for some businesses looking to build their own system. With a focus on the marketplace, the tool is free for commercial or private use. The project has also brought in features from other open source projects. HylaFAX, FreePBX, Openfire and Postfix.

Elastix

Elastix intends to bring in Asterisk’s features and other such projects, all under 1 easy-to-use interface. Elastix boasts support for a wide range of hardware consisting of Yeastar, Dinstar, Digium, Yealink and Snom. It was actually 1 of the first distributions that included a call center module. And it proceeds to supply the solutionfree under the GNU General Public License. It’s come to our attention that Elastix appears to provide up to 8 SIM calls for approximately 25 users, since writing this post. FreeSWITCH was also based off the Asterisk platform, and was created and developed by 3 of the original programmers of the Asterisk platform. Anthony Minessale II, Brian West and Michael Jerris.

FreeSWITCH

FreeSWITCH is with a focus on modulator, cross-platform service, availability and stability. It provides 1 of the most flexible platforms to construct your own UC package. FreeSWITCH supports SIP, H.323 as well as WebRTC to leverage the latest advancements in the technology. It can integrate and interface with other some of the other open source PBX platforms. For less complexity FreeSWITCH utilizes open software libraries that preform the essential functions. FreeSWITCH delivers the calling features and some extras such as speech recognition. It even offers PSTN ports for digital and analogue circuits.

Voicetronix

Voicetronix is equipment supplier and a solutions that offers an open source platform, but also an assortment of hardware. The do-it-yourself OpenPBX of Voicetronix is a web enabled PBX program. It comes with a web based user management portal, in addition to a management GUI for easy and rapid configuration. It is feature rich with car attendant, automatic call distribution call routing search groups and even voicemail. Unique features like call hunt groups, music on hold and call records are good solution for businesses in need of a basic call center software. With CRM baked and enabled into the platform, users may not require to adopt a separate CRM solution, saving time and money.

PBXInAFlash

PBXInAFlash main feature is the ability set up your own PBX server in no time. The project has everything needed to set up a PBX system in under one hour. It uses CentOS, with integrated Apache web server, SendMail server, and MySQL database. In addition to firewalls and all essential protocols. Users have the option to pick from dozens of add-ons to tailor the system. Backups, Caller ID look up services, SSL keys, Google Voice integration, and fax support to name a few. With the number 1 goal of no bloat and no bugs, PBXInAFlash seems to be easiest and the quickest solution to adopt.

FreePBX (GUI)

FreePBX combines the best of both worlds, and leverages the work. While the project uses the Asterisk system, users may download either just the GUI to add on to their current system, or the whole package. It consists of a per-configured program OS, Asterisk, and the FreePBX GUI. So while by adopting Asterisk, some knowledge may be required to take advantage of, or to create your own GUI, FreePBX brings it all together. FreePBX makes it feasible to establish your SIP Trunks that are part of the platform thanks to the integration. FreePBX also contains a long list of commercial modules and add-ons to enhance your system with even more features.

OpenSIPs

With a focus on open source implementation of a SIP server, with OpenSIPs its easy to set up your own PBX. The platform supports video, voice, IM and presence services. It is using modular design, it is scalable, and very much customizable. OpenSIPs enterprise class SIP server solution and a very fast one at that . OpenSIP has made a list of benchmarks and performance tests to back their claim up. Similar to Asterisk, OpenSIPs often records webinars, and makes in depth manuals for configuration. A web interface makes it easy to collect data and shows on the fly configurations.

Kamailio

Kamailio is an open source project with 15 years of constructive development. And while the original company left the project, it continues to expand, both the SIP server and Kamailio project continue to build on. With features like UDP asynchronous TCP and SCTP, TLS to ensure secure communications. VoIP data consisting of voice video and text, and even WebRTC support the hard work can clearly be seen. Kamailio also supports instant messaging, least cost routing, load balancing, routing fail-over. Realizing that security features are important they are offering the strongest level of security on this list. Authentication and authorization for enhanced security as well as the level of encryption that the platform gives makes it a good recommendation for any staff or business that needs to keep everything as locked down and protected as possible. As a result of all that, Kamailio may be a bit more challenging to adopt.

3CX

The 3CX Phone System is the last open source PBX based upon the SIP standard on the list. This solution allows extensions to make calls on the PSTN or standard services. The platform also offers an easy to understand web based GUI, and the process to is actually simple – an executable file. 3CX supports iOS and Android for mobile customers, of coarse Windows and Mac softphones are supported too. It appears to take out the hassle of development required to establish your own PBX server. WebRTC adoption makes web conferencing possible. Click2Call and CRM are also part of the features. As most others, internet training academy is readily available for users to understand how to manage the platform.

Voip for blind people – Team Talk 5

Open source Voip for visually impaired!

Team Talk 5 review

TeamTalk is VOIP conferencing system that people use to communicate using VoIP and/or video streaming. The part with video streaming puzzles me as the program has community made of mostly blind people. They can log in with a simple tt document and converse easily with their contacts. The project is open source and using open source solutions for most of its functionality.

Functionality

  • Audio and video transfer with VOIP
  • Public and private channel creation
  • Sharing of desktop aplications
  • File sharing
  • Standalone server

Installation

The TeamTalk 5 conferencing system is composed of a client and hosted server. Most users will just need to install the client application, unless of coarse they want to have their own TeamTalk 5 server.
When installing the application on Windows, the visually impaired users, should install “TeamTalk 5 Classic. It is the client with better accessibility, since the Classic version works smoother with screen readers. There is also a regular TeamTalk 5 client developed for the masses.

Open Source

TeamTalk is a freeware. The program can be found on a lot of popular software websites. Its license permits, to be run on numerous clients or servers, it can be also redistributed free of charge. A permit must be nevertheless bought by developers that want to implement or use the code in third party programs.

TeamTalk client software have been build around the GitHub project TeamTalk5. The TeamTalk server is not part of the project and is therefore not publicly available.

Availability

The TeamTalk 5 can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X, and the most used Linux distributions – Debian, CentOS, and Raspbian. The server and client applications run on the same platforms. The only difference being that the client additionally supports the mobile platforms of iOS and Android.

Encoding

For voice encoding TeamTalk uses the open source audio and video codecs. For the audio codecs it uses Speex and OPUS. And for the video stream encoding the program is relaying on WebM video codec.