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Re: Prepare for more online participation?

On 2020-03-25 09:07 +0100, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> Hi folks,
> I think we should prepare ourselves for the likelihood that, given the
> current pandemic, ... this
> year's DebConf will require more online participation, or in the worst
> case be an online-only debconf.

> We did run an experiment for a streaming-only event last year for Ben's
> talk, and I think that was a success. If there will still be some
> attendance, then we can reuse the method used last year in greater
> numbers. However, I think we should also look in some detail towards
> free software videoconferencing solutions. I recently learned that
> Jitsi[1] has the ability to stream to YouTube;

Yeah I discovered that a couple of days ago too. Presumably it
can/could also stream to free things like our current vlc setup.

> Jitsi really only
> requires a webbrowser, has support for screen sharing, and is at least
> working on a presenter mode[2][3], so this should theoretically be a
> good match. I should note, however, that I haven't looked at things in
> detail yet.

I like jitsi-meet - it works well, and I've used the free instance up to 15
people and it's worked surprisingly well. On the other hand the design
is for the server to not do much and send all the streams which has
scaling limitations.

As you say, the one thing missing from jitsi for conference use is
being able to record the presenter (but perhaps that could be a
separate thing?), and being able to send both slides and video. Glad
to see that they are working on that.

I'm interested in this subject generally for better remote attendance
at our conferences. I think we can do better than the current 30-sec
delayed stream and IRC incoming, and have had some discussions about
it (copied to this list) but not done anything useful.  This is of
course a slightly different problem from an entirely remote

Suse made a thing based on libjanus which seems like it might be a
good project to work from: https://en.opensuse.org/Portal:Jangouts I
have so far merely discovered its existence (after the libjanus talk
at FOSDEM this year), but have not checked it out.

The two free 'conference' platforms that seem to have some momentum
are apache openmeeting and bigbluebutton. I have tried neither. And
there is a moodle plugin to do similar things. These seem to be more
focussed on education and I presume have a server-side mixing

> It would seem that we have a lot to explore if we're going to do this;
> but given that DebConf20 is still a ways off, if we get started now we
> should have the necessary time to get everything ready in time.
> Thoughts?

Good plan. It would be good to come up with a non-proprietary
alternative to zoom, which is currently taking over the world, and
that's unfortunate. (although they have now made that work in just a
browser. Rather than a local install so its 'only' a pile of
proprietary javascript, like everything else...)

I'm happy to help out with testing but have negligible actual
expertise in this area.

(I'm currently in the middle of a 2-day zoom+youtube streaming remote
conference which is actually working reasonably well without
installing any non-free stuff except all the stuff delivered on the
page. That only allows questions by chat, not in person, but is a
perfectly good experience, and if we could achieve the same level I
would could that as a success.)

We should start out with some evaluation of the available tech, and a
think about an architecture that would work for 400
people. jisti+streaming server could work so long as most participants
are only on the stream, with a few uploaders that want to speak. I'm
not sure how possible/practical that is. And testing with large
numbers is always hard of course.

Principal hats:  Linaro, Debian, Wookware, ARM

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