Initial Impressions: Jitsi vs Zoom
I've been using Zoom via the Linux client at work. Last night, I tried out Jitsi with some friends; my review is:
- Yay, Self-Hosting! A friend installed it on a DigitalOcean droplet in ~10 minutes. (Note that he already had a domain to add DNS records to.)
- Nicer UI than zoom (subjectively)
- Works in browser with no install on PC
- Chat and hand-raising are easier to see in the UI
- Rooms have names instead of numbers
- There's a pretty cool blur mode for privacy, but it reduces the framerate of your video drastically, even on a powerful machine
- Seems to require more bandwidth? didn't measure, but a friend on a slower inet connection who doesn't usually have issues with zoom was breaking up on video and audio
- Mitigation: there's a separate low-bandwidth mode he turned on that made it easier to understand him
- On Android, requires the app; I haven't tried zoom on mobile though, so that might be same
- Chat on mobile seems buggy (hard to close the UI, some things were overlapping on my device)
- It looks like the only permissions are "is this client allowed by the server" rather than "is this user allowed to join this room"
- Somewhat mitigated by it autogenerating high-entropy names for rooms, e.g. GrossBasketsSuspendSeriously
- By default, there's a watermark for guest users; this is allegedly easy to disable in the config, though.
- Screensharing is relatively laggy; it's fine for slides or coding, but it made streaming games to each other difficult
- No push-to-talk. Zoom doesn't support this on Linux either, but still a con.
- No virtual backgrounds. A lot of people are asking for it though, and I conjecture that the code for blur mode could probably be extended without too much pain to provide this; hopefully it'll be coming soon.
- There's a concept of "the current speaker," and everyone else has their mic quieter; this is nice when some people have slightly noisy backgrounds, but it makes it hard to interrupt someone
- Instead of meetings you invite people to that start at a given time, there's rooms anyone with the link can join at any time; though as far as I can tell, you can configure either one to act like the other
Overall, Jitsi seems better for the case of "some friends chatting," and probably for smaller meetings.