[coreboot] How come the community meeting is hosted by proprietary software?

ron minnich rminnich at gmail.com
Fri Mar 17 18:03:56 CET 2017

This discussion comes up every few years, and it quickly diverges into
discussion of a long list of candidate systems. This current thread is no

FWIW, we've tried many of them.
Unfortunately, the free software meeting systems have not worked out.

For any system to work, there are a few properties it must have:
1. It can't depend on one person managing the server, or the connection, or
the setup. I.e., it can't have a single point of failure. People have
kindly offered to set up SIP servers, many times, and we even used them a
few times, but the problem is that the people who set up the server must be
available for each and every meeting, from t = 0 to infinity, or it doesn't
work. We've been here before, and it's really frustrating to get to the
meeting time and find out the one person who is needed to make it work is
not reachable. It is really, really easy to be there once or twice to make
the meeting. Being there, without fail, once a week is a lot harder than it
seems at first.

2. The software has to work for every possible client, and I do mean all.
People tend to fall into the "well it works on *my* laptop" trap very
easily. This is particularly problematical with systems that start on
Linux, since portability in the Linux world seems to mean "works on Ubuntu
AND Arch". There are a lot of us who use non-free software all the time
(this is being typed on a mac pro) because the free software doesn't work
as well. So we need systems that work for ios, android, osx, linux laptops
in all their many variations, ... and the common experience with all these
alternative meeting systems is that they are just not good enough to span
that space. Yes, they should work. And if they did, we would have been
using them since 2006, when this issue first came up. Now you can argue
with me that the system you are advocating works on all those platforms,
but I won't believe it until I see it. We've had people advocate some
platforms over the years, with the claim that they worked everywhere, only
to find out the claim had not been tested -- it's very common to hear:
"well they SAID it worked everywhere ... wow ... we didn't know it wouldn't
work on your xxxxx". It's not enough to say "works everywhere." We have to
see it work everywhere.

3. Related to (1), it goes without saying, but any meeting system has to be
structured and implemented as a scalable, reliable system. It has to not
fail easily. This means redundancy in networks, servers, everything. So
setting up one SIP server on one network connection is not a viable idea.
That's why people run many of these services in clouds: the providers of
clouds are pretty good (not perfect!) at providing very reliable services.

There's also an issue with the premise: that because coreboot is striving
to create free and open software for a single field of use, every single
coreboot community activity must use only free and open software. How far
does that go? Do we reject people who use iphones to join a meeting? Do we
not allow packets to flow via cisco routers? Do we not run meetings on
systems with microcode blobs? Are you not allowed to run on a laptop which
has binary blobs in the disk controller? What about the OS in Atheros or
other WIFI part? What about laptop modems -- do we not allow you to join a
meeting if you are on the laptop modem? Or are you just requiring that some
very narrow slice of software at the the endpoints be free and open source,
while everything between can be proprietary?

What does it really mean to say "why don't we use something free and
open source?" when we talk about meeting software? You need to define the
terms, and specify where it's ok for software to be non-free and
non-open-source. Because, inevitably, some of it will be in ways you can't



On Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 8:49 AM Iru Cai <mytbk920423 at gmail.com> wrote:

Have you tried the Matrix protocol (https://matrix.org) that I mentioned?
It supports WebRTC as well as talk with text and files.

If you are not satisfied with the existing public servers (
https://www.hello-matrix.net/public_servers.php), you can even host one.

On Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 11:05 PM, Patrick Georgi via coreboot <
coreboot at coreboot.org> wrote:

2017-03-17 15:50 GMT+01:00 Juliana Rodrigues <juliana.orod at gmail.com>:
> that I know uses jitsi: https://meet.jit.si
> It's MIT, but works very well.
Thanks for the pointer.

We already tried jitsi, but I think without the bridge service (which
only seems to exist for about a year).
So, something to re-evaluate, but the last time we tried "works very
well" was the opposite of our experience due to bandwidth

(note to all so I don't have to sound like a grumpy, broken record: Is
it FOSS and reasonably popular? Then it's rather likely that we
already tried it)

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