Video conferencing is a cost-effective and Earth-friendly solution to the communication needs of people across the globe. And while there are a lot of free video conferencing programs available for download, these software are limited in functionality. This forces unsatisfied users to pay for upgrades or to subscribe to a better but costly service. Open source video conference applications offer unlimited options in terms of design, security and functionality. And the best part is, the software is absolutely free.
Open Source Explained
In order to understand open source video conference programs, one must first understand what “open source” means. Essentially, open source is a term used to describe free software available for download or distribution. This software differs from “free-trials” and “free apps” because they can be modified, hence they are called “open”.
To understand this difference further, one must note how a regular free application works. As an example, the videoconferencing application called Skype is free for download. It allows two people to enter into a video conversation over the internet. However, if the person on the other end is offline, Skype charges the caller for a voice call.
Using open source video conference applications allows users to modify the aspects of a piece of software. If Skype was open source, users can easily bypass the fee and make the call for free.
Open source software is available for a variety of different applications. This includes operating systems for computers, video games, photo editing and more.
Benefits for the Designer
Many people wonder why software designers create open source software, especially since they don’t make any money out of it. Well, one of the main reasons is better and faster development.
If a programmer releases a video conference open source program, he exposes its strengths and weaknesses to the public. This means more people can evaluate it all at once. For example, if in a given day, a programmer can detect and correct 10 problems in the software, imagine how many errors can be corrected by ten programmers, or a hundred, or a thousand programmers in the same time frame. Basically, the open source video conference program becomes group homework.
Now, imagine again that the designer of the video conference open source program was developing a similar application that he plans to sell to the public. He can then benefit from the open source software by understanding its flaws and applying those corrections and improvements to the software he is working on. This saves him the time and money that he would have otherwise spent on a testing group for the beta version.
Benefits for the Users
The main benefit of open source software for non-developers and users is free software. Instead of paying for commercialized video conferencing software, the user can easily develop his own.
- Free Software
The good thing about open source video conference applications is that the user can modify almost every aspect of the software. This means that if the original software allowed for two callers only, he can re-program the software and allow it to connect 20 people. If the video conference open source software only has a chat option, the user can easily modify the program and include voice recording capabilities. Basically, the user has a software which he can modify to fit his specific needs.
- Constant Updates
Another good thing about open source software is that they’re constantly updated. Because there are numerous people constantly checking it and improving it, there are virtually unlimited updates and patches available. This means the software is never out of date.
- High Security
Due to the constant changing nature of open source software, very few ill-willed programmers can make a virus or worm that can attack it. This means that even if a virus sees a hole in the program which it can exploit, the myriad of programmers would have already fixed it before the virus even started its attack. Anyone who’s ever had his computer crashed by a nasty virus can certainly see the value in open source software.
Open source software is not selective of operating systems. Hence, a user doesn’t need to download a different version of the program just because it doesn’t work on his mac or pc. That’s because open source software needs to remain operable in all systems in order to reach larger audiences.
How Open Sourcing Helps Video Conferencing
The use of video conference open source applications has greatly improved the art of video conferencing. For companies considering using this type of software instead of commercial software, here are some of the ways it can help.
- Unlimited Functions
As mentioned above, open source software can easily be modified to fit the needs of the user. When it comes to video conferencing, open source software helps through increased functionality.
Basically, users can modify the open source video conference program to handle more applications and extras. For example, tradition video conferencing software supports the uploading and downloading of files such as text files, spreadsheets and pictures. Users can expand those allowable files to include presentations, movies and even games.
Similarly, users can also modify the video conference open source program to run call-related functions. This can include voice changers, face masks and voice recognition. Basically, the capabilities of the software all lie in the hands of the user.
- Better Quality
Because of the numerous patches and upgrades that open source software users have made on video conference open source programs, they tend to work better than their commercial counterparts. A lot of open source software users have found ways to improve bit rates and compression quality in order to stream high-quality videos faster.
- Exclusive Streaming
It has also been discussed that open source software is more secure than commercial software. Essentially, this also means the conference calls made over open source video conference programs are more secure. That’s because few people understand the modifications made by the user, hence they have a harder time breaking down the code. In addition, the software is not used by the general public, thus further lessening the chances that a person using the same software will stumble upon a connection and hack it.
Examples of Software
There are a lot of open source video conference programs available for download, but some of the most popular are VMukti, BigBlueButton and Ekiga. These three offer the best and most aggressive free video conference open source programs online. And although they are relatively new, they are quickly growing in popularity over commercial video conferencing programs.