RogerBW's Blog

How To Jitsi 03 April 2020

I've been playing RPGs over Google Hangouts for a while but I don't like it. Here's how to do it with free software instead.

You can use or set up your own server (I've done the latter).

You'll still need an up-to-date web browser, some sort of camera and microphone, and ideally headphones.

Whoever's running the game should pick a name and distribute it to the other players. First come, first served, which is another reason you might want to run your own server. The URL might then be something like .

Whoever gets there first will be the "moderator", who can mute and kick other participants. They can also put a password on the channel.

Click in the thumbnail at top right to set your username. This gets stored in a cookie.

Icons at lower left are for screen sharing (not tried yet), to raise one's hand (which puts a small icon into one's thumbnail and a notification that "X would like to speak") or lower it, and to open a text chat window.

In the middle are the usual mute microphone, hang up, and mute camera buttons.

On the right is a toggle between full-screen and tiled view (tiled works rather well for me), a button to copy the room's URL and set passwords, and miscellaneous settings. You can replace your stream with a YouTube video, which I suspect may be useful though I haven't thought of a use for it yet. (I'd much rather be able to mix in a generic audio stream.) "Blur my background" can take a lot of CPU and isn't recommended if your machine is already marginal for video. "Speaker stats" shows how much time each person has been making enough noise to be considered active – which might not seem helpful, but as I write this I've just edited a five-person podcast (coordinated by Jitsi but with each speaker recorded on their local machines), and I used this to put the people who were speaking most towards the centre of the mix.

Buttons at top right of each window let you reduce individuals' volume, which is great.

There's an app, which I haven't used (the Android version relies on GSF.)

It's all rather good, I think. Audio quality seems perhaps slightly lower than on Hangouts, but I haven't yet seen a random disconnection; and if you host it yourself, you don't need to worry about the servers getting overloaded. Of 20+ people I know who've now switched to it, two have had problems, both resolved.

Lacking the need for individual logins, one could even have a camera pointed at a map on a separate machine…

Tags: computing

See also:
How To Hangouts

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