In these difficult and weird times, many people and organisations are adjusting to situations of remote working and working from home. Even for groups who are accustomed to online communications, the switch to full remote working may be a challenge. GreenNet has always embraced flexible work practices and we have a couple of staff members who work remotely from outside the UK. Since the pandemic started, we've mostly shut our office, though we will be physically checking in there and at the data centre as needed, taking into account ISPA guidance on critical communications infrastructure.
Anyway, we have a few open source tools for secure group comms that we suggest might come in handy in this new reality. These tools are free/libre open source alternatives to corporate products. Hosting on GreenNet's renewably powered servers means that no-one else has access to your space, but you and your group can log in remotely from any internet connected device.
- Secure files and folders sharing
- Online document editing
- Shared calendars
- Email client, chat, lots of plug-ins
- App for your smartphone
It's a fine replacement for well known corporate cloud offices!
Online chat and discussion
To keep it together working remotely day to day, you'll want to be checking in and discussing with colleagues and allies near and far. We recommend a couple of tools that can help keep group communications flowing in private or public.
- Mattermost chat - Mattermost is another piece of GreenNet's online infrastructure, often described as a 'Slack' clone -- but open source, obviously. Chat in a stream with channels, direct messages,masses of emojis :)
- Discourse forum - Discourse discussion is a little more formal but not much! Compared to Mattermost, it's a bit more like a web forum. Discourse offers threaded chat, and also offers secure and private spaces.
If you're interested in having your own Mattermost or Discourse from around £30 monthly hosting costs, let us know and we can talk though options and pricing.
The quest for a reliable open source over IP has been long! Skype and more recently Zoom are good for reliability (but not transparency!), their sound quality can vary and their free services may have various restrictions on call length or the number of people connected at once.
- If you'd like your own private channel on our Mumble server (for you and your friends, or for your organisation's use), with the ability to have up to 25 people connected at the same time, then that's something that we are now offering for £9 per month or £90 per year if billed annually (both inc. VAT).
- If you are looking for a platform for an even bigger meeting or virtual conference with more than 25 people, just let us know and we can give you pricing for aprivate channel with even higher capacity.
- And if you'd rather have your own dedicated Mumble server just for your organisation, with the ability to create as many 'channels' (separate conversations) as you want, just let us know and we can give you pricing for that option.
Our other favorite open source channels, though they can be a little temperamental, are:
- Jitsi - run your own private video chat server
- Nextcloud chat - strictly speaking freemium, since to connect to more than a few users you'll probably need the premium version, but can do video.
There are all sorts of cunning ways to combine these different tools and functions and add on extra features to get rid of corporate cloud products. We can also host Wikis, GitLab, Moodle, PhpBB, even Joomla! and all sorts of other useful gadgets - if you have a particular requirement in mind or are interested to find out more, please get in touch.
All our broadband and online services are operating normally, though you might hear the odd domestic sound in the background if you give us a ring! Stay Safe!
Update: We gave a talk at Ethical Consumer Week 2019 - Finding independent online tools