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OpenTalk now Open Source under EU public licence

OpenTalk bei mailbox.org

This is a good day for digital sovereignty, because we have published the source code of OpenTalk under the EUPL (European Union Public License). That means everyone can now download, install, and run OpenTalk for free under the terms of this open source licence.

Our team of around 20 developers has been working hard over the last two and a half years to create the architecture and first release of OpenTalk. We believe that free and secure communication should be available to everyone. That is why OpenTalk will soon be offered as a cloud service or alternatively, as an on-premises product to be operated in our usersโ€™ own data centres or any hosting provider they trust. A key aspect of OpenTalk is that it is really easy to use, and that it offers an exciting and intuitive user experience, alongside many great features. Video conferencing can be fun after all! OpenTalk demonstrates that communication services can respect the digital sovereignty of their users and at the same time, be no less technologically advanced than other commercial cloud solutions. Quite the opposite, actually.

Open source code for more security and trust

Although we have by now invested millions of Euros to develop OpenTalk, our plan has always been to make it available as an open source project that can be used for free by everyone. We have been part of the open source community for 30 years and this is what we do. While commercial cloud providers may think differently, we believe that security and trust in software can only be established through open source code.

We have published the code on the "OpenCoDE" platform at https://gitlab.opencode.de/opentalk. Our developer team uses dedicated GIT servers and will mirror current software versions to publicly available repositories on a regular basis. In particular, this concerns the code of the OpenTalk frontend, the Rust backend, and the server code. There are a few more components required to operate OpenTalk such as a Keycloak and a Postgres server. These can be installed and configured automatically as Docker containers. There are specific instructions at https://gitlab.opencode.de/opentalk/ot-setup that any interested administrators can use to set up the community release of OpenTalk on their own systems.

On-premises videoconferencing, digital sovereign

As is common in commercial open source projects, the use of a community release is basically free under the terms of the licence conditions. With the open source licence EUPL, anyone interested can actively participate in and contribute to the further development of OpenTalk. The community release already offers a rich set of features that can be used for free. However, OpenTalk is also available as an Enterprise Edition, which includes additional support, and "OpenTalk-as-a-Service" will be launched in the near future.

The Enterprise Edition provides more advanced functionality, such as audit-proof voting or high scalability on the basis of Kubernetes clusters. This edition can be licensed individually and includes 8-to-5 or 24/7 support for maintaining reliable operation in production environments. Web hosting companies and platform operators can integrate our solution into their own products and so, offer their own OpenTalk-based services. The functionality can be controlled through a REST API. The software can also be adapted to meet individual needs and purposes through development contracts. Given the EUPL framework, this will be particularly relevant for public sector organisations.

We need your help

Over the medium term, we are hoping to attract active collaboration from the open source community. There will be opportunities to develop extensions for OpenTalk, or perhaps do some work towards the integration with other solutions. Additional modules, plugins, patches, or style themes would all be very valuable contributions. However, managing community contributions and finding ways to integrate these with our internal development processes and roadmaps requires a structured approach that we have yet to define in full. Especially in the early stages, we ask for patience and understanding as we are figuring out a way to do this that works for everyone involved.

Of course, we are always happy to hear from anyone interested in joining our developer team as a frontend or backend developer (Rust), product and project manager, or a community manager (for obvious reasons). Find out more here: https://opentalk.eu/jobs.

Our ambitions

OpenTalk was designed from the ground up with a focus on high scalability, privacy, and security. We have now started the process of obtaining Common Criteria EAL4 certification by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). This will make OpenTalk a desirable choice for all users who have increased security requirements such as public authorities or political organisations. OpenTalk is also suitable for use in teaching by schools and universities due to its high-scalability platform and a set of appropriate features that work well in teaching environments. With OpenTalk, users get many smart features such as audit-proof voting, privacy-conscious session recording (coming soon), a note-taking facility, a whiteboard, integrated invite management, and even a coffee break timer ;-)

Our roadmap for 2023 outlines many more features to come, including Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird plug-ins, and integration with established conference systems (H.323).

Enabling free and secure communication for everyone is our mission. It is what we at Heinlein Support do, and what gets us out of bed in the morning every day. These ideas are also at the heart of our secure e-mail provider mailbox.org. With OpenTalk, there is now another milestone that further advances our vision.

OpenTalk โ€“ the next generation of digitally sovereign video conferencing

We consider OpenTalk as a natural evolution step forward from solutions like Jitsi or BBB, whose architectures were unfortunately too inflexible to accommodate our ideas for true next-generation video conferencing. As a result, we created a new, more modern architecture to base developments on, and also to make OpenTalk competitive to other well-known cloud providers such as Zoom, Cisco WebEx or Microsoft Teams. OpenTalk demonstrates that quality, performance, usability, and security can be achieved without having to rely on a US-based cloud infrastructure. Itโ€™s not just "also possible" โ€“ itโ€™s the only way.

Today, we look back with pride on what our team has achieved over these past two years, and how they created this revolutionary new solution from scratch. We are also very happy to have received so much encouraging feedback from all over the world, not just about OpenTalk generally but especially also on our design decisions regarding the architecture and functionality. We are currently experiencing an incredible amount of support and interest, and we are making every effort to consider all messages and enquiries, as well as individual proof-of-concept requests.

Please send all your comments and feedback to mail@opentalk.eu. We look forward to receiving your messages and will try to respond as fast as we can. For the latest news and updates, check out our Twitter page at https://twitter.com/OpenTalkMeeting, or Mastodon at https://mastodon.social/@OpenTalkMeeting.

If you would like to meet us in person, the next opportunity to do so will be at the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage on 11 and 12 March 2023, where Heinlein Support, mailbox.org and the OpenTalk team will attend to give talks and are also available for visits at their booth. We will also have a booth at Cloudfest in Rust, Germany from 20 to 23 March and look forward to meeting you there.


Warm regards,

Peer Heinlein, Markus Michels, Dennis Kalbhen
and the entire OpenTalk team


p.s. OpenTalk โ€œas-a-service" will launch as a separate provider in a few weeks time. Anyone who is interested in using or even just testing OpenTalk before launch can do so without hassle by creating a trial account at our e-mail provider https://mailbox.org.

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