Learn the quick steps to install and configure BigBlueButton on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa server to create your own web-based video conferencing platform free of cost.
“BigBlueButton” or “BBB” is an open-source web-based video conferencing tool. This means that users have to enter the URL in the browser instead of downloading the program to their computer. With the free version of “BigBlueButton”, users can conduct video conferences, as well as host webinars and online presentations.
The platform has experienced increased demand, especially due to the corona pandemic and the associated online teaching. Many schools have been using open-source software for some time, enabling students and teachers to communicate. In addition to audio and video transmission, the software also offers a chat and a virtual whiteboard for presentations.
If necessary, the room can also be secured with an access code and the conference can be recorded. To create a conference, you must first register or, if you already have an account, log in. You can then create a room and invite it via a link.
How do I use Big Blue Button?
Once you will have the Invitation link received by the Moderator, open the same in your browser. If an access code is required then supply that. After that press, the Join button and then choose the medium of joining the meeting means whether you want to listen to the conference without a microphone or participate with an active microphone.
How secure is Big Blue Button?
Big Blue Button is an open-source program, so the source code is publicly available to everyone. Hence, nothing is hidden or any malicious code that can create some ruckus. Schools, Universities, and businesses can set up the software on their own server for more security. This means all data thus remains on your server and – if Big Blue Button is configured correctly – it is only sent encrypted. Nevertheless, the developers of BigBlueButton also offers it as a service that one can subscribe to by paying its usage cost.
What features does Big Blue Button offer?
The software also offers a private and public chat function, a digital whiteboard, and breakout rooms. Here is the list of some important ones:
⇒ Sharing audio, chat, presentations of slides (PDF, OpenOffice documents, PNG, …) and video, as well as your screen
⇒ Integrating a whiteboard in real-time
⇒ Multi-User Whiteboards
⇒ Different drawing tools
⇒ Recording of conferences incl. slides, whiteboard, and mouse movements
⇒ Shared notes via a built-in Etherpad
⇒ The use of an unlimited number of webcams
⇒ The formation of separate groups
⇒ Uploading and downloading content
⇒ Breakout rooms that can be used to start time-limited sub-conferences for subgroups synchronized video players – for the joint viewing of e.g. Youtube videos.
⇒ Video player of the moderator also controls the video players of the participants.
⇒ Conducting surveys among the participants
⇒ Shared chat room for all participants and private chat rooms per pair of participants
Steps to install BigBlueButton on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa Linux
1. Recommended Minimum System Requirments
Well, the system requirements to install BigBlueButton are demanding if you are planning to host a good number of participants. As per the BigBlueButton project’s official website, the following recommended minimum requirements are needed for setting up your server.
Note: You can go for fewer resources as well depending upon the number of participants.
⇒ 16 GB RAM
⇒ 8 CPU cores
⇒ 500 GB of free file system storage space for recording conferences
⇒ If you wish to set up an SSL certificate then a fully qualified domain name such as bbb.how2shout.com is required.
⇒ Network connection with 250 MBit/s bandwidth (symmetrical)
⇒ If the system is protected by a firewall, the following ports of the BigBlueButton system must be externally accessible:
TCP ports 22, 80, and 443
UDP ports 16384 to 32768
⇒ Furthermore, the BigBlueButton system must be able to access port 7636 of the UCS LDAP server to be used later.
⇒ Strictly Ubuntu 20.04 LTS OS, currently while doing this article. Don’t upgrade it to Ubuntu 20.04.4.
2. Update Ubuntu 20.04
Login to your Ubuntu 20.04 Server and run the system update command to refresh the APT package manager index cache. This will also install the available security updates.
sudo apt update
3. Check Server Locale
Server locale in Linux is set with the SERVER_LOCALE environment variable, which specifies the language, territory, and code. Let’s check whether is set to the appropriate one or not.
The output should be:
If not then run the given command otherwise move to the next step.
sudo apt install -y language-pack-en
sudo update-locale LANG=en_US.UTF-8
4. Open require ports
Those who are using Cloud hosting must open TCP ports 80 and 443 in their Cloud Firewall before moving further. And also UPD ports from 16384-32768 are required for Media connections, such as video streams.
5. Install BigBlueButton on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
Next, we have to download the latest available BBB script on the GitHub to install it. While doing the article the latest version was 2.5 which may be different in your case. Hence, first, check the same on the Github page before installing.
Switch to root:
Install BBB along with Greenlight:
bash bbb-install-2.5.sh -s -- -v focal-250 -s bbb.how2shout.com -e [email protected] -a -w -g
bbb.how2shout.com with your domain that you want to use to access BigBlueButton. And
[email protected]with the email address want to use to issue a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. Also, ensure the domain you are planning to use its A record is pointing to the Server’s IP address where you are planning to install BBB.
-a will install API demos whereas
-w for the firewall.
-v focal-250 refer to the latest version of BigBlueButton i.e 2.5 for Ubuntu 20.04.
-s to configure the hostname. And the last
-g is to install Greenlight. For those who don’t know about it, Greenlight is a simple graphical user front-end of BigBlueButton to easily create rooms, start meetings, and manage recordings. It is written in Ruby & Rails. Know more about GreenLight.
6. Check Status
Once the installation is completed, to check the status of BigBlueButton required services are active and working, run:
sudo bbb-conf --status
7. Create Admin Account
To sign in and start using BigBlueButton with the help of Greenlight, let’s create an Administrator account with the default username – [email protected] and password – Administrator1!, the same will flash on you’re screen as well that we can change later.
Move to greenlight root directory.
Execute the following command that will use the rake command to create the default admin user.
docker exec greenlight-v2 bundle exec rake admin:create
Also, remove the demo, if you are planning to use this web video conferencing platform for production.
sudo apt-get purge bbb-demo
8. Access BigBlueButton GreenLight GUI
Now, open any browser that can access the domain set to use with BigBlueButton. In the following format:
Click on the Sing-in button given on the right top side and enter the default username and password created by the command in Step 6 of this tutorial, also shown in the screenshot.
9. Change the default user and password
Once you logged in, the system will ask you to change the default password. Click on the link for the same.
Click on the Right top side given – profile icon and then select the Profile option. Now, click on the Password and first enter your default password followed by the New password you want to set.
Once you are done with the password, click on the Account info and change the default email address to the one you want to use.
10. BigBlueButton Dashboard
On the web interface of BigBlueButton, you will see the Link that you can share with the people or participants you want to join your meeting. And to Start, the Metting, just click on the Start button.
Select the medium you want to use to join the meeting.
Finally, start chatting with the participants and stream videos or presentations as well.
To tune further your BigBlueButton Server, see the official guide.
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