Automated pre-meeting hardware checks

I run a small self-hosted Jitsi instance and ever since I made it available to my users, there is hardly a meeting which goes by where there are no technical issues.

Issues such as the mic, camera or speaker of certain users not working, not found or unable to get activated. I am monitoring cpu/network and memory but as far as I can tell none of these meetings get even close to max out my resources. Even doubled cpu’s and memory recently just to see if it shows effect, it didn’t.
At the moment who experiences these issues seems to be pretty random, which is why I think this is likely not my backend but rather something at the user end.

Usual guidance is to look out for the little icons somewhere at the top and check their colour, try reconnecting, even rebooting, and sometimes this resolves whatever the issue was before and sometimes not.

Now, given that my users are not technically savvy I am wondering if there is a way for them or me to to provide some guidance in a somewhat automated way.
I am not even sure if it’s possible, but has anyone ever considered creating a troubleshooting/pre-meeting-check landing page where maybe some java script checks the status of the hardware devices together with some user level messages?
Something along the line of the below:

Checking hardware resources:

  • Camera: Available / blocked by application xyz, please close xyz and try again
  • Mic: Available / blocked by application xyz, please close xyz and try again
  • Speakers: Available / turned off, in use by application xyz
  • Browser: Found Firefox, consider starting this meeting in native Jitsi or with Chrome Browser"

If that’s possible I would add this as a link to my landing page so people can test things out beforehand.
But actually, anything which can help to shorten the troubleshooting phase and ultimately solve the issues would be welcome.

Check out test.webrtc.org

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This is a great resource which I absolutely will add to my landing page! Thanks for sharing.

This test straight away highlights some of the issues I am experiencing, and it looks like they are totally down to WebRtc and not at all Jitsi specific:

  • When I ran the test from my main browser (Firefox) for the first time, it reports that my mic is not available. Yet I can’t find any app or setting which would block it? Later on it got stuck with checking the video resolution.
  • Opened a new meeting with the same browser and the mic is recognized just fine.
  • Second run shows the mic is available but it gets stuck again at a different video resolution
  • Tried chromium as an alternative which went through all tests just fine, multiple times.
  • Tried Firefox a third time and this time it got through with the video resolution test but failed on the final video bandwidth test.

This looks very similar to what my users are experiencing, somewhat random results. I read about older versions of Firefox introducing performance issues but this is different. So is the first conclusion do not use Firefox with WebRTC?

Personally, I say yes. Firefox just presents to many challenges when it comes to WebRTC that I personally don’t see its value (with WebRTC). Chrome-based browsers work almost seamlessly; there’s no need to introduce unnecessary bottlenecks.

This is really unfortunate because the reason for using Jitsi is because we want to move away from the big data collectors, and here I am being forced to use the biggest data collector of them all :-/
Hopefully this will get resolved at some point.

So for now my recommendation to my users will have to be to use the native Jitsi app whenever possible, (which is an Electron wrapped Chrome anyway as far as I understand), revert to a Chrome based browser otherwise.

The good thing about true open-source is the transparency - whether offered or forced. So you can trust that at least a lot of due diligence has been done by the time you hop on the train. Every browser collects some data, some just less than others. Most of us are not fond of google, but they stay relevant by being on the cutting edge of technology. Jitsi however is almost maniacal about privacy (and security), so you can be sure you’re in the best space possible, all things considered.