Science and technology

Run a digital convention utilizing solely open supply instruments

The Fedora Design Team found that utilizing open supply instruments to run a digital convention might be fairly efficient by internet hosting the primary Creative Freedom Summit in January 2023.

In this text, I’ll share some background on the convention, why utilizing open supply instruments to run it was necessary to us, and the precise instruments and configurations our crew used to make all of it work. I’ll additionally discuss what labored effectively and what is going to want enchancment at our subsequent summit in 2024.

What is Creative Freedom Summit?

The Creative Freedom Summit was an thought Marie Nordin got here up with after reviewing speak submissions for Flock, the annual Fedora users and contributors conference. She obtained many speak submissions for the August 2022 Flock regarding design and creativity in open supply—excess of we might presumably settle for. With so many nice concepts for open supply design-related talks on the market, she puzzled if there could be area for a separate open supply creativity convention targeted on creatives who use open supply instruments to supply their work.

Marie introduced this concept to the Fedora Design Team within the fall of 2022, and we began planning the convention, which happened January 17-19, 2023. Since it was our first time operating a brand new convention like this, we determined to begin with invited audio system primarily based on a number of the Flock submissions and our personal private community of open supply creatives. Almost each speaker we requested gave a chat, so we did not have room to just accept submissions. We might want to work out this subsequent yr, so we do not have an open supply CFP (Call for Papers) administration device for that to inform you about but.

Using open supply for open supply conferences

Since the preliminary COVID pandemic lockdowns, Fedora’s Flock convention has been run just about utilizing Hopin, a web based convention platform that is not open supply however is pleasant to open supply instruments. Fedora began utilizing it some years in the past, and it undoubtedly offers an expert convention really feel, with a built-in sponsor sales space/expo corridor, tracks, hallway chat conversations, and moderation instruments. Running the Creative Freedom Summit utilizing Hopin was an choice for us as a result of, as a Fedora-sponsored occasion, we might entry Fedora’s Hopin setup. Again, Hopin isn’t open supply.

Now, as a long-term (~20 years) open supply contributor, I can inform you that this sort of choice is at all times robust. If your convention focuses on open supply, utilizing a proprietary platform to host your occasion feels a bit of unusual. However, as the size and complexity of our communities and occasions have grown, the power to supply an built-in open supply convention system has develop into more difficult.

There isn’t any proper or incorrect reply. You need to weigh numerous issues when making this choice:

  • Budget
  • People energy
  • Infrastructure
  • Technical functionality
  • Complexity/formality/tradition of the occasion

We did not have any price range for this occasion. We did have a crew of volunteers who might put some work hours into it. We had the Fedora Matrix Server as a bit of supported infrastructure we might deliver into the combo and entry to a hosted WordPress system for the web site. Teammate Madeline Peck and I had the technical functionality/expertise of operating the stay, weekly Fedora Design Team video calls utilizing PeerTube. We wished the occasion to be low-key, single-track, and casual, so we had some tolerance for glitches or tough edges. We additionally all had numerous ardour for attempting an open supply stack.

Now a bit of about our concerns when making this choice, which could assist when making selections in your occasion.

An open supply convention stack

Here is how the convention tech stack labored.


Live elements

  • Livestream: We streamed the stage and the social occasions to a PeerTube channel. Conference attendees might watch the stream stay from our PeerTube channel. PeerTube contains some privacy-minded analytics to trace the variety of livestream viewers and post-event views.
  • Live stage + social occasion room: We had one stay stage for audio system and hosts utilizing Jitsi, making certain solely these with permission may very well be on digital camera. We had an extra Jitsi assembly room for social occasions that allowed anybody who wished to take part within the social occasion to go on digital camera.
  • Backstage: We had a “Backstage” Matrix channel to coordinate with audio system, hosts, and volunteers in a single place whereas the occasion was happening.
  • Announcements and Q&A: We managed Q&A and the day by day schedule for the convention by way of a shared Etherpad (which we later moved to
  • Integrated and centralized convention expertise: Using Matrix’s Element consumer, we embedded the livestream video and an Etherpad right into a public Matrix room for the convention. We used attendance within the channel to watch general convention attendance. We had a stay chat all through the convention and took questions from viewers members from the chat and the embedded Q&A Etherpad.
  • Conference web site: We had a beautifully-designed web site created by Ryan Gorley hosted on WordPress, which had the fundamental data and hyperlinks for find out how to be part of the convention, the dates/instances, and the schedule.

Post-event elements

  • Post-event survey: We used the open supply LimeSurvey system to ship out a post-event survey to see how issues went for attendees. I exploit a number of the knowledge from that survey on this article.
  • Post-event video enhancing and captioning: We did not have a stay captioning system for the convention, however as I used to be ready, I typed stay notes from talks into the channel, which attendees vastly appreciated. Post-event, we used Kdenlive (one of many instruments featured in talks on the occasion) to edit the movies and generate captions.
  • Event recordings: PeerTube automagically posts livestream recordings to channels, making practically on the spot recordings out there for attendees for talks they might have missed.

I’ll cowl some particulars subsequent.

Livestream with PeerTube

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

We used the LinuxRocks PeerTube platform generously hosted by for the Creative Freedom Summit’s livestream. PeerTube is a free and open supply decentralized video platform that can be a part of the Fediverse.

One of one of the best options of PeerTube (that different platforms I’m conscious of haven’t got) is that after your livestream ends, you get a near-instant replay recording posted to your channel on PeerTube. Users in our chatroom cited this as a significant benefit of the platform. If an attendee missed a session they have been actually all for, they might watch it inside minutes of that speak’s finish. It took no guide intervention, importing, or coordination on the a part of the volunteer organizing crew to make this occur; PeerTube automated it for us.

Here is how livestreaming with PeerTube works: You create a brand new livestream in your channel, and it provides you a livestreaming URL + a key to authorize streaming to the URL. This URL + key might be reused again and again. We configured it in order that the recording could be posted to the channel the place we created the livestreaming URL as quickly as a livestream ended. Next, copy/paste this into Jitsi whenever you begin the livestream. This signifies that you do not have to generate a brand new URL + key for every speak in the course of the convention—the overhead of managing that for organizers would have been fairly important. Instead, we might reuse the identical URL + key shared in a standard doc amongst convention organizers (we every had completely different shifts internet hosting talks). Anyone on the crew with entry to that doc might begin the livestream.

How to generate the livestream URL + key in PeerTube

The following part covers producing the livestream URL + key in PeerTube, step-by-step.

1. Create stream video on PeerTube

Log into PeerTube, and click on the Publish button within the higher proper nook:

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

2. Set choices

Click on the Go stay tab (fourth from the left) and set the next choices:

  • Channel: (The channel identify you need the livestream to publish on)
  • Privacy: Public
  • Radio buttons: Normal stay

Then, choose Go Live. (Don’t fear, you will not actually be going stay fairly but, there may be extra knowledge to fill in.)

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

3. Basic information (do not click on replace but)

First, fill out the Basic Info tab, then select the Advanced Settings tab within the subsequent step. Fill out the identify of the livestream, description, add tags, classes, license, and many others. Remember to publish after the transcoding checkbox is turned on.

This ensures as soon as your livestream ends, the recording will routinely publish to your channel.

4. Advanced settings

You can add a “standby” picture that seems whereas everyone seems to be watching the stream URL and ready for issues to begin.

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

This is the standby picture we used for the Creative Freedom Summit:

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

5. Start livestream on PeerTube

Select the Update button within the decrease proper nook. The stream will seem like this—it is in a holding sample till you begin streaming from Jitsi:

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

6. Copy/paste the livestream URL for Jitsi

This is the ultimate step in PeerTube. Once the livestream is up, click on on the icon beneath the video and in the direction of the appropriate:

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Select Display stay data. You’ll get a dialog like this:

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

You should copy each the stay RTMP URL and the livestream key. Combine them into one URL after which copy/paste that into Jitsi.

The following are examples from my take a look at run of those two textual content blocks to repeat:

  • Live RTMP Url: rtmp://peertube.linuxrocks.on-line:1935/stay
  • Livestream key: 8b940f96-c46d-46aa-81a0-701de3c43c8f

What you may want to stick into Jitsi is these two textual content blocks mixed with a / between them, like so:


Live stage + social occasion room: Jitsi

We used the free and open supply hosted Jitsi Meet video conferencing platform for our “live stage.” We created a Jitsi assembly room with a customized URL at and solely shared this URL with audio system and assembly organizers.

We configured the assembly with a foyer (this function is out there in assembly settings when you be part of your newly-created assembly room) so audio system might be part of a couple of minutes earlier than their speak with out worry of interrupting the presentation earlier than theirs. (Our host volunteers allow them to in when the earlier session completed.) Another choice is so as to add a password to the room. We obtained by simply by having a foyer configured. It did appear, upon testing, that the moderation standing within the room wasn’t persistent. If a moderator left the room, they appeared to lose moderator standing and settings, such because the foyer setup. I stored the Jitsi room out there and energetic for your complete convention by leaving it open on my pc. (Your mileage might range on this facet.)

Jitsi has a built-in livestreaming choice, the place you may publish a URL to a video service, and it’ll stream your video to that service. We had confidence on this method as a result of it’s how we host and livestream weekly Fedora Design Team meetings. For the Creative Freedom Summit, we linked our Jitsi Live Stage (for audio system and hosts) to a channel on the Linux Rocks PeerTube.

Jitsi lets audio system share their screens to drive their very own slides or stay demos.

Livestreaming Jitsi to PeerTube

1. Join the assembly and click on the icon subsequent to the pink hangup button on the backside of the display.

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

2. Select Start stay stream from the pop-up menu.

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

3. Copy/paste the PeerTube URL + key textual content

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

4. Listen in your Jitsi Robot good friend

A female voice will come on in a couple of seconds to inform you, “Live streaming is on.” Once she sounds, smile! You’re livestreaming.

5. Stop the livestream

This stops the PeerTube URL you arrange from working, so repeat these steps to begin issues again up.

Jitsi suggestions

Managing Recordings by turning the Jitsi stream on and off

We discovered in the course of the convention that it’s higher to show the Jitsi stream off between talks in order that you’ll have one uncooked recording file per speak posted to PeerTube. We let it run so long as it will the primary day, so some recordings have a number of shows in the identical video, which made utilizing the moment replay operate more durable for folk attempting to catch up. They wanted to hunt contained in the video to search out the speak they wished to look at or watch for us to publish the edited model days or perhaps weeks later.

Preventing audio suggestions

Another difficulty we found out stay in the course of the occasion that did not crop up throughout our checks was audio suggestions loops. These have been solely my fault (sorry to everybody who attended). I used to be organising the Jitsi/PeerTube hyperlinks, monitoring the streams, and serving to host and emcee the occasion. Even although I knew that when we went stay, I wanted to mute any PeerTube browser tabs I had open, I both had extra PeerTube tabs open than I believed and missed one, or the livestream would autostart in my Element consumer (which I had out there to watch the chat). I did not have a simple option to mute Element. In a number of the speaker introductions I made, you may see that I knew I had about 30 seconds earlier than the audio suggestions would begin, so I gave very rushed/hurried intros.

I feel there are easier methods to keep away from this case:

  • Try to make sure your host/emcee isn’t additionally the particular person organising/monitoring the streams and chat. (Not at all times attainable, relying on what number of volunteers you’ve at any given time.)
  • If attainable, monitor the streams on one pc and emcee from one other. This approach, you’ve one mute button to hit on the pc you are utilizing for monitoring, and it simplifies your internet hosting expertise on the opposite.

This is one thing price training and refining forward of time.

Backstage: Element

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

We arrange a “Backstage” invite-only chat room every week or so earlier than the convention began and invited all our audio system to it. This helped us guarantee a few issues:

  • Our audio system have been onboarded to Element/Matrix effectively earlier than the occasion’s begin and had the chance to get assist signing up if that they had any points (no person did).
  • We began a stay communication channel with all audio system earlier than the occasion in order that we might ship bulletins/updates fairly simply.

The channel served as a helpful place in the course of the occasion to coordinate transitions between audio system, give heads up about whether or not the schedule was operating late, and in a single occasion, shortly reschedule a chat when considered one of our audio system had an emergency and could not make their unique scheduled time.

We additionally arrange a room for hosts, however in our case, it was extraneous. We simply used the backstage channel to coordinate. We discovered two channels have been simple to watch, however three have been too many to be handy.

Announcements and Q&A: Etherpad/

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

We arrange a pinned widget in our essential Element channel with common details about the occasion, together with the day by day schedule, code of conduct, and many others. We additionally had a piece per speak of the day for attendees to drop questions for Q&A, which the host learn out loud for the speaker.

We discovered over the primary day or two that some attendees have been having points with the Etherpad widget not loading, so we switched to an embedded doc pinned to the channel as a widget, and that appeared to work a bit of higher. We’re not 100% certain what was happening with the widget loading points, however we have been in a position to publish a hyperlink to the uncooked (non-embedded) hyperlink within the channel subject, so people might get round any issues accessing it by way of the widget.

Integrated and centralized convention expertise

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Matrix by way of Fedora’s Element server was the one key place to go to attend the convention. Matrix chat rooms in Element have a widget system that permits you to embed web sites into the chat room as a part of the expertise. That performance was necessary for having our Matrix chat room function the central place to attend.

We embedded the PeerTube livestream into the channel—you may see it within the screenshot above within the higher left. Once the convention was over, we might share a playlist of the unedited video replays playlist. Now that our volunteer undertaking for enhancing the movies is full, the channel has the playlist of edited talks so as.

As mentioned within the earlier part, we embedded a observe within the higher proper nook to publish the day’s schedule, publish bulletins, and an space for Q&A proper within the pad. I had wished to arrange a Matrix bot to deal with Q&A, however I struggled to get one operating. It may make for a cool undertaking for subsequent yr, although.

Conversations in the course of the convention occurred proper in the primary chat beneath these widgets.

There are a few concerns to make when utilizing a Matrix/Element chat room because the central place for a web based convention, equivalent to:

  • The optimum expertise will probably be within the Element desktop consumer or an online browser on a desktop system. However, you may view the widgets within the Element cell consumer (though some attendees struggled to find this, the UI is less-than-obvious). Other Matrix shoppers might not be capable to view the widgets.
  • Attendees can simply DIY their very own expertise piecemeal if desired. Users not utilizing the Element consumer to attend the convention reported no points becoming a member of in on the chat and viewing the PeerTube livestream URL immediately. We shared the livestream URL and the hackmd URL within the channel subject, making it accessible to people who most well-liked to not run Element.


(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Ryan Gorley developed the Creative Freedom Summit website utilizing WordPress. It is hosted by WPengine and is a one-pager with the convention schedule embedded from


Post-event survey

We used the open supply survey device LimeSurvey. We despatched it out inside every week or two to attendees by way of the Element Chat channel and our PeerTube video channel to be taught extra about how we dealt with the occasion. The occasion organizers proceed to fulfill usually. One subject we concentrate on throughout these post-event conferences is creating the questions for the survey in a shared doc. The following are some issues we discovered from the occasion that is likely to be of curiosity to you in planning your personal open supply powered on-line convention:

  • By far, most occasion attendees discovered concerning the occasion from Mastodon and Twitter (collectively, overlaying 70% of respondents).
  • 33% of attendees used the Element desktop app to attend, and 30% used the Element Chat internet app. So roughly 63% of attendees used the built-in Matrix/Element expertise. The relaxation watched immediately on PeerTube or seen replays after.
  • 35% of attendees indicated they made connections with different creatives on the occasion by way of the chat, so the chat expertise is fairly necessary to occasions if a part of your purpose is enabling networking and connections.


During the occasion, we obtained constructive suggestions from individuals who appreciated when one other attendee live-captioned the speak within the chat and wished out loud for stay captioning for higher accessibility. While the stack outlined right here didn’t embrace stay captioning, there are open supply options for it. One such device is Live Captions, and Seth Kenlon coated it in an article, Open source video captioning on Linux. While this device is supposed for the attendee consuming the video content material regionally, we might doubtlessly have a convention host operating it and sharing it to the livestream in Jitsi. One approach to do that is utilizing the open supply broadcasting device OBS so everybody watching the livestream may gain advantage from the captions.

While enhancing the movies post-event, we found a device constructed into Kdenlive, our open supply video editor of alternative, that generates and routinely locations subtitles within the movies. There are fundamental directions on how to do that within the Kdenlive manual. Fedora Design Team member Kyle Conway, who helped with the post-event video enhancing, put collectively a comprehensive tutorial (including video instruction) on automatically generating and adding subtitles to videos in Kdenlive. It is effectively well worth the learn and watch if you’re on this function.

Video enhancing volunteer effort

When the occasion was over, we rallied a gaggle of volunteers from the convention Element channel to work collectively on enhancing the movies, together with title playing cards and intro/outro music, and common cleanup. Some of our automated replay recordings have been cut up throughout two information or mixed in a single file with a number of different talks and wanted to be reassembled or cropped down.

We used a GitLab epic to organize the work, with an FAQ and name for volunteer assist organized by skillset, with points hooked up for every video wanted. We had a collection of customized labels we might set on every video so it was clear what state the video was in and how much assist was wanted. All the movies have been edited, and a few want content material written for his or her description space on the Creative Freedom Summit channel. Many have auto-generated subtitles that haven’t been edited for spelling errors and different corrections frequent with auto-generated textual content.

(Máirín Duffy, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Open multimedia and artwork assets

We handed the movies round—the information may very well be fairly massive—by having volunteers obtain the uncooked video from the unedited recording on the primary PeerTube channel for the Creative Freedom Summit. When that they had an edited video able to share, we had a non-public PeerTube account the place they might add it. Admins with entry to the primary channel’s account periodically grabbed movies from the personal account and uploaded them to the primary account. Note that PeerTube does not have a system the place a number of accounts have entry to the identical channel, so we needed to have interaction in a little bit of password sharing, which might be nerve-wracking. We felt this was an affordable compromise to restrict how many individuals had the primary password however nonetheless allow volunteers to submit edited movies with out an excessive amount of problem.

Ready to provide it a strive?

I hope this complete description of how we ran the Creative Freedom Summit convention utilizing an open supply stack of instruments evokes you to strive it in your open supply occasion. Let us know the way it goes, and be happy to succeed in out in case you have questions or recommendations for enchancment! Our channel is at:

This article is tailored from Run an open source-powered virtual conference and is republished with permission.

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