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 for free.
“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 hold video conferences, as well as webinars and online presentations.
The platform has seen increased demand, in particular due to the corona pandemic and the associated online education. Many schools have been using open source software for some time, allowing students and teachers to communicate. In addition to audio and video transmission, the software also offers virtual chat and 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 to use Big Blue Button?
Once you have the invitation link received by the moderator, open it in your browser. If an access code is required, provide it. After that, tap on the Join button and then choose the way to join the meeting means whether you want to listen to the conference without a microphone or join 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. Therefore, nothing is hidden or any malicious code that could create heckling. Schools, universities and companies can set up the software on their own server for added security. This means that all data therefore remains on your server and – if Big Blue Button is configured correctly – is only sent encrypted. Nevertheless, the developers of BigBlueButton also offer 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 private and public chat function, digital whiteboard and breakout rooms. Here is the list of some important ones:
⇒ Audio sharing, chat, slide presentations (PDF, OpenOffice documents, PNG, …) and video, as well as your screen
⇒ Integrate a real-time whiteboard
⇒ Multi-User Whiteboards
⇒ Different drawing tools
⇒ Conference recording incl. slides, whiteboard and mouse movements
⇒ Notes shared via an integrated Etherpad
⇒ Use of an unlimited number of webcams
⇒ The formation of distinct groups
⇒ Upload and download content
⇒ Breakout rooms that can be used to start time-limited sub-conferences for sub-group synchronized video players – for joint viewing of Youtube videos, for example.
⇒ The moderator’s video player also controls participants’ video players.
⇒ Conducting participant surveys
⇒ 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 Requirements
Well, the system requirements to install BigBlueButton are demanding if you plan to host a good number of participants. According to the official BigBlueButton project website, the following recommended minimum requirements are needed to set up your server.
To note: You can also opt for fewer resources depending on the number of participants.
⇒ 16 GB RAM
⇒ 8 processor cores
⇒ 500 GB of free storage space on the file system for recording conferences
⇒ If you want to configure an SSL certificate, a fully qualified domain name such as bbb.how2shout.com is required.
⇒ Network connection with a bandwidth of 250 MBit/s (symmetrical)
⇒ If the system is protected by a firewall, the following ports of the BigBlueButton system must be accessible from the outside:
TCP ports 22, 80 and 443
UDP ports 16384 to 32768
⇒ Additionally, the BigBlueButton system must be able to access port 7636 of the UCS LDAP server for later use.
⇒ Strictly Ubuntu 20.04 LTS OS, currently doing this article. Don’t upgrade it to Ubuntu 20.04.4.
2. Update Ubuntu 20.04
Log in to your Ubuntu 20.04 server and run the system update command to refresh the APT package manager index cache. This will also install available security updates.
sudo apt update
3. Check the server locale
The server locale on Linux is set with the SERVER_LOCALE environment variable, which specifies the language, territory, and code. Let’s check if is set to good or not.
The output should be:
Otherwise, run the given command, else proceed to the next step.
sudo apt install -y language-pack-en
sudo update-locale LANG=en_US.UTF-8
4. Open required ports
Those using cloud hosting should open TCP ports 80 and 443 in their cloud firewall before going any further. Additionally, UPD ports 16384 through 32768 are required for multimedia connections, such as video streams.
5. Install BigBlueButton on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
Then we need to download the latest BBB script available on the GitHub to install it. As of writing the article, the latest version was 2.5, which may be different in your case. Therefore, first check the same on the Github page before installing.
Switch to root:
Download the scenario
Install BBB 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 required to issue a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. Also, make sure the domain you plan to use is A record points to the IP address of the server where you plan to install BBB.
-a will install API demos while
-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, Greenlight is a simple graphical user interface of BigBlueButton to easily create rooms, start meetings and manage recordings. It is written in Ruby & Rails. Learn more about GreenLight.
6. Check status
After installation is complete, to verify that the services required by BigBlueButton are up and running, run:
sudo bbb-conf --status
7. Create an administrator account
To login 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 your screen so we can change later.
Move to the green light root directory.
Run the following command which 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 plan to use this web video conferencing platform for production.
sudo apt-get purge bbb-demo
8. Access the BigBlueButton GreenLight GUI
Now open any browser that can access the defined domain to use with BigBlueButton. In the following format:
Click on the To sing given button on the upper right 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 Default User and Password
Once logged in, the system will ask you to change the default password. Click the link for the same.
Click on the Upper right side given – profile icon then select the Profile option. Now click on 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 information and change the default email address to the one you want to use.
10. BigBlueButton Dashboard
On the BigBlueButton web interface, 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 Begin button.
Select the medium you want to use to join the meeting.
Finally, start chatting with the participants and also broadcast videos or presentations.
To further tune your BigBlueButton server, check out the official guide.
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