5 open source Slack group chat alternatives

5 min


With any collaboration, it’s important to have good communication tools. Of course, they are individual and depend on your situation, but may include newsletters for email communication, Git or subversion for version controlWikipedia or Etherpad for teamworkwide open task list for organizing a workflow or even a full package project management.

One of the indispensable communication tools has become group chat. It does not matter whether your colleagues are sitting in a room opposite you or on the other side of the planet, the ability to communicate in real time simplifies and speeds up many conversations, and also helps to deal with the confusion that may arise with asynchronous communication.

In some circles, it is believed that chat applications can be distracting from work. I believe that it is important to “move out” to non-working chat topics before they create cognitive impairment. And it is equally important to have space for continuous work on tasks that require longer periods of concentration. Now, for example, I use at least two group chats with notifications turned off – this way I can only check them periodically during breaks from work, and when I need to work hard, I turn off alerts on all social networks.

I am for the fact that for your needs in group chat you choose the tool that will be exclusive to the work, but not everyone will agree with me. Personally, I’ll quite easily be distracted by conversations not about work, when the chat function is used as a social network. I like to separate work from free time, so I like to turn off personal dialogs for work time and vice versa. Act in the interests of your team.

Slack quickly became a favorite among software developers and superseded other tools. In the article The next web the following is written: “Slack silently and unintentionally kills the IRC,” many open-source communities also made this transition. For example, WordPress developers crossed on Slack for team communication.

But Slack is a closed-source SaaS tool, and it’s not the only one. In fact, open source can be key to your business chat needs. If you work with confidential information or you need to make sure that all communication is left behind the firewall, then self-hosting is the best option for you. And access to the source ensures that communication between you and your team does not escape your control through some nasty addition to the source code base.
Let’s take a look at a few open source alternatives, from classic to the latest apps that can fit perfectly into your work environment.

Mattermost

Mattermost – A very modern approach with group chat, offering both independent and other hosting options. It is written in Golang with a good piece of JavaScript under the React framework. It has private and public chats, including one-on-one communication, good archive support and an interface similar to Slack, including many expected features. In general, if you are already using Slack, you can easily import your current channels and archives. Mattermost also integrates with your organization’s existing LDAP or Active Directory authentication systems.

The feature that I like – the ability to download sounds, videos or pictures directly from your mobile device – is very convenient when communicating on the go. Mattermost is licensed under the Apache-wrapped AGPL. Check it out source on github, and then try using it.

Zulip

Zulip – Another cross-platform multimedia chat service, released under the Apache license and offering hosting options. It has a lot of what you will expect if you are familiar with Slack: embedding images, @ -mention, uploading files, having a log and much more. It has several channels (rooms) – you will definitely use them to work in a team. This is a free service with paid plans to increase internal storage, LDAP and Active Directory integration, as well as local support.

The function to import your organization from Slack, HipChat, Mattermost and Gitter is also available here.
Zulip runs on Linux, Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.

Rocket.Chat

Rocket.Chat written in CoffeeScript and JavaScript on top of the Meteor framework. Rocket.Chat is designed for local downloading and working with the client interface for both the desktop and the mobile device. It contains many similar functions like other modern applications – from notifications on the desktop to downloading pictures and files to the archive with search, and integration with LDAP. The plans also include a native Android application, Kerberos support and integration with many other tools with GitLab, as well as anti-virus tools for attached files.
Rocket.Chat has demo online versionyou can also watch it source on github. Available under the MIT license.

Riot.im

Riot.im became extremely popular since the publication of the article and earned its place in it. It has a set of web and mobile tools that can be used to connect to Matrix, “An open network for secure, decentralized communications.”
Riot is probably the easiest to use from the entire list. You can also check all source code of all projects on Github licensed under Apache 2.0.

Through integration, you can also use Riot to connect to services using IRC, Slack, or Gitter, which potentially allows you to replace multiple clients with one open source option.
To find out more, check out our full the introduction of into the project.

IRC

Relay Internet Chat (IRC) is a protocol dating back to the late 1980s. There are many open source implementations, both on the client side and on the server side, since IRC has been around for a long time. One of its main advantages is its simplicity. The IRC specification is so simple that it is widely used in introductory programming classes as an easy way to learn network communications.
However, with age, disadvantages also appeared. He lacks many functions that you expect to see in a modern chat – from security to identity management, and even the ability to easily send non-text components like pictures, files or emoticons (although for some it will be a plus). Some functions were implemented after some time through bot services including nickname management, logging and some others, but they also vary from server to server.

Although the IRC has remained the same attractiveness. It is almost universal, customers are available for almost every platform. Although the command interface is not always intuitive for beginners, many re-implement commands through the graphical user interface. If you are doing open source upstream development, it is likely that you are already very familiar with IRC, so adding a command server can be a way of less resistance.

Other alternatives

The list above is far from exhaustive, and I want you to search yourself before making a decision. Do you have a favorite who is not on the list? Leave a comment below so that everyone can check it out.

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