What Chat/Text Tool Should Distros and App Developers Use For Their Communities?

There are so many options when it comes to tools for communication. Some of these tools are legacy like IRC but are they be good for new less technical users? Lots of people like Discord but should we be pushing a non-opensource tool? No judgement, just curious what platform do you love the most and why do you think it should be used by developers to build their community and handle general questions/support?

Finally, is there a platform you wish DLN was represented on?

  • IRC
  • Telegram
  • Rocket.Chat
  • Element/Matrix
  • Mumble
  • Revolt

*Your comments maybe mentioned on a future episode.


@dasgeek except for IRC, Matrix, and Telegram all of these require infrastructure and a new account. Many devs settled on IRC because of existing services. Many open source projects have moved to Matrix or Slack because of the low barrier to entry and they don’t need to manage infrastructure.


From a user perspective IRC or Matrix will do just fine. I like to keep it simple.


I find Telegram excellent for personal use and even for work now with its screen-share facility. I don’t use Matrix a huge amount myself (yet), but for the more technically-minded I definitely think it’s the way forward. IRC has traditionally been used a great deal, but doesn’t Element (for Matrix) allow bridging to manage most other protocols, making it strong for that reason too?

I use Telegram everyday. It is simple to use and available across every type of device. I use Element occasionally. Using it for encrypted chat isn’t yet straight forward for less technical users. Discord is definitely a non-starter. Discord doesn’t support free-speech and will ban accounts. It’s crazy to rely on a platform when that platform can ban the participants in your group for speech that takes place either inside or outside the group.

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Personally, I am so far behind in this area with any of these tools. I setup an account on discord once a few years back (perhaps it was at the suggestion of Noah C.); but it was such a jumbled mess that after a few days, I realized I couldn’t discern the benefit of sticking around long enough to figure it out. So I bailed.

When it comes to all of these tools other than IRC, you might as well be speaking in tongues. I would appreciate a show that examined them all, pros and cons, and delineated the benefit of each.


In this age of de-platforming, this is an important point.


There are just too many tools out there nowadays but I would never recommend proprietary software. It just goes against the spirit.

One day we will end up only using the Linux kernel and the rest will be proprietary SaaS software on top of it just like Android. That would be sad.


I think matrix, IRC and telegram, bridged between them will do the work. I use that combination in several Fedora’s teams and it works very well


I think if you’re used to IRC, Matrix isn’t a huge jump.

I like Matrix group fine, and don’t think we should be pushing any closed source options. I’ve never heard of Revolt.


This is going to be a thorny issue where no matter what you pick; there will be plenty of people who don’t like the solution.

My 2 cents: please, anything but IRC. Only geeks could ever like it. You’ll alienate vast numbers of people who aren’t willing to tough it to that extent.

Whatever is chosen, it needs to work well on smartphones… I think that regrettably, smartphones need to be thought of as a first class citizen when contemplating this issue. This means push notifications need to work there too. The young 'uns need the solution to work on their smartphones, or they’ll just return to their TikToks and Snapchats and ignore the world of Open Source.

My approach to solving this would go as follows: which is the best smartphone experience, which is Open Source (and also works on laptops and desktops), and work backwards from there?

Personally, I use Mattermost Team server (a Slack clone), because the Android app is decent, and push notifications work. They included a Kanban-board feature recently called “Boards” (so it’s sort of like a Trello clone as well).


I like IRC because there’s no account. I just want to ask my question and get out of there without dealing with confirmation emails or anything like that. On Linux Mint hexchat pops you right into their support channel automatically. No geekery involved.

Telegram is another good one because it only relies on your phone number and its easy to get set up. The channels also have a message history which IRC does not. It’s built for your phone which for lots of people, when their computer screws up and need support, is the only other device they have to access the internet.

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I agree, for example I’d much rather use Mumble (which I tried briefly) than Discord, which I have never touched, nor would I except if I had to for work.

Great comments and very helpful, thank you!

I’d prefer IRC.

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I feel like Matrix would be the best option in terms of ticking the most boxes.
can connect to other protocols
can self-host (albeit only one implementation so far)
easy to get the hang of (even on phones)
similar features to Discord (it’s the biggest proprietary contender in this field)

stuff I’d still like to see, but isn’t extremely urgent:
non-resource-devouring server
multiple implementations
slower spec development (this would help other implementations like Conduit or New Vector’s own Dendrite actually catch up to Synapse)
reduce metadata leakage

Overall I’m fairly happy with Matrix, and hope it’s problems do get addressed, but I think it’s the best bet right now.


I haven’t seen xmpp mentioned yet. It’s worth talking about.

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XMPP is more of a protocol isn’t it? While there are clients that use XMPP, it’s not quite as well adopted in a hostable format.

Matrix also fits that description, so if Matrix is a valid option, so would xmpp. :slight_smile:


Right. I just mean that you can “easily” deploy a matrix setup with Synapse and Element. I know there’s some similar stuff for XMPP, but I don’t know of an easy to deploy OOB implementation for XMPP that users are likely to be familiar with and ready to use.