Deploy BigBlueButton on your Bare Metal Cloud Server

BigBlueButton - Overview

BigBlueButton is a powerful web conference system, allowing to communicate with remote team members over fully encrypted connections using TLS/SSL. After having successfully deployed the application for everyone during the COVID period, we will show you how to deploy a BigBlueButton platform on your servers. The application was developed for academic use and supports a large number of concurent users in each conference room.

The application can be deployed on Scaleway Bare Metal Servers and allows you to have access to features such as:

  • Sharing of screens, presentations, external videos …
  • A collaborative whiteboard
  • Invitation to a conference through a simple custom URL
  • Built-in chat for exchanging messages during video conferencing
  • Survey integrated into the videoconferencing system
  • Conference recording

As a reminder, Scaleway has been making the BigBlueButton and Jitsi platforms available to everyone free of charge on its Cloud infrastructures since the beginning of the COVID-Project “Ensemble”:

BigBlueButton is open-source software and can be used on Bare Metal Servers without any additional license cost.

This tutorial is composed of several steps and will show you how to:

The advanced section is intended for users who want to go further and explains how to:

Requirements

Deploying BigBlueButton on a Scaleway Bare Metal Server

1 . Log yourself into to your Scaleway console. The dashboard displays once logged in.

2 . Click on Bare Metal in the Compute section of the side menu:

3 . Click on Create a Bare Metal Server to order a new server:

4 . Once the server is delivered, click on the Install button on the Bare Metal start page to install the operating system on the server.

5 . Choose the Version BigBlueButton 16.04 image during the installation of the server, add the SSH keys you want to autorize to connect to the machine and click the Install button to launch the installation.

6 . Add the SSH keys for which you would like to authorize the connection to the machine, and click the Install button to start the installation. To learn more about how to generate the keys, see the documentation: How to configure SSH keys

7 . The installation of the server launches and will run for about 30 minutes. Once it finishes you will see the URL to connect to your BigBlueButton interface in the description of the machine:

7 . Point your web browser to the URL shown in your Scaleway console. The BigBlueButton Greenlight frontend displays:

8 . Continue with the creation of an admin user to manage your BigBlueButton server.

Creating a User Account

By default everyone can create a user account on the BigBlueButton server. However, it is possible to restrict the creation of user accounts from the admin panel.

1 . Open your web browser and go to the domain name of your BigBlueButton server, for example https://bbb.example.com.

2 . The Greenlight front-end displays. Click Sign up to create a new user.

3 . Fill in the required parameters for the new user:

  • Full name: The users full name
  • Email: The users email address
  • Password: A secret password for the user
  • Password Confirmation: Confirmation of the users password

Once all values are set, click Sign up to create the new user account.

4 . The users home page displays:

A Home Room is created by default for the new user. You can share the public link of the room for others to join it. Once you are ready, start the conference by clicking on Start. You will join the conference room with moderator privileges.

If required you can create addional rooms by clicking Create a Room. Each of the rooms may have its own configuration and a unique URL to share.

Using the Virtual Conference Room

Once connected to the conference, you will be asked if you want to enable your computer microphone to be able to speak or to listen to the conference only. This choice is not definitive and can be changed at anytime during the conference.

Note: Upon the first connection you may be asked to allow access to your camera and microphone for the service. This is required to be able to communicate using BigBlueButton. Scaleway does not store your video or audio information and they are shared only within your conference room.

The BigBlueButton main communication screen displays:

The main options are:

  • Mute: Mute or unmute the microphone of your device
  • Leave Audio: Leave the audio stream of the conference while remaining connected to the conference room. You can follow the presentation or interact with other users in the chat. To join the audio stream again click on the icon.
  • Camera: Disable or enable sharing of the webcam of your local device. The camera is disabled by default. Click on the icon to enable it.
  • Presenter tools: If you are a moderator or have been granted presenter privileges during a conference, you can use this button to launch polls, upload presentations, or share external videos in the conference.

In case the video or audio quality is not optimal or the application uses too many resources (CPU/RAM) on your local machine, you can disable webcam sharing:

1 . Click on the Options button in the right corner of the screen, then on Settings in the menu.

2 . Disable webcams in the Data Savings tab. Optionally desktop sharing can be disabled too for further bandwidth savings.

3 . Click OK to validate:

Accessing Moderator Privileges

If you have joined a conference as a moderator, you have advanced privileges. Moderators can perform the following actions on guests:

Note: As a moderator, your name icon is squared. On the contrary, if you are a guest, your name icon is circled.

  • Mute user: Moderators can mute guests to restrict them from speaking during the conference. The user can unmute himself if a global mute has been removed from the conference
  • Make presenter: Give permission to a guest to be the presenter. Presenters have the possibilities to launch polls, upload presentations, or share external videos in the conference.
  • Promote to moderator: Promote a guest to a moderator. The user will have the same privileges as the initial moderator.
  • Remove user: Remove guests from the conference.

The moderator options are available by clicking on a regular user from the users list:

In addition, you have several other privileges available for the entire conference room. Click on the star wheel next to Users to display the options available to the moderator.

  • Clear all status icon
  • Mute all users
  • Mute all users except the presenter
  • Save user names
  • Lock viewers
  • Create breakout rooms
  • Write closed captions

Accessing Presenter Tools

A presenter can be any user in the conference, limited to only one presenter at a time in each conference room. Any moderator can make any user a presenter, including themselves.

A presenter has access to the following features:

  • Upload presentation slides
  • Use the whiteboard draw sketches
  • Enable/disable the multi-user whiteboard
  • Start a poll
  • Share a video
  • Share their screen

The presenter features are available by clicking on the Presenter Tools button:

Advanced Configuration

In this section, you will learn how to:

Note: These steps are optional and require some basic Linux knowledge to be executed.

Creating an Administrator Account

To manage advanced settings on your BigBlueButton server, you need to create an Administraor Account for Greenlight. The administrator account allows you to manage users, customize the Greenlight interface and to enable or disable features such as the recording of conferences.

1 . To create the administrator account, connect yourself to your Bare Metal server using SSH:

ssh root@<your-server-ip>

2 . Run the following command from the command line to create a default admin user:

docker exec greenlight-v2 bundle exec rake admin:create

3 . The following output displays once the account has been created:

Account succesfully created.
Email: admin@example.com
Password: administrator
Role: admin
PLEASE CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD IMMEDIATELY

Important: Please change the password of the admin@example.com user immediately from the Greenlight front-end for security reasons.

4 . The admin user has advanced configuration options for the available Greenlight front-end, such as user and room management, registration settings, and much more. Click on *Administrator -> Organization in the top right corner to access the admin interface.

Manual BigBlueButton Installation

You can also manually install BigBlueButton on a server freshly installed with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus). This can be useful if you installed the server manually using the KVM over IP device.

The application has the following minimum hardware requirements and it is recommended to install it on dedicated (bare metal) hardware for best performances:

  • Ubuntu 16.04 64-bit OS running Linux kernel 4.x
  • 8 GB of memory with swap enabled (16 GB of memory is better)
  • 4 CPU cores (8 is better)
  • 500G of free disk space (or more) for recordings
  • 250 Mbits/sec bandwidth (symmetrical) or more
  • Dedicated (bare metal) hardware
  • A hostname (such as bbb.example.com)

To set up for a successful install of BigBlueButton, we recommend starting with a ‘clean’ Ubuntu 16.04 64-bit server dedicated for BigBlueButton.

A script is available to manage the installation of the software in a few steps.

Important: Before installing BigBlueButton, you need to configure a valid hostname for your server. If you have not done so already, you need to purchase a domain name from a domain name registrar and configure an A record pointing to your server’s IP address from the registrar’s web interface. Refer to the documentation of your domain registrar on information how to do this step. You can buy your domain name at Scaleway Dedibox: Learn more

1 . Log onto your dedicated server using the regular SSH user you have created during the installation of Ubuntu 16.04:

ssh myuser@my.server.ip.address

2 . Enter the root account by using sudo:

sudo su

3 . Open the /etc/hosts file in a text editor and set the hostname of your server:

127.0.0.1       localhost
127.0.1.1       bbb.example.com bigbluebutton
123.123.123.123    bbb.example.com bigbluebutton

# The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts
::1     localhost ip6-localhost ip6-loopback
ff02::1 ip6-allnodes
ff02::2 ip6-allrouters

4 . Set the hostname of the server using the hostname command:

hostname bbb.example.com

5 . Download and run the BigBlueButton installation script using the following parameters:

  • -v xenial-22 which specifies you want to install the latest build of BigBlueButton 2.2.N,
  • -s FQDN which specifies the fully qualified domain name for the BigBlueButton server
  • -e EMAIL which specifies the email address used for the TLS certificate,
  • -g which specifies want to install the Greenlight frontend, and
  • -w which installs the uncomplicated firewall (UFW) to restrict access to TCP/IP ports 22, 80, and 443, and UDP ports in range 16384-32768.

Replace the domain name and email address in the command with your values before installing BigBlueButton using the command below

wget -qO- https://ubuntu.bigbluebutton.org/bbb-install.sh | bash -s -- -v xenial-22 -s bbb.example.com -e contact@example.com -g -w

Important: The installation of BigBlueButton using the script above can take up to 15 minutes.

If you want to learn more about the configuration of the different components used to build the BigBlueButton server, you may follow the step-by-step guide in the official documentation.

6 . Once the installation is completed, several information about the BigBlueButton server are displayed:

Starting BigBlueButton


BigBlueButton Server 2.2.17 (1992)
                    Kernel version: 4.4.0-184-generic
                      Distribution: Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS (64-bit)
                            Memory: 264091 MB
                         CPU cores: 48

                         [...]

7 . You can open your BigBlueButton domain in your browser now. The Greenlight welcome page displays:

For further information regarding BigBlueButton, refer to the official documentation for BigBlueButton and Greenlight.

Discover the Cloud That Makes Sense