Setting up a load-balanced Jitsi Meet instance

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Jitsi Meet is a self-hosted Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) video conferencing solution. During the recent COVID-19 pandemic the project became quite popular and many companies decided to host their own Jitsi instance.

illustration
Photo by Chuttersnap

There are many different ways to install and run Jitsi on a machine. A popular choice in the DevOps space is to use Docker via docker-compose, which was the method used in our scenario.

While at cynkra we have been running our own Jitsi instance quite happily for some months, there was a slightly challenging task coming up: hosting a virtual meeting for approximately 100 participants.

The Challenge

cynkra actively supports the local Zurich R User Group. For one of their recent meetings, about 100 people RSVP’ed.

When browsing the load capabilities of a single Jitsi instance, one finds that the stock setup gets into trouble starting at around 35 people and will go down at around 70 people. The limiting factor is said to be the “videobridge”. One solution is to add a second videobridge to the Jitsi instance. Jitsi can then distribute the load and should be able to host more than 100 people in a meeting.

The best approach to do this is to deploy the second videobridge on a new instance to avoid running into CPU limitations on the main machine. While there is a guide in the Jitsi Wiki and a video about it, many people struggle (1, 2) to get this set up successfully.

Hence, we thought it would be valuable to take another, hopefully simple and understandable, stab at explaining this task to the community.

Load-balancing Jitsi Meet

In the following we will denote the main machine which Jitsi runs on as MAIN. The second machine, which will only host a standalone videobridge, will be named BRIDGE.

  1. The first step is to create a working installation on MAIN, following the official docker guide from the Jitsi developers. There is no need to use Docker. An installation on the host system will also work.

    At this point we assume that you already have installed Jitsi with SSL support at a fictitious domain.

  2. To be able to connect to the XMPP server (managed by prosody) on MAIN from BRIDGE (details in point 4 below), port 5222 needs to be exported to the public. This requires adding

    ports:
            - "5222:5222"
            

to the prosody section in docker-compose.yml and ensuring that the port is opened in the firewall (ufw allow 5222).

  • On BRIDGE, start with the same .env and docker-compose.yml as MAIN.

    In docker-compose.yml, remove all services besides jvb. The videobridge will later connect to all services on MAIN.

    Make sure that JVB_AUTH_USER and JVB_AUTH_PASSWORD in .env are the same as on MAIN, otherwise the authentication will fail.

  • On BRIDGE in .env change XMPP_SERVER=xmpp.<DOMAIN> to XMPP_SERVER=<DOMAIN>.

  • Run docker-compose up and observe what happens. The videobridge should successfully connect to <DOMAIN>. On MAIN, in docker logs jitsi_jicofo_1, an entry should appear denoting that a new videobridge was successfully connected.

    It looks like

    Jicofo 2020-10-23 19:01:52.173 INFO: [29] org.jitsi.jicofo.bridge.BridgeSelector.log() Added new videobridge: Bridge[[email protected]<DOMAIN>/d789de303e9b, relayId=null, region=null, stress=0.00]
            
  • If you have another videobridge running on MAIN, you should see that the identifier of the new videobridge (here d789de303e9b) is different to your main videobridge identifier. On BRIDGE the logs should show something like

    INFO: Joined MUC: [email protected]<DOMAIN>
            INFO: Performed a successful health check in PT0S. Sticky failure: false
            

    To test that the external videobridge is active, one can disable the main videobridge (docker stop jitsi_jvb_1) and try to enable the camera in a new meeting.

    Troubleshooting and Tips

    To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: cynkra.

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