PeerTube v3 : it’s a live, a liiiiive !
Today we are releasing a major new version of PeerTube, our alternative to centralized video platforms like YouTube.
Wait… What is PeerTube?
PeerTube is not a platform, it is a software.
Hosting companies can install this software on their servers and create a « PeerTube website » (an instance) where users can view and upload videos as an alternative to YouTube.
Unlike YouTube, PeerTube instances are :
- Free: everyone has the right to use PeerTube software, you can look « under the hood » to see if the code is clean, you can even tweak it to your liking and share it!
- Federated: each PeerTube site can synchronize with another to show their videos without hosting them on the server’s hard drive.
- Decentralized: the videos use peer-to-peer streaming (from PeerTube to the internet user, but also from internet users to other internet users), to improve fluidity.
A v3 funded by your solidarity
In June 2020, we announced the steps of our roadmap for the next 6 months, up to PeerTube v3.
On this occasion, we launched a fundraising campaign, with the aim of financing the €60,000 that this development would cost us. Your have been very generous, as more than €68,000 have been raised.
We would like to thank you for this generosity especially in a difficult time for everyone. Thanks also to the sponsors of this v3, Octopuce (which proposes hosting and managed services of free-libre softwares, including PeerTube) and Code Lutin (development company specialising in free-libre software). But also the Debian project (one of the best known and most used free-libre GNU-Linux distributions) which, by their donation and their press release, gave PeerTube an international recognition.
Research, moderation, facilitation: key steps
The transition from v2.2 (June 2020 version) to v3 of PeerTube has been done in steps, with many minor improvements and at least one major development each time.
The global search of version 2.3, released during the summer, allows you to find videos in the whole federation (and not just in the federation-bubble of the PeerTube instance you are visiting).
The version 2.4 of September has improved the moderation tools, the display of playlists on external sites and the plugin system.
At the end of September, we unveiled SepiaSearch, the PeerTube videos and channels search engine based on the global search feature. That feature was not intended to be a separate search engine, with its web interface and indexed PeerTube instance list. The constraint was to make it free and affordable, so that others could host their own PeerTube search engine, with their own rules. Your feedback helped us understand that this was expected and necessary, so we added this step to our roadmap.
From October onwards, development focused on live and peer-to-peer video streaming. It was a big undertaking. The fact that it happened in a difficult 2020 year (for everyone) didn’t help, but we managed to complete the challenge with almost no delay! (or very little? :p)
A minimalist and efficient peer-to-peer live stream
The great feature of this v3 is live streaming, and we are proud to say that it works very well! 🎉🎉🎉
Here is a link to the release, we hope that PeerTube Instances admin will apply the update soon!
We have detailed how it all works in the announcement of the publication of version 3 RC (for « release candidate ») which has been tested in the last few weeks.
The main points to remember :
- The lag (between video maker and audience) varies between 30 seconds and 1mn, as expected ;
- Depending on the power of the server and its load (number of simultaneous live shows, transcoding, etc.), PeerTube can provide hundreds of simultaneous views (but we’re not sure that it will scale to thousands… at least not yet!);
- Administration options are included for people hosting the instance;
- The features are minimalist by design, and we have documented our recommendations for creating a live ;
- The live can be done with most video streaming tool (we recommend the free-libre software OBS), with two options:
- An « short-lived » live, with a unique identifier, will offer the possibility to save the video and display a replay on the same link;
- A « permanent » live stream, which will work more like a Twitch channel, but without the replay option.
There is more than live in life
This v3 comes with many changes and improvements, thanks to the UX design work we did with Marie Cécile Godwin Paccard. Menus, notifications, administration and moderation tools have been redesigned.
This work on the menus is just one of the most visible examples of the many improvements that have been made to PeerTube to make its use more enjoyable. We are very pleased with the initial results and we are looking forward to continue this work.
« PeerTube, Backstage »
During the fundraising for this v3, a certain TomToom offered us an original contribution. Video director for Kintésens prod, he wanted to offer us a short behind-the-scenes movie about PeerTube. The challenge? To show the reality lived by our very small team, with our artisanal methods (we proudly claim the term), while respecting the will of Chocobozzz (the only paid developer on the project) not to show up on the screen and to devote his time to develop this v3.
The result? Here it is.
The next step? Getting some rest! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to give us as much feedback as possible on these new features, specifically on the live. It’s by reading your contributions on our forum that we can understand what is expected, what we need to prioritize, what needs to be corrected or improved.
We do not foresee any crowdfunding in 2021, nor to finance the future v4 of PeerTube. These fundraising put us in a paradoxical situation: we want to raise awareness about the software to raise funds, so people are interested in it, so they want to contribute, but we have little time to welcome them, because our very small team has to work hard to develop the features promised in the fundraising.
So we haven’t drawn up a strict roadmap for 2021, in order to keep ourselves available and react to the needs we perceive. We just know that the main theme of PeerTube v4 will be customization.
Centralized platforms give little power over the display of videos (newest, most viewed, just that category, etc.), the look of their platform, or even customization of the channels. Giving these capabilities back to the people seems to us to be an interesting and fun way to go.
If you wish to help us in this approach, do not hesitate to promote PeerTube around you (with the JoinPeertube website) or to financially support our not-for-profit.