DebConf13: breakthroughs in OTP and WebRTC

Saturday, 17 August was a day that saw groundbreaking new work revealed at DebConf13 and may have been a watershed moment in the emergence of WebRTC for the free software community.


Fabian Grünbichler, Daniel Pocock, Catalin Constantin Usurelu, Emil Ivov, Yana Stamcheva

Advancing the use of One Time Passwords with free software

Google Summer of Code (GSoC) student Fabian Grünbichler has spent the summer enhancing oath-toolkit and dynalogin to support a more diverse range of One Time Password schemes.

dynalogin's original 1.0 release supports vanilla HOTP and TOTP authentication schemes. Fabian's work has extended the framework to support the more generic and powerful OCRA approach. To find out about all the benefits this brings, I would strongly encourage you to review his slides and video presentation, with a demo where it is explained thoroughly.

While there are existing hardware tokens that support HOTP and TOTP using this open algorithm (Gooze has been kind enough to donate some which were on display), the mutual challenge-response schemes are yet to be widely supported in hardware and this means that Fabian's work is now at the cutting edge of development in this area.

WebRTC: premium voice/video chat in modern browsers, no plugin required

Another member of Debian's GSoC program, Catalin Constantin Usurelu helped organise and run one of the must-see sessions of DebConf13 (video available). In a demonstration that had all the hallmarks of a magic show, Catalin and I took random members of the audience and invited them to wave a magic wand over their web browsers and effortlessly turn them into Skype-busting softphones.

As the grand finale, we took Wookey's blog and showed him how to add a WebRTC "call-me" page in less than 20 seconds, less time than it takes to hand over all your private data to the registration process of those rather uncomfortable alternatives. Anybody else seeking to duplicate this effort is encourage to review options like Drucall for Drupal or just directly use JsSIP

Jitsi and the Jitsi Video-bridge

The grand-finale of the DebConf13 real-time communications track was our guest speaker, Emil Ivov, founder of the Jitsi softphone project.

Jitsi itself has recently been accepted into Debian and is easier than ever before to install and use.

Emil's talk (video and slides available) went into some detail about the cutting edge development activities of his team, particularly the new Jitsi Video bridge

Subsequent to the talk, we had some out-of-bands discussion about ways to potentially integrate Jitsi Video bridge with the open source dvswitch system used to produce streams and recordings from free software events such as DebConf and FOSDEM. It is hoped that this will provide an additional option for remote participation at free software events of all sizes.

Upcoming events

Emil and I have been invited to participate in the WebRTC Conference Paris 2013 in December. This will be an excellent opportunity to have further discussion about progress with WebRTC and do more to raise the compelling case for premium quality free software to meet the demanding needs of modern business communications. There are a series of talks for both technical and business-oriented audiences.