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Build Your Own Alternative Live Streaming Platform With Owncast

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Guest: Gabe Kangas (LinkedIn)
Company: Owncast (Twitter)
Show: Let’s Talk

Owncast is a self-hosted live video and web chat server that gives people the ability to control their content in a way they’ve never had. Owncast came into being partially because of the pandemic. Gabe Kangas, Maintainer of Owncast, says, “When people started streaming online more and more when they were stuck at their homes, I started hearing more and more scary stories about people getting kicked off of different services, and them kind of being held hostage and their content being owned and controlled by these third-party services.”

Because of this, Kangas thought, “why isn’t there a live streaming platform that people can control, operate, own, and customize themselves?” To that end, he created Owncast. According to Kangas, the benefits of working with this platform are the ability to work with a provider, such as Linode or DigitalOcean, and deploy Owncast with a single click. The problem, however, is getting people “in the door,” which Owncast is working on.

As far as hosting providers, Kangas says, “the growth of these one-click marketplaces that hosting providers have been starting to offer their customers has just been a huge boon for everybody.” These providers are helping to put open-source software in front of people that may have never known it even existed. This is, according to Kangas, a “win-win-win” because it’s “easy for a user to install it, it’s easy for the developer to get it in front of people, and it drives demand for additional hosting products from the hosting provider.”

But how would a user pick a provider? To that, Kangas speaks to scale when he says, “I see what other people are using and what other people have had success with. And that’s why on the Owncast website, we do document, ‘Here’s a handful of providers that people have had success with,’ because we don’t want to waste your time with trial and error.”

Owncast also supports GPU-accelerated encoding. Although this is a niche, users who have the hardware to support it will get a significant performance increase from the feature.

The summary of the show is written by Jack Wallen

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