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Technical bleg: simple video chat over a LAN (Mac/Win mix)?

March 15, 2012 3 Comments

My systems are all Windows 7 Pro 64-bit. One of my desktops has a Logitech webcam on it.

My wife’s systems are all Mac OS X. Her MacPro tower has a webcam on it.

We’re on the same LAN, but we’re two floors apart.

Is there a simple way to set up video chat within the LAN between our systems without having to go outside the network?

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About the Author:

Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the BYU Computer Science Department. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at 303.502.4141 or at

Comments (3)

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  1. Alan Miller says:

    I’m not sure that you’ll find much that’s completely “simple.” Without the restriction of it staying within your own network it’s pretty much a solved problem; staying local is actually more troublesome.

    Jitsi may be worth looking into as a client; it’s a Java-based cross-platform client that includes both XMPP and SIP among other things. It’s not clear from its documentation whether you can chat directly machine-to-machine without a server, but with the same software at both ends you’re more likely to have success.

    Absent clients that allow direct interconnection, you’re likely to need an internal server, either XMPP (Jabber messaging) or SIP (VoIP). Both are freely available (libre- and beer-) and can support videoconferencing. For XMPP, you’ll probably end up with OpenFire either standalone or as part of Elastix (which includes it along with SIP and a bunch of other things). I believe OpenFire can be run on Windows, but you’re likely to be better off running it on Linux. Elastix ships as a Linux-based ISO. Both will likely run fine on VMs, though you may have to do it on a dedicated VM server – comments I’ve seen indicated that due to processor access issues you might have problems with a SIP server running on a VM under Windows, and the same might apply to XMPP processing voice or video.

  2. Alan Miller says:

    Ekiga might be promising (and lists “Local network integration using the Rendez-Vous/Bonjour/ZeroConf protocol: Ekiga users in the local network will show up automatically.” in features) but is Windows and Linux only; not sure if it’ll interoperate well with anything on the Mac side but it may also be worth pursuing.

  3. Kristin Dzugan says:

    I too would like to do this, and I can’t believe there isn’t a simple solution. I’d argue that using web chat is a “solved problem”. My husband and I have tried Yahoo messenger, Skype and Windows Live Messenger, and with all we have had problems with the connection dropping. Does having HD cameras have anything to do with this (too much bandwith?)?

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