Keeping in touch has never been more important for teams of all sizes. This is especially true with the work from home or work from anywhere approaches, which businesses have had to adopt in these unprecedented times.
However, when it comes to picking the best communication tools for your team or business needs, it’s probably more confusing to find the one that checks all the boxes.
There’s a whole slew of team messaging and video conferencing options available, making it harder to tell what will work for your specific team or business setup.
Discord is just one of the many messaging services that rose to popularity thanks to the gamer community. The platform organizes conversations into channels by topic with options for text, voice, and video chat too.
While businesses are looking into using Discord for their own teams, there are a few issues with the platform that make it less desirable.
For instance, the interface may not be intuitive for non-gamer members of your team, file sharing is limited depending on the pricing plan, and the platform was designed for gaming, not business or professional use.
On top of that, Discord may not have a professional look and feel for your team or for use with clients and other external guests on messaging threads or calls.
Here’s a rundown of the 15 best open-source Discord alternatives you can check out and find one that’s right for your team.
Element is an end-to-end encrypted (E2EE), secure messaging and collaboration app that’s based on Matrix. The tool provides voice and video calls, instant messaging, file and screen sharing, and huge chat rooms for one-on-one communication.
You can use it on any platform including Windows, macOS, Linux, and mobile devices to enhance communication and collaboration.
While Discord is basically free and ideal for small teams and businesses, Element is open-source and completely free but designed with governments, communities, and companies seeking digital sovereignty.
Plus, Discord doesn’t offer official integrations and moderators aren’t in control as much as they would be with other messaging platforms.
Element has a decentralized design for digital sovereignty, and you can deploy it on-premises or through a cloud provider.
Plus, Element provides a SaaS version of its platform through Element Matrix Services, which provides enterprise-grade add-ons and fast performance.
As a Matrix-based software, Element can bridge into Slack, Discord, Telegram, and Teams. This way, it’s easier to connect between organizations, and still keep your files and conversations safe using E2EE encryption.
The universal secure chat application can be self-hosted, giving you more control over your data, and you can still organize rooms around any topic, add widgets, share files, and more. You can also use QR codes or emoji comparisons to safeguard against eavesdroppers and imposters.
Mattermost is another open-source platform that enables communication and team collaboration.
The messaging platform gives you peace of mind because you don’t have to worry about data privacy or security, and you get full control over your data unlike with Discord, which doesn’t give moderators as much control especially over direct messages.
Plus, Mattermost is self-hosted while Discord isn’t, and you get better support for Markdown and LaTex, as well as message threads on Mattermost.
The software isn’t just open-source but flexible and enables secure team collaboration. This way, you can collaborate across large teams and build intuitive workflows that scale to tens of thousands of concurrent users.
DevOps teams can also use Mattermost to power collaboration at each step of the lifecycle. Mattermost also unifies tools, people, data, and automation to help teams increase agility and innovation.
The open-source tool allows you to integrate your favorite tools, automate work and configure its design to your liking. In addition, Mattermost is written in React and Golang, runs a single Linux binary with PostgreSQL and MySQL, and offers file sharing, which Discord lacks.
You also get real-time group chat or webhooks and you can use other features you like while accessing the software’s source code.
Jitsi is an open-source and completely free project that lets you build video conferencing solutions for your team or business.
Unlike Discord, which is an all-in-one voice and text chat built for gamers, Jitsi is a multi-platform open-source platform for video conferencing that’s completely free to use and makes it easy to build and deploy video conferencing solutions.
Jitsi takes video calls to the next level, works on web and mobile devices, and supports advanced video routing concepts such as scalable video coding and bandwidth estimations.
The software lets you have conferences on the web while other projects enable other features including recording, dial-in, audio, and simulcasting.
Jitsi’s text chatting is only available for the web though, but you get more features like screen sharing, locking rooms with passwords, and streaming a conference to YouTube live with Jitsi.
Unlike Discord, which doesn’t offer file sharing, you can share text documents on Jitsi based on Etherpad, raise or lower your hand for attention, and view participant talk-time stats.
Jami, formerly Ring, is an open-source Discord alternative that prioritizes privacy and facilitates direct calls between its users.
The software has a professional-looking design and works on all major platforms, including Windows, Mac, and mobile apps on Android and iOS devices.
While it’s not as fully featured as other Discord alternatives on this list, Jami provides a good selection of tools such as HD video calling, voice and instant messaging, and file sharing, which you won’t get with Discord.
Plus, Jami is decentralized in nature, meaning the calls are only between you and your recipient, so nobody else can see or hear your conversation. Jami doesn’t use servers to handle calls, meaning you get to enjoy even greater privacy.
You can share your live gameplay with other users as you would on Discord, create multiple groups or teams to communicate with, conduct private group meetings or sessions, and share your screen.
You can also send and receive text messages or record your gameplay and communication simultaneously.
Mumble is an open-source and completely free, high-quality, low latency voice chat app. The app, which was established more than a decade ago, was the first VoIP app to establish true low latency voice communication, but it can also be used for recording podcasts.
Like Discord, Mumble was designed with gamers in mind, but a variety of workplaces adapt the app to fit their needs whether communicating across countries, on-head mobile devices, or into airplanes.
The software can be used with games for real-time voice communication, and has servers globally, meaning you can specify servers that are closer to you and get the best experience.
Mumble is quite different from Discord as it allows chat encryption if you value your privacy, has impressive voice quality with positional sound features, and works on all platforms.
While Mumble lacks browser support, which Discord users are fond of, you still get in-game overlay, real-time voice communication for teams and other users, plus privacy and security. In addition, up to 100 participants can communicate in real-time with each other on Mumble.
Mumble is built differently depending on each kind of user, with specific features for end-users, administrators, and hosters.
qTox is an open-source messaging platform that’s big on privacy. The Discord alternative works with Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, and other platforms, offering many similar features including video and voice communication, group communication, and text chat among others.
The software allows for instant encrypted messaging so your messages are all at your fingertips and you’re always in the loop.
You can also make secure qTox to qTox voice calls for free to stay in touch with others or catch up with secure video calls.
qTox offers leading class encryption so that the messages you send only reach the people they’re meant to be sent to. Plus, it’s designed for any user, not just gamers like Discord was built for, and it’s easy to use so you can focus on your conversations.
The tool is easy to use and modify, plus, you don’t get pesky ads all over the platform while chatting or video calling. You also don’t have to pay for some features like Discord makes you do to get upgraded features with its Nitro package.
qTox also offers file sharing, which Discord lacks, so you can send and receive files and documents, screen share, and create your own avatars.
Telegram is an instant, free messaging app that’s easy to use, secure, and is feature-rich. The open-source app is available across desktop and mobile devices, which makes it one of the most popular open-source Discord alternatives available.
You get heavily encrypted messages, some of which can self-destruct, the ability to hold groups of up to 200,000 members, share media and chats with no size limits, and has fast message delivery.
You can also share files, which Discord doesn’t do, and customize the messenger to your liking.
What makes Telegram different from Discord is that while the former is focused on speed and security, Discord is designed for easier organization of communication, and not user privacy.
Plus, Telegram allows file sharing, which includes pictures, executable files, gifs, and videos, while Discord is a modern voice and text chatting app.
Moreover, Discord is closed-source as it’s built from proprietary software, while Telegram is open-source and offers all its features for free. Discord on the other hand offers some of its advanced features in its premium Nitro plan.
Rocket.Chat is a reliable, all-in-one platform designed for customer support and team collaboration so you can own your communication.
The software is highly scalable and increases efficiency in your team and business by bringing all your video calls, messages, and team communication in one place.
Unlike Discord, which doesn’t allow file sharing, Rocket.Chat offers file sharing along with other features such as live chat, screen sharing, free audio and video calling, guest access options, and end-to-end encryption.
With Rocket.Chat, you lead with open-source power, which comes with flexibility at your hands and data security. Its omnichannel feature lets your customers choose how to reach out to you using social media, WhatsApp, or via your site.
The platform is open-source, meaning you can host your team chat on your server so that you don’t lose your data. Plus, you can create private or public channels where your team can chat with ease.
Rocket.Chat also offers premium pricing for enterprises or pro users. You can also access its cloud offering features by upgrading to a premium monthly subscription.
Wire is a secure, cloud-based, and open-source collaboration solution that offers video conferences, conference calls, file sharing, and screen sharing functionalities in a suite.
The platform provides external collaboration with end-to-end encryption to protect your communication in an easy-to-use and award-winning user interface.
Setting up Wire is easy to do in just minutes, and you can deploy it to the whole team without having to train them extensively. The platform combines maximum security with simplicity and a rich set of features.
Plus, Wire works on desktop, Linux, and mobile devices. The platform lets you add or remove users using the team admin role to give people role-based access.
With the group chat functionality, you can manage custom messages, schedule messages, record conversation histories, and share multimedia files and documents with the members of your team.
Unlike Discord, which is free but lacks file-sharing options, Wire features file sharing, which you can use to share files in PDF, XLS, Word, and other different file formats. You can also share your screen and connect up to 10 users on multiple devices including laptops and mobile devices.
Users on Wire can use guest rooms to connect with customers and allow them to interact in Wire without having to set up accounts. You can also communicate using emojis, likes, and photos in the rich media conversation functionality, share video, and voice messages.
Zulip is a chat platform designed for distributed teams that combines real-time chat with a threaded messaging model. The software allows you to catch up on important conversations and has a modern app for every major platform.
As a 100 percent open-source tool, Zulip is built by a vibrant developer community from across the globe, making it easy to extend or tweak.
You get over 90 integrations with Zulip, compared to Discord, whose integrations aren’t official yet, and you can build your own integrations thanks to Zulip’s API.
The open-source group chat tool also offers asynchronous communication, unique message threading, and you can hold conversations together by clustering them into topics as you would in Discord.
Zulip also offers file uploads, emojis, a decent user interface, and you can install it on your server, compared to Discord, which is closed-source as it’s built from proprietary software.
Matrix is an open-source and open-network that allows you to hold decentralized yet secure communication in real-time on the platform.
You can create direct chats, chatrooms, and chatbots with end-to-end encryption, synced conversation history, read receipts, and formatted messages.
Compared to Discord, Matrix offers file transfers and sharing, all in a secure environment so that only the intended recipients can decrypt your messages. The platform also warns you when any unexpected devices are added to the conversation.
Matrix is Apache-licensed and is suitable for powering VoIP, IoT, internet messaging, and WebRTC signaling along with any other app that requires a standard HTTP API to publish or subscribe to data.
You can text or call others no matter the app they’re using, and control your data while selecting the services or vendors you want to use. Matrix has easy-to-use clients for desktop, web and mobile platforms, and offers an integrations app store, which you won’t find with Discord.
Gitter is a networking and chat platform that helps you grow, manage, and connect communities via content, messaging, and discovery. The platform allows you to enjoy free private and public communities with unlimited message history, people, and integrations.
On Gitter, you can create a community and start talking without having to set up an invitation service. Plus, you can format your messages using markdown and KaTex as you would with other developer tools, and embed them directly on your website using Sidecar.
The software makes communication and collaboration simple and smooth, and provides more integrations than you’d get with Discord. Gitter also accepts custom webhooks and provides a flexible API and an open-source repository for integrations.
Signal is a simple, fast, and secure open-source messaging platform that works on all major desktop and mobile platforms. You can use it to send high-quality group, voice, text, video, picture, and document messages anywhere in the world without paying MMS or SMS fees.
The platform protects calls and messages with end-to-end encryption all engineered towards keeping your communications safe.
No one can read or even see your messages or calls, not even the developers of the Signal application. You can also select different disappearing message intervals per conversation and everyone gets to share the same settings in the message threads.
The project puts users first and eliminates annoying ads, creepy tracking, and affiliate marketers. It’s a simple, open technology for secure and fast messaging.
Discord is used mostly for gaming while Signal is mainly for normal messenger communication purposes.
14. Let’s Chat
Let’s Chat is a self-hosted and persistent messaging app designed for small teams, compared to Discord, which is designed for gaming but can be used by businesses, small teams, and organizations.
The software comes with great features including a REST-like API, password-protected rooms, image embeds, mentions, is Hubot-friendly, and comes in multiple languages.
Other features you’ll find in Let’s Chat include desktop notifications, Bring Your Own Server, file uploads, transcripts or chat history, and code pasting.
What makes Let’s Chat different from Discord is that the former is self-hosted, while Discord is closed source and works on a rolling release model meaning lots of code is pushed daily into the platform to make it better.
15. Nextcloud Talk
Nextcloud Talk is an open-source communication system designed for team chat and web conferencing.
The platform, which was created in 2016, allows users to share and collaborate on documents, unlike Discord, which doesn’t provide file sharing and is designed for gaming purposes.
You can send and receive emails, have video chats and manage your calendar securely. The on-premises solution is self-hosted, has a clean interface, and allows you to fully control what happens on the platform.
You can start using Nextcloud Talk easily with your team by inviting them and calling them in one click on the web client or mobile app.
A whiteboard app is included that you can use to draw or write on, take notes, upload images, and make presentations. You can also use its Bridging feature to connect to Talk rooms and servers like IRC, Slack, Matrix, and Mattermost.
Online communication tools may not completely eliminate meetings or emails, but they help you work with your team efficiently.
It’s important to find a tool that is secure, scalable, and that your team will love.
Whether you have a small team, small business, or large enterprise, these 15 open source Discord alternatives can help you pivot your operations online and away from in-person communication.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.