Hosaac is a RHEL Engineer at Google. He wants to start hosting GNU/Linux meetups around the country to:

  1. Expand the network of good engineers that he knows.
  2. Recruit talented engineers to Google.
  3. Find people who can help him to expand is knowledge of GNU/Linux.

He has heard many people talking about building communities with Discord, but Hosaac knows very little about Discord. Please answer the following questions about Discord (Note: Hosaac prefers the term "Free Software" to "open source"):

  1. What is Discord?
  2. Is Discord a Free Software project that distributes binaries?
  3. If so, what platforms are the Discord binaries available on?
  4. What is the history of Discord?
  5. What use cases are best served by Discord?
  6. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Discord?
  7. What are Discord's main competitors?
  8. How would Hosaac start to build a GNU/Linux community using Discord?

Discord is a communication platform that provides a space for real-time text, voice, and video communication. It is designed to facilitate discussions, collaboration, and community-building in various contexts, including gaming, hobbies, education, and professional networking.

Regarding the term "Free Software," Discord is not typically considered Free Software in the sense of being open source and free/libre software. Discord is a proprietary platform developed by a private company, Discord Inc. While Discord offers a free tier with many features, it is not open source, and the server-side code and most of the client-side code are not publicly available for inspection and modification.

Discord is available as a binary application for various platforms, including:

  1. Windows: Discord has a desktop application for Windows.

  2. macOS: There is a macOS version of the Discord desktop application.

  3. Linux: Discord provides a desktop client for Linux, which is available in both .deb and .tar.gz packages. While the Linux client is not open source, it is available for popular Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Fedora.

History of Discord: Discord was created by Jason Citron and Stanislav Vishnevskiy and was initially launched in 2015. It was developed as a communication platform for gamers but quickly expanded to serve a broader audience. Discord has seen rapid growth and has become a popular choice for various online communities and groups due to its user-friendly interface and feature-rich environment.

Use Cases Best Served by Discord:

  1. Gaming Communities: Discord's roots lie in gaming, and it continues to be widely used by gamers to connect, organize gaming sessions, and communicate during gameplay.

  2. Online Communities: Discord is suitable for hosting online communities, discussion forums, and special interest groups where members want to engage in both text and voice conversations.

  3. Professional Networking: Discord can be used for professional networking and knowledge sharing, making it a valuable platform for engineers, developers, and tech enthusiasts.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Discord: Strengths:

  • User-Friendly: Discord has an intuitive and easy-to-navigate interface.
  • Rich Feature Set: It offers a wide range of features, including text channels, voice channels, video calls, screen sharing, and bot integrations.
  • Cross-Platform: Discord is available on multiple platforms, making it accessible to a broad user base.
  • Community Building: It provides tools for building and managing communities effectively.


  • Proprietary: Discord is not open source, which means users cannot view or modify the source code.
  • Privacy Concerns: There have been privacy concerns related to data collection, but Discord has made efforts to address them.
  • Limited Control: Server owners have control within their servers, but the platform's overall management is in the hands of Discord Inc.

Main Competitors of Discord:

  • Slack: Slack is a popular team collaboration platform that offers text and voice communication features, particularly aimed at businesses.
  • Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams is a communication and collaboration platform integrated with the Microsoft 365 suite.
  • Telegram: Telegram is a messaging platform known for its privacy features and is often used for group chats and communities.
  • Zoom: Zoom is a video conferencing platform that offers video and audio communication for both professional and personal use.

Building a GNU/Linux Community Using Discord: To build a GNU/Linux community on Discord, Hosaac can follow these steps:

  1. Create a Server: Start by creating a Discord server dedicated to GNU/Linux discussions and activities. Customize the server settings, such as server name, description, and icon.

  2. Channels: Create text and voice channels within the server to organize discussions. Consider channels for topics like general chat, troubleshooting, tutorials, and events.

  3. Roles and Permissions: Define roles and permissions to manage members' access and responsibilities within the server. Assign roles to moderators, administrators, and members.

  4. Invite Members: Share the server invite link with colleagues, fellow engineers, and anyone interested in GNU/Linux. Encourage them to join the community.

  5. Content and Activities: Host regular discussions, Q&A sessions, and knowledge-sharing events related to GNU/Linux. Share articles, guides, and resources to foster learning.

  6. Bot Integrations: Consider adding Discord bots to automate tasks, welcome new members, and provide useful information.

  7. Moderation: Ensure effective moderation to maintain a welcoming and respectful community environment.

  8. Engagement: Actively engage with community members, respond to questions, and encourage discussions to keep the community vibrant.

  9. Promotion: Promote the community on social media, forums, and relevant online platforms to attract more like-minded individuals.

By following these steps and actively participating in the community, Hosaac can successfully build and grow a GNU/Linux community using Discord, expanding his network and knowledge in the process.


What is a Free Software alternative to Discord?
For individuals and communities looking for Free Software alternatives to Discord, "Matrix" and its flagship client "Element" are popular options. Matrix is an open, decentralized communication protocol, and Element is a Free Software client that implements Matrix. Here's an overview of Matrix and Element as alternatives to Discord:
  1. Matrix Protocol:

    • Open and Decentralized: Matrix is an open standard for decentralized communication. It allows users to communicate securely and directly without relying on a centralized server, making it more in line with the principles of Free Software.

    • Interoperability: Matrix is designed to be interoperable with other communication platforms. Users on different Matrix servers can still communicate with each other, and bridges exist to connect Matrix with other chat services like IRC, Slack, and more.

    • End-to-End Encryption: Matrix supports end-to-end encryption, ensuring the privacy and security of your communications.

  2. Element (formerly Riot.im):

    • User-Friendly: Element is a user-friendly, cross-platform chat client for Matrix. It provides an intuitive and modern interface for text messaging, voice and video calls, file sharing, and more.

    • Rooms and Communities: Element allows users to create or join rooms (similar to Discord servers) and communities. You can participate in discussions, share media, and collaborate in rooms.

    • Integration: Element supports integrations with various services and applications, including bridges to other chat networks.

    • Open Source: Element is open source and available on platforms like Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. You can find its source code on GitHub.

Advantages of Matrix and Element:

  • Freedom: Matrix and Element are Free Software, which means users have the freedom to inspect, modify, and distribute the software as they see fit.

  • Decentralization: Matrix is designed to avoid central control, reducing the risk of censorship or data harvesting by a single entity.

  • Community and Privacy: Matrix and Element prioritize user privacy and allow for self-hosting, giving users more control over their data.


  • User Adoption: Discord has a larger user base, so transitioning to Matrix and Element may require convincing your existing community to switch.

  • Feature Parity: While Matrix and Element offer many features, there may be specific features or integrations available in Discord that are not directly replicable.

  • Hosting Complexity: Self-hosting a Matrix server can be more complex than using a centralized platform like Discord. However, there are hosting services available to simplify this process.

In summary, Matrix and Element are Free Software alternatives to Discord that prioritize decentralization, privacy, and user control. They are particularly suitable for those who value the principles of Free Software and decentralized communication. Transitioning to these platforms may require effort to build a community and migrate users, but they offer a more open and secure environment for communication.