Which messenger program to use?


please excuse me if this is too much out of topic for the Qubes forum.

Could somebody please tell me what would be a good and secure messenger program to use (text + voice + video chat), both in general (various OS like iOS, Android, Windows), and for Qubes in special?

I have looked at Signal, but I’m not sure of it’s a good idea to have it connected with my cellphone. Would Element be a good choice?

Many thanks for your time

It depends heavily on your threat model.
As a start, end-to-end encryption is essential. Signal is rock solid and had been audited before, but it’s not meant for anonymity.

Element, and XMPP as well, leak more metadata unless you run your own server but still not all your contacts may avoid public servers.

qtox seems appealing; it doesn’t require any identifiable information, Tor-friendly and uses encryption: tox protocol, but I don’t know much about tox.
Downsides: (1) No support for mobiles: you have to download another clients for tox; there’s Antox for Android but it’s not actively developed anymore as far as I know.
(2) I’m not aware of any independent audit for qtox; you have to look it up.

The trade-off is up to you to decide.

If you want to use Signal, but you don’t want to use your main mobile number, you could sign up for a Google Voice (or similar) number and use that instead.

The Signal desktop app works well in a Debian AppVM in Qubes.

Not sure if a person who wants secure communications should register with Google…

There is also Jitsi: https://jitsi.org/.

Jitsi Meet (https://meet.jit.si) works fine for me in Qubes and even allows to share the screen in Chromium (showing only the VM of course).

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Many thanks to everybody for your replies! Use case scenario: A few people and me want to discuss new inventions and avoid things like others grabbing our ideas and patenting or using them before we get a chance to do so.

Could you please tell me what kind of information comes with this metadata? If I’m not that much concerned about anonymity and don’t care too much if third parties see who is messaging, is this of concern to me as well? Or is there also a risk of the actual information leaking, which is contained in the messages (text, voice)? The latter is what I’m trying to avoid.
I’ve been using qtox a few years ago, but can’t really remember why I stopped using it, so I’m going to look at it again, many thanks!

Somewhere I’ve read that this is a possibility, and that it’s even possible to connect my landline phone number with Signal (which I would prefer, because then there’s no second device involved). But when I checked, all I found in Signal is this barcode thing, which I’d have to scan in with my cellphone, and then connect the cellphone. Have I missed something?

I’ve just done some reading and Jitsi sounds like a good thing, many thanks! What does screen sharing with Chromium mean?

Maybe try jami: https://jami.net/
it does nor depend on a central server, uses end to end encryption and it enables, text messages, voice and video calls.
Just don’t forget your password.It cannot be reset because there is no central server :slight_smile: .
You can use on the pc and on smartphone if you want.


Wickr and Wire. But do not know how well they work in Qubes.

Jitsi Meet is a web version of Jitsi, which does not require any installations, just open link in a browser (Chromium currently works better than Firefox). You can have voice and video calls with it as well as screen sharing during the conversations.

Just keep in mind that jit.si no longer bellongs to Altassian. It’s now from a US videoconferencing company. Since then meet.jit.si has trackers on the website. But since the software is open-source, there are may other instances to choose from. @realDonaldDuck

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Many thanks again to everyone for your help and suggestions!

Why not? You don’t have to give them any data beyond registering. The whole point of Signal is E2E encryption, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a Google Voice number.

I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but I can confirm that it’s possible to use Signal with a GV number (unless it’s been subsequently disallowed and I just got grandfathered in or something, but I’m pretty sure it still works for new users too).

You can search about “metadata” and see. But basically, the host server in the decentralized services (Matrix, XMPP, etc.) store the metadata in plaintext; whom you are talking to and when and so on.
If the app uses end-to-end encryption, the content is protected.

If you don’t care about anonymity, Signal is the gold standard for communication.

First, by registering, you will have to agree to their ToS and allow them to collect everything they can about you, including your IP, browser fingerprint and so on, with whom you speak and how often. Second, you will show them your support (which you shouldn’t; Google is not exactly a good company respecting its users).

Here lies the root of our disagreement (emphasis mine):

I contend that none of the things you listed violate secure communications in the described scenario (using a GV number for Signal).

By registering, you will have to agree to their ToS

Does not affect security.

Allow them to collect everything they can about you, including your IP, browser fingerprint and so on

Might affect privacy, but not security. (But there are privacy tools and strategies that can mitigate this.)

With whom you speak and how often

Since you’ll be using Signal, they won’t get this.

You will show them your support (which you shouldn’t; Google is not exactly a good company respecting its users).

This also doesn’t affect security.

While I’m inclined to agree about lack of respect for users’ privacy, it’s debatable whether using them as a piece of distrusted infrastructure shows them our support. (It depends on how exactly we define “showing them our support.”)

Also, remember that I actually wrote:

I never said it had to be from Google. If you can find a better alternative, by all means.


A mild caution about Jitsi Meet on Qubes.

My experience is that JM (maybe others too?) video conferencing has a minor quality problem in Qubes. There is noticeable screen flicker which I’ve put down to the multitasking nature of the operating system. I usually dual boot into a standard OS environment (PureOS) for Jitsi Meet.

Hm, I can’t say I’ve experienced that problem with using Jitsi in a Fedora qube. It worked fine for me.

As already mentioned before it depends on your threat model and also on your personal network - who is also using this messenger?

Since I am very interested in this topic I do research and (personal) testing over years now.

Currently, my number one is Session. It is a fork of Signal (which is my number two messenger).

Whitepaper: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2002.04609.pdf
FAQ: https://getsession.org/faq/
It is available as AppImage: https://getsession.org/download/

Session is not as mature and robust as Signal or Telegram right now but technically very interesting.

The most important features are:
Session has no meta-data and a kind of “Tor 2.0” routing.
If you are interested in testing it you can send me a private message (here in the community).


You could install lubuntu in an hvm (or building an ubuntu template), install anbox (normally you could use debian but some extra packages are needed and ubuntu comes with them already implemented since 18.04), download signal from the website, adb sideload to anbox and from there you can use your landline number for registration

Maybe this is also interesting for you:

Time: 19:45 :smirk:

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I use signal, works very well.