Using Zoom's web client on Linux

2020-03-30 - Louis-Philippe Véronneau

TL;DR: The zoom meeting link you have probably look like this:

To use the web client, use this instead:


Like too many institutions, the school where I teach chose to partner up with Zoom. I wasn't expecting anything else, as my school's IT department is a Windows shop. Well, I guess I'm still a little disappointed.

Although I had vaguely heard of Zoom before, I had never thought I'd be forced to use it. Lucky for me, my employer decided not to force us to use it. To finish the semester, I plan to record myself and talk with my students on a Jitsi Meet instance.

I will still have to attend meetings on Zoom though. I'm well aware of Zoom's bad privacy record and I will not install their desktop application. Zoom does offer a web client. Sadly, on Linux you need to jump through hoops to be able to use it.

Using Zoom's web client on Linux

Zoom's web client apparently works better on Chrome, so I decided to use Chromium.

Without already having the desktop client installed on your machine, the standard procedure to use the web client would be:

  1. Open the link to the meeting in Chromium
  2. Click on the "download & run Zoom" link showed on the page
  3. Click on the "join from your browser" link that then shows up

Sadly, that's not what happens on Linux. When you click on the "download & run Zoom" link, it brings you to a page with instructions on how to install the desktop client on Linux.

You can thwart that stupid behavior by changing your browser's user agent to make it look like you are using Windows. This is the UA string I've been using:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/80.0.3987.149 Safari/537.36

With that, when you click on the "download & run Zoom" link, it will try to download a .exe file. Cancel the download and you should now see the infamous "join from your browser" link.

Upon closer inspection, it seem you can get to the web client by changing the meeting's URL. The zoom meeting link you have probably look like this:

To use the web client, use this instead:

Jitsi Meet Puppet Module

I've been playing around with Jitsi Meet quite a bit recently and I've written a Puppet module to install and configure an instance! The module certainly isn't perfect, but should wield a working Jitsi instance.

If you already have a Puppet setup, please give it a go! I'm looking forward receiving feedback (and patches) to improve it.