Remote Working with Open Source

Posted on 2020-03-16 by ungleich

Working at the time of Covid19

So looks like 2020 is the year of remote working for a whole lot of people. Hey, welcome to the club! Our team has been working remotely since 2013, and now we are distributed in 5 different time zones. For us remote working has been a lot of fun, all you need is the right setup that enables everybody to be connected and be productive.

We obviously couldn't do it without the digital infrastructure. Lately we've been getting a lot of requests for sharing tips for which tool or software to use for remote working, and we thought it'd be a good idea to share a practical list of tech stack we use in our daily business. So, here we go: remote working stack chez ungleich.

How we decide what to use

Before we continue, an important disclaimer: we’re an open-source, sustainability- focused IT company. So we decide which tools to use by these criteria.

  • open-source
  • sustainablility
  • state of the art
  • usability for people with all backgrounds

1. Chat: Zero carbon chat - Mattermost and Matrix

You need a chat system when working remotely with your team, and you need it to be secure and hassle-free. We used to be on Slack at the very beginning, but we did not like the fact that Slack is hosted with AWS: from our point of view AWS datacenters are not sustainable compared to our own renewable energy datacenter in Switzerland, so we moved away from Slack into hosting our own chat.

Now we have two chat systems, Mattermost and Matrix. Mattermost offers an extremely easy and smooth team communication for people with all kinds of backgrounds. Most of our team talk happens on this platform. Our chat is open for the public and anybody can join with their email and have a conversation with us.

Zero Carbon Matrix, on the other hand, offers end-to-end encryption and federation, which makes it very attractive for people with high sensitivity for privacy and security. It also allows us to be more open. Matrix works nicely with video and audio calls as well, suitable for the secure conference call with different teams.

2. Cloud storage - Nextcloud

We are using hosted Nextcloud for data storage and sharing. It supports cloud storage, file sharing between teams and real-time collaboration for document editing. It's pretty easy and we like to save data in Switzerland and not somewhere we don't trust how the authorities operate.

3. Project management - Redmine

Redmine is our longest standing project management tool since the beginning of our company. It supports calendar, ticket creating, issue tracking, wiki, roadmap and more.

Redmine is just very handy for managing multiple projects and subprojects, and giving access to different people can be done on a role basis. Our whole data center infrastructure is actually in redmine & we open it for the public, so you can take a look to get an impression.

4. Code hosting - Gitlab

We used GitHub before, but we decided to move to our own Gitlab in 2018 due to GitHub's lack of #IPv6 support and some other issues. We are very happy with our new home, and that's why we're hosting Gitlab for our customers too.

A decision with sustainability goes a long way

As we disclosed at the beginning, sustainability is an important factor for us so we run all of the above on our servers with renewable energy. Many of you who are new to remote working might have to make decisions in a hurry, but try to remember that decisions with sustainability in mind saves a lot of pain in the long run, and also saves our environment.


It can be overwhelming when you need to decide what to use for a new style of work: you'll have to use it every day and you want to make the right decision. Our approach is that we know where are values stand such as decentralisation, open-source, sustainability, and we try to make our decisions aligned to our values. For us working remotely with open source is fun and exciting, it gives so much freedom to everybody involved. If you have any questions on the above stack, our remote-working team is around to give you answers. ;) Stay healthy, and happy remote working to you all!