Collaborate in Real Time with Gobby

Jack Wallen
Jan 1, 2009
Updated • Nov 28, 2012

If you do any collaborative work you know how difficult some collaboration tools can be. With both MS Office and OpenOffice you can collaborate with notes and track changes. But what about collaborating in real time? What if you are wanting to quickly collaborate on a simple text document with multiple editors? Fortunately there is a simple to use collaboration tool that is cross platform and very user friendly. The tool? Gobby.

Gobby was released in 2005 by the Ox539 developer group and features a client/server architecture that allows for easy remote connection between two peers. Gobby contains its own server (Sobby) so there's no secondary installation or configuration.

Getting and Installing

As Gobby is very common, it is generally in repositories for every distribution. This makes installing Gobby simple. Open up your distributions' Add/Remove Software application and do a search for "gobby" (no quotes). Once you find Gobby, select it and click Apply.

Once Gobby is installed you should find the executable entry in the Internet menu.

Starting a Gobby Session

When you first start Gobby you will see an empty Gobby window. From this window you can either "Create session" (become a host for a session) or "Join Session" (join a remote Gobby host).  Click on the "Create Session" button which will open up a session configuration window.

Create Session
Create Session

If you don't enter a password anyone starting up Gobby can join your session. If this is a "private" collaboration, it's best to set up a password.

Now for those wishing to join an already running click on the Join Session button and the Join Gobby Session window will open.

Join Session
Join Session

You can select your Gobby server from the list or you can enter the Host manually. Once you have entered the correct information click OK and you will join the session.

Once you have joined the session you will want to open up two extra windows: Document List and User List. The Document List window will show you all available Gobby documents available to you. If you are not the creator of a document you can click on a document and subscribe to that document. When you subcribe to a document a new tab for that document will open in your Gobby window.

Gobby Session
Gobby Session

As you can, in the image above, Gobby does syntax highlighting. If you click on the Edit menu you will see a Syntax submenu. From that submenu you can select from any of the 65 different types of syntax highlighting.

Another nice feature of Gobby is that it includes a chat window. With a chat window you can actually communicate as you collaborate.

Gobby Chat
Gobby Chat

After you have done all of your work you have to  save  each document individually and, if you want, you can save the chat session. To save a single document just click on the tab of the document to save, go to the Session menu entry, and click Save Document. To save the chat session go to the Gobby menu entry and select Save Session.

Final Thoughts

Gobby has a number of possible applications from development collaboration to document collaboration. If you have a need for an easy to use, free collaboration software, this is what you want.


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  1. Gregory Kornblum said on January 3, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Vista users can use Windows Meeting Space. It is usually overlooked by many and of course not many people are on Vista but they did a good job on it.

    There are many solutions out there. A simple cross-platform approach would be an IM group conversation and VNC set to accept shared sessions. You could even replace IM with a conference call.

  2. anonymous said on January 2, 2009 at 11:04 am

    How about the Microsoft SharedView addin with Microsoft Word?

  3. AC said on January 1, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks for this!
    I’ve always been intrigued by this sort of application, but haven’t actually used any yet.
    Is Gobby “just” a VNC/RDP application? How does it compare to alternatives?

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