# Using Microsoft Teams on Linux¶

Note

TL;DR: back to X11, and then use Chromium.

I frequently run trainings for companies. These trainings use to take place physically - I book hotel and train for the duration of the training, meet people face to face, have fun, and then travel home again.

Things have changed: it’s the Age Of The Corona Virus, everybody’s working from home 1, and the demand for video conferencing solutions has grown dramatically. A customer, having ordered a training end of March, has asked me if we could do the training online - using Microsoft Teams 3.

I spent a number of hours to work out if and how that is done on Linux, and to test all the details; this is what I want to share with you in this post. It is sure not a definitive guide as I am not a Microsoft expert 2, and things might have changed as you read this. Please inform me if you have news.

## Screen Sharing: X11 Revival¶

First off: none of the methods described in the remainder works with Wayland. Wayland (and its reference implementation, Weston) is intended to replace the X11 display protocol which has shown its age. Major distributions have invested large amounts of work to make the switch, to the point that Wayland runs really smooth nowadays. An X11 compatibility layer is there to keep X11 applications happy.

Smooth - except for cornercases like X11 programs which want to share the desktop, apparently. For Teams, this means:

• Teams is obviously an X11 program.

• The native desktop app (the RPM installation) crashes hard when you hover over the “share screen” field.

• The browser app, from the sharer’s point of view, appears to share like you tell it to. Meeting participants only see the mouse on a black screen, no matter what the sharer does.

So, here’s how to make your login screen start an X11 session, rather than a Wayland session.

In /etc/gdm/custom.conf, a .ini style configuration file, you see the [daemon] section,

[daemon]
# Uncomment the line below to force the login screen to use Xorg
#WaylandEnable=false
#DefaultSession=gnome-xorg.desktop


Switch to X11,

[daemon]
WaylandEnable=false
DefaultSession=gnome-xorg.desktop


Log out (i.e. terminate the current Wayland session), log back in (i.e. start an X11 session), done.

## RPM Package (Meh!)¶

(I’m on Fedora; there’s also a .deb available.)

Download the RPM from here; it’ll be available as ~/Downloads/teams-1.3.00.5153-1.x86_64.rpm (your version might differ) if you used a browser for the download. If you used wget then you know better where the file is.

Install it as root,

$sudo rpm -ivh ~/Downloads/teams-1.3.00.5153-1.x86_64.rpm  Start it, $ teams


That was easy. Login with your Microsoft account, and figure out how to use it (this is not the point of this post).

Updated on 2020-04-09

The following annoyances of the desktop app can be switched off in the settings; I should have checked more closely. See here, thanks to Marjan Javorka.

### Annoyance #1: Keeps Running in Background¶

Call me old fashioned, but I like programs to quit when I tell them to - especially when I know they use my microphone and camera. Teams doesn’t; it keeps running in the background,

$ps -efl|grep teams 0 S jfasch 61762 1670 1 80 0 - 947213 - 17:04 ? 00:00:22 /usr/share/teams/teams 0 S jfasch 61764 61762 0 80 0 - 98775 - 17:04 ? 00:00:00 /usr/share/teams/teams --type=zygote --no-sandbox 0 S jfasch 61800 61762 0 80 0 - 239615 - 17:04 ? 00:00:13 /usr/share/teams/teams --type=gpu-process --enable-features=SharedArrayBuffer --disable-features=SpareRendererForSitePerProcess --gpu-preferences=KAAAAAAAAACAAABAAQAAAAAAAAAAAGAAAAAAAAAAAAAIAAAAAAAAAAgAAAAAAAAA --service-request-channel-token=4327801531638606376 1 S jfasch 61825 61764 0 80 0 - 420846 - 17:04 ? 00:00:00 /usr/share/teams/teams --type=renderer --autoplay-policy=no-user-gesture-required --enable-features=SharedArrayBuffer --disable-features=SpareRendererForSitePerProcess --service-pipe-token=12993561460135093079 --lang=en-US --app-path=/usr/share/teams/resources/app.asar --user-agent=Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) MicrosoftTeams-Preview/1.3.00.5153 Chrome/69.0.3497.128 Electron/4.2.12 Safari/537.36 --node-integration=false --webview-tag=false --no-sandbox --preload=/usr/share/teams/resources/app.asar/lib/renderer/notifications/preload_notifications.js --disable-remote-module --background-color=#fff --electron-shared-settings=eyJjci5jb21wYW55IjoiRWxlY3Ryb24iLCJjci5kdW1wcyI6IiIsImNyLmVuYWJsZWQiOmZhbHNlLCJjci5wcm9kdWN0IjoiRWxlY3Ryb24iLCJjci5zZXNzaW9uIjoiIiwiY3IudXJsIjoiIiwiY3IudmVyc2lvbiI6InY0LjIuMTIifQ== --num-raster-threads=4 --enable-main-frame-before-activation --service-request-channel-token=12993561460135093079 --renderer-client-id=7 --shared-files=v8_context_snapshot_data:100,v8_natives_data:101 --msteams-process-type=notificationsManager 1 S jfasch 61973 61764 2 80 0 - 790018 - 17:04 ? 00:00:45 /usr/share/teams/teams --type=renderer --autoplay-policy=no-user-gesture-required --enable-features=SharedArrayBuffer --disable-features=SpareRendererForSitePerProcess --service-pipe-token=432557619363765409 --lang=en-US --app-path=/usr/share/teams/resources/app.asar --user-agent=Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) MicrosoftTeams-Preview/1.3.00.5153 Chrome/69.0.3497.128 Electron/4.2.12 Safari/537.36 --node-integration=false --webview-tag=true --no-sandbox --preload=/usr/share/teams/resources/app.asar/lib/renderer/preload.js --disable-remote-module --background-color=#fff --electron-shared-settings=eyJjci5jb21wYW55IjoiRWxlY3Ryb24iLCJjci5kdW1wcyI6IiIsImNyLmVuYWJsZWQiOmZhbHNlLCJjci5wcm9kdWN0IjoiRWxlY3Ryb24iLCJjci5zZXNzaW9uIjoiIiwiY3IudXJsIjoiIiwiY3IudmVyc2lvbiI6InY0LjIuMTIifQ== --num-raster-threads=4 --enable-main-frame-before-activation --service-request-channel-token=432557619363765409 --renderer-client-id=16 --shared-files=v8_context_snapshot_data:100,v8_natives_data:101 --msteams-process-type=mainWindow 1 S jfasch 62033 61764 5 80 0 - 1259666 - 17:04 ? 00:01:26 /usr/share/teams/teams --type=renderer --autoplay-policy=no-user-gesture-required --enable-features=SharedArrayBuffer --disable-features=SpareRendererForSitePerProcess --service-pipe-token=5585537623314398260 --lang=en-US --app-path=/usr/share/teams/resources/app.asar --user-agent=Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) MicrosoftTeams-Preview/1.3.00.5153 Chrome/69.0.3497.128 Electron/4.2.12 Safari/537.36 --node-integration=false --webview-tag=false --no-sandbox --preload=/usr/share/teams/resources/app.asar/lib/pluginhost/preload.js --disable-remote-module --background-color=#fff --electron-shared-settings=eyJjci5jb21wYW55IjoiRWxlY3Ryb24iLCJjci5kdW1wcyI6IiIsImNyLmVuYWJsZWQiOmZhbHNlLCJjci5wcm9kdWN0IjoiRWxlY3Ryb24iLCJjci5zZXNzaW9uIjoiIiwiY3IudXJsIjoiIiwiY3IudmVyc2lvbiI6InY0LjIuMTIifQ== --num-raster-threads=4 --enable-main-frame-before-activation --service-request-channel-token=5585537623314398260 --renderer-client-id=20 --shared-files=v8_context_snapshot_data:100,v8_natives_data:101 --msteams-process-type=pluginHost  When I look at the SZ column of the ps output, that makes me wish it would really stop. It consumes insane amounts of memory doing nothing. Make it so, $ killall teams


Check,

$ps -efl|grep teams 0 R jfasch 63500 1670 47 80 0 - 298385 - 17:41 ? 00:00:00 /usr/share/teams/teams 0 S jfasch 63502 63500 1 80 0 - 98775 - 17:41 ? 00:00:00 /usr/share/teams/teams --type=zygote --no-sandbox  Blood pressure rising, $ killall -9 teams


Note

If I don’t wipe it entirely with killall -9, it comes back from time to time and says, “Please log in with your Microsoft account”. Cool feature, guys!

### Annoyance #2: (Re)Registers Itself For Autostart¶

Logout, and back in. Teams pops up right into my face. Maybe that’s the desired behavior in the office world where everyone’s in a meeting at any given point in time. I live in a different world though: when I want something to pop into my face in the morning (I rarely do), I configure it so.

$rm ~/.config/autostart/teams.desktop  True, I could have edited the offending line of that file, X-GNOME-Autostart-enabled=true  But no. $ sudo rpm -e teams


## Run In Browser (My Recommendation)¶

It turns out that Teams can run in the browser (thanks to WebAssembly?). Really cool:

• I need not install a closed-source program (and let it access all my files)

• I need not blow it out of the water when my blood pressure rises

• It simply goes away when I close the browser tab

• Its security is that of the browser (if that’s an argument)

Simply point your browser to https://teams.microsoft.com/. That’s it.

Well, no, it’s actually not so simple.

• It does not work with Firefox 74.0 (shipped with Fedora 31, as of 2020-03-22). The error message says something like “DOM storage not enabled”. I checked, DOM storage is enabled; this is where I gave up.

• It works in Chromium “Version 80.0.3987.132 (Developer Build) Fedora Project (64-bit)” (as it says) (shipped with Fedora 31, as of 2020-03-22)

• Take care to run X11 as explained above (to be able to share the desktop)

Footnotes

1

Once the plague comes to an end, I hope we remember that The Internet hasn’t originally been invented for the purpose of gaming, streaming, and pornwatching - and work from home more.

2

I have written a device driver for Windows, but please don’t tell anybody.

3

I have used Teamviewer in the past, as a part-time teacher at FH Joanneum - it works great on Linux.