Slimming the Stack

My self-hosting plans going forward
Blog: whitabootery
Categories: 5-minute read

Since some time in 2018 (maybe 2017), I have been tinkering with self-hosting decentralised, distributed services thinking, as many like me have thought, that once I’d configured, secured and tested the application then I would be able to convince friends and family to move over to it from the big bad centralised alternatives.  I’ve written some blog posts in the past in relation to this (linked at the bottom of the page).

Over time, I came to realise that most people aren’t going to move, and that’s fine but the primary reason that there wasn’t much effort from me to “onboard” *shudder* friends and family to these services is because they were all in varying levels of pre-release development and lacked functionality or reliability that those (largely) non-techy people are used to.. So I simply didn’t really invite anyone to the majority of them, with the exception of my xmpp and matrix servers.  I’m in the process of **hopefully** moving my last friend from xmpp over to matrix and I’ve got double-figures (just) of my people on my synapse instance.

However, that didn’t deter me, I’ve had a great time experimenting with and trying out LOTS of different decentralised apps, mainly activitypub cognisant, over the past few years and regularly raise bug reports, feature requests or generally just try to help the developers of those apps as much as I can along the way.  My whole outlook on software development has changed positively due to these interactions. 

If I remember correctly, over the past few years, I have hosted:

My initial hosting efforts were on a chunky x86 server with lots of RAM etc. but for the past few years I’ve moved my sites and apps onto lower energy consumption single board computers (SBC) and rarely have I experienced any issues (though building early versions of plume on one was somewhat of a nightmare!).  I’m not going to go into the various reasons for ditching or keeping the apps that I host currently, but happy to discuss in comments or my contact links, should you be curious.

Whilst I still think that my friends and family should move over to decentralised alternative services, I’ve decided that (with a few exceptions) I’ll not be their host or admin going forward nor will my endless experimentation with the newest distributed app on the scene continue.

The primary reason for this not actually social media or technology-related, but I am on a path to a major lifestyle change and I will simply not have the time or inclination to be sat in front of a computer for as much time as I currently am.  Next year, we are moving from Scotland to rural Japan, I am (again, and this time finally) hanging my IT boots up and will become a craft beer brewer.

I’m in the process of moving those apps that I want to keep and use within my household over to subdomains of this one and ditching the others, again with a couple of exceptions:

  • GoToSocial - I love this (under development) app and was the first person to host it on an SBC! I raise bug reports etc. whenever they come up.  I am in the process of integrating it into this website and already, when I post here, the post is also sent to my account on GoToSocial.  I still have to engineer the scripts for two-way synchronising but its not urgent, I’ll get to it.

  • Pixelfed - I have a link below to a relatively dated post on why I stick with pixelfed, I see a lot of potential here and as such it is one of the two apps which will remain under my nipponalba.scot domain tree.  I think once bugs are sorted and the groups feature is released this offers the most likely portal for friends & family to move to should they wish (I know this contradicts what I said above but that’s just the way it is).  Also I like the dev and he has been very approachable and grateful for my contributions to the project, which is nice.

  • Nextcloud - Currently used by my household and my mum, but as soon as the [Quartz64]https://pine64.com/product/quartz64-model-a-8gb-single-board-computer/ is production ready, I’ll be giving it a beefier SBC and will configure a spare SBC for my parents to have their own instance (backing up all data from Scotland to Japan is not going to be a great experience).

  • Synapse (x2) - As mentioned above I now have multiple friends and family with accounts here and I hope to add more - so it is the second of two services to remain under the nipponalba domain.  I also just created a second instance (as dendrite development is glacial) for this domain, primarily to bridge to cactus comments, obviously should any of my close family who happen to share my surname prefer an account on this instance then they can have one.

  • Gitea - I’ve conjured a really fast and light website publishing process thanks to gitea and so it remains as long as my websites do.

  • Email (maybe) - Currently and until we move to Japan at least, we are using tutanota for our email.  I self-hosted the email before (on a VPS) but the IP address range wasn’t trusted by google or microsoft so emails to people I needed to contact weren’t being delivered, or were sent directly to spam.  If we can get a static IP address from our internet provider in Japan then hopefully I can self-host email again without trust concerns.

That’s it, aside from my static websites and various convenient apps such as bitwarden_rs (password manager) and beehive (automation tool) .

Going forward, rather than wanting to host everything for everyone, I’m more interested in trying to help my family and friends host their own services or sites - should they wish to.

Previous related posts:

Distributed or Federated Social Network

The Fediverse

Why Pixelfed?



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