FOSS dev, self-hosting fan, Matrix, degoogling, small tech, indie tech, friendly tech for families and schools. Let's own our own identity & data.

Rooted Software Ltd., September 2023

I am delighted to be joining the PubHubs project, working on adding moderation tools.

PubHubs icon

Public Hubs

The purpose of PubHubs is to enable real-world public organisations such as libraries, broadcasters, schools or health care, to provide online group communications for local citizens, in ways which match their real-world values and needs.


Self-hosting: it's difficult, inefficient, fragile. So why do I do it?

I self-host, unwillingly, in order to own my own identity. I insist on my online identity being independent. I don't accept being Julian @ some-messaging-co or Julian @ some-video-sharing-co today, and Julian @ some-other-co tomorrow. I'm just Julian @ my-own-domain. Services may come and go, while this remains my identity under my control for as long as I choose.

For many services today, unfortunately, self-hosting is the ugly means to this desired end.

With any proprietary services, I'm unable to be me. So I use open standards.

Without self-hosting, currently, I'm unable to be me. So I self-host.


Let's Not Try to Replicate a Hospital Environment. Let's Replicate a Cosy Nest.

This is what the techie in me wanted to know: What kind of baby monitor best picks up sounds, maybe even breathing, maybe video? Which baby monitor privately transmits them to me, without going through the manufacturer's cloud web servers? Can I build one myself?

This is what the daddy in me found, after trying to use a baby monitor for about a day: ignore the monitor, listen to the baby! I threw away the monitor.

This is what I would wish to tell my younger self.


I am experimenting with sharing my diary entries with my family, using the awesome matrix-based FUTO Circles app. I write in an offline Diary app. My off-line diary is perfect for my diarying, and Circles is a great tool for sharing stories. What I want to do is combine them, posting my daily diary entries perhaps at the end of each day, as Stories (is that what we call them?) in a Circle.


School communities are begging Google to continue supporting Chromebooks beyond the scheduled end date this year. I wish them success with their short term goal. However, I wish more dearly that they would have an opportunity to learn about the down sides of corporate involvement in education, and about ethical alternatives.

Whichever way the petition goes, the media focus there will on Google pushing their Big Tech, likely framed as “generosity”, which we recognise as an anti-pattern. It would be good if we could avoid wasting our energy engaging directly with this news story but instead, riding the wave of it, promote our own story.

Could we write a story something like this?

Having placed all of their eggs in Google's gift basket of once shiny Chromebooks, now rusting away, some schools react by begging the Big Tech for an extension. Meanwhile the [Codename: Ed Foundation?] is preparing to show school leaders a more wholesome future aligned with educational values, with the launch of *[Codename: Ed Suite?]*


This is my POSSE copy of: octodns-gandi issue #20 also filed as a Gandi API support ticket

Gandi treats CNAME value '@' inconsistently. In DNS queries it's expanded, but, in the API (at least as used by octodns-gandi) and in the Gandi DNS record editor preview, it's not.


You’re my uncle, sister, friend, mother, nephew or colleague. You want to message me, send me your photos and news, read my latest blog post, have a video call. Where do you go, online? You know my phone number, my email address, but just now you're not looking to call or email me.


You! You, university! You, sports club! You, local library, city council, school, church, youth group! Your social media links could look like this:

Join us in our own spaces! — [Mastodon] – [Pixelfed] – [Friendica] – [PeerTube] ... — [Blog] – [Fediverse] – [Matrix] ... open-media-icons-p1.png We are also on commercial media: — [G] [A] [F] [A] [M] ... social-media-icons-n1.png

with an explanatory footnote or pop-up:


I have been using some parts of NextCloud for years, on my own set-up at ​home. My general feelings about Nextcloud, first the good bits: the core ​of NextCloud makes a very useful framework for connecting teams and ​their data. It's a good base to build on. The most basic parts, the ​files storage and sharing, are pretty solid.

On the other hand, the NextCloud-provided or built-in “apps” are of mixed quality. “NextCloud Talk” is I think one of the ​better ones. I find many of the rest are poor ​quality or too simple to be recommended. I'll give some examples.


Since going own-domain a few years ago, I chose Fastmail for email and Gandi.net for DNS, both of them for their FOSS-friendly credentials and no-nonsense decent standard-based offerings with APIs and docs etc., suitable from casual home use up to business use.

My brief assessment of Fastmail for my use case. Positives:

  • general reliability and speed have been fine;
  • supporting FOSS by developing important new JMAP standard;
  • exceptionally good webmail client but see negatives about it;
  • exceptionally good config settings UI and associated docs.

Fastmail negatives:

  • webmail is proprietary, in a world desperately needing a decent FOSS webmail client;
  • webmail only stores email contact addresses in their own address book, whereas I host my own personal CardDAV/CalDAV address book and calendar elsewhere (in my Nextcloud) and use them for other things like mobile phone calls and other mobile apps — these days they are not primarily for use with my email — so that doesn't work for me;
  • Fastmail data backup/takeout is poor, I discovered recently: “install a desktop IMAP client to make a local sync of your mail, and visit these various pages to download your various other data in various ways.” Ugh, yes, really.

That all said, for now I'm sticking with Fastmail for my mail hosting.

Which mail client, then? Proprietary software, and the kind of “soft lock-in” associated with it, irks me so much that I stopped using Fastmail's lovely-to-use webmail after a few years. Currently I use these freedom-software mail clients: K-9 Mail on (degoogled) mobile, and Mailspring desktop-webmail client (pretty decent, better than Roundcube/Rainloop/Snappymail), and I am also coming back after a break of several years to Thunderbird on desktop, now that it is enjoying a bit of an overhaul and a revival.