2 min read

a selfhosted lifestyle

you installed all the stuff on your personal server now. what next?

Most days from me look like any other person's. I use an iPhone, so I wake up by looking through my email using the email app. I scroll through my notifications and see that my phone photos have synced.

On the bus to work, I read a little through Reddit, take care of some work emails and read the latest articles from my RSS reader.

I get to work and realize I have to make a booking. I open my password manager, grab my password and log in real quick to make a booking for an upcoming trip.

All of these things can be done with selfhosted. Well not all, but the bolded parts. If you're not familiar with the concept of self-hosting, it's a small but growing movement to move away from hosted services (Dropbox, Google Photos, etc.) and hosting them yourself with open-source (or not) alternatives (Nextcloud, Photoprism/Nextcloud, etc).

Well, you may say, those apps are so popular because the user experience is so great. There's no reason at all to use a selfhosted alternative over the centralized one!

To that I say, yes. For the most part choosing the alternative with the best user experience has been a very tough journey. Photoprism is unbearably slow compared to Google Photos and Apple's iCloud. But it syncs and indexes my photos. I basically don't use it anymore, instead just opting to sync it to a folder and ... take care of that mess later.

But the others: my password manager, my email (which was a pain to set up but is working pretty well these days) and my RSS reader. They have nice fluid experiences that I don't really have to think about. They just work. Photoprism is probably the best example of something selfhosted not working that well but I have hope that they are on the up and up.

But you might ask: what about your calendar? your social media? your .... budgeting software or something else?

Well, I compromise. I've learned that living selfhosted doesn't mean going all the way. Some aspects of our digital life simply cannot be replicated by servers in our bedrooms. The amazing work that Google Photos does with artificial intelligence. Discord is simply better than Matrix (especially with voice calling). But we take the Ws where we can. We try to host our own personal wikis, websites, small web apps, password managers.

I’m still on the search for the best self-hosted alternatives. I’m still looking for my Google Photos alternative, a note-taking alternative (this is being written on Notion) and messaging (more on the social problem of self-hosting later). For now, I’m slowly trying to find small places in my life that can be replaced by self-hosting.

It’s your data. Own it!