Tag Archives: self hosted

I Think I Expected More From Lockdowns

A lot of readers know of my support for self hosted open source software. It has a lot to recommend it. Lockdowns apparently have something to recommend them too.

The self hosted open source software scene relies heavily on volunteers. These volunteers do, do a fantastic job on the whole as for the most part they turn out fantastic software. There is always rubbish software in any sector but for the most part this sector is host to the good apples.

In a way, I had the thought that the lockdown “seasons” would provide time for developers to write excellent powerful code that would translate into exciting new stuff for me to try especially in terms of my own specialism of vertical productivity tools, monitoring tools, management and orchestration.

I am aware that colaboration has been difficult during lockdown. Although we are getting there in terms of colaboration tools, these are not fully there yet, however the developers have created some good stuff, this just needs to extended further and can be given time. Covid-19 has placed too much pressure on developing the extension needed in a fashion where extension is for necessary stuff and big fixing only and not so much for developing ground breaking new features.

The reality is therefore that there seems to be a lack of innovation and new products within vertical productivity tools, monitoring tools, management and orchestration. It could be quite possible that I have missed something good and would be delighted to be proved wrong. A slice of humble pie I would be happy to eat!

Let me be clear though. All the developers working on projects such as these need to be encouraged with their endeavours, supported where and when they need support, well thanked for their efforts and the donation of their time and most importantly, most warmly congratulated and praised when they produce something amazing. A sector dominated by communities of volunteers both needs and deserves to be supported by those who consume their efforts. I do my part where I can especially with concise and supportive feedback and bug reporting at the appropriate time. I am also happy to praise and congratulate. I would rather do that than criticise.

In a nutshell I was hoping for something new and sexy for my web server stack and didn’t get when I thought I would!

I do look forward to seeing what comes next from these communities of volunteers. 🙂

Discontinuation – A growing trend in self hosting

Self hosting sites and services relies on a number of different tools and services to be successful. More than that it requires integrations between tools to be available and to work properly. You see, a ton of services big and small come together to make a solution work. There is a host of stuff that sits in this website and behind it that “makes stuff happen”. For example integrations with Google products, mail servers, security, marketing tools, SEO, Amazon, and lots more.

To be fair a lot of these tools, services and integrations are written by the open source community to freely give of their time to complete these projects and make them work either individually or as part of a group. This is a good thing.

The problem lies however when projects stop being developed and then either get discontinued or withdrawn, or even worse just get abandoned only for errors to crop up or even a site to get hacked without warning. Take your eye off the ball in a self hosted environment and there is the possibility for all hell to break loose.

In the past few months I have been getting more and more announcements sent to me that tools, integrations, plugins and more are being discontinued, “sunsetted” or even withdrawn. That or support for certain environments or browsers is being stopped in forthcoming versions.

I used to get 1-3 of these a year. I have had about 15 in 2017 alone. This worries me as it means a lot of extra time in locating replacement “parts” and then testing and deploying these parts, when an environment build should be finished and then just in maintenance and business as usual mode. It does cause a few issues for the operator of the site.

I do hope this trend does not escalate any further. The open source community do a lot of good and valuable work and should be praised for it. I realise that some of this comes down to time and other commitments.

I for one, hope this dies down and that the trend does not escalate.

Now Come On Amber Love…

The Amber Rudd I am referring to is of course the UK Home Secretary.

At the weekend she said that terrorism was been spread by Whatsapp Messenger amongst other popular messaging apps. Quite a few of these I can accept but to bring WordPress into it is starting to get silly in my opinion. Now I have never held Amber Rudd in any form of regard and to be fair I am very unlikely ever to do so. However this is where things start to verge on the stupid. This article from the Telegraph newspaper says more and a WPTavern article lists some of Automattic’s responses in relation to WordPress.

You see WordPress has two strands to it. WordPress.com is a great free blogging platform. The telegraph does miss out certain security points  on WordPress.com though. Some WordPress.com blogs are a bit iffy in my eyes and others are welcome to form their own opinions of an individuals content. Now we get on to the second part of WordPress which is the self hosted side. About 75,000,000 sites including this one are powered by WordPress. 50% of these use WordPress.com so the rest are self hosted. The burning question is where Amber Rudd will eventually draw the line. By going after WordPress.com will she attack site operators who lawfully use WordPress.org as part of what in my opinion would be a very bad choice of “bravado”. I personally cannot see her stopping at WordPress.com.

It is that this point where things go deeper and the range extends farther. You see there are so many CMS tools out there. Will Amber go after site operators, who use Joomla, Concrete 5, Drupal et al? I suspect she will be hot on the heels of the likes of Mrsite and Wix. If she chooses to use WordPress.com to have a swipe at open source site operators using the likes of WordPress, Drupal and Joomla et al, where will she stop?

This brings me neatly on to my next point, what will be the impact for those of us lovingly tending to our sites and minding our own very legitimate businesses. Updates to core? Plugin updates? Red tape? No website owner or operator obviously knows yet, but this potentially has an impact to so many from the smallest business upwards (I  doubt my plumber knows or even cares that his website uses WordPress!) to some very large online businesses. I only have 8 websites at the moment I used to have over 60! I can still see some trouble and issues looming and with that potentially comes a workload I neither need nor want. I suspect others will feel the same.

Simply no one knows what will happen yet but I reckon it will end up being one massive headache.

So come on Amber, love, have a sense of proportion. Going after Whatsapp, Facebook et al on terrorism grounds is one thing but leaving a gate of fear uncertainty and doubt potentially wide open to so many legitimate website owners and operators is totally another. You are the Home Secretary and because of that one of the most senior politicians in the UK and by that very virtue wield an awful lot of power. Some of the things you have done since taking office do not give me a warm and fluffy feeling and your appointment to your current position was shocking to me to say the least. I therefore urge that you wield your power with sense and sensibility in the respect of so many honest and hardworking site owners and operators that your WordPress swipe could potentially affect.



Rainloop? What? Sounds like something from a 1990’s rave dosen’t it. Fear not, we are not returning to the 1990’s. The rainloop in question is a very good web based email client I have been using for the past few weeks.

Rainloop is a very fast, very secure and highly configurable web based email client. It is also highly secure. I deployed this 3 weeks ago mainly for testing purposes for my Virtual Office Product set. Thing is. It passed testing with such flying colours I removed the roundcube email client from my intranet! I offer Squirrel and Roundcube clients as part of thee product set and this Rainloop from my testing has a lighter footprint, faster load and also handle multiple domains on the same client. I am very, very impressed with this product as well. Security is excellent too. Configuration is an absolute doddle also.

The Rainloop team have done a fantastic job here and I must say I do look forward to commending this product most warmly to my clients. For those of you who use Owncloud or Nextcloud there is a lovely Rainloop integration available from the app repositories of both . This is an excellent bonus and another feather in Rainloop’s cap in my opinion. I have had some issues with email integration apps for Owncloud in the past and this works straight from the download only requiring the usual configuration data that any email client anywhere would need to be able to operate. The same goes for Nextcloud.

The final bonus is the documentation. Detailed, punchy to the point, not overbearing to read with high quality relevant information really easy to find 🙂

I am very pleased with Rainloop and I wish the team and the product continued success for the future.

It gets Five stars from me!

The Rainloop website is here

PS: Any Virtual Office customers interested in knowing more should raise a ticket.

Let Us Talk Laverna….

Laverna, I hear you say? Sounds like a posh restaurant doesn’t it?

Fear not. I am not turning into the next Fay Maschler!  The Laverna I am talking about is a nifty self hosted note taking app. I have been searching for a self hosted alternative to the highly regarded and very long standing Evernote for some time now, and I came across Laverna this weekend.

I downloaded the app and gently added some security scripts from my repository to the code for reasons I will go into later. I then uploaded the files to my intranet and after a little faff regarding where I was going to store my self created content – read notes I was able to have a little play. My this works well and it is fast too. It is a lovely replacement for Evernote.

You see I want full control over all my data as much as possible and I want it highly secure too. If I can replace something like Dropbox, Salesforce, Hotmail, Evernote etc etc with something on my own very highly protected servers then I will 🙂 Simples. Hence adding some scripts in to protect my data and track usage. No Russian hackers here!

I have been able to Laverna in anger today taking meeting notes and it was a joy. All I need is an internet connection one click on my intranet homepage and I am in. The slick design works well with my Intranet template and integrates nicely. I like self hosted apps that can integrate into the style and branding of my intranet because if any one sees the apps they look exceedingly professional and that is one image I do want to portray.

So far so good. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the developers for creating this app and also to congratulate them on a job well done.

Here is a screenshot of Laverna integrated into my intranet.

This app gets five stars from me.

Self Hosted Apps. Why Am I A Fan?

I have been running self apps for years, including some “bastardisations” of popular apps, especially WordPress and Joomla, mainly acting as corporate intranets. These can be a nice solution if you are in a hurry to deploy and intranet by the way.

Any way as is nearly usual for me for a Friday night. I was sat in my local pub enjoying a few pints of Abbott with some friends when the self hosted debate came up. We went through the usual cost discussion. I only spend £100 per year for all the apps can I can host and all the users I need to be on them instead of paying “freemium” subscriptions for services and not really getting the value.

We went through the effort and security arguments. There really is not that much effort on my part to keep this little lot up to date and my security is a lot better than some well known, especially email services I can name. There is also the flexibility angle here too.

If you care about your own security or suddenly feel the need to take security of information you hold, for example about staff. Self Hosted apps should be worthy of your consideration.

I will be writing more about self hosted apps soon, especially ones I use or have used in this section.

However here something I found earlier today that deserves to do really, really well.

Trigger Happy is a clone of IFTTT, which is a bridge app. I have had a play and I have to say I like Trigger Happy a lot. It needs more integrations within it as things stands today but I do look forward to seeing this app grow and develop. I will share more about my endeavours with Trigger Happy here when I can. If you want to automate Tasks on your telephone or tablet either Trigger Happy or IFTTT are worth a look 🙂