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#30DayFOSSChallenge - Week 1


[This is a series: The FOSS Challenge | Week 0 | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Reflections]

One week of April is already gone. I started my challenge to only use FOSS software at the beginning of this month. Here's what's been going on in that time

Blog Update

The blog was on Wordpress. Wordpress is a very accessible platform, and is as popular as it is for a reason. However, I have a thing for simplicity, and Wordpress is not simple. I found it frustrating to try to align the theme and appearance to the rest of my website, and I didn't like having to dig through config files or a admin interface to essentially make a primarily text-based communication style work the way I wanted it to. With platforms like WordPress, it feels like you have to either fight against it, or add more extensions and plugins (and therefore more resource usage, more things to keep updated, and more configs and interfaces) to make it do what you want. I'd rather take a simple thing and add what I need to it than wrestle a complex thing into submission.

So I'm replacing WordPress with something very simple that I've written myself. It includes an rss feed now, which is a wonderful addition. I'll probably post what I've made when I've had a chance to make it presentable, and seen if there's any other features it needs.

The main thing lost is the comments sections. A few people left wonderful comments last week. I appreciate all of your comments. Unfortunately, I do not see comment sections coming back. They require a level of complexity I have no interest in dealing with. Instead of commenting here, consider joining mastodon (if you haven't already) and talking about it there. If you want to find me, I'm You can also always email me at nix at nullarch dot com.


Shared/Synced Files (Seafile)

This was an interesting journey. My partner and I maintain an extensive photo collection from our adventures, and we've previously synced it with Syncthing. This worked in a technical sense, but it's certainly not intuitive. And as you add more things, and more devices, to syncthing, it gets complicated fast. I still recommend syncthing for certain usages, but I was looking for something more accessible.

First stop was Nextcloud. Nextcloud has a lot of hype in the self-hosting world. It seems to want to do all of the things, file storage, calendar, chat, email, anything you want. It's a highly configurable and extendable platform. There's definitely a lot of fans.

I spent about a week and a half (I started in late March) trying to get it set up in a way I was satisfied with. I learned a lot of cool things in the process, including how to use docker and docker compose. But for most of the time, I had various issues. And when I finally got everything working, I struggled with performance. I was uploading our photos, and Nextcloud would eat up all of the server's ram (and then become unresponsive) when trying to load a page with a lot of thumbnails. Kind of a dealbreaker.

There is probably a fix to the issue I had above. But the whole saga reminded me of exactly why I liked syncthing in the first place: it just worked. I never had to do anything special to get it to work. So I started looking for things a little closer to syncthing.

I came across Seafile. It is more intuitive than syncthing because it uses user accounts instead of configuring by-device. It has a nice web interface, and nice apps. You can even create share links to send things to people who don't have accounts on your server. It does have a few limitations (the mobile app has no sync for some reason) but it is otherwise wonderful. Very pleased with it so far.

Matrix and IRC - Communication

I'm used to using Discord for my primary communication with friends. Well, a while back I set up bridges between two Discords I am in and corresponding Matrix channels. This means I can message the Discord users via Matrix, and vice versa. Good thing I did that! I've been using Matrix to communicate with people in those Discords. You might consider that to be a bit of a workaround, and that I'm still using Discord. It's a fair critique, but I can claim some success here: two other people have joined me on one of the Matrix servers.

Another server I'm involved with has a bridged irc channel that I've been using. I can't claim to be the first one for that, but it does seem like more people are trying out irc now that there's a couple of us there most of the day. What's old is new again.


Dealing with file synchronization took most of my week, so I haven't made a lot of headway in other places. So this is less struggles, and more things still to do.

Other Participants

A couple other people have joined the challenge! I'm delighted to see their journeys, and I hope you are too. Here's what I've see so far:

Other thoughts

On the previous post (when the blog was on Wordpress) someone commented lamenting that I had decided to exclude my workplace from my challenge. They noted the importance of applying pressure to your workplace to enact larger scale change.

I think this is a great point. I haven't given it as much thought as I should. I do want to elaborate on my particular work situation. I work in education, for a nonprofit that has no IT department. All of our support comes from a third party company. We're very heavily integrated in the Google ecosystem.

For these reasons, I have chosen not to make this a high priority for my challenge this year. But the point is taken, and I will think more about how I might be able to make some headway at work.

As always, suggestions, feedback, even critique is appreciated. Come talk to/yell at me on mastodon.

PS: Have thoughts about this post? Email me at or message me on mastodon at