For many months I have been taking brief stabs at getting a self-hosted bit of photo sharing software running in my homelab. Pixelfed, a very nice looking alternative to social-media sites such as Instagram, was my own personal white whale for that span of time. But no longer! I’ve finally, finally got a setup installed and working which I am happy with.

What happened before?

Lots of pain and suffering. Perhaps I’m just bad at this whole self-hosted thing, and more likely that there are no amazing guides out in the world which clearly explain how to run Pixelfed out of a Docker container, but it has taken me many months of sporadic starts and stops to get this thing off the ground. Given that I’ve only just gotten this all working nicely I cannot bear to relive the experience right now. I have an internal wiki with all the key notes and I’ll plan a future post about the technical details of getting this working right.

For this post, suffice to say I had a lot to learn about docker and a lot more to learn about how Pixelfed works under the covers to get it installed.

Why Pixelfed?

Getting away from the tech details, let’s chat about ‘Why Pixelfed at all?’. Or a deeper question is ‘Why self-host at all?’.

The reasons are simple:

  • It’s fun!
  • It’s a challenge to learn new things!
  • Having control over my own data feels better than not.

Self-hosted software, particularly when hosted by a novice like me, is always going to have some rough-edges. That’s ok. It’s part of the fun.

There are many choices when it comes to self-hosting photos. Awesome Self-Hosted does a phenomenal job of keeping track of all the options. Of them all, Pixelfed offers the most Instagram-like replacement. Although I am highly tempted to give Photo Stream a go - check out some examples of how good this can look!

So what’s the plan?

I am hoping to use Pixelfed as a place to share interesting, fun, and curated photos of myself and the places I go. You can find it up top of this blog in the main navigation under Photos. Or here’s a link, if you hate scrolling. ;)

A secondary goal is to create a nice archive of photos I enjoy; a digital photo album permanently backed-up and something I can scroll through in the future. My photo library is 20,000+ photos today and in ten-years’ time it will have only grown. Curation is a must. iCloud Photo Library is neat and I take advantage of the Favorites feature, but using Pixelfed for this purpose gives me additional portability with this data.