Boris Mann’s Personal Blog

Nov 2022

Self hosting Mastodon & supporting collectives & code

I was reminded that I wrote about running your own Mastodon (on Heroku!) back in 2017. Heroku is on its way out, so I wouldn’t recommend it today.1

Interesting to look back at that post and see how the beginnings of what would become Fission are there.

Digital Ocean also has one click installs & @RangerMauve reports that you’ll need the $12/month droplet size.

This is fine for highly technical people who like to experiment. @walkah is running his own Pleroma instance — I think even at home in his lab?2

When I rejoined Mastodon more seriously 2 years ago, I joined Social.Coop. I didn’t want to worry about the care and feeding of a server, database, backups, and so on. I did want to be part of a group that supported such an activity.

As you pick a Mastodon server to be part of, do some research. Who are the admins? Where is it hosted? Do they have a place to accept donations and support? Can you get involved in governance of the server? Which instances do they block? Or not block?

At this point my main recommendation is to look for a donation and support link. As a “regular” user, $5/month or $50/year seems about the right amount to be donating.

If you do a search on Open Collective you’ll see several pages of results of server admins having set up collectives.

This also includes the “core” Mastodon project.

If you’re going to be running a server instance for yourself or for an organization, don’t forget to also donate to your upstream. The way Open Collective works, you can use your collective to fund other collectives, so you can make this part of your standard way of operating. Supporting open source software development in this way should be a standard expense.3

And anyone who says that’s “too hard for everyone” — sure, those of us who are more tech and media literate may need to go first. But if we’re not willing to support something better, who is?

  1. I haven’t had serious time to look at new alternatives to Heroku. I’m still allergic to Docker, and Digital Ocean works for a lot of classic apps. Railway is the one I’ve got my eye on but haven’t had the right project to try with it yet. ↩︎

  2. Pleroma is an ActivityPub server written in Elixir that is compatible with Mastodon. Or rather, Mastodon also runs ActivityPub, the open protocol that people can implement compatible servers for. ↩︎

  3. yes, you could also contribute in kind with code, answering support questions, documentation, etc. Please do, it’s likely even more valuable than cash donations! ↩︎