Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘Open Source’

European Union Joins Mastodon Social Network ➝

I can’t imagine ever following anyone on an instance like this, but I’m glad it exists. Other countries should follow suit.

➝ Source: pcmag.com

Building a More Open Internet ➝

Matt Mullenweg, speaking with Protocol:

As more and more of our lives start to be run and dictated by the technology we use, it’s a human right to be able to see how that technology works and modify it. It’s as key to freedom as freedom of speech or freedom of religion. So that is what I plan to spend the rest of my life fighting for.

And this bit at the end of David Pierce’s article is just perfect:

After we hung up our first Zoom call, Mullenweg sent me an email with the subject line “Freedom is central.” The body was a quote from Albert Camus, which worked as an explanation for just about everything Mullenweg believes in, fights for and plans to spend the rest of his life working on: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” The email was just that, Mullenweg’s name and three links to WordPress sites. What else do you need to know?

I plan to spend the rest of my career at Automattic because this is exactly the attitude I want to be surrounded by.

➝ Source: protocol.com



Mastodon is open source, distributed social networking software. It’s most similar to Twitter in terms of core functionality, but what sets it apart is the ability to setup your own instance or join one that fits your interests. Mastodon takes advantage of ActivityPub, allowing users on the service to follow others from separate instances.

And because ActivityPub isn’t Mastodon-specific, you can follow users from instances that aren’t even built on Mastodon. It’s compatible with Pixelfed, PeerTube, Pleroma, and more — as long as it uses ActivityPub, you can follow it through Mastodon, at least in my experience.

My first exposure to Mastodon was in 2018, but it was short-lived. I made the mistake of trying to rebuild the same social graph I had on Twitter and no one stuck around for very long — including me. It wasn’t until I started exploring Twitter alternatives earlier this year that I started using Mastodon as my primary social network.

I could have just revived my account on Mastodon.social, but one of the biggest draws for me was the ability to have my own instance. I setup LibertyNode.net in July, invited my wife and sister-in-law to join, and haven’t looked back.

If you’re interested in giving Mastodon a go, you could join one of the bigger instances like Mastodon.social or Mastodon.online. Alternatively, you could use Instances.social to try and find one that’s focused more on your interests.

Once you have an account, you’ll probably want some cool people to follow. Your instance’s profile directory as well as the local and federated feeds are a good place to start. Just keep in mind, because of the open source nature of the software and the ability for anyone to setup an instance, just like the web in general, there is some degree of unsavoriness. A good instance will be moderated regularly to prevent the most egregious content, but just a fair warning that some could slip through.

In terms of specific people to follow, though, I’d be more than happy to have you as a follower — you can find my personal account at @mike@libertynode.net and Initial Charge’s account at @initialcharge@libertynode.net. And here are some of the people I’ve especially enjoyed on Mastodon recently:

You shouldn’t feel stuck just following people that are native to ActivityPub, though. BirdsiteLive is self-host-able bridge between Twitter and Mastodon. I use this for a couple dozen people or so that don’t yet have a presence on an ActivityPub-compatible service.

You can use the main BirdsiteLive instance, but I would recommend looking for other, smaller instances that aren’t quite as saturated. Distributing your follows across multiple instances will help prevent Twitter from shutting it down through rate limiting or some other mechanism.

Mastodon for iPhone

Beyond that, there are a handful of other tools I use that interact with Mastodon:

  • The official Mastodon app for iOS — there are still some rough edges and missing features, but development has been rapid so far.
  • Metatext is a third-party client for iOS that’s more feature complete, but hasn’t seen as much active development recently.
  • Mastonaut is my favorite Mastodon client for macOS.
  • Mastodon-Twitter cross-poster automatically cross-posts your tweets to Mastodon or vice versa. This is what I use to mirror my Mastodon posts to my Twitter account.
  • Mastodon Autopost for WordPress will automatically post a link to your Mastodon account each time you publish. I don’t love it’s use of custom fields for storing information, but it works well.

As it stands now, there is some political polarization on the Mastodon and that may get worse if the upcoming Truth Social decides to federate. But that same polarization exists in many other aspects of our lives now, so it isn’t a unique problem. However, unlike other social networks, the distributed nature of Mastodon could help to prevent some of the more toxic behavior that the polarization leads to on Twitter, Facebook, and others.

Each instance can have its own policies regarding moderation and can decide what instances to federate with or not. This allows communities to setup a firewall from the type of behavior that they would like to discourage. And if you don’t like one instance’s policies, you can find another instance or even setup your own. I used Cloudron on Linode to install and manage Mastodon, it was a pretty easy process.

I haven’t needed to do any instance blocking on mine yet, but there’s only a few of us on it and we’ve only been using it since July. I’m glad the option is there if I ever need it.

I’m quite bullish on Mastodon and ActivityPub in general. I think it’s the kind of software that churches, bands, and any other group should take into consideration if they want to establish a place to congregate online. And I very well may be doing some of this myself.

There isn’t an Apple-focused Mastodon instance that I’m aware of and having something like that might encourage some of my Twitter buddies to give it a try. I can’t say for certain whether I’ll set one up, but it’s on my radar. And if anyone out there is interested in collaborating on something like this, let me know.

Mastodon Recap 2021 ➝

There’s about a quarter-of-a-million monthly active users on Mastodon, based on the instances known to Mastodon.social. It’s no Twitter or Facebook, but that’s a pretty sizable number considering the lack of major investors or marketing.

➝ Source: blog.joinmastodon.org

Truth Social Releases Source Code ➝

From Truth Social:

Our goal is to support the open source community no matter what your political beliefs are. That’s why the first place we go to find amazing software is the community and not “Big Tech”.

There was quite a bit of noise last month regarding Truth Social’s potential violation of Mastodon’s license. I’m happy to hear that they have released their source code, coming into complience with the licensing agreement.

Regardless of your political affiliation, I think it’s good that there will be more competition for Facebook and Twitter soon. And It’s even better that it’s built on Mastodon. I hope they federate — allowing Truth Social users to follow people from other instances and other instances to follow users on Truth Social. More importantly, though, I hope the existence of this service results in many more people joining social networks powered by ActivityPub.

➝ Source: truthsocial.com

Breaking Up With Apple ➝

Mike Harley gives a two month update on his quest to remove Apple products and services from his life. He’s decided to move toward more free and open source alternatives — most notably Pop!_OS on the desktop and CalyxOS on mobile. I’m happy to hear that things are working out pretty well in this endeavor.

➝ Source: obsolete29.com

Iconoir, the Definitive Open Source Icons Library ➝

This is a pretty rad project. I’ll want to keep this link handy whenever I’m working on my next project.

(Via Shaun Andrews.)

➝ Source: iconoir.com

AlternativeTo, Crowdsourced Software Recommendations ➝

I’ve been using this service a lot lately to explore alternative software options and think it’s worthy of a shout-out. It offers filters for platform, features, and license. Interested in open source alternatives to Apple Notes?They have you covered. Or self-hosted alternatives to LastPass? They have that too.

And if you find something you enjoy, you can like/heart the app or service so others will find better results in the future.

➝ Source: alternativeto.net