Saturday, November 19, 2022

Setting up a Mastodon Server

I spent the better part of today setting up a Mastodon Server. For those who don't know what Mastodon is, it is a Twitter replacement. Getting an account on Mastodon is not quit as intuitive as Twitter, the hardest part being finding a server. Over the last week, I have been considering this move because of the Elon Musk/Twitter train wreck currently going on. I am not a huge Twitter user, but I know a few people who are and I was thinking they might need a place to land eventually and once you have a server it is very easy to sign in and start using.

For the last year or so, I have been getting into self hosting. I have my own ESXi server for virtual machines, I also have a machine dedicated to hosting Docker containers and I have gotten pretty good at building internet facing services. I am not going to go into any details about what I did to get everything running, there are plenty of good documents on the internet to help you do this, all I am going to do is provide an overview for those who are interested and think they might want to do this themselves.

My instance of Mastodon is hosted on a virtual machine on my ESXi server. I looked into doing it on Docker, which is my preference, but Docker seemed to make the process harder rather than easier. Besides that, backing up VM's is much easier than backing up Docker containers. I gave the VM 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of hard drive space and 4 CPU cores. I suspect that will be more than enough to handle a small user base, assuming I decide to keep it going. Looking at the monitoring tools I use, the install is taking up about 5 GB of storage, it is using 1.25 GB of memory and CPU usage is staying comfortably under 10%. Please keep in mind this is with basically 1 user, ME! I am certain if I had say 10 regular users, this would change.

I really only ended up with 2 major issues. The first was I had trouble getting HTTPS working properly, solving this issue was mostly about getting all the tricky little settings between the VM, my proxy server and Cloudflare talking properly, honestly I have no idea what I did that finally made it work. The second big issue I have is email verification does not work. I tried to follow the instructions for getting smtp working, but no matter what I did, it failed to send out emails correctly. Fortunately I can manually confirm users and since I do not really plan to have more than a handful of accounts, if any at all, this will not be a problem. All the other issues I had were with things like out dated documentation and variations with Linux commands, nothing that was not easily solved with a few minutes of thought.

I really have no intention at this point of actually allowing others to use this beyond myself and the wife. I doubt the twitter thing is going to result in Twitters implosion and in a couple of weeks it will all be over. I am going to leave it up and running for a while though just in case. Besides, who knows, I might actually decide I like Mastodon and use the server as my own beautiful virtual world.

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