Open source and self-hosted apps for GOSH

Hi everyone!

@dusjagr @hpy @kaspar and I met earlier this week to discuss this topic in more detail, I am sharing a summary of what we discussed, along with meeting notes, below!

Meeting Summary
The purpose of the meeting was to address the capacity for GOSH to self-host open source applications and move away from using the JOH Cloudron. Kaspar can help with system administration 2 hours a month, so we need to avoid setting up time-intensive applications. We can rely on using established instances for things like etherpad and However, a specific need addressed at the meeting was finding an open source alternative to Google Drive that GOSH could use. Options include Nextcloud and Cryptpad, but Cryptpad seems to have better functionality.

Needs we’ve identified, such as, but not limited to:

  • Surveys
  • Polls
  • Scheduling (i.e. finding a time for a meeting) - probably is
    good enough so no need to self-host?
  • Google Docs replacement (e.g. OnlyOffice or Collabora Office which is
    integrated in Nextcloud; or Cryptpad depending on its import/export
  • Newsletter tool (if we decide to create a newsletter)
  • Need we didn’t discuss (but was mentioned by @hpy afterward): Video conferencing tool to replace Zoom. Though maybe using existing Jitsi Meet instances is sufficient?
    Otherwise, there’s BigBlueButton.

Next Steps:

  1. Discuss (on this current forum thread) the costs associated with these open source options and whether we would need to rely on volunteers willing to set things up or if we would want to pay a service to host for us. From there, work towards a budget on what the expected costs would be.

Here is a link to the notes document from the meeting if you would like to see that as well!

Thanks again,


Thanks @briannaljohns and everyone for an informative meeting earlier, always great to learn from you.

For surveys, looks like Cryptpad is good.

When finding a time for a meeting has been successfully used several times.

To make appointments with someone, there’s the new Appointments app in Nextcloud.

As for replacing Google Docs, I think Collabora Office or Only Office, both of which can be integrated with Nextcloud, are good options.

I was happy to hear from @dusjagr that Nextcloud’s performance has improved recently. If so, then I think using a Nextcloud instance might be a good idea because it comes with practically all the needs we’ve enumerated during the meeting.

As for costs, IIRC the hosted Nextcloud instance used by @dusjagr is less than EUR 10 per month? If so, this might actually be cheaper than self-hosting! :+1:

P.S. When we had the Jitsi Call, I noticed that there is a new poll feature in the Jitsi chat sidebar! Did anyone else notice this? It probably doesn’t affect what we discussed, but cool anyway.

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Ni! Also, let’s not confuse Wikimedia with Mediawiki! ;D

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Another option for a ready-to-use Mediawiki, if for example Appropedia seems too narrow for our purposes, is Wikiversity, which is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. One could create a GOSH landing page and have other GOSH-specific pages as subpages.

One advantage of Wikiversity is that we get all the rich Mediawiki features most people don’t bother to install, such as the VisualEditor, the Notifications system, and the new Discussion system which is much more intuitive than with a plain Mediawiki installation.

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Good point, and it removes the need to self host and reduces duplication of effort. That said, I share the concern expressed earlier about managing a wiki and motivating people to populate it. Maybe this is something for a putative “GOSH knowledge organisation/archiving” working group to think about. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

I agree totally with @hpy about hosting and gardening another wiki. Many projects out there alreaedy have a wiki, and trying to maintain one for hackteria since 2009 has learned me a few things.

  • For a group with a variety of interests, best to include your own stuff into a larger wiki, egg appropedia.
  • For a specific project with a strong community, it makes sense to have your own.
  • Stuff like hackteria commnity wikit hat doesnt have a single focus, never managed to have a large group of contributors.

And again, Discourse allows to use individial topics to be editatble as wiki. so i suggest to stick to this.

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I agree with Julian.

We could use the wiki post feature in Discourse, to start making wiki content and building an editorial team.

I’ve recently learned about the wiki posts in Discourse. They can be edited by anyone with sufficient “trust level” or permissions (though this seems to be configurable).

Just now I was trying to make a wiki post to start a list or “directory” with OSH repositories and websites. A new regular post can be converted to a wiki post (see: What is a Wiki Post? - faq - Discourse Meta).

Perhaps we can start with sparse wiki posts, which can grow gradually, and move to a dedicated wiki eventually (if ever necessary).

Would this make sense?


PD: is there a way search for wiki posts in the forum? there is also a TOC plugin which looks nice.


Thanks @dusjagr for suggesting the instance you use:

at the moment we are using a service from (didnt have the resources to host ourselves). 8 € / month for 500GB.

I just checked out their demo, apparently there is a way to share collaborative documents (i.e. OnlyOffice or Collabora Office) with others so they can edit without an account, just like with Google Docs. Nice!

@dusjagr: How many people have their own accounts on your instance and how do you manage that?

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Yes, it’s an additional “app” that runs on nextcloud, called Collabora, it’s a browser version of libre office.
so, yes, it has a pretty smooth workflow to work on a document at the same time. it’s a bit slow sometimes. so when i work alone i work locally and synced to the cloud with my own software on my laptop.

About user management. yes, it’s a bit of work, we have now around 30 registered users, and it makes sense to group them proberly early on. the user management tool is too much handwork, but maybe some people have the skill to do this back-end and automated.

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In terms of an open-source alternative to Google Docs, it seems like we could either use Cryptpad or Nextcloud.

Cryptpad is free with 1GB of storage, but doesn’t have the Collabora Office or Only Office integration that Nextcloud does, making it harder to import/export documents. I’ve been using Cryptpad to house forms, like the sign-up form I created for community call presentations. Nextcloud on the other hand does have this integration, but we would have to pay for a monthly service to host it.

Why don’t we have another meeting to discuss whether Cryptpad or Nextcloud would be better suited for the community? We could also use that time to write up a budget if it is needed. Let’s find a time to meet in the next two weeks using this poll:


Sounds good :+1:, I’ve added my availability to the poll.

The “Sheets” on Cryptpad seems to be OnlyOffice. Maybe import is actually well supported?

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Thanks for signing up @hpy! Another reminder to sign up for this meeting if you want to chat more about open source apps for GOSH! :slight_smile:

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Thanks to everyone who filled out the poll, it looks like the next meeting will be 2021-11-03T21:00:00Z - we will meet using this Jitsi link. This meeting is also on the GOSH community calendar.

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Unfortunately, I am double-booked for the next meeting (3 November at 21:00 UTC) and won’t be able to make it. I am available to meet an hour before (3 November 20:00 UTC) or the next day at the same time (4 November 21:00 UTC) if anyone would like to reschedule. If not, feel free to meet without me this time!

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Ah!!! Sorry I’m only seeing @briannaljohns’s unavailability until just now. I’m happy to meet a day later (4 November 21:00 UTC), which actually works a little better for me. So maybe see everyone then?

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Sounds like a plan! I’ll go ahead and update the GOSH calendar.

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Great! See some of you in a little less than 24 hours.

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Had a great meeting today with @hpy and @AlexDeYucatan to discuss open source alternatives to Google Docs/Google Drive. Here’s a summary of what we chatted about:

  • Because Nextcloud has better import and export options, we decided it is a better option than Cryptpad. It also has great word document collaboration with Only Office.

  • We spent some time exploring Nexcloud’s options using the demo. We were able to upload all sorts of files (.csv, .xslx, .docx) and could even drag and drop folders from our desktop into the drive. We were able to share files and edit collaboratively without having to log in.

What to do next

  • Before creating a budget for Nextcloud services, we would like to give everyone a chance to check out Nextcloud, using the demo. Feel free to share your thoughts on it in this thread! If you want to check out even more Nextcloud integrations that aren’t featured on, you can do so on Disroot!

Next meeting: create a budget & discuss Zotero

The next meeting will be 11 November at 21:00 UTC. We will be putting together a monthly budget for expenses related to open source applications for GOSH, and we will also spend some time exploring Zotero, which was suggested as an archiving tool for GOSH on this thread. We will meet using this Jitsi link. This meeting is also on the GOSH community calendar .


Really sorry I missed the latest meeting. Did it happen?