Self-hosted apps for GOSH

Hi everyone!

I have spoken a little with @kaspar about GOSH’s ability to self-host more open source applications, and it would be great to have a meeting with those of us from the community interested in discussing this further. If you would like to join, you can fill out this poll. I have provided some context to the situation below, as well.

Current Situation: Right now GOSH is currently using Cloudron as a short-term solution to self-hosting applications for GOSH. An existing Cloudron was set up for the Journal of Open Hardware (JOH) and was used to host Limesurvey for the 2021 GOSH election. However, as the GOSH community starts to self-host more open source applications, it seems like this option of using the JOH Cloudron may not be a viable long-term option, as there is limited storage space.

Proposed Solution(s):

  • Having a server for GOSH to self-host their own open source applications.

Benefits of self-hosting:

  • The community would have access to more open source applications, such as etherpad and Wikimedia

Potential Obstacles:

  • Cost
  • Specialized knowledge on how to install and run these open source applications
  • Time needed to find a new self-hosting option for GOSH

Applications of interest to the community:

  • Etherpad, so we can set up instances for note-taking
  • Easy appointments - open source calendar scheduling service
  • Wikimedia - open source option for creating and managing wikis
  • Self-host our own workadventu.re map
  • Limesurvey - open source survey software

I have also made this post a wiki so that you can add to the lists above. Thanks :slight_smile:

-Bri

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I would caution against Wikimedia from personal experience unless we first get an enthusiastic working group to kick it off.

I have set up wiki’s in a number of places. A sparse, highly incomplete wiki doesn’t get the use it needs to grow and improve, instead it tends to become an out of date, sparse, highly incomplete wiki. We have wiki tools, from wiki posts in the forum, to wiki’s on our GitLab. Neither are as good as mediawiki. But hosting a good tools is not what is needed for a good wiki, what is needed is a good plan for populating it and a clear idea of what should be in it.

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I agree – it might be easier to partner with someone that already handles the Mediawiki for you - I use Appropedia.org for my research group with great success – and I know they would be supportive of the GOSH mission.

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Great point @jpearce. Closer ties between GOSH and Appropedia would be great for both sides. It solves the blank wiki issue for us, and brings more high quality content to them. I don’t think Emilio is in the forum, but many of us know him.

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Dear @jpearce , @julianstirling , glad to find you here :).
I just discovered this community. Loving it so far. I think there are a lot of common values with the “OHT” group :slight_smile:

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In terms of self hosted application, Redmine is a great tool for scientific and technical development. I will demo it at one of the OHT events soon.

OHT discussions on our tool stack : OHTR-how - Google Docs

Hi all, based on the poll results, it looks like @kaspar @hpy and I will be meeting to discuss this on Wednesday September 8th at 8:30 UTC. The link to join is here and this meeting is also on the GOSH community calendar.

We will be sure to share the notes from our meeting as well.

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Goooood morning, i will try to join the meeting later.
We started using nextcloud with various communities recently and i am very happy with it.
it already includes:

  • Poll / scheduling
  • Forms / questionaires
  • editable .md files (used like etherpads)
  • and many many other things to go away from all our google drive files

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

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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 workadventu.re. 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) - crab.fit 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
    support?)
  • 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,
Bri

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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 crab.fit 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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