Discourse as „local“ private social network


(Markus) #1

Dear friends,
does anyone have some experience with Discourse as family / „close circle“ knowledge-base?

I‘d like to setup an instance at my home network in near future. The trade-off would be in hardware specifications. To minimize energy consumption (< 5-10 watts), it would be necessary to run Discourse on some kind of Raspberry Pi micro controller. Unfortunately without x64 support, Docker won’t be possible. I don’t like any „experimental“ workarounds.

Does anyone have some good hardware suggestions?

Thanks in advance!


(Rafael dos Santos Silva) #2

Running on ARM without Docker is as experimental as it gets. Might be doable but for sure an unsupported install.


(Markus) #3

How about x64 recommendations? I think either, that ARM would be optional for package dependencis. Does anyone tried one of these sticky computer of Intel?

Unfortunately, they are very expensive

On the other hand, Docker on an Android smartphone/tablet world be amazing :sweat_smile: these devices are cheap and quite powerful for acceptable prices


(Sam Saffron) #4

Have you considered $5 a month cloud install? If you enable full disk encryption prior to installing on the cloud you will be in a pretty safe state. Certainly a world safer than keeping photos on facebook.

At $60 bucks a year this is pretty much what you would pay for a password manager on the cloud.


(Markus) #5

Hi sam,
you’re basically right. :slight_smile:

BUT here we come to another limitation, I‘ve had in mind, that is storage capacity and scalability. Most virtual servers for 5 bucks per month coming with round about 30-50 GB capacity. Let’s say 10 GB of them are instantly away due software dependecies. The rest will be gone in a short period of time.

I‘d like to install Nextcloud or Resilio Sync in a second step. Document sharing is also pretty important for me. My dad at age of 68 needs help at his household / contracts / other document managing. It‘s important for us,to,sync thousands of documents. I don’t wanna use USB sticks any longer … Good-bye 90s :grin:

This is why I need round about 500 GB to 1 TB of storage.
(20-50 bucks extra per month? No way.)

Security

Indeed, the most important aspect of this project.

Actually, I‘m not sure if a running virtual server at some shared-hosting provider is the right choice. At the moment the system is running, disk encryption is unlocked. Not sure if 3rd parties could access to that data, in case they want to?

Any home server would be under my full control and can only be accessed through VPN and WiFi / ethernet.

Full disk encryption is by the way a sensitive topic, I‘ll need some extra lessons into that. How to do that appropriately on (Ubuntu) linux? What recipe / how-to can you guys recommend? In case of maintainance, the virtual host should be still bootable xD I‘ve read a lot of positive feedback about ZFS and it‘s capabilities. But whould it work instantly?

I admit, not to be an security expert. That’s also a reason I prefer semi-online solutions in that case. :thinking:

Last but not least: Mail exchange. Should I use AWS SES, any self-hosted SMTP or should I disable that completely? As we all know, transport encryption is not enough. In case someone posts confidential information, I‘d like to make sure, only the intended person get‘s involved into that conversation. What do you guys suggest? Disabling mail at all and getting push notifications only?

Facebook and other anti-social networks

Let me say one thing: :joy: hahaha never ever again.

Discourse is the future, for sure! Amazing work buddies :muscle::nerd_face:


(Jeff Atwood) #6

Didn’t I cover this extensively here?

Even the super fancy 6 core box at the bottom of that post is 8w idle at the Ubuntu command prompt, ~15w - 20w typical load.


(Markus) #7

Thanks for your hint!

Haven’t that in mind. The hardware should be not too old. I’m not sure if theee boxes are still available (in Germany) right now. :thinking:

Running a 10 watt machine 365 days per year costs about 25 € for energy. At the end of the day it’s also an economic kind of question. The virtual server option is still in mind… but the storage and security questions needs to be adressed :roll_eyes:


(Markus) #8

These dark SaaS days reminds me, that I‘ve need to build my own safe harbor for certain applications:

(I‘ve had over 35.000 pictures there and three years of Pro membership. But they gonna delete around a decade of human culture. :frowning: This isn’t a business model I‘d like to support… even with paid membership. I‘m still uncertain in choosing the „right“ self-hosted photo library. Most of them are developed 1-2 decades ago. Before „we‘ve got addicted“ to Cloud/SaaS providers)


(Michael Howell) #9

Sure, you obviously don’t need the beast that’s shown there. But you still really don’t want a raspberry pi.

The CPU is only part of the problem. The other part, if you’re going to be storing a lot of pictures on there, is its I/O performance. You won’t even get full USB 2.0 speeds, because it runs your Ethernet off of the same USB bus. Even if you insist on doing ARM, try to pick one with USB 3.


(Andrew Waugh) #10

It runs quite well on a Synology. Don’t use their package, symlink /var/discourse to a share (/volume1/docker/discourse), and follow the normal install.


(Markus) #11

That’s why I thought, using a smartphone / tablet with Android would be a nice option. These devices are not too bad …

  • in terms of specs and they are pretty powerful nowadays;
  • they are designed for energy efficiency;
  • they are “cheap”
  • bring a display for server monitoring :wink:
  • the pure definition of mobility
  • with uninterruptible power supply
  • the I/O performance should be good enough for a “close circle” of 10-20 people and only a few at the same time.
  • and of course the expendable SD card slot with 250/300 MB/s r/w speed

For what reason? External hard drives? Ethernet? I’d like to use the internal storage and SD card.

It seems to be the most convenient home server I can get, as long as the Wifi connectivity don’t drop. :thinking: But I’ve seen ethernet adapters as well. It’s just a question of docker and ARM compatibility.

This would be a great reason to buy my first Android device :smiley:
(I’ll guess, trying to implement this on Apple devices would be much more painful).

Which one can you recommend?


(Andrew Waugh) #12

I’ve run it on DS1515+, and DS1512+ models.

Get one with 8G memory or more (Some can be populated with more ram than Synology indicates).

I had the Synos anyway for datastorage, so being able to run Discourse is just a side benefit.


(Stephen) #13

Docker is also part of unRAID which will run on a wide range of x86/x64 hardware.


(Markus) #14

@codinghorror Thanks for the article :muscle: :slight_smile:

https://blog.codinghorror.com/the-cloud-is-just-someone-elses-computer/