Vikshepa Blog

Mental Distractions

30 May 2022

2022-05-30 Wikis and web servers

I've been looking again at several aspects of the site. On the weekend I spent several hours trying to set up Epicyon, which is intended to be a simple social networking application based on the activity pub protocol, created by Bob Mottram. I previously had partial success setting up Epicyon, under Mottram's Freedombone (now called Libraserver, I think). It didn't work very well, then, but there is reason to hope that it is more mature now. Be that as it may, I failed in my attempts. Not because of Epicyon but because the instructions for setting it up are geared for the NGINX web server, and what I have installed is Apache. There's a method of installing NGINX as a reverse proxy for Apache, and that's what I was trying. By the end of several hours what I had was a server that served neither through NGINX nor Apache. So I shrugged my shoulders and disabled NGINX. Now the blog works again, happily.

After looking at Epicyon, I went back to review GnuSocial. I have installed this successfully a couple of times, on VPSs and even on Hostgator shared hosting. So I know that it's not too difficult. It works well enough with Apache. GnuSocial is the veteran social media instance of the Fediverse. It was created by Evan Prodromou originally as a commercially offered product called StatusNet. StatusNet powered early forms of the Fediverse, with a main instance that was first called Laconi.ca then Identi.ca. When Prodromou abandoned the project, he turned it over to the people behind GNU while he himself went on to create what was the first instance of an activitypub server, Pump.io, for which he reused the Identi.ca name for his instance. That project was bit of a failure, though the Activitypub protocol itself went on to become a great success; it is the basis of Mastodon and Pleroma, and many other instances of the Fediverse. Meanwhile a new team, with some European funding has gone back to GnuSocial to modernize the code and adapt it for use with the Activitypub protocol, since this is now the backbone of the Fediverse.

Well, I can go through the process of installing GnuSocial again, but I'm having doubts again whether I really want to try again with social networking. The truth is, I have never had great success with it, on the level of active participation, and I don't so much like its influence upon me. What I do feel a need for, however, is to keep up to date with many ideas that are spread through social networking. For example, without access to social networking, I would not have been aware of that Solarpunk conference that I listened to yesterday.

Now, some of the discourse around such ideas takes place on the Fediverse; while much of it takes place on Twitter. I have access to the Fediverse currently through Disroot's new Pleroma instance. It's possible to either follow people there, or simply subscribe to them through RSS. That, in a way is simpler, because it does not involve sending a follow request. Regarding Twitter, it is possible to do the same, through the intermediary of Nitter.net, which, unlike Twitter, offers RSS newsfeeds. So I might just decide to solve the problem of subscribing to social network people via RSS. Newsfeeds really provide a complete solution for the reading of both blogs and microblogs. One only has to be disciplined enough to actually read the feeds.

The server: After looking at the way NGINX and Apache work, I am actually considering changing to something simpler, such as Hiawatha server. I remember it from PuppyLinux, which came with a Hiawatha Server already configured. I am just doubtful whether i will manage with the Hiawatha equivalent of Apache's .htaccess file rewrites, which I need for my Novagallery program, in particular. I'll see.

Wiki: A website should not be based only on the chronological format of blogging. There is room also for a more lateral dimension, so I am thinking to incorporate a wiki. There is a nice example of a personal wiki at https://njoseph.me/mediawiki/Main_Page

In keeping with the rest of the site, I am trying to find a wiki system that is based on simplicity and without a database. So far, Dokuwiki seems to be the best candidate. It is written in PHP and is based on plain text files. I will look into this.

Tags: web
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