Skip to content

My Top 10 Self-Hosted apps

Storing and serving files is all well and good but with a little effort, we can replace dozens of hosted services that don't respect your privacy. Here are some of my favourite self-hosted app picks.

I would be remiss not to mention the awesome-selfhosted GitHub page before we get started. It is a list of Free Software network services and web applications which can be hosted locally. There is also a Non-Free page.

Info

If you like this kind of thing, check out the Self-Hosted podcast over at Jupiter Broadcasting.

1. Plex

Plex brings together all the media that matters to you. Your personal collection will look beautiful alongside stellar streaming content. Enjoy Live TV & DVR, a growing catalog of great web shows, news, and podcasts. It's finally possible to enjoy all the media you love in a single app, on any device, no matter where you are.

plex-banner

Plex is the reason you're even reading this page. It's what got me interested in Linux in the first place and is somewhat of a gateway drug for self-hosting and can be run as a container. However, it is not open source and there are doubts about the future of Plex as they continue to add features and streaming services that no-one asked for. Luckily, there are other options available.

Jellyfin and Emby are two notable players in this space (playback on any device) but we should also mention Kodi. Kodi is great if your use case is local only as automated media transcoding for the target device isn't something that this software does. But, for me, Plex is still the best overall in this category. It has the slickest UI and the most features. Despite this, the progress being made by Emby and Jellyfin recently is very impressive and these are both projects to watch closely.

Similar or related projects:

2. Nextcloud

Nextcloud - The self-hosted productivity platform that keeps you in control.

Surely this pick needs no introduction. Think of Nextcloud somewhat like your own personal Dropbox replacement. Although, that is doing it a disservice because Nextcloud supports many more features than Dropbox. Nextcloud provide a demo if you'd like to try before you "buy" (Nextcloud is free).

nextcloud-banner

The recently launched Nextcloud Hub brings together several key areas of functionality:

  • Nextcloud Files - offers universal file access on desktop, mobile and web. Find files with powerful search, share your thoughts in comments or lock files until you are done with them.
  • Nextcloud Talk - delivers on-premises, private audio/video conferencing and text chat through browser and mobile interfaces with integrated screen sharing and SIP integration.
  • Nextcloud Groupware - integrates Calendar, Contacts, Mail and other productivity features to help teams get their work done faster, easier and on your terms.

Similar or related projects:

3. Home Assistant

home-assistant-logo

Open source home automation that puts local control and privacy first. Home Assistant is a truly remarkable project. At the time of writing it has over 1700 integrations with all manner of devices, services and hardware supported. This is the true magic of Home Assistant.

A demo is available if you're curious to see it in action. But the real magic comes when you start automating your life to a point where when Home Assistant isn't there, you miss it. Automate the lights, climate control and yes, even your dog (via a bedtime routine) with Home Assistant!

A fantastic resource to learn more about the project is YouTube. Dr Zzzs, The Hook Up, Intermit.tech, Paul Hibbert and DigiblurDIY are some of the most well-known channels. This isn’t an exhaustive list but should give you plenty of material to work with if you’re in need of inspiration or buying advice.

Home Assistant can be run as a standalone container, on a Raspberry Pi, as a VM and countless other ways. The learning curve is real but this project really is worth your time to investigate.

4. Grafana

Grafana itself is graphing tool to display data stored elsewhere. It excels at displaying time-series data like the kind gathered by monitoring tools like Telegraf and Prometheus. It takes a bit of work to get a dashboard configured just the way you like it but is well worth the effort - after all, who doesn't like a pretty graph?

grafana

I've written previously about monitoring your UPS with Grafana to better keep track of the energy costs of your server setup.

5. Smokeping

Smokeping keeps track of your network latency. It pings things - both remote and local - and records how much latency there is between you and the target.

smokeping-ui

It isn't a terribly glamourous application but it does enable you to see historical trends of network performance at a glance extremely easily for up to a year at a time.

6. Lychee

Lychee proclaims to be "self-hosted photo-management done right". It does certainly do a very good job at presenting images with a clean interface and makes dividing them up into albums relatively straightforward.

lychee

I have a demo instance running at gallery.selfhosted.show if you'd like to take it for a quick test drive yourself. Lychee isn't necessarily the best in this space but it's a pretty good all-round option with no frills (no face scanning or machine learning type features).

Lychee discussion begins at 7 mins

There are a lot of options in this space - just take a look at awesome-selfhosted.

Similar or related projects:

7. Librespeed

A speed test tool that can be run on your LAN or hosted in the cloud. This is available as a Self-Hosted container as well as at librespeed.org.

This is really useful when you want to test the speed between your current system and wherever you are running this container. Want to test the speed between you and your cloud based VPS? Or check that your wifi is performing well?

By running this container on your LAN you're able to remove the internet from the equation and get a better idea about what's going on your LAN.

8. Gitea

A self-hosted, lightweight git service, Gitea is much more powerful than it might seem at first. Sure, it has all the obivous trappings you'd expect from a code hosting solution such as multi-user support, organisations and a similar merge/fork model to a certain well-known online hub for Git activity.

gitea

One of my favourite features of Gitea is that it will automatically mirror remote git repositories locally when a commit is pushed. This makes it really easy to back up your code, and other people's code to your server - just in case. Because it's git the entire repo history is maintained and if for some reason a popular project became the target of a BS DMCA claim, you're not up the creek without a paddle - so to speak.

Gitea doesn't have the kind of built-in CI features like the largest self-hosted and open source player in this space, Gitlab. But what it lacks in features it makes up for in small footprint and simplicity. These can instead be handled by external applications such as drone.

Similar or related projects:

9. Tiddlywiki

A personal wiki is a personal choice. My personal favourite is Tiddlywiki - we covered it in episode 12 of Self-Hosted. Tiddlywiki v5 is the latest version but it has a long heritage with the first release dating back to September 2004!

The workflow of using the wiki takes a little getting used to but there are a few key features which have meant that it has stood the test during 2020 in my household.

My absolute favourite thing about Tiddlywiki is just how fast it is to find what you're looking for. The search is fuzzy style (meaning that as you type, the results are instantly filtered) and it searches the entire text of an article - not just the titles or tags. It's written entirely in Javascript and requires very little in the way of server-side processing. No database, no encrypted files, just plain old text files (markdown is supported - yay!). I also love that information can belong to multiple categories at the same time via a simple tag - Tiddlywiki works the way my brain does and I love it.

tiddlywiki-ui

The largest quirk comes when trying to add images, it's just not well suited to this. But you can make it work with a little learning curve. If I had a feature request for v6, it would be to improve the image handling.

I run Tiddlywiki out of a container authored by mazzolino which works well with Traefik.

Similar or related projects:

10. Surprise me

What are your favourites? Let me know @IronicBadger on Twitter.


Last update: 2021-01-03