Imagine being able to install a private YouTube-like web application for a niche community on your unmanaged Linux server. After a few months you decide to publicize it for the world to see. With the click of a button anyone looking at videos on that same YouTube-like application installed elsewhere can see your videos, expanding your reach to viewers that would’ve never seen your content otherwise. That is the greatness of a federated application.
Welcome to the Fediverse.
- What Does “Federated” Mean?
- Social Media Fediverse Applications
What Does “Federated” Mean?
Let’s start with the term “federation” in regards to IT management. A federated network model consists of separate networks or applications with the same core components able to communicate as a single entity. This is separate from a distributed network which is simply a network with multiple geographical locations – the Cloudflare content delivery network (CDN) for example.
What is the Fediverse?
The Fediverse (federated universe) is a group of federated applications that support communication protocols with an open standard, usually ActivityPub. Let’s continue with the example of a YouTube-like app in the beginning of this blog. Now imagine being able to communicate directly with other users on multiple Twitter alternatives for microblogging and even an audio hosting site. To make it simple, how about this: Google Workspace except every app is from a different developer and they integrate without issues.
Social Media Fediverse Applications
Every platform has some sort of terms of service (ToS) or end user license agreement (EULA) inherited from the software, hosting plan, and country of origin. But a lot of the alternatives to the most popular social networking sites give you more control over your content. The Fediverse Wikipedia page lists plenty.
Below are some free, federated applications we recommend installing on your unmanaged Linux VPS.
Pleroma and Mastodon vs Twitter
Mastodon is a federated, microblogging social media platform. Depending on your web apps (e.g. WordPress or Mattermost), you can auto-share posts to Mastodon with third party integrations.
If you’re looking for the most generic Mastodon instance to join, check out https://mastodon.social, run by the lead developers of the project.
Pleroma is another Twitter replacement similar to Mastodon. The most notable differences between the two:
- Mastodon is more focused on mimicking the Twitter user interface (UI) and experience (UX)
- Pleroma is less server resource intensive than Mastodon
For these reasons, some users install Pleroma locally to spare system resources while interacting with the Mastodon Fediverse. There are also alternative front-end UIs that make Pleroma look more like Mastodon. https://outerheaven.club/about seems to be the most safe for work (SFW) instance.
PeerTube vs YouTube
PeerTube is a federated, video sharing application similar to YouTube. It is especially suitable for creators limited by upload restrictions on Vimeo. With PeerTube your VPS hosting plan is the only limiting factor for uploading 5K resolution videos (and whatever standard comes next).
Want to jump right into a PeerTube instance? https://peertube.co.uk is primarily for UK residents but open to everyone. You should email them before importing your entire YouTube library so they can ensure available server resources.
Owncast vs Twitch
Owncast is a lesser known Twitch alternative. It integrates with Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and Jitsi without issue so you can keep your video effects and host video teleconferences free and open-source. Many federated Owncast instances are focused on gaming and live DJ sets.
https://watch.owncast.online is their demo server for getting a sense of how Owncast operates.
Check our Support Center often to learn more about the Fediverse.