Discovering Pleroma, an alternative to Mastodon (** upcoming Blog post)

Discovering Pleroma – an Alternative to Mastodon

I have had a lot of curiosity for the different places and software we encounter on the Fediverse, if we are curious and like to travel and see places.

I love Travel in the physical world, and similarly, am enchanted by travel in cyberspace, through the many corners and alleys, express lanes and boulevards, parks, of the Fediverse.

There are some ugly areas, which I carefully investigated, months ago; a quick look from the shadows, incognito, and it was clear it wasn’t a good place, so I left never to return.

Now some of those corners are changing, still there but moved to new information plumbing – we currently don’t see their diatribes and manure anymore. Good riddance, as they say.

Mastodon is not all there is, not even close. It is the largest part of the Fediverse, in terms of instances (servers) and registered users.

But there’s more and that is a good thing.


The Alternatives :

I have written recently on my blog about the Glitch-Social instances – which are a Fork, a split from the Mastodon project; a team of people who worked in the main project and for various reasons decided to leave, and start their own development team.

I have had an account in a Glitch-Soc instance for maybe 6 months now, and enjoyed it. Recently I wrote a full blog page with lots of detains on my search for a new, alternative account for my Blog Publishing - detailed here.

Besides having experienced Glitch-Soc, I also had looked at and registered an account in a Pleroma instance – the one with the memorable name of Expired Mentality, R.I.P., created and maintained by my friend @a1batross @a1batross@expired.mentality.rip.

As part of my explorations, I already posted in toots about both of those alternatives, and elaborated more on the Glitch-Social on with this recent page.

Time to look and see more of Pleroma, so I went and tried some things out, configured a comfortable user space, and started taking screenshots.

I will be going deeper into it, there are many enhancements in Pleroma that need a good reportage, detailing and explaining them.

This is a first part, looking at the general user interface and experience.


Why look for a change?

I am REALLY committed to leaving Mastodon behind and moving to better platforms.

GlitchSocial is one, Pleroma is another, I have accounts in BOTH types of instances, and love their added features, design improvements, and many, many new things.

The Pleroma FE (front end, or user interface – Intro Guide here) is a bit unusual for a mastodon user - but it HAS a second choice of Client; many pleroma instances have the GlitchSocial Web client as an option, sometimes as a link in their Front pages even.

For those of us who like to Read The Friendly Manual, there’s a detailed Pleroma FE Guide here.

These notes now appear in a polished Web Magazine here. I developed various pages as extensions of toots and conversations had in various instances; one of the reasons I love having various accounts and always looking for interesting ones to try. #FediReporter I am…


The Basics :

What is Pleroma ?

Pleroma is a federated social networking platform, compatible with GNU social, Mastodon and other OStatus and ActivityPub implementations. It is free software licensed under the AGPLv3. It actually consists of two components: a backend, named simply Pleroma, and a user-facing frontend, named Pleroma-FE. It also includes the Mastodon frontend, or Mastodon-FE, if if you prefer a more familiar interface.

How can I use it ?

Pleroma instances are already widely available – a list of current instances can be found here. Information on all existing fediverse instances can be found at Fediverse.Network.

Got an account. Now what ?

Great! Now you can explore the fediverse! Open the login page for your Pleroma instance (e.g. https://expired.mentality.rip/ , let’s use EMR for short) and login with your username and password. (If you don’t have an account yet, click on Register)


The Looks :

Pleroma instances at first glance seem very open, and look different. You can observe a stream of posts, in the Pleroma FE default interface, even before you sign up or login to an account. (Mastodon doesn’t offer that, usually).

Here’s a screenshot of EMR when you first open the site:

The visual is the Pleroma Front End, with wallpaper and colours as selected by the local admin.

The screen shown is from my laptop’s wide screen display, this image was 1600 x 826 pixels (widthxheight). To fit in the forum better, I have resized it to half size (800x413p).


Pleroma FE Basics :

It has one vertical Panel to display posts. What is shown in this panel can vary. It is selected from the menu items in the Left side controls :

PL-Timelines-260x220p

  • Timeline (or Home feed - people you Follow.)
  • Interactions (or notifications)
  • Direct Messages (as in mastodon)
  • Public Timeline (the Local feed)
  • Whole Known Network (or Federated feed)

At the Left side, there’s a Toot Editor at the top, which includes some extra controls, since Pleroma offers additional options – things like Reactions (Likes, Loves, similar to FB)

While this is the default user interface, in this page there is a button to allow a connection to the instance’s MastodonFE front end. This will usually be installed at the same URL as the instance address, with the added “/web” part.

So, for EMR, the URLs are :

  • https://expired.mentality.rip/ – (loading the Pleroma FE)
  • https://expired.mentality.rip/web – (loads the Mastodon FE)

The Mastodon FE experience :

Well, it looks quite familiar to a mastodon user – in fact it IS the Glitch-Social web client, which is similar to the mastodon web client most commonly used everywhere.

A snapshot shows it, here configured in Single Column display.


Advanced Web Interface :

It can also be configured in Advanced Web Interface or AWI mode, with multiple narrower columns, each loading a different feed. (but those are not a good experience for me, as they are too narrow for comfortable use)

Here’s a view of an AWI desktop, configured with three display panels (Notifications, followed by the Toot editor column, then the Local feed and the Federated one.)

To allow displaying multiple columns, we switch Display Settings as shown :

AppSettings-LayoutAWI-528x279p

To get a detailed guide on how to configure the Columns, move them around, etc, see my detailed post here – Setting up Advanced Web Interface.


And that’s all for now, as this is a long page already. We will return with a Part 2, with more details soon.


Follow Blog via your Fediverse/Mastodon account :

@rgx@write.tedomum.net

This page created entirely in MarkDown language. Thank you for reading, feel free to comment about this post - reach me at my Writer’s Lounge.

R.G. @rgx@muensterland.social

1 Like

Hey Rob G.

Is Pleroma still a thing and can there be a QOTO version of Pleroma? I have an account on QOTO and I want the Pleroma interface. Wondering if there is a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario there.

1 Like

Well, Pleroma is very much alive and well. I would say it’s growing. :smiley_cat:

For us here at Qoto, there is work being done to see if we could move to using it. Various reasons :

  • It is much lighter on system resources, so can be hosted on a less powerful system.
  • or will run faster in the same system, compared to the ball of spaghetti that is Mastodon.
  • our hosting costs are significant, and we are near the stage where, if traffic built up, we would need a package upgrade – more $$$ per month.
  • our admin pays for all the costs and never asked anyone to contribute, so I think these are good reasons to consider Pleroma.

The current status is that a test install is being run. Admin has to see if it’s possible to move some of the added features we haev here at Qoto to a Pleroma system.

Things like the Remote Timeline QuickView, the Instance Subscription, etc, plus others that came before.

Once there’s some idea if this is possible, a public test system would be offered – it would be a new and barren instance I think, as we can’t have two running the same database, with everyone’s data on it (not simultaneously).

The test system would be offered to the user base for testing, and to gather feedback. I think the MastodonFE would be a great point, as it makes it easy for current mastodon users to adapt. The Pleroma FE is native, and would be there as a personal option too – I was taking snapshots last night for the post above while logged in EMR in two tabs, one native FE, the other one Mastodon FE. Worked absolutely fine.

There is a script that can be run and will convert Qoto’s current database, with all the posts, and import it into a new Pleroma instance. Once that is completed, it would become the new server, and home to all users.

There is a lot of work required, all very specialized. All of it done by Dr Freeman, as he has both the programming skills and the experience running the mastodon server since the beginning. Unfortunately, those are rare skills and I can’t help in either.

But I can do Documentation, guides, training, etc, which is important as well. :wink:

So, fingers crossed. I would be willing to move ahead even if some features weren’t ready – I think the gains outweigh any lost functionality.

Hosting the mastodon instance alone is over 100 USD per month, at least (my guess, as it wasn’t disclosed).

Pleroma seems to be the place to be!

I have found this link that can give some more (if needed be) reasons to join in.

1 Like

Thank you, Coralie – I will read it later. Still need to try and find some more veggies for the garden. Quick stop for a check and there’s tons of notis.

And while searching for one of my own posts for a reference, I found one made on June 1, 2020, by our admin. Listing in great detail the monthly costs of running the instance as well as the other services.

A LOT, out of pocket. Snapshot below.

so if we could switch to a less demanding software, we could stay at the current service level and cost, or maybe even drop it a bit; and cut monthly repeating costs which add to a lot of money per year.

My reply to that post ?

that is an astronomical cost. and I wouldn’t expect you to cover out of pocket.

Reduce something, connections, keep performance better at same or lower costs.

Heck, test drive Pleroma and if we can convert the database it would be a great option.

And on the next post :wink:

https://i2p.rocks/blog/the-magical-world-of-pleroma-setting-up-your-instance.html

https://blog.soykaf.com/post/what-is-pleroma/

https://fediverse.network/pleroma?count=statuses

“Pleroma is built on a lot less technology than Mastodon. To run a Mastodon instance, you need Rails, PostgreSQL, Redis, Sidekiq, NodeJS and - if you want search - ElasticSearch. For Pleroma, you only need Elixir and PostgreSQL, while still getting all the features. This simplifies installation and makes maintenance somewhat easier.”