A self-hosted Slack alternative? Asking for a friend.

25 novembre 2015

I started using Slack at CaptainTrain a while ago – and couldn’t go back. Having a nice chat client is good, desktop notifications are great, email notification for missed messages is awesome – plus searchable history, 1-to-1 discussions, images upload, and so on.

It’s so nice that I decided to setup a Slack team for chatting with my friends.

But for one of my friend there was a issue: Slack runs on Slack servers, and all your messages are stored elsewhere. He said he would use the chat only if it was open-source and self-hosted.

Well, fine. I trust Slack people, but having a large part of my private correspondance and musing with my friends on a private server (rather than on Slack databases) sounds like a good idea. So I started looking for open-source Slack alternatives. I found Rocket.Chat, which looks nice, but was young at that time. I found Let’s Chat, and used it for a while (but its development crawled down at some point). And recently I started to use Mattermost.

Mattermost

Mattermost is an “open source, self-hosted Slack-alternative”. Great, sounds exactly like what I want. It’s easy to install (especially the Docker-based evaluation version), works pretty well, supports several teams and many integration hooks – perfect.

Mattermost

Thruth to be told, this is a young product (the 1.0 is only a two months old), and many features, while present, are not as polished as their Slack counterparts. But its moving rapidly, and I’m confident in the work made by the development team.

Plus in my book decentralizing services is always a good thing: it’s better for software diversity, avoids single points of failure and global outages (like the Slack outage a few days ago), and protects privacy.

So I wondered how to make it easier to use Mattermost. And I made two things.

A Mattermost package for Yunohost

My server runs YunoHost, a package to run a self-hosted servers without being a sysadmin. It let you install webapps in one click (Wordpress, Roundcube, etc.), and frees you from tedious administration tasks. Try it, it’s awesome.

As installing a new app on a YunoHost server is so simple, I made a package to install Matermost in the same way! It allows you to install a production-ready web-based chat in a minute, complete with email notifications and all.

To use it, open your YunoHost admin webpage, go to “Install an application”, and choose “Install a custom application” at the bottom of the list. Then paste the package URL: https://github.com/kemenaran/mattermost_ynh. And that’s it!

Installing Mattermost on YunoHost

Try the Mattermost package for YunoHost - GitHub

Binary builds for Matterfront

Mattermost runs great in a web-browser tab – and yet it is sometime convenient to have a desktop application that is separed from the browser. There is no official desktop client yet – but Loic Nageleisen made a nice cross-platform desktop client, named Matterfront.

Matterfront desktop client for Mattermost

Internally, Matterfront uses Electron, the same web-app packaging technology used by Slack. And it works great. Just one thing: there are no official builds yet, you have to build the app yourself from the command line.

So I compiled some builds for the latest release of Matterfront, and put them on GitHub. This should make it easier to use Matterfront for anyone – until there are official builds.

Download Matterfront desktop client for Windows, OS X and Linux

Discussion, liens, et tweets

J’écris des sites web, des logiciels, des applications mobiles. Vous me trouverez essentiellement sur ce blog, mais aussi sur Mastodon, Twitter, parmi les Codeurs en Liberté, ou en haut d’une colline du nord-est de Paris.