When Is Open-Source & Self-Hosted Worth the Inconvenience?


posted April 16, 2015

I've been using Wallabag as my primary "read it later" service for a few weeks. On my iOS devices, I've been saving articles to Wallabag via a Pythonista script and a Launch Center Pro action. (Skip to the next paragraph if I've already lost you.) The downside of this script has been that I often need to re-login to the web app, and I don't remember my password, so I end up having to go to 1Password just to save an article. I amended my Pythonista script by adding an op to the beginning of my Wallabag URL, so that the script sends me to 1Password, and then I can just save the article to the app within the 1Password browser.

This is so much work compared to just saving to Instapaper, and I've been wondering to myself why I have persisted this long. I don't have privacy concerns with Betaworks (which develops Instapaper) and I trust that they are not mining my data for advertisers. (I mentioned in a previous post that I do like having an archive of all saved posts in a MySQL database, but that alone does not seem to justify all this effort.)

For years I have been more than happy to pay companies and developers for their software as service, knowing that I am paying with my cash instead of my privacy (in the form of mined data sold to advertisers on social networks). I still have positive feelings about paying for software. I have been burned too many times when an app or service I love ends up being swallowed and sunsetted by a large company that purchases it, oftentimes because the service was offered for free and the developer had to have an exit.

I supposed control is what I seek. I love Pinboard, but it's a one-man show. Pardon the morbid thoughts, but what if (when) Maciej Cegłowski dies? Does he have a backup plan for his business? I occasionally export all of my Pinboard bookmarks and upload the backup to Dropbox just in case. I've also installed an open-source, self-hosted Delicious clone called Semantic Scuttle on my own server for peace of mind. It's nowhere near as good as Pinboard, but I have complete control over it. As long as I pay my hosting bill and occasionally export my MySQL database, I'm good.

Complete control comes at a cost:

The benefits: