Using docker and docker compose for my Homelab

I've seen some very elaborate homelab set-ups online but wanted to get the easiest possible implementation I could, within my current skill set. As I have quite a lot of experience with using docker for development in my day to day work, I thought I'd just try using docker compose to setup my homelab service...

Tags Docker homelab Own Your Data

Setting up mine, and my family's, Homelab

I've opted for what I believe is the easiest, and cheapest, method of setting up my Homelab. I'm using my old work PC which has the following spec: My Homelab Goals My homelab goals are centered around two fundamental tenets: lower cost for online services and privacy. I want to be: Documenting my journey I...

Tags Docker homelab Own Your Data Linux Privacy

I’m now running pi-hole through my Raspberry Pi 2b.

It’s both amazing and depressing just how many trackers are being blocked by it. I even noticed a regular ping being made to an Amazon endpoint exactly every 10 minutes.

I will try and write up my set up soon, which is a mix of setting up the Raspberry Pi and configuring my home router.

I’ve also managed to finally get a home server running again – using Ubuntu Server LTS.

My plan on my server is to just install services I want to self-host using docker. Docker being the only program I’ve installed on the machine itself.

So far I have installed the following:

  • Home Assistant — On initial playing with this I have decided that it’s incredible. Connected to my LG TV and lets me control it from the app / laptop.
  • Portainer — A graphical way to interact with my docker containers on the server.

Tags homelab servers Own Your Data Linux self hosting

So you're new to the Internet?

If you’re new to the internet, allow me to give you a brief explanation.

The “Internet” is series of connected networks across the world that form bigger networks. A network is a series of connected things (computers and routers in the case of the internet).

The world wide web (www) sits on top of the internet (as does email and other things too) The world wide web is what a lot of people are referring to when they talk about the internet.

Most of the web now is basically a bog of surveillance advertising. Where pretty much all of your interactions on the web — and often email now too — are being tracked by companies looking to make money off knowing exactly what you get up to online.

It’s an absolute fucking disgrace.

The world wide web could have been such a beautiful thing — democratising publishing and giving everyone an equal voice. And for a while I think it was heading that way. But big technology companies grew out of this web, like spiders catching all the flies. These big companies then started merging and coalescing into the Googles, Facebooks and Twitters we now have.

This is the world that has been born out of capitalist greed and the surveillance used to accrue wealth.

There are some awesome people that are doing their best to create alternatives to all of the surveillance honeypots that take up the majority of bandwidth.

People like Aral Balkan and Laura Kalbag at the Small Technology Foundation. They are building a viable alternative to the cancer of “big tech”.

And Eugen, who created Mastodon — living proof that you don’t need millions in investment capital to build something for the web that gets used my thousands and thousands of people.

We need more people building for the future of people, not corporations, and I want to be one of them.

Tags Own Your Data The Web internet mastodon small technology foundation surveillance capitalism

Taking my first steps with YunoHost (Y U No Host) for most of my online needs. After a couple of false starts it seems to be coming together.

Tags Own Your Data Yunohost

Moving my video share links to my own Peertube

Peertube is a self-hosted alternative to YouTube and, to a lesser extent, Vimeo.

I say lesser extent because I think Vimeo’s business model is very different from YouTube’s (Google inc’s).

Whenever a YouTube video is shared on a web page, it is basically like a Trojan horse. Yes, it lets your visitors watch a video directly in your website, but it’s doing so much more behind the curtain.

It is allowing your visitors to be tracked across the web. When a person lands on a web page that has a YouTube video embedded into it, they are seen and tracked by YouTube’s owners: Google inc.

Please don’t do this.

Moving to Peertube

I am very technologically privileged in that I have the know-how to set up my own “peertube” site (an instance as they are called). So I am not saying that people should all use that.

But do at least consider something like “Vimeo” as an alternative, or maybe even self-host the videos on your website if you have the available storage space.

I am in the process of migrating videos in my older posts over to my own Peertube website (My Jams are already moved). If you notice any I have missed, please do let me know in comments below. 🙂

I don’t want the few people who visit my site to be tracked whilst here. I want this to at least be a safe space from the surveillance and advertising swamp that is the modern web.

Tags Own Your Data Privacy Peer to Peer tech Peertube

Setting up my own Nextcloud (Version 16)

Setting up your very own Nextcloud server from scratch. This has been tested with version 15 and 16 of the software. Any questions, please do contact me.

Updated on: 24th June 2019

Set up a new server (with Digital Ocean)

If you don’t have an account already, head to Digital Ocean and create a new account. Of course, you can use any provider that you want to – I just happen to use them and so can only give experience from that.

Login to your account.

Setup your SSH key

In the next step we will be creating your new droplet (server), and you will need an SSH Key to add to it. This allows for easy and secure access to your new droplet from your local computer, via your terminal1.

If you are going to use the Digital Ocean console terminal, skip down to ‘Create the new “Droplet”‘, as you wont need an ssh key.

Creating the key (if you haven’t already)

If you haven’t generated an SSH key pair before, open a fresh terminal window and enter the following:

ssh-keygen -t rsa

Press enter through all of the defaults to complete the creation.

Getting the contents of the public key

Type this to display your new public key:

cat ~/.ssh/

This will give you a long string of text starting with ssh-rsa and ending with something like yourname@your-computer.

Highlight the whole selection, including the start and end points mentioned, and right click and copy.

When you are creating your droplet below, you can select the New SSH Key button and paste your public key into the box it gives you. You will also need to give the key a name when you add it in Digital Ocean, but you can name it anything.

Then click the Add SSH Key and you’re done.

Create the new “Droplet”

Digital Ocean refers to each server as a droplet, going with the whole digital “ocean” theme.

Head to Create > Droplets and click the “One-click apps” tab. Then choose the following options in the selection (Or your own custom selection – just take into account the monthly cost of each option):

  • LAMP on 18.04
  • $15/Month (2GB / 60GB / 3TB Transfer)
  • Enable backups (not necessary but recommended)
  • London (Choose your closest / preferred location)
  • Add your SSH key (see above)
  • Optionally rename the hostname to something more readable

Once you have selected the above (or your own custom options) click create. After a few moments, your droplet will be ready to use.

Set your DNS

Got to your domain name provider, Hover in my case, and set up the subdomain for your nextcloud installation, using the I.P. address for your new droplet.

I’m assuming that you already have your own domain name, perhaps for your personal website / blog. In which case we are adding a subdomain to that (so, for example).

But there is nothing stopping you from buying a fresh domain and using it exclusively for your new Nextcloud (

I will be continuing this guide, assuming that you are using a subdomain.

You will add it in the form of an A record. This is how I would add it in Hover:

  1. Select your own domain
  2. Choose edit > edit DNS
  3. Click Add A record on the DNS edit page
  4. Fill in the hostname as your desired subdomain for your Nextcloud. For example if you were having, you would just enter nextcloud.
  5. Fill in the I.P. address as the I.P. address of your new Droplet in Digital Ocean.
  6. Click Add Record

Configuring the server

Install all the required programs for Nextcloud

First ssh into your new server:


When we chose to install the LAMP option when setting up the droplet, it installed Linux, Apache2, MySQL and PHP. However, there are still some extra dependencies that Nextcloud needs to run.
Let’s install those next:

apt-get update

apt-get install libapache2-mod-php7.2 php7.2-gd php7.2-json &&
apt-get install php7.2-mysql php7.2-curl php7.2-mbstring &&
apt-get install php7.2-common php7.2-intl php-imagick php7.2-xml &&
apt-get install php7.2-zip php7.2-ldap php7.2-imap  php7.2-gmp &&
apt-get install php7.2-apcu php7.2-redis php7.2-imagick ffmpeg unzip

Download and install the Nextcloud codebase

Please note that I am using version 15.0.0 in this example. However, when you read this you may have a new version available to you. I will try and keep this guide as up to date as possible.

# Download the codebase and the "checksum" file.

# Make sure that the codebase is genuine and hasn't been altered.
sha256sum  -c <

# Move the unzipped codebase into the webserver directory.
cp -r nextcloud /var/www
chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/nextcloud

Apache config example

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

An example apache config:

<VirtualHost *:80>
        DocumentRoot /var/www/nextcloud

        <Directory /var/www/nextcloud/>
            Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
            AllowOverride All
            Require all granted

        ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
        CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

        <IfModule mod_dir.c>
            DirectoryIndex index.php index.cgi index.html index.xhtml index.htm

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{SERVER_NAME}
RewriteRule ^ https://%{SERVER_NAME}%{REQUEST_URI} [END,NE,R=permanent]
a2enmod rewrite && a2enmod headers && a2enmod env && 
a2enmod dir && a2enmod mime && systemctl restart apache2

A quick mysql fix

In recent versions of MySQL, the way that the mysql root user connects to the database means that password authentication wont work. So firstly we need to alter that user to use password authentication.

apt install mysql-server

# In the mysql mode
ALTER USER 'root'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED WITH mysql_native_password BY 'your_secret_password';

SSL with Let’s Encrypt

apt install certbot
certbot --apache -d

You will then be asked some questions about your installation:

  • Email address (your… umm… email address :D)
  • Whether you agree to Lets Encrypt Terms of Service (Agree)
  • Whether to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS (choose Yes)

Let’s Encrypt will handle the registering of the apache settings for you new ssl to work. It uses the server name you entered in the 000-default.conf file earlier.

It will also create a new file that is used by Apache for the SSL. For me, this file was at /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default-le-ssl.conf.

First Login!

Now go to and you should see your nice new shiny Nextcloud installation.

Creating the admin account

Fill in the fields for your desired name and password for the admin account. You can just use the admin account as your main account if you will be the only one using this Nextcloud. But you can give others access to this site with their own login details, if you wanted. But without the admin-level priviledges.

For the database fields, enter root as the username. Then for the password, use the one that you set in the previous mysql command above. For the database name choose whatever name you wish, as the installation will create it for you.

Click finish.

After a few moments time, your nextcloud instance should present you with the landing screen along with the welcome popup. Go ahead and read it and you could even install the app for your devices as it will suggest.

Finishing touches

If you click the cog icon in the top right of your screen, followed by settings in its dropdown, you will come to the main settings area. In the left-hand column, beneath the heading “Administration”, you should see the link for “Overview”. Click it.

Now you should see a bunch of security and setup warnings at the top of the page. This is nothing to worry about, it is simply telling you about some actions that are highly recommended to setup.

We will do that now. 🙂

The “Strict-Transport-Security” HTTP header is not set to at least “15552000” seconds. For enhanced security, it is recommended to enable HSTS as described in the security tips.

All that is needed to fix this first one, is a quick edit to the apache config file that Let’s Encrypt created for the installation.

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default-le-ssl.conf

And then add this following three lines within the <VirtualHost *:443> tag.

<IfModule mod_headers.c>
    Header always add Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=15768000; includeSubDomains; preload"

And then reload apache:

systemctl reload apache2

Refreshing the settings page should see that warning disappear.

No memory cache has been configured. To enhance performance, please configure a memcache, if available.

Open up you Nextcloud config file:

nano /var/www/nextcloud/config/config.php

At the bottom of the config array, add the following line:

'memcache.local' => '\OC\Memcache\APCu',

Refresh your browser and that next warning should now vanish.

For future reference, you can always take a look in the sample Nextcloud config file at /var/www/nextcloud/config/config.sample.php. It will show you all available config options.

The PHP OPcache is not properly configured.

With this warning, Nextcloud should display some sample opcache code to paste over. This one caught me out as I couldn’t work out which ini file this example code should go.

After some trial and error, I discovered that for me, it was located in an opcache.ini file:

nano /etc/php/7.2/mods-available/opcache.ini

Then at the bottom of the file, I pasted the following:


Reload apache:

systemctl reload apache2

Some columns in the database are missing a conversion to big int.

I only actually came across this warning when I was creating a dummy Nextcloud installation for helping with writing this guide. You may not actually get it. But if you do, here’s the fix2:

sudo -u www-data php /var/www/nextcloud/occ db:convert-filecache-bigint

This will warn you that it could take hours to do its thing, depending on the number of files. However, due to us running it right after the installation, will not even take a second.

The PHP memory limit is below the recommended value of 512MB

To fix this, I just had to edit the following file:

nano /etc/php/7.2/apache2/php.ini

Then alter the next line to look like this:

memory_limit = 512M

Then restart apache:

service apache2 restart

All Done

Once you refresh the settings page once more, you should see a beautiful green tick with the message “All checks passed”.

Good feeling, isn’t it?

If for any reason you are still getting warnings, please dont hesitate to contact me. I’ll do my best to help. Email: Alternatively you can head to the Nextcloud Documentation.

Tags Own Your Data Decentralized Web Nextcloud

ownCloud &#8211; first thoughts

I have just installed ownCloud on my laptop as a testing ground. I am soon to be buying a new computer off a friend and will be using my current one as a personal server.I decided to go with owncloud because it seems to do everything I need it to right out of the box. Cross device file syncing with as much storage as I have on my computer. All I had to do was install owncloud via the ubuntu terminal following these steps.I am starting using it on version 8.1 and first impressions are that it is very nice. It has a clean UI and straight forward settings controls. This is going to be a big step in me taking control of my own data and moving away from services like Google and Dropbox.The big job now will be to import all of my photos out of Google as well as re-downloading all of my music from google play music.

Tags Own Your Data owncloud

Going Alone and taking control of my data

You see so many horror stories about companies such as Google, Twitter and Facebook. About how they use your data to whatever end they want. I heard a story once about how through facebook’s various smart algorythms, someone’s profile had inadvertantly been made an endorser for something inappropriate to their own mom!Now I’m not saying that these companies are super evil. Infact it is simply their business model to use you for the collection of data; to learn everything they can about you; to sell that information to their real customers – why do you think Google, Twitter and Facebook are all free?As Aral Balkan from Indie puts it: “you are the quarry being mined”Take Google for example. The services that they give you for free are great. They give us maps of every place in the world imaginable… every place; free photo storage; free document storage; free email. Great. But at what cost is free?I became aware of the importance of owning ones own data through reading about, and implementing several principles of, the IndieWeb. On top of this the work that Aral Balkan and his team have been doing at Indie has inspired me to take a more pro-active approach to my data.Like I said, I have already begun implementing several aspects of the IndieWeb: I write any potential tweets as notes on my own site first; I reply to other people’s tweets from my own site first.The next logical step for me is to move away from using Google for many of the things I currently use it for. This is quite a lot.EmailPhoto StorageDocument StorageCalenderBooksStreaming MusicMaps and its associated location trackingYoutubeSome of these I will still use. But many of them I will be finding other alternatives.EmailI have been using protonmail for about three months so far. And so far I really like it. Take a look at their security details to see why I have chosen them them to go with.Photo StorageWhen I take a photo on my Nexus device, it automatically gets synced to my google cloud storage. While I love the convenience of this, I’m going to be putting together an alternative where I will store my photos on a home server – with automatic backups – and the only ones online will be ones that I upload to my website. As with my syndication of notes/tweets, I may syndicate images out with notes that I make.Document StorageAs with photos, I will be looking to store any digital documents on a home server.CalendarI am yet to look into this. Although I very rarely use any form of calendar, it may be nice to have a personal one. I may decide to build my own – possibly incorporating it as a secret area of my website.BooksStart buying physical books again as opposed to digital downloads. That’s a pretty easy one.Streaming and Storage of digital musicThis is one thing that I wont be changing. I love how I can have all of my owned albums digital stored in the cloud. On top of this I also love how I can pay eight pounds a month and get unlimited streaming and download of countless artists and albums. Many of the artists I now listen to have come as a direct result of just randomly picking an album to listen to.MapsGoogle maps is probably way out there in front of its other competitors. However I love the idea of Open Street Map. So this may be my alternative in the near future.YoutubeI will continue to use youtube as normal as it now comes with features exclusive to Google Play: All Access customers.

Tags Own Your Data Delete Your Google Delete Your Facebook