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Brave new Libravatar.org

Almost one year ago (April 2018) Libravatar.org announced it would be going offline forever on the 1st of September 2018. Since then, many things have happened in the background in order to make Libravatar ready for the future and for many more years because we will not go offline. Libravatar is back with completely new software with more features, a new team behind it and running on a new hosting provider. Let's take a look at the details:

Software

While the old version was based on Python 2 and Django 1.x, the current version is built on top of Python 3 and Django 2.1.x. All pictures are stored in the database instead of the filesystem. This makes it more complicated to run mirrors (currently not possible). The frontend is based on Bootstrap 3 and a customized version of the Tortin theme which can be found on Github. The backend is developed by ofalk and the frontend is developed by nipos. The new software is called "ivatar" and its source code can be found at ofalk's Gitlab instance.

Server infrastructure

The old server was sponsored by Rackspace and after the shutdown was announced we moved to a temporary virtual server sponsored by Ingo Jürgensmann. Starting on the 19th February with the new software, Libravatar.org has run on Fedora Infrastructure Cloud. They are providing this service for free to us without any expiration date and with as much power as we need. The server administration is done by clime. With the generous sponsorship of Fedora we can continue to provide a stable and reliable service to you.

Domain transfer

Previously, domains libravatar.org and libravatar.com were registered on personal Francois' account at gandi.net. We have kept the registrar (gandi.net) but transferred the domains to a new libravatar team account. That way, members of the new group can share ownership of the domains. The cost is...wait for it...ZERO € because gandi.net was that generous to sponsor the libravatar domains from up to ground. Thank you gandi.net! You rock!!! And thanks also to tleguern - one of our team members - who communicated it out in french (he is French but it is a well done job anyway!).

Many thanks to our current and previous sponsors!

New features

The new ivatar software supports more avatar generators to be used when no image is associated with the requested email hash. We added robohash and pagan avatar support which are described on the API wiki page: https://wiki.libravatar.org/api/. All features of the old Libravatar are still available in the new implementation.

The new team

For more than seven years fmarier developed and operated Libravatar alone. We thank him very much for all the work he has done in the past for creating a free and open source Gravatar alternative. While the project is growing, we need more people to take care of development, servers and questions of users. We are currently a team of five new people and fmarier helps us with some problems because he has most experience here. The new people are: ofalk (lead developer), clime (ops), tleguern (QA), sumpfralle (random things) and nipos (frontend dev).

Participate

Every two weeks everyone interested in the libravatar project is invited to join our IRC meeting. Here we discuss news and our plans. You can join the #libravatar channel on chat.freenode.net at IRC or join #freenode_#libravatar:matrix.org on Matrix. Some people are always around so you can always ask there if you have questions. Complicated topics may be more suitable for the mailing list at https://launchpad.net/~libravatar-fans. A summary of our meetings is always published at https://wiki.libravatar.org/IRC_meetings/. If you have any questions or want to help us, feel free to join our channel or the mailing list. You can also reach us using email or on the social networks Mastodon, Identica and Twitter.

Libravatar.org is not going away

Thanks to an impressive amount of interest for the service and to several people stepping up to take it over, Libravatar will no longer be shutting down in September as previously announced on this blog.

Instead, it will transition to a new codebase and infrastructure in the coming months. The details of the transition are still being finalize, but if you have website site or application using Libravatar, there should be no downtime or perceptible changes in the service. No changes will be needed on your side.

Big thanks to clime, ij, kumy, nipos, ofalk, sumpfralle and tleguern who attended the first IRC meeting and who are working hard to modernize the codebase and take this service to the next level.

If you want to get involved, come to the next IRC meeting and join our mailing list / IRC channel (#libravatar on irc.freenode.net).

Libravatar.org is shutting down on 2018-09-01

Update (2018-07-31): Libravatar is not going away

After more than 7 years online, the Libravatar service will shut down on 2018-09-01:

  • If you are a user, your account will be deleted on 2018-09-01 (including backups). Should you want to export your account first, simply login and click on the export option.
  • If you use Libravatar on your site, you will need to switch to a different service before that time. Unfortunately, we do not know of an equivalent free-as-in-freedom service.

We would like to sincerely thank all of the people who have:

  • sponsored the main server: Lars Wirzenius, Andy Chilton and Rackspace.
  • run mirrors: GPLHost, WebConverger, Christian Weiske, Melissa Draper.
  • contributed libraries: Chris Forbes, fr33domlover, Kang-min Liu, strk and others.
  • supported the project financially through Flattr, Gittip/Gratipay and Liberapay.
  • translated Libravatar so that we could be available in 16 languages.

as well as Jonathan Harker and Brett Wilkins for their early code contributions and enthusiasm.

If you are interested in taking the service over, please get in touch and we will look at transferring the service over to you. It's a Debian, Postgres, Django, Python stack.

You are welcome to coordinate on the shutdown coordination wiki page should you wish to connect with others who might be interested in taking over the service.

A retrospective has also been posted on the founder's blog.

Libravatar.org is now running on Rackspace

The Libravatar project is happy to welcome Rackspace as the new infrastructure sponsor of the project. Thanks to their generosity, we have just moved to a new server and will continue to run a free instance of the Libravatar server software.

In particular, thank you to Jesse Noller who made this possible and to the customer service representative who made this experience extremely painless. (Yes, you get to talk to a real human being when you activate a Rackspace account!)

We would also like to take this opportunity to give our most sincere thanks to Andy Chilton of AppsAttic who has provided us with hosting for the past year and a half. It is only with the generous support of people like Andy that we are able to operate this service.

Finally, we are extremely grateful for the people (Christian, Melissa and Kai) who have volunteered to run mirrors in the Libravatar network. If you are keen to join them, please get in touch!

A year online

One year ago, a new freedom-respecting online service went live. That's right, libravatar.org has just turned 1!

We'd like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Lars Wirzenius and Braawi who believed in the project and graciously provided hosting to get us going and present this free-as-in-freedom new avatar hosting approach to the World.

Since the server that Libravatar is currently hosted on will be decommissioned in a few weeks, we will be transitioning to a new temporary hosting place during the 3-4 December weekend. There will be a short outage on the main website, but the image-serving service will not be interrupted since it is run entirely on our mirror network.

Unfortunately this also means that Libravatar will stop being available over IPv6 until we can find a new IPv6-enabled hosting place or a suitable technical arrangement.

So we are now looking for a new hosting sponsor. If you have ideas of who to talk to or if you are interested in being associated with a young Open Source project and can provide us with a small VPS, please get in touch!

BrowserID and asynchronous programming

The Libravatar project has been pretty active in the last few weeks. Other than a whole lot of bug fixes, the most important feature that got implemented in the last month is support for BrowserID, a new distributed and privacy-protecting authentication mechanism developed by Mozilla. Libravatar users can now use their BrowserID-verified email addresses to login automatically or to add a new email address to their account without having to go through manual email verification.

Other than that, we've been busy writing new libraries so that you can now add support for Libravatar in your node.js and Twisted applications. So if you are an asynchronous programming fan, you can now put human faces on your websites!

Talking about humans, you can now see the list of people behind Libravatar by taking a look at our very own humans.txt file. Want to see your name in there? We love to welcome new contributors!

Introducing Libravatar

The Libravatar project is part of a movement working to give control back to people, away from centralised services and the organisations running them. It addresses a simple problem: putting a face on an email address.

By using our service, you can choose what picture to display next to the comments you leave on other people's blogs or next to your forum posts. Furthermore, if you own a domain name, you can choose to opt out of our service and run our free software on your own server, on your own terms.

If you run a website or are the author of a web application, you can use our API (or one of the available libraries) to serve these images to your users without having to worry about hosting them yourself.

The project was inspired by the work of the autonomous group and came about because we really like Gravatar and wanted to make sure that a similar service would be part of a free-as-in-freedom network.

You can find a detailed description of Libravatar on our wiki and if it sounds like an interesting project to you, please consider becoming a contributor!

One year already!

This month marks the 1-year anniversary of when development started on Libravatar, a new Open Source federated approach to avatar hosting on the Web.

A lot has happened in that year but we didn't pay much attention to this blog, preferring instead to get the project going and hosted. We now have a wiki and a number of libraries to easily add Libravatar support to your favourite applications.

After presenting the project at Kiwi PyCon 2010 and linux.conf.au 2011 (recording), François will be spreading the word at OSCON. Feel free to come and say hi!

Here's to a great 2nd year.

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