Lopeztel's Blog

Collection of random thoughts and ramblings from a somewhat interesting person

For context, let me refer to my very first entry, the idea was basically looking for alternatives, so here's the long awaited progress report:

Changes already in place

  1. Using Mastodon instead of Twitter
  2. Using Pixelfed instead of Instagram
  3. (On Android) Using NewPipe instead of YouTube, this one is quite cool, it has all the features you'd want: Download, Picture in Picture mode, Background Music reproduction...
  4. Using Writefreely and/or Wordpress (Still haven't decided) instead of other blogging platforms
  5. (On Android) Using Signal instead of Wnatsapp, although that may change in the near future
  6. Using Jitsi Meet instead of Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts
  7. Using Protonmail instead of Gmail (although not sure if FOSS/FLOSS, they maintain an OpenPGP library)
  8. (On Android) Using Simple Mobile Tools SMS Messenger instead of Google Messages
  9. Using Simple Mobile Tools Gallery instead of Google Photos
  10. Using Bitwarden instead of LastPass
  11. (On Android) Using andOTP (at least for personal stuff)
  12. Using F-Droid instead of the Google Play Store whenever possible

Changes in transition period

  1. Self-hosted Nextcloud instead of Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive...
  2. Self-hosted Gitea instead of Github (currently only mirroring)
  3. Self-hosted Piwigo gallery instead of Google Photos (more info on my setup here)
  4. Self-hosted email (problems with outgoing port 25)
  5. Self-hosted Synapse (Matrix server) in testing phase, could replace Signal by Element if tests show promising results
  6. Calendar synchronization using Nextcloud instead of Google Calendar (Android apps: Simple Mobile Tools Calendar, DAVX5 and OpenTasks)
  7. (On Android) Trying to use OsmAnd instead of Google Maps (This is by far the hardest change to be made)


  1. Facebook is still the platform where everyone plans events so I need that just to follow-up on them (not actively in use)
  2. Whatsapp and Facebook messenger as backup messaging (Trying to move friends and family over to Signal or Element)
  3. Can't seem to get away from Microsoft: Teams, Outlook and Microsoft Authenticator are used for work

#selfhosting #Fediverse #DigitalLife #Privacy Day 11 of #100DaysToOffload

I will try to make this entry resemble a tutorial, hopefully this ends up being useful to someone.

Why start over?

I had been playing around with Open Media Vault before (see this entry for details), but it was mainly based on docker images and I could never get Nextcloud up and running (the closest I came was installing nextcloudpi, but I could never get the docker image to run using external storage).

Also I never got to the part of using letsencrypt to access everything through https, pretty sure there's a tutorial out there somewhere.

Then tragedy happened, for some reason my SD card just died and I was left with nothing.

After that I decided that my setup needed some improvements, and to be completely honest I also wanted to try something different, in yunohost almost everything is a one-click step when it comes to installing apps so that was a huge point in favor, here I am telling you my story:

Initial setup

After the SD card incident, booting from an external drive seemed like the best option. There are 2 prerequisites for that to happen:

  1. update the pi's bootloader in eeprom (detailed steps here, see section: Update the bootloader)
  2. burn the OS image to the external drive, and use your favorite file browser to copy & replace some files to the boot partition (no need to do this if you're using 64 bit Raspbian OS). This is the list of files that need to be replaces (just get them from the repo):
    • fixup.dat
    • fixup4.dat
    • fixup4cd.dat
    • fixup4db.dat
    • fixup4x.dat
    • fixup_cd.dat
    • fixup_db.dat
    • fixup_x.dat
    • start.elf
    • start4.elf
    • start4cd.elf
    • start4db.elf
    • start4x.elf
    • start_cd.elf
    • start_db.elf
    • start_x.elf

In my particular case the base was Raspberry Pi OS lite, I know, you may be thinking: “Aren't there yunohost images already out there? save yourself some trouble!” and my answer is documented here. Then after updating, it's possible to install yunohost (4.0.3 at the time of writing) with a curl one liner: curl https://install.yunohost.org | bash

Post intsall steps are pretty straightforward, here's a link.

I ended up using a noho.st domain as it was graciously offered for free.

My multi-HDD setup

Note: What this section describes has to be done after yunohost is up and running in the system, I tried doing it the other way around and that caused my SATA HAT to stop working altogether, no HDDs were detected, fan stopped spinning and the little LCD display showed nothing

A while back I got an awesome RADXA Quad-SATA HAT that houses 4x1TB HDDs. It is not detected or working out of the box but the installation process is detailed here. So my system has 5 HDDs (4 in the SATA-HAT and the one I boot from connected one of the pi's USB ports).

I also wanted to have some sense of security for my data so naturally I set up 2x RAID1 arrays (mdadm is your best friend, here's a useful guide)

All this sounds very nice, doesn't it? There's always a catch: since the external drives are on the SATA HAT it is not possible to just edit fstab and auto-mount them on the system, there is a service associated with the SATA HAT that needs to be running to “see” the drives. My hacky solution for now is mounting the drives everytime I restart the system (yes, by hand, like a caveman).

App installing and configuration

Installing apps was surprisingly easy, Gitea, Wordpress, Nextcloud and Piwigo are one clic installs except for Synapse (again, related post here), the fix is just installing from testing branch: sudo yunohost app install https://github.com/YunoHost-Apps/synapse_ynh/tree/testing --debug

Since the apps are installed in the boot drive I decided to move or reference content to/from the other drives. My Nextcloud instance has access to the external storage so I'm able to “upload” pictures to my external drives. then I just made symlinks from /home/yunohost.app/piwigo/.galleries to reference the album directories in the external drives. Here's an useful link, also, hopefully you don't screw up like me but here's a link on how to remove symlinks. Hacky solution, yes, but it works.

So far my idea is to “upload” content to external storage through Nextcloud and follow the same approach (for blogposts, videos, etc ...)

I am also testing communication through my Synapse instance (I can be found as @lopeztel:lopeztel.hoho.st) and the Nextcloud Talk plugin with my folks back home.


Because what kind of engineer would I be if I was satisfied? Improvements:

  • I recently bought a domain from Namecheap, so I'll be using that for my blog in the future
  • Deciding between Writefreely or Wordpress to migrate this blog (writefreely has federation and I don't know if the activity pub plugin for wordpress is mature enough)
  • There is a problem with outgoing port 25 so my self-hosted email address can receive but not send any emails and there's an issue with reverse DNS so basically even if I could send them they'd be rejected or best case sent to spam. Apparently this is a router issue, my ISP has replied that they don't block anything on their side
  • Deciding if I move my inner circle from Signal to Element (through my Synapse instance) or just use Nextcloud Talk

Well, that's all, any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

#selfhosting #yunohost #raspberrypi Day 10 of #100DaysToOffload

Ever since I started looking into the Fediverse, FOSS/FLOSS, privacy and self-hosting I was pleasantly surprised by how engaging and helpful the community can be.

As an example: in Fosstodon all my interactions have been very nice, from sharing random unrelated stuff to asking for advice on more technical matters everyone has always been helpful and willing to give advice.

Another great experience I had recently was related with the yunohost project (long story short, my Open Media Vault setup went down in flames, tutorial coming shortly), being kind of a big project one would think that as an individual, communication would be slow or hard, kind of like with companies as a consumer.

Surprisingly, all it took was a toot and a post on their forum to get up and running.

My first interaction was related to the fact that the available Raspberry pi image was neither the latest version (4.0.3 at the time of writing) nor booting on my pi, so after reading that the pi 4 was not supported officially and tooting about it I was surprised to receive a response from @yunohost prompting me to install on top of Raspberry Pi OS lite (it'll always be Raspbian for me) using a curl one liner.

My second interaction, and after installing some apps, I came across another issue, the synapse (Matrix server) app installation failed and I wrote this post on the forum. I was surprised again to receive an answer in less than 24 hours! This time I just installed from the testing branch on their repo.

I have nothing but good things to say so far, and I will donate to the project, it is only fair and they are doing a great job.

#yunohost #selfhosting #raspberrypi Day 9 of #100DaysToOffload

I like to keep up to date with the latest news on the consumer electronics market (newest phones, laptops and processors) and lately I've found myself thinking: “That looks like a great phone/laptop, I should get it”.

Then the thought that usually follows is “Maybe I don't really need it”

That's the thing, media constantly bombards us with ads to get new things/gadgets when we already own perfectly working devices...

By the way, this blog entry was written from my still good Moto Z Play (2016), which still lasts for a whole working day with around 37% battery left.

#consumerism #reflections Day 8 of #100DaysToOffload

OK, I am guilty of scrolling through Facebook even though I am on the Fediverse... I simply keep it because everyone else I care about does, anyway, on to the important stuff:

Every once in a while I see something worthwhile there, this time I saw two very interesting posts close to each other (in my timeline at least), these were shared by two different people, both Mexican like me.

The first one came from a someone living in Germany and the other one came from someone living in Mexico.

The first post was about how Mexico is one of the easiest countries in the world to make friends with the locals. It may be biased because the cited article was written from the United States expat perspective, overall I agree with the content. We are friendly, perhaps a little too friendly.

Reference material came from internations.org

The second post was about how according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Mexico is one of the worst countries in to live in and raise a family.

Reference material came from OECD – Mexico and the OECD – country ranking which provides a nice chart.

All this was of particular interest to me because two things are clear:

  1. We Mexicans have sub – optimal life conditions (some of the criteria are: safety, work – life balance, housing, income, jobs, education), yet we maintain a positive (naive?) attitude and stay friendly to each other

  2. Expats see a whole different country

It's not like expats would frequent bad neighborhoods or have a life similar to the locals, probably enjoying that everything is cheaper given the fact that they earn(ed) money in US dollars but spend in Mexican pesos so they get to see only the nicest the country has to offer, and that's ok

I just found the contrast interesting

This entry is going to be a bit more personal, I usually avoid all the touchy – feely subjects but there is something to be said about how we go about balancing our professional careers and private life.

Long story short, I think I work with brilliant people and lately I've been anxious about catching up and feeling a bit guilty whenever I catch myself at home being a couch potato.

After getting the impulse of devoting insane hours or even weekends on “getting up to speed”, a conclusion I came to was: “That's probably counterproductive”

Given how the world works and we are constantly bombarded with the idea that we have to work hard and then harder I think it is OK to make peace with some facts (at least I'm trying to):

  • Not everyone is the same, therefore it is understandable to work at different speeds
  • Not every team member has the same tasks, therefore it is not possible to compare progress between them
  • Not everyone has the same background or experience so it is understandable to need others to make progress

After all these thoughts I haven't stopped feeling anxious completely but at least it is a step in the right way

If you're reading this and you've felt something similar I want to let you know that it is OK to step back, rest and take your time, after all we are only human and all we can do is our best

Ever since discovering the Fediverse and reading toots from awesome people in Fosstodon, a little idea started to take shape in my head: perhaps its not that hard to self host, there are tons of tutorials and resources out there...And I need some alternative to google photos to share albums with my family back home


After some research and settled for a RaspberryPi server/NAS, now, the purists will say that it is not the ideal platform to host but I think it is perfect to get started and learn the basics or as a hobby, then you can move on to the big boy fancy server hardware.

The first step was to choose the hardware, I settled for this kit because it provides a nice way to attach 2.5” SATA drives: Dual/Quad SATA HAT, top board HAT and metal case from Radxa

It was easy to assemble and the process was fun: Step 1 Step 2 3


For the software related part, I decided to install the Raspbian lite image from raspberrypi.org downloads. And then on top of that OpenMediaVault 5 since there are a lot of tutorials on YouTube and it has a nice GUI. Installation guide

I was up and running after following some instructions in the Radxa Wiki. Ran into some trouble with the Top board hat not displaying any information and RAID because my 4 drives were not detected at first by Open Media Vault and had to set up RAID from terminal- This setup has 4 1Tb HDDs on 2 x RAID 1 configuration – Just remember that forums are your best friends ;)

Now, you can basically learn everything related to Open Media Vault from Techno Dad Life. After a few tutorials I had a piwigo photo gallery up and running, accessible from my local network.

Hosting over 4G?

For the access through the internet part, the not so fun part: it is a long story, but in a nutshell I have to access the internet using a 4G router because my landlord sucks. Anyway it was a bit of a nightmare, after setting up dynamic DNS on my router with noip and also setting up OpenVPN (a very nice feature to have on a router if you ask me) I discovered that neither accessing my local network through VPN nor port forwarding were working.

After tedious exchanges with my ISP/carrier (I am using an additional sim card linked to my phone's data plan), calls to the store where I got my router from and even TP Link's product support; some random hero from my ISP's customer support call center said “Officially we don't support third party routers, that being said I would suggest you change your APN setting to internet.public” and here I am now, a week after following that advice, sharing photos with my family back home through means I trust and manage myself.

I also installed Murmur (The Mumble server component) on the Raspberrypi 4 and was amazed by how easy it was to set up. My use case is having voice with friends while we play 0 A.D.

As mentioned in a previous entry, I started a new job in Norway last year, here are my thoughts so far:

First of all, a couple of interviews related to my position took place 3 weeks before my Master's thesis was due, all that can be said about that is: lots of excitement, I remember getting results and figures the weekend before the final interview took place.

After a well deserved month of relaxation back home (Mexico), my first day on my new job was a week before the company's Christmas party and it wasn't long after that everything was slowing down and everyone was away from the office so not much time to get used to a new country and learn the ropes at the new workplace.

During January, February and the middle of March things slowly started to ramp up and I started to understand a bit more on how things worked around here, from using the printer (always a pain, don't deny it) and meeting colleagues, to slightly more complicated tasks related to electronics and coding.

Then, in the middle of march disaster happened and COVID-19 started to spread, so I was left with doing a couple of tasks here and there (not complaining, still got paid and everything was more or less fine).

Ever since health regulations allowed for people to start going back to their offices with a few minor considerations, things have started to ramp up again but now I can't help but feel like I haven't been able to keep up and learn as fast as I should, blaming the pandemic is easy but still...

It is also important to note that my colleagues are really brilliant people and no one has mentioned anything about my performance, maybe anxiety got the best of me or I am just pushing myself too far... Or is it that people in Norway are just that chill and like to take their time? Only time will tell, in the meantime, gotta keep at it.

Having being abroad and back home 2 times in the last 3 years have taught me that living in Mexico makes you take some things for granted:

  1. Family
  2. Excellent food
  3. Friends

Let's just say that personal interactions have been... different, but not in a bad way.

I was always a bit of an oddball, antisocial even (for Mexican standards), but after accepting a job offer in November that led to moving to Norway, knowing just a handful of people in the city (from my Masters program), living alone and COVID-19 lock down, even I started to feel anxious and a bit depressed.

Things here work a bit differently and, again, not a bad thing, but it has been hard to make new friends or keep in touch with old ones.

It's the little things like talking, getting together and the like that start to seem more meaningful. Since lock down rules were relaxed, three recent events in particular come to mind, which basically made my day over the last month, all nice simple things:

  1. One of my Norwegian friends texted me:”I remember that you used to post all the time about your runs, are you up for a run this weekend? I need a running buddy”. We went for a long 9K-ish run the next day.
  2. After a barbecue we had with some other friends, last weekend, the same guy texted again saying: “It breaks my heart that you haven't been to a proper Norwegian beach around here, the barbecue place was not the nicest, so come along with us to the beach tomorrow”. So I ended up going to the beach with him and his fiancée.
  3. Yesterday, after an outdoors activity day sponsored by our company, one of my team mates said: “By the way, we're flipping some burgers for dinner today, I live pretty close by, wanna come over to our place? Since we work together I figured we should get to know each other”. I ended up coming back home at 22:00.

All these interactions have meant a lot because they were not initiated by me and gave me the feeling of starting to fit in here. Funnily enough that's all it takes, nice gestures.

I just felt the need to document my latest Linux issues:

First, some context, I like painting with watercolor and have been doing it for quite a while now but in the last couple of years material such as paper (I used Arches 300g) has become quite expensive, which made me think that perhaps it was about time to go digital.

After buying a cheapo digitizer tablet (a tiny one by the chinese brand Huion) I came across my first issue: doesn't work “out of the box” on linux (specifically Manjaro); long story short and after some research my eyes came across the DIGImend project, turns out that these guys have been creating drivers for all sorts of digitizer tablets out there and mine was on the list, but it gets better, it is in the AUR! So I was up and running in a matter of minutes.

Now for the software, at the time of writing it has been a week since Krita 4.3.0 was released featuring new watercolor brushes, after looking at some videos on their new YouTube channel I got very interested because Krita can now emulate pretty decent watercolor, so being the impatient FOSS/FLOSS fan that I am, I decided to install the appimage since the official repositories haven't been updated (again, at the time of writing).

Last, another problem, I though it would be fun to record my screen to document the process, either for my reference or for others (no intention of becoming a content creator though), but after realizing that my first attempt to record resulted in a video that flickered and showed my background at times and further investigation, turns out that recordmydesktop, SimpleScreenRecorder and OBS don't play well with Gnome3's window manager (called Mutter if I'm not mistaken). The fix was right in the home page for SimpleScreenRecorder: try removing drivers for 2D acceleration or changing window manager.

Removing xf86-video-intel did the trick and everything works fine now. Working Krita + digitizer tablet + recording setup took some effort but perhaps that is also why I am so satisfied and motivated to paint now, let's see if my hands can produce some decent artwork, at least testing the watercolor brushes has been fun so far:


Some links: Krita 4.3.0 release notes Troubleshooting SimpleScreenRecorder DIGImend project