Installing Diaspora on Debian Linux

Diaspora Dandy logoDuring the summer, I’ve been keeping an eye on a project I found interestering: Diaspora. I supported the project with a small, financial token towards the maintainers’ goal of USD $10.000 back in May. They received 20 times that before they closed their donations page at Kickstarter. So I think it’s safe to say that the hype around these guys has been massive.

In short, Diaspora is to become a cross-platform social networking app along the lines of Twitter and Facebook – with one special addition in mind: security. Thus, you are enabled to run your own ‘seed’ that holds your private data, including all status updates, uploaded media, etc. You have the power to disable your seed at any time, thus effectively removing yourself from the social network entirely. Read more about Diaspora in this blog post.

The Diaspora team seems to have been working fervently throughout the summer, and the other day they released their source code to the public on GitHub. This means that other can now get to play along with the platform and check out what they have been up to.

Tom Mitchell wrote an excellent post on how to compile and install Diaspora for Windows, and I have used his directions to do the same on my Debian “squeeze” box.

Here’s how I did that.

Install the prerequisites using Apt:

Valandil:~# sudo aptitude install git ruby ruby-dev rubygems mongodb openssl imagemagick

Install the required Ruby application, Bundler:

Valandil:~# sudo gem install bundler
Successfully installed bundler-1.0.0
1 gem installed
Installing ri documentation for bundler-1.0.0...
Installing RDoc documentation for bundler-1.0.0...

Fetch the Diaspora code from

Valandil:~# git clone diaspora
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/achton/diaspora/.git/
remote: Counting objects: 17291, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (6063/6063), done.
remote: Total 17291 (delta 12070), reused 15728 (delta 10852)
Receiving objects: 100% (17291/17291), 4.16 MiB | 1.74 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (12070/12070), done.

In the diaspora directory, run the diaspora installer:

Valandil:~/diaspora# /var/lib/gems/1.8/bin/bundle install
Your bundle is complete! Use `bundle show [gemname]` to see where a bundled gem is installed.

Now start the Diaspora seed:

Valandil:~/diaspora# /var/lib/gems/1.8/bin/bundle exec thin start
>> Using rack adapter
>> Thin web server (v1.2.7 codename No Hup)
>> Maximum connections set to 1024
>> Listening on, CTRL+C to stop

I couldn’t be bothered to open the relevant port in my firewall before writing this, so I just fired up Lynx on http://localhost:3000, registered and logged in, and set my first status:

Diaspora running on Debian, seen via Lynx

Diaspora running on Debian, seen via Lynx

As you can see, the steps required to start your own seed are quite simple, even for someone like me who has no knowledge of Ruby whatsoever. I hope this will help someone else who wants to get Diaspora up for some playtime.

Remember to follow the project and report any bugs you find!

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