8 essential self-hosting projects for your Raspberry Pi | Panda Anku

The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer—built for a budget price, but capable of high performance and the kinds of tasks you’d more associate with a server farm or data center.

Self-hosting web applications and services is a popular hobby these days, and this article highlights some of the best that can be deployed on a later model Raspberry Pi.


Why use a Raspberry Pi for self-hosting?

You can build a home server on virtually any computer hardware built in the last 30 years, but the Raspberry Pi has the advantage of extremely low power consumption. Even the newer Raspberry Pi 4B (the model we’d recommend for most of these projects) draws less than 3W at idle and around 7W under load—roughly the equivalent of a single CFL.

That 15-year-old gaming PC that you’re pulling out of storage to act as a server is probably drawing more than 600W. Since servers typically stay on 24/7, that means huge power savings.

In terms of performance, the Raspberry Pi 4B is a monster of a machine in miniature, boasting a quad-core Cortex-A72 64-bit 1.5GHz processor (if you don’t overclock it), Gigabit Ethernet, and four USB ports and built-in RAM between 1 GB and 8 GB. Although Raspberry Pi hardware prices are currently high, under normal circumstances they cost around $35.

In our opinion, few machines offer better value for money than the Raspberry Pi, and here are some of the best self-hosted projects you can run on it.

1. Nextcloud

Nextcloud is an extremely versatile piece of software that aims to completely replace almost every other service you access on the internet. You may think we’re joking, but we’re not.

At its core, Nextcloud is an open-source cloud storage and sync platform that supports multiple users. You can think of it similar to Microsoft’s DropBox, Google Drive or OneDrive – with apps available for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS and Ubuntu Touch.

You can access your files either through a web browser or a WebDav folder on your desktop. But Nextcloud is almost infinitely extensible via free add-on apps, most of which can be installed in minutes with a single click.

While Nextcloud comes with a Markdown text editor installed by default, you might prefer a full-fledged collaborative office suite in the form of Collabora Online. You can add recipe managers, a full-text RSS reader, streaming radio apps, music library management apps, video conferencing apps, and even an out-of-the-box social media server to interact with other users.

This list hardly scratches the surface of Nextcloud’s capabilities, but you can use Nextcloud to build your own Raspberry Pi cloud server.

2. Jellyfish

If you have an extensive collection of movies, TV shows, music, and audio books and want to consume your media on your phone, TV, laptop, etc., you need Jellyfin installed on your Raspberry Pi.

Jellyfin is a hassle-free media streaming center that is easy to install and intuitive to use. It automatically scans and categorizes media and retrieves relevant thumbnails and metadata as soon as it detects a new file.

Each user can have their own account and Jellyfin keeps track of the content they have watched, their progress in watching the content and their favourites. Authentication is done on the Raspberry Pi itself (unlike Plex), meaning your data stays entirely on your own network.

3. PhotoPrism

After Google scaled back its unlimited photo storage offering last year, millions of users are now looking for a free alternative that gives them the benefits Google Photos used to offer.

PhotoPrism is by far the best solution as it categorizes, creates albums and even recognizes objects and faces in your photo collection. It automatically handles uploads and syncing, but you’ll need to use SyncThing or NextCloud to get your photos onto the server. PhotoPrism works well with both.


4. CryptoPad

CryptPad is a full-featured open-source collaborative office suite with the unique (metaphorical) selling point of end-to-end encryption.

Traffic is not only encrypted in transit, but also in the memory of your Raspberry Pi. Not even you as a system administrator can see what your users have written. CryptPad handles different formats and is smoother and slightly faster than NextCloud’s Collabora online integration.

FreshRSS is a self-hosted RSS news reader that fetches and stores all your RSS news for consumption in the browser or via its API in various mobile apps.

Besides fetching article stubs as publishers intended, FreshRSS can use custom CSS selectors to pull entire articles onto your Raspberry Pi for you to use.

You can set parameters such as For example, article retention periods, feed categories, and rules that apply to each feed. With FreshRSS, you’ll never have to visit another website again!

6. Audiobook shelf

If you have a huge collection of audiobooks, Audiobookshelf is the perfect tool to help you manage it. Books are automatically grouped into series and are searchable by author, narrator, and metadata.

Audiobookshelf tracks your progress across all devices and has apps for Android or iOS. You can change the playback speed between 0.5x and 2.0x, and if you’re the type of person who would rather be lulled to sleep by the raspy tones of a professional speaker but don’t want to lose your seat overnight, you can do Set a sleep timer up to 90 minutes in advance or the end of the chapter.

It’s like having your very own Audible! So what are you waiting for? Host your own Raspberry Pi audiobook library with Audiobookshelf.

7. WordPress

WordPress is the most widely used CMS and blogging platform in the world — but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to install or master. In fact, you can host your own WordPress site on a Raspberry Pi. This way you can focus on writing instead of managing your system.

WordPress supports multiple user roles and provides access to thousands of themes and plugins so you can customize your site to look and behave exactly how you want it to.

8. Email Server

Email is one of the most daunting prospects for any aspiring system administrator, but installing a fully secured and trusted email server on your Raspberry Pi can be done in an afternoon.

You can quickly set up Dovecot, Postfix, OpenDKIM and SpamAssassin, after which you can send emails securely, knowing your communications are completely under your control.

Deploy almost any web-facing software on your Raspberry Pi

These are just some of the ways your Raspberry Pi can replace the websites and services offered by tech giants. Being self-employed in the digital world will bring you a lot of joy and maybe even get friends and family excited about the hobby.

Don’t forget that hosting costs are practically zero when hosting on your own hardware. All you need is a single domain name and you’re good to go.

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