Making YunoHost a sustainable project

I agree that the ideal way of sustaining the project would be donations from users, and I think it is feasible: some projects have done it. But I also think it is not possible to start with that, because the user base needs to be very large for this to work, and some investment is required to get a large user base: chicken and egg problem.

Like @Aleks I think the option 2 of getting large grants is a good way to reach option 1. I work for a non-profit who is hoping to do that, and though it takes more time than initially thought to get a sustainable community, it seems we’ll be able to get there.

I also think option 3 is OK, as long as the services offered by YunoHost for a fee can also be offered by anyone else. In other words, OK to pay for a service, but no proprietary code, no proprietary information. However option 3 will NOT lead to option 1, in my opinion because people are not going to donate if they see that there is another source of income. What YunoHost could get instead is a larger base of contributors: if other companies are able to make business with YunoHost software, they will have an incentive to make it better. CiviCRM is a good example of that I think.

In a nutshell, in my humble opinion, either option 3 or option 2 leading to option 1, but I think this choice has to be made: exploring both ways at the same time wouldn’t work. Also, one thing not to forget: don’t underestimate the complexity of human resources management. The moment someone is getting empoyed, you will need to think of contracts, accounting, hiring, etc.
My 2 cents from my experience :slight_smile:

As a user who has the skills to host myself and contribute occasionally to fix a bug or scratch an itch but no time to do more than that, I would be happy with both solutions.

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Drat to ask your VPS provider to host YunoHost image.
Please keep on improving it and send it to your VPS provider.

YunoHost a self hosting project is looking for pre-configured image which can be installed through VPS interface. The project runs on Debian Jessie (in few days the project will support Debian stretch). YunoHost have around 200 working apps that can be installed by web interface.
The project provides the Debian based image, but more better way would be to follow these commands:
YunoHost ‱ index

  1. sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install ca-certificates dialog git
  2. sudo apt-get autoremove apache2.2 bind9
  3. git clone GitHub - YunoHost/install_script: YunoHost installation scripts /tmp/install_script
  4. cd /tmp/install_script && sudo ./install_yunohost

After the installation is finished a snapshot can be taken and provided to all the VPS(Works with your KVM VPS).

This would help the project and and your service as a link to your website would be added to the YunoHost website from where users can come to your website and have working YunoHost vps.
If you think its feasible,please reply me or contact directly to irc,matrix or xmpp from the links on this page YunoHost ‱ index .


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I asked if they can provide the image for YunoHost on there VPS. And there answer is this.

We are interested in your offer. Also, we can prepare an OS template, just please clarify how Time4VPS will be shown up on your website or in any installation steps?

Any suggestions,views,feedback?


Hi everyone,

First, thank you for sharing this discussion : it’s very interesting and vital for the project :wink:

On my side, I have been a daily user of YunoHost since 2015 (personally and via Tera, the association where I am a volunteer almost full-time). I am unfortunately only a very small contributor (except to report issues), especially because of lack of time (difficult to add up voluntary work xD) and also lack of skills, but it means a lot to me to bring what I can to this great project :wink:

This issue of volunteer work is a tuff one, and we are going through the same problematic in our association. Etymologically, volunteer means “to want the good”. We have added the meaning “without being paid” but I prefer to say “without waiting a compensation”. So we (=the community, the society) can decide that volunteers who are doing an important work for the common good and should be paid for that (but in a free relationship).
YunoHost does seem to me a project working for the common good, and the people who contribute a significant part of their time to it would therefore fully deserve to be remunerated to ensure its sustainability and its development (for both the project and the people :wink: )

But how to do that in a world without a basic income ?

This notion of the common good is, in my opinion, also enlightening on the way to find funding.
And in this respect, option 3 seems to me to be a bad solution.

  • First, developing services to obtain remuneration (YNH turn-key instances, support, 
) seems to me not to fulfill the initial objective, in the sense that the paid time will be spent mainly to provide these services and not on YNH itself. But I think it would be great if theses services existed, but as a separate activity developed by those who want it.

  • Inevitably, I think that this option can lead to ethical issues (proprietary code?) and dependence on private entities that would fund features

I think that projects serving the common good should try to get out of this reciprocal relationship (money in exchange something) and be based on models of free participation.

Two examples (without mention Framasoft that everyone here should know about).

  • HelloAsso, which permits associations to manage their memberships, donations, to set up fundraising campaigns, all without any fees for the associations. For its own financing, HelloAsso applies much the same principle as it proposes to associations: donors have the possibility, in addition to their donation and on an optional basis, to contribute to HelloAsso in the form of a tip.

  • Our association: we have been operating on this model of free and conscious participation for several years, whether it is for the stays of our volunteers, the financing of some projects, the payment of training etc
 For the moment it was to cover our expenses and some material investments, today it is also going to cover the financing of about ten half-time, (warning, disguised publicity !)

Allying option 1 and 2 seems to me to be the right vision, but we still have to put in place the strategy to achieve this :wink:

I see at least a few steps / ideas:

  • Create an association (loi 1901)

  • Be able to collect “tax exemption” donations. In my opinion, this is essential to be efficient. It’s a huge lever.

  • Communicate, externally (to make the project known and find more funders) and especially internally (to encourage users to give). I remember Framasoft displaying a pop-in on their website explaining why it’s vital to give etc.) I think you have to be insistent enough without becoming too embarrassing or intrusive. We still have to figure out how. (Banners / pop-in on the YNH website, a persistent banner on the admin API?). The important thing is to be transparent: we need so much, we are at that point today, etc.)

I don’t really know what your exact links with Framasoft are (and I’d be curious to know them): partnership established? To come? Possibility to seek funds through their structure? (Interesting because they can collect “tax exemption” donations)

Another solution for tax exemption is to go through an endowment fund that allows it to tax exemption donations. This is what we do with Tera, and it would be quite possible that YunoHost also uses it, if you wish it.

From what I’ve read, obtaining the “Association reconnue d’utilitĂ© publique” status is a long and not so easy process, it’s why I think you need to find another way to collect tax exemption donations in the meantime.

For public funds, it’s another story because it’s quite time-consuming in terms of paperwork (don’t underestimate this time), but it can make it possible to recover a lot of money. I think you need someone who knows this world and is motivated to do it!

Long live to YunoHost :tada:


Hello there.

If i can read english text, i am not comfortable to write in this language. So, I’m sorry to continue in French.

Pourtant je tenais à exprimer mon point de vue. Donc si quelqu’un veut me traduire, c’est avec plaisir.

J’ai vu plusieurs bonnes idĂ©es, mais aussi quelques idĂ©es qui me semble dangereuses d’un point de vue Ă©thique pour l’avenir du projet.

Je commencerai par celles qui me feraient fuir en parlant des alternatives :

  • un dĂ©veloppement en fonction des demandes d’entreprises si elles les financent. Cela revient Ă  rendre le projet privatif. Si un autre dĂ©veloppeur Ă  la mĂȘme idĂ©e, il ne pourrait la mettre “librement” en place ? Rude pour la libertĂ©. Et si au final l’avancĂ©e est disponible pour chacun ? Cela revient Ă  du mĂ©cĂ©nat d’entreprise, dĂ©marche diffĂ©rente.
  • une vente d’options. Celle-ci ne semble juste que si le projet Yunohost se meut en CHATONS et propose des services en : les administrateurs devraient tous avoir les mĂȘmes options sur leurs propres serveurs. En revanche, si un chef de PME n’a pas le courage de gĂ©rer la chose, pourquoi ne pas lui vendre ce service ? Un CHATONS est accessible aussi bien aux particuliers qu’aux PME.

Du cÎté des idées intéressantes, et selon moi exploitables de façons communes :

  1. Commencer par créer une association loi 1901 et demander par mail un numéro de SIRET pour accélérer la procédure.
  2. Choisir une commune et demander un local associatif, en prĂȘt, Ă  l’annĂ©e.
  3. Demander des subventions de fonctionnement pour payer des charges en expliquant Ă  la commune, Ă  la communautĂ© de communes, au dĂ©partement et Ă  la rĂ©gion qu’il s’agit d’un asso de dĂ©mocratisation des outils numĂ©riques libres.
  4. Proposer un financement participatif chaque année pour :
  • La premiĂšre annĂ©e, au moins, l’achat d’un serveur tenant la route pour hĂ©berger le projet, et Ă©ventuellent un second pour proposer des services CHATONS. Le bon point, c’est que le projet serait de facto mis en lumiĂšre par framasoft

  • Pous les autres annĂ©es, Ă  voir en fonction des besoins.
  • Financer un an de salaire d’un dev Ă  temps plein, ou deux Ă  mi temps voire trois quart temps pour partager les crĂ©neaux de prĂ©sence (permanence d’écoute). Ou un temps plein dev et un mi temps administratif/communication.

Je ne vous cache pas que ces étapes sont en cours par chez moi (dordogne) avec un collÚgue (sauf la partie hébergement de projet Yunohost). Mais grouper les projets et efforts me convient bien, si vous en avez envie. Je vous propose de participer la premiÚre année au moins à cette asso.

Avec ou sans moi, voici les autres points intéressants :

  1. En option dĂ©sactivable par l’admin (libertĂ©), sur le portail de connexion des espaces persos, poser un lien vers un compte G1 (monnaie libre) ou vers liberapay avec un bandeau expliquant la dĂ©marche. Ainsi, administrateurs et utilisateurs pourront participer financiĂšrement selon leurs moyens
  2. Suggérer au moteur de recherche Lilo de nous référencer.
  3. Proposer un mécénat à des entreprises.
  4. Demander Ă  l’Etat l’appellation "d’utilitĂ© publique"
  5. Aller aux rencontres des logiciels libres
  6. Promouvoir sur les réseaux sociaux libres ou non.

Je crois que j’ai fait le tour des idĂ©es.

Certains ont mentionnĂ© le cĂŽtĂ© chronophage des dĂ©marches administratives. Je plussoie, et si je ne suis guĂšre douĂ© en programmation, j’ai au moins la pratique pour aider Ă  faire cette gestion ou communication.

J’espĂšre ne pas ĂȘtre Ă  cĂŽtĂ© de la plaque. :blush:

Longue vie aux projets libres et communautaires tels que Yunohost. :blush:

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Hello folks,

I do not have a particular idea of what direction(s) should be taken, just a quick feedback. (i read the whole posts so thanks for the discussion and the openness)


From my point of view, it should not be a choice to work on Yunohost or to find a job to get a decent living :hushed:

I volunteer to package apps and it takes a lot of time and energy to be able to put all the pieces together :

  • having enough knowledge with tools like bash, git, github, Yunohost helpers (I work in the IT field in system administration and I had a lot of new tools and processes to learn)
  • finding where to ask for help
  • asking help and not feel guilt by making losing time to people
  • feel the legitimacy to do mistakes and to contribute

There is no guarantee that I will be able to maintain the apps on the long term. That’s how it works in the volunteering side :slight_smile: Some people will have security issue if the apps are not updated.

For a willing beginner, it should be really hard to engage and not so many people like to spend time on theses boring stuff Everything is free with GAFAM

Enhancement in Yunohost

While volunteering, I realized that time is needed to think about solution. For the apps, it is quite “easy” but to work on the core of Yunohost, it should need a lot of concentration and energy. I guess that it is difficul to do after a day of work and taking care of the family.


Some friend / colleagues put more trust in the GAFAM because their data will stay safe for a long time. I mean, the company will live, or at least should live, for a long time.
As said before, if Aleks did not put 35hrs a week in Yunohost or if Maniks leave, it should be much more complicated
 (and all other people involved too !)

Maybe having a “company” or an “official offer” with CHATONS could put “more trust” on Yunohost for people who does not see the “political aspect” but just the “good tool” part.
Having to do the system administration is annoying and provoke fear for most non IT people too. The backup system of Yunohost is not enough for now to be totally secure in case oh hard disk crash for example. (I know that enhancement are on the track and that time / money is needed in order to do so


  • Can we ask other people / NGO how they made it ? ( I coud try to ask Framasoft )

Really interesting topic, thanks to all participants so far.
I stumbled upon this piece from #sandstorm that seems to fit in here. Some enlightening from another self-hosting project :slight_smile:

For me, NGO status and crowdfunding are a coherent way to go, Ă  la Framasoft.
I will indeed follow this topic with great attention !

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Hello. :slight_smile:

Des nouvelles ? :slight_smile:

Hello Aleks,

I am a ‘self-hosted’ solution designer also and I thought of an idea that might be of interest to you. Firstly I want to do this myself so I’ll just say it like this:

I am going to use affiliate marketing and sales to fund my operations. So I provide a unique solution for customers, it can remain open source and free, please follow one of these links to set up your (no name yet) software instance to serve whatever you like, I will then make money, you get a discount on your first month, and Digital Ocean (or whoever, there are lots of VPS providers with affliate programs) gets a customer.

You can make Yunohost work on a VPS, sell it for Digital Ocean (or whatever) and make at least $20, and some affiliate programs even have recurring payments. I haven’t even got my VPS yet (I’m still comfortable serving from home), but a Droplet is insanely powerful at least in the specs. 1 gig up and down all the time. My self-hosted youphptube could serve 250 simultaneous video on demand streams or dozens of live streams.

Some affiliate programs are more generous than others. It is good at least to have a lot of options instead of just Amazon or Google since they tend to squash you like a bug when you get too profitable. There are dozens of VPS providers out there. Another reason I like this affiliate marketing scheme is that its a pretty frictionless transaction. If someone was looking for a hosting solution, they find it, the software is free, and the infrastructure even comes with a coupon.

The number of users you have is interesting thank you for sharing that.

I do believe you will need to make money from your project somehow. I have a mobile phone app for early English readers and I originally wanted to make it free but by nature, I am not an altruist (is anyone really?). That said I did find ways of getting my product out to people for no charge and on a massive scale (over 300K downloads of the lite version so far, and maybe 500 solid users at any given time). It didn’t make me a lot of money but it was a very satisfying project for me personally, and it was a good experience in what not to do in a software product (for programming). My product development was good but not earth shattering, and the product had tons of competition.

Now the awesome thing is, there is going to be a tidal wave of people wanting to escape the curse of the 500 LB Google Gorilla, Facebook, and maybe (but not likely) Apple also. I already have a deep distrust of Google, have had for about 4 years now, and a lot of people are waking up to files destroyed, businesses ruined, fortunes lost, because of algorithms or just simply greed.

If we can surf that wave we could do really well for ourselves.

Now I don’t know if any of this is going to work. It’s just my working plan at this time.

Scott Yannitell

Thanks @OhioVR for this insight into affiliate programs. It’s indeed a way to finance the project, and quite logical given what Yunohost is about. (I see you didn’t mention your service, but I’m interested in what it might be. Care to share a link ?)

However in this thread, I think we’re still a step before finding funds : Yunohost needs to decide first which form it will adopt for further operations. Whether it’s a foundation, a non-profit NGO, a business or something else, we (as a community) need to lay the options on the table, document them and then take a decision.

Kudos all for sharing your thoughts so far. I hope this will move forward soon :slight_smile:

Hi Jaxom99,

Thanks for the reply. As of this time my project is still immature so I don’t have much to show. I am going to be focusing on shell only hosting automation and leverage all I can from that way of doing things. If at some point I would be welcome to show off what I have I would appreciate it. But I know the focus of this website is Yunohost. I think you are all putting up a good effort!

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Helping the Yunohost project is clearly a part of the 2018 Contributopia project from Framasoft.

It even says that some salary time is “given” to Yunohost (I assume this is all about the Frama-X packages we have here ?). Could we have more info about this ? Sounds strange that the Frama organisation help is not mentioned in such a thread, whereas helping Yunohost looks like one of their official current strategical points ?

Over the past year (or a little more
?) @framasky has worked one day per week on contributing to the packaging of frama* applications for YunoHost. For your information, the name of the YunoHost application references the original applications and not the Framasoft application, e.g. diaspora instead of framasphùre, mastodon instead of framapiaf, etc.

You can already see the result of this work in the list of working applications :heart:

As far as I know, this contribution has been put to a halt (at least for now).


As a yunohost user, I’m very interested in this discussion too. Since I use Yunohost (a few years now), I have many times searched a way to give money to the project, without success

About the form Yunohost could adopt, I would like something like an 1901 french association, I mean non-profit, and decisions taken by the whole community together (employees, users, volunteers, developers
I’m not a developper, but I could give a help to the organisation otherwise.
I think it will be discussed during the brique camp ?


I just tried to give money via liberapay but i didn’t manage to do it, I got the following message :

Votre don Ă  YunoHost ne peut pas ĂȘtre traitĂ© tout de suite car le compte du bĂ©nĂ©ficiaire n’est pas prĂȘt Ă  recevoir de la monnaie.

Am I doing something wrong?


Look at this issue Someone trying to donate to Yunohost, but getting an error message

Ok thanks I didn’t see it before. I’ll wait

Thanks for your answer !
Yes, I saw these applications and am using some of them.
Didn’t know it was @framasky, many thanks to him !

About the NGO/business dilemma, I think we could get some help from the folks at La mĂšre Zaclys. Has anybody got some contact with them ?

I think (and hope) the BriqueCamp will make a first step forward, as the general opinion of this thread is pretty obvious :wink:


I found this article : La « Commons Clause » de Redis : une mauvaise réponse à de vraies questions ? which you might found interesting for the projet.
It is not directly related on “how to make yunohost sustainable”, but this article deals with open licences and “Commons clauses”.


Something that is not