I spent some time this morning moving some of the ancillary services of vmst.io behind our Digital Ocean managed load balancer, and the pair of Nginx hosts that front end Mastodon.
I'd previously been fronting all these things with a separate instance of Caddy, which was pretty flexible and easy to setup, but having a single place where things flow in makes it simpler to monitor and secure. Having them load balanced for the frontend even if it's a single app behind it also makes me feel a little better, and gives some flexibility for making things like Elk or WriteFreely more redundant in the future.
It also means fewer places where I need to have TLS certificates configured, replaced, etc.
Due to the generous nature of the folks that are contributors to vmst.io, I'm now in the process of adding additional services to the vmst.io offering. Both of these are in “beta” for the time being.
While I don't anticipate any changes that would impact their long term consistency (URLs, usernames, etc) things may need some adjustments based on load or may need to be shuffled around until it's full production.
The first is what you're reading right now. This is from an instance of WriteFreely that we host. WriteFreely is free and open source software for easily publishing writing that may be longer than the 500 character limit on Mastodon.
Users can follow and boost your posts on write.vmst.io just like your regular Mastodon account, because it's uses ActivityPub. The format of your WriteFreely account will be @firstname.lastname@example.org.
They can also follow your blog using good ole' RSS.
You can boost your own long form writing from your Mastodon account. Best of all you login to write.vmst.io using your primary vmst.io Mastodon account, so there's no second set of passwords to manage. When you set two factor authentication on your Mastodon account, it carries over to write.vmst.io.
When you create your write.vmst.io Blog, it'll ask you to set your display name, this is like the name of your blog. It can be your real name, or whatever you'd like to call your blog. Your username will automatically populate, and should stay the same as your Mastodon username for consistency.
That's it. WriteFreely uses Markdown. For more information on how to use the platform, check out their User Guide.
Matrix is an open network for secure, decentralized communication. Matrix lets you chat in real time in 1:1 sessions or in groups, with end to end encryption.
While it doesn't use ActivityPub it does use WebFinger to communicate server to server, just like Mastodon. You can use a variety of different clients to login to Matrix. I'm in the process of getting documentation on docs.vmst.io that outlines the process, but if you're familiar with Matrix you can grab your client of choice (I suggest starting with Element) and login.
Your “homeserver” will be matrix.vmst.io, and when you login you'll use your Mastodon credentials, so there's no second set of passwords to manage. When you set two factor authentication on your Mastodon account, it carries over to Matrix. (Notice a theme here?)
The first time you login you'll need to establish your account, your username may automatically populate, but needs to stay the same as your Mastodon username for consistency.
You can now talk to anyone else on the Matrix platform, not just other vmst.io users who have activated their accounts.
Your Matrix username will be as @username:vmst.io, very similar to a Mastodon username.
You can also join the
#general:vmst.io and chat with other vmst.io users.
Our rules for these new tools are the same as our rules for our core Mastodon offering.
This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test.