GNU social

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GNU social is a free software project that "will be a decentralized social network that you can install on your own server".

GNU social spun out of the GNU FM project to avoid the defacto GNU FM server[1] becoming a social silo.

On 2013-06-08, GNU social incorporated StatusNet and Free Social, so a lot of this page is old StatusNet information as well. [2]


GNU social uses the OStatus protocol (based on Atom or RSS feeds published in realtime via Pubsubhubbub). As a result, GNU social users can subscribe directly to an external site that publishes a Realtime feed.

<tantek> there was never a need to syndicate to
<tantek> users on were able to directly subscribe to *external* sites in realtime if they supported PuSH
<tantek> Federation as it were
<tantek> the only reason to POSSE to a service is if a) you have friends on that service (otherwise you're just spamming), and b) that service only allows people to subscribe to local-to-the-service accounts.
<tantek> in the case of, b) was not true.

To follow any Pubsubhubbub feed with a GNU Social instance, simply click the "+ Remote" button in the sidebar when looking at your profile page and enter the URL to the HTML page from which such a feed can be discovered. Some instances run a theme which hides this button (or makes it harder to find). You can always go to /main/ostatussub to subscribe to a feed (such as:

Here's an example of one of Tantek's notes reposted by a GNU social user [3]. Amusingly, when posts from were reshared by a GNU social user syndicating to Twitter, it converted references from to @tantekcom [4], which did not exist until [5].

Open Questions

How does an indieweb site get a proper looking profile on a GNU social site? Compare and (which has the same Atom components)

  • Recommended Atom feed content is an Atom author with name/url (for nickname/profileurl) and then an Atom link in the author with rel=photo or rel=avatar -- singpolyma 07:42, 29 October 2015 (PDT)
    • GNU Social will also attempt to read an hCard or h-card on the URL that it is given (if you give it a page to detect the feed from and not just a direct feed URL) which likely explains the discrepancy that caused this question. singpolyma 19:09, 27 October 2015 (PDT)

IndieWeb Compatibility


Are there outstanding bugs / issues filed for these yet?

IndieWeb Examples

IndieWebCamp participants who are using GNU social on their own site:

  • GNU social founder mattl (2014) on since 2014-??-?? (need precise date of deployment of GNU social at this domain)

Past Examples

  • Evan Prodromou (2012) : was using StatusNet on (2012(?)-2013)


Notable example deployments of GNU social:

As of 2016-02, there are several Twitter lookalike gnusocial instances such as

These feature a public_timeline as their main view in a consciously retro-twitter look. These are based on the Qvitter code open sourced by

In response to Twitter clamping down on abuse, there have also been instances set up that are troll-themed, such as:

  • (with its own rules:

(all unlinked due to likely code-of-conduct violations, those curious can copy paste the domain explicitly).


js dr

GNU social using Quitter appears non-functional and nearly empty without JS (e.g. sample post permalink), and displays the message:

Please enable javascript to use this site.

No content is displayed, AKA the js;dr problem.

This is in stark contrast to Twitter (which many GNU social instances are setup as replacements for), which displays just fine without JS.

As a stopgap, there is an invisible copy of the content marked up with microformats2 and thus consumable by sites (e.g. indieweb sites and readers)

Further discussion shows that this depends on configuration. Markup is being added to the qvitter pages


Difficult to get information about

Years ago, there was some confusion on IRC about StatusNet/pump/GNU social[6], but that criticism doesn't really make sense anymore.

There is now an unofficial user manual


  • June 8th 2013, GNU social announced a merger with StatusNet and FreeSocial. Around ths time, stopped accepting new registrations and transitioned active accounts to
  • 2013 November: Evan began transitioning (archive link) the remaining * accounts to pump
    • original post offline
  • ~2016-2017 The domain itself was either sold, or expired, was squatted, and then sold to a company that is using it for self promotion that has nothing to do with OStatus or GnuSocial.
    • to be added to: site-deaths
    • number of * accounts lost? unknown
    • number of * post permalinks lost? unknown

There continues to be an active community of StatusNet/GNU social users, many on[7], though both and GNU social encourage users to host their own instances (to avoid becoming de facto centralized, as basically became).

See Also