Pixelfed is a social media platform technology for image sharing similar to Facebook-owned Instagram. It consists of an Android and iOS applications (coming soon) and web server software that can be used to setup a image hosting website the Android application can interact with. Both are entirely free software. The Pixelfed server application supports the ActivityPub standard, image sharing sites running Pixelfed can interact with other federated fediverse servers running ActivityPub-compatible server software such as Mastodon, Pleroma and PeerTube.
Pixelfed is a good choice if you want to create a image hosting website where you and your friends or family or a group or organization can share images. One of the many publicly available existing Pixelfed installations that are open to new user registrations may be a better alternative than Instagram if you just want to a comfortable website you can use to share some images online.
The Android and iOS applications for Pixelfed are not yet available. They are "in active development" and they are not very far away from being ready.
The Web Application
A picture from Malaysia shared by a person named "Peter" at the pxlmo.com website running Pixelfed.
The Pixelfed web application has everything you would expect from a social media image sharing platform. You can easily share up to 5 pictures or videos in a single post, create photo "stories" and photo collections. You can comment on other people's pictures and there is, of course, a "like" button.
You personal profile can have a "Bio", a profile picture and a link to a website.
Pixelfed lets you follow others and have followers. Adding #hashtags to pictures and searching by hashtag is supported.
Pixelfed does not try to restrict what those browsing a site can do. Saving images by right-clicking on them is quite possible.
Websites running pixelfed are overall very usable and comfortable.
Running a Pixelfed server is relatively resource-light and the software does not require a particularly advanced stack. You need:
- Apache (with mod_rewrite enabled) or Nginx
- MySQL 5.6+ or PostgreSQL 10+ or MariaDB 10.2.7+
- PHP 7.2+ with the following extensions: bcmath, ctype, curl, exif, iconv, intl, json, mbstring, openssl, tokenizer, xml and zip
- Redis for in-memory caching and background task queueing
- ImageMagick for image processing
There is a detailed installation guide at docs.pixelfed.org
Pixelfed allows you to set a per-user storage limit. Users will not be able to upload more photos once their limit is reached.
Verdict And Conclusion
If you want to setup your own social media image sharing site then the Pixelfed server software is a great choice.
Registering on and using any of the existing Pixlfed websites is a good alternative if you want to share your images with the world and you do not want to a use large corporate-controlled centralized image sharing service like the Facebook-owned Instagram.
Pixelfed does have one very clear disadvantage compared to Facebook-giant Instagram: You can't expect to get a very large following on a small independent site with a user-base that could barely full a classroom. Your audience will be limited. That is not a problem if you just want to share pictures with your friends and you are fine with sending them a link to the site use to share pictures. A Pixelfed site may not be for you if you only care about getting as many "followers" as possible.
Sites running Pixelfed
There is a list of live Pixelfed installation you can join at pixelfed.org/join. You will have to give up an e-mail address to join the public instances. None of them require a phone number or additional personal information.
Pixelfed has a fediverse presense at
The developer has a Patreon at patreon.com/dansup.
- Pixelfed for Android and iOS is in active development. We'll be looking for beta testers next month! pixelfed, July 13th, 2020