hosted twtxt server (in Go)
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README.md

htwtxt – hosted twtxt server

Rationale

twtxt is a protocol and client for decentralized microblogging. Users are expected to provide their feeds as plain text files with URLs accessible over the Internet. htwtxt is a web server to host and grow such text files for users without trivial access to their own web space.

Features

  • individual twtxt feeds mapped to user accounts with password-protected write access
  • no sessions, no cookies: few POST-writable resources (feeds, account data) expect credentials, which to store between requests if desired is up to the user / browser
  • twtxt messages can be written via a HTML form in a web browser or via an API
  • account registration may be open to the public, or (default) closed (with the site operator adding new accounts manually)
  • users may add e-mail addresses and optional security questions to their accounts to use for a password reset mechanism (if enabled by site operator)
  • HTTPS / TLS support (if paths to key and certificate files are provided)
  • all HTML+CSS is read from a templates directory, which can be freely chosen at server start so as to ease customization of the interface

Online demo

A demo instance can be found at https://htwtxt.plomlompom.com/.

Docker image

A docker image maintained by the htwtxt user buckket can be found here: https://hub.docker.com/r/buckket/htwtxt/

Setup and run

Setup Go build environment

With htwtxt written in Go, the setup instructions below expect a Go development environment – with a somewhat current go tool installed, and a $GOPATH set. (Note that the golang package of version 1.3.3 that is part of Debian Jessie is a bit too old already.) If your system does not have such an environment, here's some hints on how to set it up:

wget https://storage.googleapis.com/golang/go1.5.3.linux-amd64.tar.gz
sudo tar -C /usr/local -xzf go1.5.3.linux-amd64.tar.gz
export GOPATH=~/go
export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/go/bin

(You might want to add the last two lines to your .bashrc or whatever usually initializes your environment variables. And you might want to replace the package pulled by wget by whatever is the newest stable release of Go available.)

Clone, build, run

Once your Go build environment is ready, do this:

git clone https://github.com/plomlompom/htwtxt $GOPATH/src/htwtxt
go get htwtxt
mkdir ~/htwtxt
$GOPATH/bin/htwtxt

This will build and start the server, which will store login and feed data below ~/htwtxt. An alternate directory may be specified with the --dir flag.

Writing twtxt messages via API

Using htwtxt from a web browser for purposes such as writing a twtxt message should be self-explanatory (just use the HTML form on the start page). But it's also possible to write new messages directly to a twtxt feed via a POST request to /feeds. Just provide appropriate values for the data fields name and password (your login) and twt (the message to append). Here's a command line example utilizing the curl tool:

curl -X POST -d 'name=foo' -d 'password=bar' -d 'twt=Hi there.' \
http://test.plomlompom.com:8000/feeds

Tweaking

Configure port number and TLS

By default, htwtxt serves unencrypted HTTP over port 8000. But the executable accepts the flag --port to provide an alternate port number, and the flags --cert and --key to provide paths to an SSL certificate and key file to run htwtxt as an HTTPS server.

You might encounter the following issue when trying to set a low port number (such as the HTTP standard 80, or the HTTPS standard 443):

ListenAndServe: listen tcp :80: bind: permission denied

This is a common privilege problem and might be solved bis this:

sudo setcap 'cap_net_bind_service=+ep' $GOPATH/bin/htwtxt

Public or closed sign-up

By default, sign up / account creation is not open to the web-browsing public. The --signup flag must be set explicitely to change that. Alternatively, new accounts can be added by starting the program with the --adduser flag, followed by an argument of the form NAME:PASSWORD.

Set site owner contact info

The server serves a /info page (from the info.html template) that may include the site owner's contact info, as given with the --contact flag.

Activate password reset mails

Feed owners may add e-mail addresses to their login data to authenticate themselves to the site operator and receive password reset links when requested. The password reset mechanism by mail is inactive by default. To activate it, a set of flags --mailserver, --mailport, --mailuser must be set to describe a SMTP server and its login from which to send password reset mails to users' mail addresses. (The site operator will be prompted for his SMTP login password on program start.) Whether this mechanism is trustworthy or not is up to the site operator's imagination. Users may set up optional security questions to be posed on the password reset links they enable by setting their mail address.

Change HTML templates

By default, HTML templates are read out of $GOPATH/src/htwtxt/templates/. An alternate directory can be given with the flag --templates (it should contain template files of the same names as the default ones, however).

Copyright, license, version

htwtxt (c) 2016 Christian Heller a.k.a. plomlompom, with template design input by Kai Kubasta.

License: Affero GPL version 3, see ./LICENSE

Current version number: 1.0.7