Discover Pleroma. An alternative to Mastodon

Pleroma, have you met ?

I have a lot of curiosity for the different places and software we encounter on the Fediverse, if we are open minded and like to travel and see places.

I love Travel in the physical world, and similarly, am enchanted by travel in cyberspace, through the many corners and alleys, express lanes and boulevards, parks, of the Fediverse.

There are some ugly areas, which I carefully investigated, months ago; a quick look from the shadows, incognito, and it was clear it wasn't a good place, so I left never to return.

Now some of those corners are changing, still there but moved to new communication protocols — we don't see their posts anymore.

Mastodon is not all there is, not even close. It is the largest part of the Fediverse, in terms of instances (servers) and registered users.

But there's more and that is a good thing.

The Alternatives :

I have written recently on my blog about the Glitch-Social instances — which are a Fork, a split from the Mastodon project; a team of people who worked in the main project and for various reasons decided to leave, and start their own development team.

I have had an account in a Glitch-Soc instance for maybe 6 months now, and enjoyed it. Recently I wrote a full blog page with lots of detains on my search for a new, alternative account for my Blog Publishing – detailed here.

Besides having experienced Glitch-Soc, I also had looked at and registered an account in a Pleroma instance — the one with the memorable name of Expired Mentality, R.I.P., created and maintained by my friend @a1batross.

As part of my explorations, I already posted in toots about both of those alternatives, and elaborated more on the Glitch-Social one with this recent page.

Time to look and see more of Pleroma, so I went and tried some things out, configured a comfortable user space, and started taking screenshots.

I will be going deeper into it, there are many enhancements in Pleroma that need a good reportage, detailing and explaining them.

This is a first part, looking at the general user interface and experience.

Why look for a change?

I am really committed to leaving Mastodon behind and moving to better platforms.

GlitchSocial is one, Pleroma is another, I have accounts in BOTH types of instances, and love their added features, design improvements, and many, many new things.

The Pleroma FE (front end, or user interface — Intro Guide here) is a bit unusual for a mastodon user – but it has a second choice of Client; many pleroma instances have the GlitchSocial Web client as an option, sometimes as a link in their Front pages even.

For those of us who like to Read The Friendly Manual, there's a detailed Pleroma FE Guide here.

These notes now appear in a polished Web Magazine here. I developed various pages as extensions of toots and conversations had in various instances; one of the reasons I love having various accounts and always looking for interesting ones to try. #FediReporter I am...

The Basics :

What is Pleroma ?

Pleroma is a federated social networking platform, compatible with GNU social, Mastodon and other OStatus and ActivityPub implementations. It is free software licensed under the AGPLv3. It actually consists of two components: a backend, named simply Pleroma, and a user-facing frontend, named Pleroma-FE. It also includes the Mastodon frontend, or Mastodon-FE, if if you prefer a more familiar interface.

How can I use it ?

Pleroma instances are already widely available — a list of current instances can be found here. Information on all existing fediverse instances can be found at Fediverse.Network.

Got an account. Now what ?

Great! Now you can explore the fediverse! Open the login page for your Pleroma instance (e.g. , let's use EMR for short) and login with your username and password. (If you don't have an account yet, click on Register)

The Looks :

Pleroma instances at first glance seem very open, and look different. You can observe a stream of posts, in the Pleroma FE default interface, even before you sign up or login to an account. (Mastodon doesn't offer that, usually).

Here's a screenshot of EMR when you first open the site:

The visual is the Pleroma Front End, with wallpaper and colours as selected by the local admin. (click on image for a larger version)

The screen shown is from my laptop's wide screen display, this image was 1600 x 826 pixels (widthxheight). To fit in the Blog better, I have resized it to 640 x 330 pixels.

Pleroma FE Basics :

It has one vertical Panel to display posts. What is shown in this panel can vary. It is selected from the menu items in the Left side controls :

At the Left side, there's a Toot Editor at the top, which includes some extra controls, since Pleroma offers additional options — things like Reactions (Likes, Loves, similar to FB)

While this is the default user interface, in this page there is a button to allow a connection to the instance's MastodonFE front end. This will usually be installed at the same URL as the instance address, with the added “/web” part.

So, for EMR, the URLs are :

The Mastodon FE experience :

Well, it looks quite familiar to a mastodon user — in fact it IS the Glitch-Social web client, which is similar to the mastodon web client most commonly used everywhere.

Snapshot, configured in Single Column display. (Click for larger image)

Advanced Web Interface :

It can also be configured in Advanced Web Interface or AWI mode, with multiple narrower columns, each loading a different feed. (but those are not a good experience for me, as they are too narrow for comfortable use)

Here's a view of an AWI desktop, configured with three display panels (Notifications, followed by the Toot editor column, then the Local feed and the Federated one.) (Click for larger image)

To allow displaying multiple columns, we switch Display Settings as shown :

Controlling the Panels in AWI mode :

To get a detailed guide on how to configure the Columns, move them around, etc, see my detailed Discourse Forum post — Setting up Advanced Web Interface.

And that's all for now. Thank you for reading!

Addendum — June 23, 2020 :

As requested by various readers, I prepared pages with Pleroma instance suggestions — including both how to find and evaluate one (part 1), and a selected list of Recommended sites (part 2). See them in these new pages :

Follow Blog via your Fediverse/Mastodon account :

This page created entirely in MarkDown language. Thank you for reading, feel free to comment about this post – reach me at my Writer's Lounge.

R.G. ^—top of page