Feedback for Zoph

Overall Impressions

The idea of organizing and sharing your photos from your server is great.
Though, the usability of Zoph on Freedombox has a huge space for development.
To me, it still felt like an application that is still in alpha and need lots of work for non-technical people like myself.
My two-cents on trying to use Zoph is as below.

List of things you liked
The idea is excellent. I’ve been looking forward to organizing my photos on a server and to be able to also share them with family and friend really got me excited.

List of things you disliked

  • Having to only be able to store and bulk upload photos to /var/lib/zoph is not good for me. I’ve tried various ways of creating a folder on an external drive (that’s NOT BTRFS), changing mod and ownership, but its just not practical. When doing this, even bulk copying files with install requires too much effort.
  • The applications time to import was not tolerable. I have thousands of photos that I want to process. Even when running FB on an SBC (a pi 4) with 8GB ram, importing a single photo captured in a reasonable resolution with a cellphone takes 15-20 seconds. Additionally, importing doesn’t work in the background. Having to keep Zoph WEBUI open and waiting to import an album with as little as 50 photos is not practical.
  • I accidentally deleted the ‘Root Album.’ No more albums for me… Couldn’t even re-create the root album. I had to do a complete re-install because I don’t know how to use php (or whatever it takes to correct the mess).
  • When importing photos, I would have preferred to create new albums, new categories, new locations, new people during the import. For every instance, having to go to the dedicated tab to create a new group, person, location, album, etc. and then re-attribute these to the imported photos is not practical.
  • Sharing doesn’t work without a password. If I want to share a photo with a member of the family or friend, I had to create a dummy user on my FB and provide them with a username-password. Additionally, I couldn’t share albums; just single photos. A link open to public access for sharing single, category or album photos (or any filtered list of photos) would be very nice.
  • An upload limit of 2MB due to Apache configurations and not being able to change this value without knowing how to find and edit the php.ini file was good stress. At least an error with also stating location of the php.ini file would have saved a lot of time and research.
  • A cleaner and smarter WEBUI would some UX that’s of this decade would really be nice.
  • There’s a "pref"s tab, then a “config” screen, never-ending sub-titles constantly scrolling down… I’m a simple user; I just want to archive my photos and find them when necessary… Why so many settings?
  • When importing photos, if a photo has any meta data that Zoph doesnt understand; you’re stuck with an error… Couldn’t import a good number of photos because of this.

All in all, having a ‘free’ photo organizer is great. Though, it feels like Zoph was just rushed into the FB ecosystem. I have backports enabled (I dont know if Zoph is available on the stable distro). I think Zoph is still in it’s early stages and really didn’t give me the feeling that I could depend on it to save and store my years of photos. I think a prior warning on FB stating that Zoph is in early development or that it’s experimental would be a good heads-up for novice users like myself.


I agree with your criticims of Zoph. I think your feedback would best given to the Zoph team and not the FB team.

The goals of FB, as I understand them, is to take the best open source, security centric, software out there to add features to the FB platform.

The original intent was not to create a full blown server, but rather a personal server you could take with you, the digital equivalent of taking your suitcase with you when you travel.

To take the metaphore a step further, you’d not show everyone what’s in your suitcase, like your frilly unmentionables, so likewise many of the features are designed around owner access and not public access.

For your purposes, perhaps a different, though compatible project, might be Nextcloud. It is on the design plan to include Nextcloud, but integration of such a mature project is labor intensive. The design path of both are similar, with FB preferring security first, and NC preferring integration of features over security.

The purpose behind opensource software is so that you own your data, not the software designers. Often times when balancing usage, ease of use takes a backseat to security, which I think we all would prefer, though it’s frustrating at times.

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I’ve been a bit hesitant to install this software for the reasons you mentioned. I agree it has a bit of an “alpha” feel but I think its still very serviceable for sending friends a link to an album via text, for example.

My big complaint for the freedombox team is that in order to see anything in Zoph you have to be logged in to the freedombox. This means that the guest user function on Zoph is effectively useless. I made a guest user for my freedombox, with no permissions but when I log into them (my-freedombox dot com/plinth & log in as guest) the guest user can still create a radicale card/calendar, and can see what I also have a matrix server. Who knows what other apps would also show up if they were installed.

Could someone set the FB defaults up so that if you go to w w w (dot) my freedombox (dot) com/zoph (or if zoph is the default page) you DO NOT need to log into the freedombox first?

I think SEARX has this option where anyone who knows the URL can use the service, but I dont think the guest login to zoph is a bigger security hole than telling people a password to my FB.

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Hi @strictdual

Im afriad not being able to properly share was also a let down for me.

I couldnt find a link in this respect. Do you mean sharing the ablums https link from your browser?

Im still playing around with Zoph, to see if I can at least get it to organize my photos without having to share. Due to storage limits, Ive managed to get Zoph to read and store my photos on an EXT4 external drive.

Very very manually, it does do the organizing though, the search function does not work. Im guessing this is because storage is on the external drive.

Yes. Or even just pointing them in the general direction and hoping they find the right album would be nice.

I hope it can work as a self hosted replacement for Flickr/500px/facebook/etc albums.

I’m not sure how familiar with Linux you are, and nothing to do with freedombox, but you may want to check out darktable as a desktop app that may be better for organizing your photo library.