My experience with FreedomBox


I wanted to share my experiences and feedback on my beloved FreedomBox.

I was first introduced to FreedomBox through a friend who shares a keen interest in freedom and privacy. He initially purchased the Pioneer edition of the FreedomBox but encountered some challenges during setup, particularly with understanding the complexities of networking and Linux administration. Seeing his lack of use and being aware of my own interest in the device, he offered to sell me the device. It now stands as a superior replacement for my former home server, a repurposed 2010 netbook.

Making the switch to FreedomBox has been a rewarding experience. From a hardware perspective, it is an improvement over my netbook, as I get robust performance in a compact and energy-efficient package. Unlike my netbook, the FreedomBox operates without emitting discernible heat and maintains an impressively quiet profile. As for the software, not only was I able to rapidly restore all of my previous services, but I also discovered an array of new possibilities, all under a sleek and intuitive interface.

Now, into the specifics of the apps that I have tried so far.

Current apps

  • Gitweb: This is an invaluable tool that lets me store my config files and scripts. I’ve been able to seamlessly work from any device and track the changes I make thanks to Gitweb. I’m optimistic about expanding its usage.
  • MiniDLNA: This has been a reliable replacement for my old media server. With MiniDLNA, we have our music, movies, and more readily available on any device. There’s no need to rely on YouTube for my family’s media consumption.
  • OpenVPN: OpenVPN: This is perhaps one of the most significant and invaluable features I’ve found on the FreedomBox. It allows me to create my own virtual network, an ability that has proven incredibly beneficial in my day-to-day life. For instance, as I’m currently living abroad, I often find my mother needing assistance with her computer issues. Prior to FreedomBox, my go-to solution was Teamviewer. However, with OpenVPN, I can effortlessly connect her PC to my network and securely assist her using VNC, which is a great advantage. Moreover, OpenVPN comes into play when I am away from home. I can securely access the web using Privoxy, which provides an added layer of security to my online browsing. The convenience, functionality, and security that OpenVPN offers is truly unparalleled, making it a cornerstone of my FreedomBox experience.
  • Privoxy: It provides a ‘clean’ connection for all my home devices without the need for individual browser configurations. It’s also particularly useful when I’m away, connecting to the internet through OpenVPN. Given that the Pioneer only has one interface, without Privoxy, I would be unable to maintain an internet connection.
  • Radicale: It’s become a part of my daily life. The synchronization of my calendar, to-do lists, and contacts between my PC and Android phone is taken care of without the need of having Google handle my personal data.
  • Samba: This service has enabled me to establish home shares for several users. Interestingly, even my mother, who resides in a different country, can access her share to back up her files, all securely facilitated by OpenVPN. Isn’t that remarkable?
  • Searx: After tweaking the default settings, Searx has become my most frequented app. It is now my default homepage across all web browsers, offering excellent results and facilitating my discovery of several interesting blogs.
  • Sharing (Apache): This has proven handy on occasion for setting up file shares, especially when I need to give access to people for downloading larger files.
  • Syncthing: I have set up a couple of synced folders. I had some initial troubles getting it to work with my external storage. Now it works, but I don’t have an actual use case for it at the moment, since it doesn’t fit with my workflow.
  • User websites (Apache): I use it to share my CV online and it works very well. I’ve set up a user specifically for it. One can easily upload the necessary files graphically using SFTP.
  • Tor: Currently, I’m using Tor for package updates and accessing Plinth. Although I have the Tor Socks proxy, it hasn’t seen much use yet.

Tested apps

  • Bepasty: While this app provides a unique method for sharing files, it seems more proficient in managing smaller files. In my experience, the upload and download of larger files, predominantly videos, were interrupted frequently. Nevertheless, it proved effective with smaller files, allowing users to open and view these directly in a web browser. Its capability to set up temporary shares for groups with just one temporary password, negating the need for a separate user, is also a noteworthy feature. Sadly, I didn’t have the opportunity to test the pastebin feature to share code or logs. I might try it again in the near future.
  • Minetest: A fun game to play, though it requires a fair bit of time investment for modding. For now, I’m content with running a Minetest (Mineclone) server on my PC for joint gaming sessions with my daughter.

System apps

I use most of them but wanted to point out these.

  • Bind: It is now the DNS server for my PCs. It works very well with a forwarder as a backup.
  • Cockpit: Though I’m inclined towards working with terminal emulators, I’ve found Cockpit to be an incredibly user-friendly platform for server administration.

Future App Exploration

I am already running most of the apps I need and I don’t want to overburden my FreedomBox with apps that might be more situational. However, I’d like to give every app a try, as a learning exercise and to give feedback.

  • Postfix/Dovecot: This is at the top of my wish list. I have been eyeing it ever since I first came across it in the FreedomBox manual. A streamlined setup for a mail server could be a game-changer for many. My only reservation is the potential exposure of my home IP address in my e-mail messages, though I am considering pairing it with some kind of proxy to maintain the privacy of my FreedomBox.
  • Zoph: This seems like an excellent solution for family photo-sharing, especially considering most of my family resides in a different country. I currently juggle between multiple apps to share pictures, resulting in a plethora of low-quality duplicates. Zoph could potentially remedy this situation. However, reports of users encountering issues have made me hesitant to try it out just yet.

Wrapping Up

To summarise, my journey with FreedomBox has been tremendously rewarding. In my opinion, it’s not necessarily a tool for every individual, as it requires at least intermediate computer proficiency or a basic understanding of networking. However, for a tech-savvy family member or friend, FreedomBox can be an asset, enabling them to host various services for others.

While FreedomBox offers an appealing selection of apps, getting other people to migrate from popular applications to alternatives can be challenging. I’ve tried, for a couple of years, to keep my family’s messages on Matrix and XMPP, but had to revert to WhatApp for their convenience. However, I do think that FreedomBox’s suite of apps can cater to those primarily using web browsers in their workflow, as opposed to smartphone apps, thanks to all the self-hosted web clients.

Despite these challenges, FreedomBox remains an invaluable asset in my array of technological tools. I hold great affection for this compact machine, and it continues to be an integral part of my daily life.


Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback. Feedback like this keeps the contributors like me motivated to work on the project.


Well written review; I love my little FreedomBox too. :slight_smile:

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