Knowhere Cafe Forums

For a long time now I have had this idea bouncing around for a website that I wanted to make from scratch. It had all these certain features, but not these other features and I had it all planned out. I had even made a version of it years ago that I called Faker. Some of my friends might remember those days.

Turns out I was just gonna make a forum.

After realizing that I set out on a quest to try all the different forum software’s out there. Most look, and are, pretty dated. Not to say that they don’t work, but aesthetics matter to me. I tried WordPress and Drupal forums. Those were really just glorified comments sections.

In the end I had found only two forum software options that I liked: Flarum and NodeBB.

Flarum was aesthetically pleasing but… spartan. It just felt unfinished and lacking in features. While I know it is still technically beta software it has been for far too long.

NodeBB however blew me away. Plenty of features, especially the ones I wanted, and even some I totally didn’t expect out of a forum (direct messages). It has loads of settings, easy administration, and even a vibrant plugin ecosystem. And a few clicks to change the default theme to one of the other preinstalled ones and it had everything.

The first thing I tried was running NodeBB as a Docker service as part of my old Swarm setup. I ran into a plethora of issues with this, but eventually came up with a hacky workaround that lasted long enough for a trial run. Though it did crash and corrupt everything overnight.

Based on the good reaction I got from my friends during the trial run I decided to ditch the Docker version and spin up a NodeBB forum as its own website on its own Digital Ocean Droplet.

Thus Knowhere Cafe was born! While still rather small it is much of what I always wanted. So feel free to come join us! We’re just kinda casual conversation place right now.

Sidenote: While I’m not new at server administration or Linux, but it’s been a while since I have used either Ubuntu or a NodeJS-based stack. And it surprised me that the official way of installing both NodeJS and Mongo is from other than the Ubuntu repos. I guess the LTS repos don’t stay up to date enough.