20 August 2009

A new tentative personal photo galley

For quite a while I was searching for a self-hosted solution for my photo gallery, willing to move away from Flickr (which I still think is the best gallery from a technical point of view, too bad about its other downsides). Well, the Yahoo guys just gave me the final impulse for the switch by deleting my flickr account (don't know why, I received no warning about that, my suspicion in linked to a photo where I was criticising their recent deal with Microsoft).

I tried but really do not like the layout of other image hosting services like Picasaweb of SmugMug, I find them bad, ugly and too expensive but since I already have my own hosting solution with plenty of disk space and bandwidth and also don't care about the social network side of those services, a self-hosted gallery seems the optimal choice. The problem is, none of the existing solutions makes me happy.

After trying a number of existing solutions (I am too lazy and too busy to write my own), I am inclined to give phpGraphy a try:


As I said above, it is far from perfect, there are a number of pros and contras, making me to install a test instance, play with it, think more and ask for feedback (pretty please...)

My pros:
  • no database. It can work with an MySQL backend, but by default it works with flat files, which is a plus in my book, I want something light, small and easy
  • as said above, light, small and easy
  • RSS feed for last uploads
  • ability to upload images with scp and automatic thumbnail generation
  • user comments and ratings
  • ability to display EXIF info
  • clean layout by default

My contras:
  • no captcha and no OpenID login for comments: it seems like I have either to leave the comments open for everybody or require authentication to my site, both bad
  • no comment notifications by email: these two are almost show-stoppers (I would hate to block comments)
  • no ability to adjust the licensing info for each image and album
  • old-style album-based format instead of the photostream I got used to
  • no tags/keywords/labels and no navigation based on tags/keywords/labels, only album based navigation
  • no search

There are also smaller complains, like the inability to easily offer HTML code for embedding in web pages and the lack of geotagging, but those are not vital.

So please have a look at my test gallery (populated only with very few images) and maybe give me some opinions (I am looking for a self-hosted FLOSS solution). Thanks.


  1. Anonymous: why PHP would be inherently a minus? there are good applications written in PHP and bad applications written with it. Is not about the language but about how it is used.
    Still, PHP may be seen as a plus, since I know some and have a better chance to understand the code (note: even Fedora, which avoided anything PHP for a good while moved to MediaWiki and is preparing a Zikula deployment).

    So Anonymous, can you recommend a gallery with a better or comparable feature set written in another language?

  2. So what is wrong with Gallery?


    Version 3 is shaping up to be alot less complex than version 2.


  3. Tried Gallery2, which is too complex. I read about how much better is 3 supposed to be (not tried it), but it still does not have the features I look for (photostream, licensing). So I prefer the simpler choice, the one without a database.

    Gallery may have search and keywords (very cumbersome to add), but it still is an album based gallery.



  5. yup: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicubunu/

    is not that bad as the images embedded in web pages are still visible and i was wanting to move anyway. i am just forged to move sooner.

  6. I'm no expert, but I do believe a database scales much better for heavy usage than no database. Example: Flatpress vs Wordpress.

  7. Indeed, but I don't need something multiuser, nor do I expect huge traffic (200 visitors a day would be much more than expected).

  8. You should've read Flickr's terms. I did that - and I was aware of their modus operandi. Didn't choose Picasa either, for they had some constraints regarding file sizes (I can't remember what else I didn't like about them).

    I'm using Gallery myself (see photo.railean.net), it has a pretty shallow learning curve, but once you get it installed and configured - it is easy to use.

    You should start with a list of requirements, and then it will be easier to find a tool.

    Mine were:
    - ratings
    - comments + CAPTCHA
    - descriptions
    - easy to add new contents

    I admit, it wasn't fun tinkering with it, but once I was done, I switched it to "set it and forget it" mode and to this day I just use the system.

    I can create albums, upload photos and enter descriptions via their tool called GalleryRemote, I can do it via the web-interface, they also support DAV.

    In other words, all that PHP/MySQL stuff people are afraid only plays a role in the first 0.5% of time of the system's use - once it is up and running, no one cares (as long as it works).

    I also experimented with PHPGraphy, what appealed to me was its apparent simplicity - no databases, just upload the files to a folder via FTP and let it do its thing. Sounds good, but it wouldn't work. In the end I found it easier to understand Gallery than to understand its "simpler" alternatives.

  9. I read flickr's terms and they promise will send you a warning letter.

    Of course I have a list of requirements, it is in the "pros" and "contras" listed above.

    People complain about php because many php apps have a bad history regarding security and I would prefer not database to have the gallery more portable.