Diaspora (software)

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Diaspora social network project official logo, helvetica font.png
Diaspora latest.png
Developer(s) The Diaspora Foundation
Stable release[1] / October 30, 2014; 5 months ago (2014-10-30)
Development status Active
Written in Ruby[2]
Platform Ruby on Rails
Type Social network service
License AGPLv3,[3][4] some parts dual-licensed under MIT License[5] as well
Website DiasporaFoundation.org

Diaspora (currently styled diaspora* and formerly styled DIASPORA*) is a free personal web server[3] that implements a distributed social networking service. Installations of the software form nodes (termed "pods") which make up the distributed Diaspora social network.

The project was founded by Dan Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer and Ilya Zhitomirskiy, students at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. The group received crowdfunding in excess of $200,000 via Kickstarter. A consumer alpha version was released on November 23, 2010.


Diaspora is intended to address privacy concerns related to centralized social networks by allowing users set up their own server (or "pod") to host content; pods can then interact to share status updates, photographs, and other social data.[6] It allows its users to host their data with a traditional web host, a cloud-based host, an ISP, or a friend. The framework, which is being built on Ruby on Rails, is free software and can be experimented with by external developers.

A key part of the Diaspora software design concept is that it should act as a "social aggregator", allowing posts to be easily imported from Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. As Village Voice writer Nick Pinto explained, "the idea is that this lowers the barriers to joining the network, and as more of your friends join, you no longer need to bounce communications through Facebook. Instead, you can communicate directly, securely, and without running exchanges past the prying eyes of Zuckerberg and his business associates."[7]


Ilya Zhitomirskiy and Daniel Grippi (2011)

After the project raised over $200,000 in crowdfunding via the Kickstarter website by June 1, 2010, the group began working on the software.[3][8] A developer preview with a number of security holes was released on September 15, 2010.[9] On November 23, a redesigned website was published in preparation for the alpha release, with the old site still available as a blog section. The early security holes were fixed with the alpha release.[10]

After its foundation is completed, Diaspora's developers intend to concentrate on creating a "battery of add-on modules" in order to "facilitate any type of communication," and plan to offer a paid hosting service for Diaspora seeds.[3][11]

Development was shifted to free office space provided by Pivotal Labs in San Francisco, California. The software’s alpha version was released in September 2010. The early alpha version contained many bugs and security flaws, but feedback on the free software led to quick improvements.[12]

The software's beta release was originally scheduled for November 2011, but was postponed due to the need to add new design features and also Zhitomirskiy’s death.[12]

In February 2012, the developers indicated that they had completed work on the software back-end to improve both pod up-time and website response time. The next phase of work involved changes to the user interface and its associated terminology to reflect the way users are actually interacting, as the software moves towards beta status, anticipated for later on in 2012.[13]

By May 2012, development was underway to allow a high degree of customization of user posts, permitting users to post different media, such as text, photos and video with a high degree of personalization and individual expression. The developers felt that allowing individual creativity in posts will differentiate the Diaspora platform from competitors.[12]

In June 2012, the development team was scheduled to move to Mountain View, California as part of work with startup accelerator Y Combinator.[12] In August 2012 the developers focus changed to working on creating makr.io, as part of their yCombinator class.[14]

In August 2012, the founders of Diaspora announced that they would let the community take over governance of the project, while they would stay involved, but take a lesser role. The project was adopted by, and became part of, the Free Software Support Network (FSSN), which is in turn run by Eben Moglen and the Software Freedom Law Center. The FSSN acts as an umbrella organization to Diaspora development and manages Diaspora's branding, finances and legal assets.[15][16][17]

In October 2012, the project made its first community release at, dropping all references to the Alpha/Beta branding it had previously used.[18] At the same time development was moved to a development branch, leaving the master branch for stable releases.[19] Additionally, efforts are underway to package Diaspora for Linux distributions and other systems.[20]

Release history[edit]

Diaspora uses a semantic versioning scheme that is prefixed with another number which will be increased when necessary to indicate a major milestone for the project.[21]

These are the software versions released since community development started in August 2012.[22][23]

Version Release date Significant changes October 2012 First stable version to be released[24] October 2012 New configuration system[25] October 2012 Bug fix only[26] October 2012 Bug fix only[27] November 2012 reduced start-up times and interface updates[28] January 2013 Upgrade to Rails 3.2.10[29] January 2013 Upgrade to Rails 3.2.11[30] February 2013 Upgrade to Devise 2.1.3[31] February 2013 Bug fix only[32] February 2013 Bug fixes and upgrade to Rails 3.2.12[33] February 2013 Many user interface changes and upgrades[34] March 2013 Bug fixes only[35] March 2013 Bug fix only[36] March 2013 Bug fix only[37] March 2013 Upgrade to Rails 3.2.13[38] May 2013 Replaced Resque with Sidekiq, removal of Capistrano deployment scripts, many new features, including "deleting a post that was shared to Facebook now deletes it from Facebook too"[39] May 2013 Regression fix and federate locations[40] July 2013 Deleting a post that was shared to Twitter now deletes it from Twitter as well and improvements on how participants are displayed on each conversation without opening them, plus new features and bug fixes[41] 27 August 2013 Many new admin features added, some new user features including Wordpress service ability for posts[42] 5 December 2013 Security release due to Ruby on Rails vulnerabilities[43][44] 19 January 2014 Feature added, bug fixes[45] 20 January 2014 Hotfix regression fix release[46] 18 February 2014 Hotfix release with usability bug fixes[47] 19 February 2014 Bump Rails to 3.2.17 to fix an upstream vulnerability[48] 22 June 2014 New features like polls and post reporting, refactoring and bug fixes[49] 24 June 2014 Fix performance regression for pods on MySQL/MariaDB, fix problem in post reporting feature[50] 14 September 2014 Emphasis on porting most of the remaining pages to Bootstrap. Lots of bug fixes and minor improvements. Terms of Service feature.[51] 3 October 2014 Fix XSS issue in poll questions.[52] 30 October 2014 Update Rails, fixes CVE-2014-7818.[53]


Konrad Lawson, blogging for the Chronicle of Higher Education, suggested Diaspora in July 2011 as an alternative to corporately produced software.[54]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Diaspora Project (30 October 2014). "Diaspora releases". GitHub. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Vernon, Amy (2010-05-12). "Striking back at Facebook, the open-source way". Network World (International Data Group). Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d Salzberg, Maxwell; Daniel Grippi; Raphael Sofaer; Ilya Zhitomirskiy. "Decentralize the web with Diaspora – Kickstarter". Kickstarter. Retrieved May 13, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Diaspora, Inc. Contributor Agreement". Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Diaspora Contributor Agreement". 
  6. ^ "Diaspora: A first peek at Facebook's challenger". Computerworld. Retrieved September 17, 2010. 
  7. ^ Pinto, Nick (15 February 2012). "Rise of the Facebook-Killers page 3". The Village Voice. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  8. ^ Dwyer, Jim (2010-05-11). "Four Nerds and a Cry to Arms Against Facebook". New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  9. ^ Goodin, Dan. "Code for open-source Facebook littered with landmines". The Register. Retrieved September 17, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Private Alpha Invites Going Out Today". joindiaspora. December 10, 2010. Retrieved December 17, 2010. 
  11. ^ "join diaspora – the project". Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  12. ^ a b c d Weise, Karen (15 May 2012). "On Diaspora's Social Network, You Own Your Data". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  13. ^ Grippi, Dan et al. (3 February 2012). "DIASPORA* grows up". Diaspora Foundation Blog. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Diaspora's Next Act: Social Remixing Site Makr.io – Liz Gannes – Social". AllThingsD. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  15. ^ "Les créateurs de Diaspora confient les rênes à la communauté". Numerama. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  16. ^ Grippi, Daniel and Maxwell Salzberg (27 August 2012). "Announcement: Diaspora* Will Now Be A Community Project". Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  17. ^ "Diaspora*". Joindiaspora.com. 2012-08-27. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  18. ^ "Diaspora Released!". The Diaspora Project. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  19. ^ Define a clear branching model -proposal
  20. ^ "Open Call for Packagers". Diaspora Developer Blog. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  21. ^ Adopt semantic versioning with no time constraints -proposal.
  22. ^ Diaspora Foundation (27 August 2013). "Diaspora Releases". Github. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  23. ^ Diaspora Foundation (4 September 2013). "Diaspora Changelog". Github. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  24. ^ Diaspora Project (5 October 2012). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  25. ^ Diaspora Project (7 October 2012). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  26. ^ Diaspora Project (9 October 2012). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  27. ^ Diaspora Project (24 October 2012). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  28. ^ Diaspora Project (20 November 2012). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  29. ^ Diaspora Project (2 January 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  30. ^ Diaspora Project (8 January 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  31. ^ Diaspora Project (28 January 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  32. ^ Diaspora Project (1 February 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  33. ^ Diaspora Project (11 February 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  34. ^ Diaspora Project (17 February 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  35. ^ Diaspora Project (24 February 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  36. ^ Diaspora Project (26 February 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  37. ^ Diaspora Project (11 March 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  38. ^ Diaspora Project (18 March 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  39. ^ Diaspora Project (19 May 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  40. ^ Diaspora Project (21 May 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  41. ^ Diaspora Project (28 July 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  42. ^ Diaspora Project (27 August 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  43. ^ http://weblog.rubyonrails.org/2013/12/3/Rails_3_2_16_and_4_0_2_have_been_released/
  44. ^ Diaspora Project (5 December 2013). "diaspora*". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  45. ^ Diaspora Project (19 January 2014). "diaspora*". Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  46. ^ Diaspora Project (20 January 2014). "diaspora*". Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  47. ^ Diaspora Project (18 February 2014). "diaspora*". Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  48. ^ Diaspora Project (19 February 2014). "diaspora*". Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  49. ^ Diaspora Project (22 June 2014). "diaspora*". Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  50. ^ Diaspora Project (24 June 2014). "diaspora*". Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  51. ^ Diaspora Project (14 September 2014). "diaspora*". Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  52. ^ Diaspora Project (3 October 2014). "diaspora*". Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  53. ^ Diaspora Project (30 October 2014). "diaspora*". Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  54. ^ Lawson, Konrad. "Remembering Diaspora: The Open Source Social Network". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 15 July 2011. Even if they never dominate the field, their decentralized approach and rallying cry to “take back your network” may help maintain a sustained pressure on the Googles and Facebooks of the world. 

External links[edit]