Hubzilla (formerly known as Redmatrix) is a modular webserver based operating system which includes technologies for publishing, social media, file sharing, photo sharing, chat and more (including the ability to develop custom modules). These services are accessed and connected across server and administrative boundaries through the communication protocol Zot which provides a high level of privacy and security customization and a nomadic identity for the users. A web server running Hubzilla is called a "hub". The decentralized network consisting of the total of the hubs - "the grid" - federates with other platforms of the Distributed social network and the Fediverse (Diaspora, Socialhome, Friendica, GNU Social, Mastodon, postActiv, Pleroma, PixelFed, Funkwhale, Plume, GangGo, Aardwolf, Pump.io, PeerTube and others).
|Original author(s)||Mike Macgirvin|
|Initial release||24 December 2015|
4.6 / 4 December 2019
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Hubzilla (formerly Friendica Red, Redmatrix, Hubmaker) came into existence on May 12th, 2012, as a result of testing new approaches for managing user identities and for access controlling. These testings were made by a developer of Friendica called Mike Macgirvin.
Much of the design concepts for the new platform were based on ideas developed over time about user identity management and privacy permissions. For this purpose, a unique federation protocol named Zot was created. As time went on, the development's focus shifted away from “social networking” towards providing a range of privacy respecting services (as content management, cloud services, and groupware) that were decentralised, yet highly integrated.
On July 12th, 2011, the protocol Zot has been named for the first time.
On May 3rd, 2015, the platform software was renamed Hubzilla.
On December 4th, 2015, Hubzilla 1.0 was officially launched.
In 2016, the platform software was re-architected to support multiple server roles.
In 2017, the Zot protocol has undergone a major upgrade (named Zot 6) which includes the separation of the services and APIs. The integration of ActivityPub has been implemented into the platform software.
In 2018, the platform software is being prepared for the migration to Zot 6. System settings have been transformed into apps.
Hubzilla can be defined as a decentralized communication and publishing platform. Any server running Hubzilla is defined as a hub, which can function independently of any other hub in the network. The software allows to forward or even sync data between different hubs.
A user of Hubzilla can create a web identity which is called "channel" in Hubzilla. The Zot protocol allows it to be unbound from a single hub. In fact, it can exist as clones on more than one hub and update its current primary location and its content to the decentralised network. This allows the user to move his channel (including his contacts and his published content) from one hub to an other or to have a backup of it when the current hub goes offline or when another hub provides better services.
Channels connect with each other
Channels are a core concept for the platform — in short, each channel has an activity stream of objects that can represent a specific action, such as a posting, a status or uploading a photo. This stream can show both public and private activities, and a permissions system based on an Access control list determines which users can access a given entry. Each channel also contains a unique Webfinger address, for example https://example.com/channel/bob would be represented as email@example.com. With the notion of channels, it is possible to segment the information between categories and use different profiles to only make information about a user available to the people the user wants to.
A user is assigned to his first channel upon registration, but he can add as many channels as long as their number is lower than the limit set by the administrator of the hub. Each channel can connect to other channels. Connections can be managed and hidden from both sides. A connection allows the user to interact with posts from other channels as well as to post on the wall of other channels. Private messages and statuses can also be passed back-and-forth from one connected channel to another.
Other publication methods are offered which don't show up in the activity stream. These publications can be accessed by connections who get the permission to do so, but they're saved only on the channel where they have been published.
Hubzilla disposes of a in-browser encryption called MagicAuth which grants access permissions on remote hubs. It solves the problem of federated social networks which usually are not able to visit each other's profiles and directly interact with it if both people are connected through different servers.
Sharing data using the permissions framework
As a personal publishing system, Hubzilla can be used to share arbitrary data in its own cloud. "Different permissions can be given to the arbitrary data and it supports the WebDAV protocol to upload data to the cloud. This permission system does not only apply to content but also to channels itself. There are a lot of permission when one opens the advanced privacy settings of his channel."
Hubzilla supports the ability to display photos or images uploaded by a channel at once in an overview and to group photos together inside an album. Since version 3.6, Hubzilla features a photo gallery. It supports the CalDAV and CardDAV protocols.
A channel can contain web pages based on a templating system. These are shared using the same permissions framework as described above.
With the function called Directories it is possible to search for channels that are located across all hubs and that have chosen to publish his channel to the global directory. 
Hubzilla is able to function as an OpenID provider, allowing users to log into OpenID-enabled sites with their Hubzilla channels.
Encryption of data
A hub administrator has no access to the login data of users, but he can block or delete users and channels. The encryption of posts is possible in Hubzilla. Thus, encrypted posts are protected from being viewed by the hub administrator.
Hubzilla has, the same as Friendica, implemented an extra poller which polls the feeds once a day in case something went haywire during delivery (e.g. when a site was overloaded or when messages were dropped after a few attempts). This extra polling mechanism can fetch some of the messages that would be missed otherwise, but not all of them. The missed messages can still be viewed when one is authenticated on the hub of the author and visits the channel of this author.
Example of use
A peer reviewed article of the Computer-Based Medical Systems, Annual IEEE Symposium describes the usage of Redmatrix as an integration tool between health institutions serving an area of 600'000 inhabitants. The municipal government-funded Hospital Municipal Dr. Moyses Deutsch in São Paulo implemented and evaluated from July 2014 to July 2015 a Redmatrix-based platform to improve secure communication among health services. The function of Redmatrix in this project was to host and to secure private communications among the health providers about their common patients.
A blogger about software states that the abundance of functions makes Hubzilla an interesting network, on the other hand this abundance might put off new users.
Hubzilla is mentioned on a list of software for preventing global data surveillance.
A scientific report published in 2015 says Hubzilla/Redmatrix "is currently most suited to be provided as an alternative to the current centralised social networks and [...] can be provided as a service by hosting providers. It has an efficient message distribution model, enhanced privacy features, and provides an unique feature named nomadic identities. [...] It is currently more mature than some of the other implementations and puts the user back in control of their data."
Hubzilla is the only open-source social network solution whose implementation of privacy is considered "Extensive" in a 2015 peer-reviewed survey paper.
Hubzilla appears as a case and recommendation in the chapter "Tendências democráticas e autoritárias, arquiteturas distribuídas e centralizadas" (freely translated as "Democratic and authoritarian tendencies, distributed and centralized architectures") in the book "Democracia Digital, Comunicação e Política em Redes" (freely translated as "Digital Democracy, Communication and Politics in Networks"), organised by the Digital Culture Laboratory of the Federal University of Paraná, Brazil.
A peer-reviewed academic article (in Portuguese) from the conference of the Latin American Network for Studies of Surveillance, Technology and Society highlights the importance of features unique to Redmatrix/Hubzilla in the struggle to recover privacy and decentralization of the Internet.
- Comparison of software and protocols for distributed social networking
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- Miltenburg, Wouter. "Functional breakdown of decentralised social networks" (PDF).
- Manning, Andrew (2017-07-15). "Nomadic identity, brought to you by Hubzilla". Retrieved 2020-01-05.
- Manning, Andrew. "Posts? Articles? Webpages? Wikis? Hubzilla Publishing Explained". Retrieved 2020-01-05.
- Abdo, Alexandre Hannud; Delgado, Ana; Mafra, Ana; Nascimento, Tatiane Ocon; Bracco, Mario (2015). Technology Enhanced Integration of Hospital and Primary Care in the M'boi Mirim Neighborhood of São Paulo City. pp. 366–367. doi:10.1109/CBMS.2015.42. ISBN 978-1-4673-6775-2. Search this book on
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- Hasecke, Ulrich (2018-04-11). "Hubzilla vs Mastodon" (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2020-01-05.
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- Islam, Mohammad Badiul; Iannella, Renato; Watson, Jason; Geva, Shlomo (2015). "International Journal of Information Privacy, Security and Integrity (IJIPSI), Vol. 2, No. 2, 2015" (PDF). International Journal of Information Privacy, Security and Integrity. 2 (2): 102. doi:10.1504/IJIPSI.2015.075438.
- da Silva, Sivaldo Pereira; Bragatto, Rachel Callai; Sambaio (orgs.), Rafael Cardoso. "Democracia Digital, Comunicação e Política em Redes " Teoria e prática" (in português).
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- Hubzilla project site
- Hubzilla Git repository
- Articles about Hubzilla or mentioning Hubzilla
- in the German magazine "FIfF-Kommunikation":
- 2018-07-26 (Gustav Wall): Informationelle Selbstbestimmung und Datenautonomie mit Hubzilla
- on boinboing.net:
- 2018-07-18 Facebook Domination vs. Self-Determination
- on medium.com:
- 2018-04-22 (Andrew Manning): Understanding the Hubzilla permissions system
- 2018-04-14 (Waitman Gobble): It’s like totally time to build your web site on Hubzilla
- 2018-04-02 (Ian) The Post-Facebook Social Network
- 2018-02-28 (Sean Tilley): The Do-Everything System: An in-depth review of Hubzilla 3.0.
- 2017-10-10 (Sean Tilley): Got Zot — Mike Macgirvin on building your own apps and protocols
- 2017-07-15 (Andrew Manning): Nomadic identity, brought to you by Hubzilla
- 2017-08-01, updated 2018-04-15: Got Zot? An introduction to the protocol that powers Hubzilla
- on zdnet.com:
- 2017-04-17 (Eileen Brown): Is Mastodon the new social media star, or imploding black hole?
- on talkplus.org:
- 2016: The history of Hubzilla
- on blog.novatrend.ch:
- 2019-03-04: Hagen Graf: Soziales Content management mit Hubzilla
- on linuxaddictos.com:
- 2019-12-11: David Naranjo: Liberada la nueva versión de la plataforma de comunicaciones descentralizadas Hubzilla 4.6
- in the German magazine "FIfF-Kommunikation":
- Podcast in German about Hubzilla on besser.demkontinuum.de (2018-06-22): Hubzilla #S01E03
- Interview in German on greennetproject.org (Markus Kollotzek, 2017-11-21): Hubzilla – Interview zum dezentralen sozialen Netzwerk
- Presentation video in Russian (Gustav Wall, 2017-06-24): Hubzilla – введение, возможности, Hubzilla-сообщество (Gustav Wall, LVEE-2017)
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