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Installing Booksonic Air in the cloud for cheap

If you prefer video format tutorials this is also available as a youtube video here

Before we get too deep into this guide I just want to clarify what I mean with cloud in this instance as the term can be kind of vague.

The cloud we are talking about here is not Google Drive, Dropbox etc, it is simply a Linux machine that you don’t have to host at home, what I am talking about here is a VPS, aka a Virtual Private Server.

Getting a server

Ok, with that out of the way lets get started.
Since I started Booksonic I have been on the lookout for VPS providers that can give you the amount of storage needed for audiobooks without having to pay hundreds of dollars and let me tell you, they are few and far between.

The one I am currently using and can really recommend is called Contabo. They offer multiple tiers with different hardware but since all of them can handle Booksonic without any problems all we really care about is the storage. You can see the specs below or at this page

Once you have selected the one you want to use click order and you will be taken to a configuration page. Under Operation System check the box for Ubuntu 20.04, leave the rest unchecked and click Order now.

Here comes the hard part, the wait. As far as I can tell they setup your server manually the first time, in my case this has usually taken about 2 hours but it can probably vary. In the meantime go grab a coffee and watch a good movie.

Installing dependencies

Once the installation is done you will receive and email that contains something like this. This is your server info.

If you are on a Windows computer open up Powershell from the start menu, if you are on Linux or Mac you open up the terminal instead, the commands should be the same.

In Powershell enter the following command, this will give you access to your new Ubuntu server. Replace IPADDRESS with the address from your email.

ssh [email protected]

It will ask you if your trust the fingerprint, answer yes

You will be asked to enter your password, enter the one that is just called password in your email. Something that can be a bit weird for Windows users is that it won’t show you when you type your password but don’t worry just type it anyway and press enter.

The first thing we want to do is change the default password on your box, you do that by typing the command and follow the instructions

passwd

Now that the password is changed to something of your own we can get started with preparing the dependencies and folders. The first thing we need is to install something called docker. We do this by typing the following command

apt install docker.io

Next we need to create a few folders where we are going to put our files. We do this by typing

mkdir /booksonic
mkdir /booksonic/config
mkdir /audiobooks
mkdir /podcasts

That’s it, easy huh. Now lets do what you came here for, install Booksonic Air.

Installing Booksonic

docker create --name=booksonic-air -p 80:4040 -v /booksonic/config:/config -v /audiobooks:/audiobooks -v /podcasts:/podcasts --restart unless-stopped linuxserver/booksonic-air

That’s it, now you have installed Booksonic, but you still need to start it. You can start it by running the command

docker start booksonic-air

Configuring Booksonic

I won’t be doing a full configuration guide here but there are a few things you need to change in the server to get it working.

Open your browser and in the address field enter the IP address of your server. Sign in with the admin account. Both the username and password is admin.

The first thing you need to do is change your admin password, you can do so from settings -> users

Once you have changed your password you will be signed out and have to sign in again with your new password

Head back to settings, change the folder to /audiobooks
Then hit save

Securing your server

Yeah, I know this is a bit boring but it is really really important, right now your server is not using a firewall, that is a really really bad thing. So lets enable the firewall.

ufw allow 22
ufw allow 80
ufw enable

What did we just do? We just created two rules for ports that should be open and then we enabled the firewall. Port 22 is used by SSH, the tool you are using to control your server, if you had not allowed this you would have lost the connection as soon as the firewall was turned on. Port 80 is the standard port on the web, it is allowed so you can connect to the Booksonic server.

And now at last we are done!

But, how do I upload my audiobooks to the server?

Ah, good question. You do it over sftp, you can use any sftp client you want but if you don’t already have one I can recommend FileZilla.

The Host is the server address, Username is root, Password is the one you set before and Port is 22.

If you are using FileZilla, on the right side, set “Remote site:” to /audiobooks and press enter, then you can drag and drop your audiobook library in the window.

That’s it folks! Should you need any more help or think that something important is missing from the guide, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected], in the comments below or at the Booksonic Subreddit


Obs, if you click the contabo links in this guide and rent a server I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, this has not influenced my decision to recommend them in any way, they are what I use personally and what the Booksonic demo is hosted on.

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A walk-trough of setting up this blog

So I thought it would be nice to take you on a walk-trough on how this blog has been set up in case you might be might be interested in starting one yourself. In the post I will not go into details about the different configurations of the blog software but more into hosting, domain and how to actually get it online. In each step I will tell you a little about why I have chosen for example a specific service.

So lets get started.

1. Domain

For me, choosing a domain name for the blog was easy, actually I bought it long before this blog was even thought of. Popeen is my nickname both online and offline so it just feels natural to me that it should also be my home on the web. When I first wanted to register it back in 08 it was already taken but I kept my eye on it and when suddenly it became available I rushed to buy it. And here is the part you are probably here for, where did I buy it? I bought it from a company called Loopia and since then I have kept it there. A couple of other domains I had at Loopia I have actually moved over to GoDaddy, not because they are better in some way but because they where cheaper at the time the domain  needed renewal. So for buying a domain go for what is cheapest at the moment, just make that you pick a serious company and that they will allow you to change the nameservers yourself, if you are unsure go with Loopia. When its time for renewal, have a look and see if things have changed or keep using what you choose in the first place if you don’t care for a couple of bucks here and there and are happy with what you got. If you decide to switch just remember that there often is a transfer fee from your new registrar.

2. Hosting

When it comes to hosting there are a ton of alternatives out there and probably just as many opinions. But in my case I have one host that I use for everything and that I love, Inleed. The speed of the host is good and so is the price tag. At the moment prices start at 19SEK/month, that is less then $3. But speed and price in all honor, where Inleed really shines is the support. It’s not often that I have had to contact them about something but when it has happened the response has been blazing fast even at very uncomfortable office hours. An example of this was this new years eve when I contacted them by email in the evening, in three minutes I had a response and in five the problem was solved. They are always quick to help and you feel like they really care about you. I’m sure there are other hosts out there that are just as good but there are also a lot of them that are really bad so why take the chance, so I say go for Inleed. If you go for something other then Inleed make sure that they support PHP & mySQL and that you will have FTP access to the server.

3. DNS

DNS? What? Isn’t that included in my domain you may say, and yes, it usually is, although it actually costs extra for Loopia users if you want to use theirs (this is probably true for some other registrars as well). But the thing is, you don’t want to use their DNS. You want to use a service called CloudFlare. Why would I want to use that you are probably saying now, well there are a lot of reasons for it and it would take up at least a full blog post to mention them all so lets just summarize them with that CloudFlare makes your website faster, more secure and that the base plan is free. If you want to read more about it you should have a look at the CloudFlare overview page. When you have registered your domain at CloudFlare you will get two nameservers back, they look something like this:

betty.ns.cloudflare.com
sri.ns.cloudflare.com

Keep in mind that yours will probably not be the same as the ones above. Once you have yours you head over to where you registered your domain and head into the domain settings. Since this is a bit different for every registrar I can’t tell you exactly how it will look but what you want to do is find where to change the nameservers and then set them to the ones you got from CloudFlare, if you cant find the settings ask the support and they will help you.

4. Software

Now we are getting in to my favorite part, the software. First of all you will be needing an FTP Client so that you can upload your files to the server, I recommend the FileZilla Client, it’s really good and it’s free. Secondly you will be needing your blogging software, for this we will use WordPress. If your host comes with a One-Click Setup you could use that but to be sure that you get the latest version I would recommend you install it by yourself. Installing it is really easy and I will be putting together a blog post on how to do it soon and add a link here but for now if you need help you can have a look at the wordpress support site.

5. Themes and Plugins

If you have been reading this post to set up a blog on your own and following along then first of all shame on you, you should always be reading the complete instructions before starting, secondly congratulations on your new blog. While the blog is technically finished it might be a good idea to install a custom theme on it to make it look a little better. You can find a lot of both free and paid themes by using google or you can head to the theme section on the wordpress website

Thats it, now you know how this blog is set up and how to do it yourself should you ever want to set up your own blog.

Disclosure:
This article contains affiliate links, this means that if you click on it and buy something, for no extra cost to you I might receive a commision. This has not changed my opinions in any way and I have only linked to services I use myself and like.

Credits:
The top photo in this post was taken by Torkild Retvedt and is released under the CC-BY-SA Licence. It has been cropped a bit and the original is available on this flickr page.

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