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    Element: A Cross-Platform Decentralized Open-Source Messaging App

    pubsub.do.nohost.me / ItsFoss · Monday, 5 July, 2021 - 04:45 · 5 minutes

There are many open-source messaging applications available, especially if you are looking for WhatsApp replacements on both desktop and mobile.

Element is one of them, which is a decentralized alternative for private messaging that you can use to interact with individuals, communities, or businesses.

Element: Privacy-Friendly Open-Source Messenger Built on Matrix Network

element io

Matrix is an open standard for secure and decentralized communication. And Element is the messaging client that uses that.

Element is also a part of the Matrix.org Foundation — so you will find most of the same team responsible for this.

Originally, it was known as Riot , which we covered back then. But, after the rebranding , it is now known as “Element”, which comes with an improved user experience and constantly focusing on making decentralized communication common for instant messaging.

element ui

Element is not just another open-source messenger, it gives you the ability to do a lot of things.

Here, let me highlight some of the key features along with some details about it that follows as you read on.

Features of Element

element settings

Element is more of an all-in-one messenger than a replacement of something. You could choose it as an open-source alternative to Slack or a private alternative to any instant messenger like Telegram.

Some of the options that you get with it are:

  • End-to-End encryption chat room
  • Public communities (may not be encrypted)
  • Direct voice call
  • Conference call in the community
  • Meet Jitsi integration (one of the open-source alternatives to Zoom )
  • File sharing
  • Emoji and Sticker support
  • Moderation tools for managing communities
  • Extensive anti-spam options
  • Ability to bridge other services like Slack, Discord, IRC, and more
  • Offers paid managed hosting to have control over your data
  • Cross-signed device verification for message privacy/security
  • Fine grained notification settings
  • Email notifications
  • Ability to restore using encryption keys
  • Make yourself discoverable to the entire Matrix network using your email or number

The features offered by Element may sound to be overwhelming for a user who just wants private messaging.

But fortunately, all those features do not get in the way unless you explicitly access/configure them. So that’s a good thing.

First, let me address the installation instructions for Linux and I’ll give you some insights on how my experience with Element was (on both Linux desktop and Android).

Installing Element in Linux

Element officially supports Debian/Ubuntu for installation. You can just add the package repository and install element.

The commands used for this is:

sudo apt install -y wget apt-transport-https

sudo wget -O /usr/share/keyrings/riot-im-archive-keyring.gpg https://packages.riot.im/debian/riot-im-archive-keyring.gpg

echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/riot-im-archive-keyring.gpg] https://packages.riot.im/debian/ default main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/riot-im.list

sudo apt update

sudo apt install element-desktop

Do note that they are still using Riot.im domain to host packages even after rebranding — so not to be confused with the older Riot messaging app.

You can also find it in AUR for Arch-based distros — but I’m not quite sure about how well it works.

Unfortunately, there’s no Flatpak or Snap package available. So, if you are using a distribution that isn’t officially supported by Element, the best place to explore solutions/raise issues will be their GitHub page .

Now, before you get started using it, let me give you some heads up with my thoughts on it.

Element on Linux and Android: Here’s What You Need to Know

To start with — the user experience is fantastic on both Android and desktop. I tried it on Linux Mint, and it worked flawlessly.

You do not need a mobile number to sign up. Just create a username and add an email account to it, and you’re done.

element sign in

One can opt for a paid homeserver (your own matrix network) or just join the free Matrix homeserver offered.

Keep in mind, if you are signing up for free, you may not get to experience all the features — like the ability to see who’s online. You can only do that with your own server, the free Matrix server restricts certain functionalities like that to be able to accommodate an unlimited number of free users.

When signing in to a mobile device, you will have to verify the session by scanning a QR code prompted on Element’s desktop app.

Once done, you can explore and join public communities available or create your own.

Most of the existing public communities do not have end-to-end encryption enabled. So make sure you know what you are doing before messaging in any of the public communities.

While Element supports bridging IRC, Slack, and others or adding bots to a community — it is just not supported for an encrypted community. So, you need to have an unencrypted community to be able to use bots and bridges.

element bridge bots

A word of caution :

Element is getting popular, and scammers/spammers are attracted to the platform because it does not need any valuable personal information to get started.

So make sure that you do not trust anyone and keep your identity safe by not using your real profile picture or work email, especially if you are joining the public communities.

Element is constantly improving and offers plenty of features for several use-cases. I don’t see a problem with it being an open-source Discord replacement as well (in some way).

I was impressed with the level of notification controls that it gives and an added email notification option (which is enabled by default). You can choose to have notifications based on the keywords that you find interesting, what an exciting feature to have!

element notifications

Overall, Element may not be the perfect replacement for everything you use right now but it is shaping up to be an all-in-one alternative to many proprietary options.

I’ve had a good experience with Element so far and I’m confident about its future. What do you think? Willing to try Element on Linux?

Feel free to let me know your thoughts on this.

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    Fotoxx: An Open Source App for Managing and Editing Large Photo Collection

    pubsub.do.nohost.me / ItsFoss · Monday, 28 June, 2021 - 11:40 · 3 minutes

When it comes to photo management software in Linux , Shotwell is perhaps the most famous of them all. No wonder it comes preinstalled in many distributions.

But if you are looking for a Shotwell like application which is a bit faster, Fotoxx could be a good choice.

It may not have a modern user interface, but it is fast in handling a large collection of photos. And it matters because indexing and showing thumbnails for thousands of photos could take considerable time and computing resources.

Manage photos and edit them in Linux with Fotoxx

fotoxx interface Fotoxx interface

As you can see in the screenshot above, it is not the nicest interface. Looks more like an application from around 2010. What it lacks in the visual department, it makes up with features and performance.

You can import a huge collection of photos, including RAW images. The images stay where they are. They are not copied or moved. They just get indexed in the application.

You can edit image metadata like tags, geotags, dates, ratings, captions etc. You can search images based on these matadata.

It also has a map feature that groups and displays images belonging to a certain location (based on geotag data on the images).

fotoxx geotag map view Map view

Since it focuses on managing large collection of photos, it has several batch functions to rename, resize, copy/move, convert image format and edit metadata.

You can select images to create albums and slideshows and all this happens without duplicating the images. Photos can be combined to create 360-degree panoramas.

Fotoxx also has several editing functions that can be used to retouch the images, add effect (like sketching, painting), trim, rotate and more.

There is also options for removing red eyes and dust spots from the old, scanned photo prints.

I can go on with the features list but it won’t end. Its website describes its full capabilities and you should check it out.

If it interests you, you can watch this video that demonstrates the features of Fotoxx:

Installing Fotoxx on Linux

Please keep in mind that Fotoxx developer recommends a strong computer with 4+ CPU cores, 16+ GB memory for proper functioning. Lesser computers may be slow or may fail to edit large images.

Fotoxx is available in the repositories of most Linux distributions like Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and Arch Linux. Just use your distribution’s package manager or software center to search for Fotoxx and install it.

On Ubuntu and Debian based distributions, you can use the apt command to install it like this:

sudo apt install fotoxx

When you first run it, it will ask to search the home directory for images. You may continue with it or limit the search location to selected folders.

fotoxx indexing

I noticed that despite indexing over 4,700 in a minute or so, it didn’t start displaying the images immediately. I had to click on Gallery->All Folders and the select the folder(s) and then it showed the images . So, this is something to keep in mind.

Fotoxx is an extensive tool and it will take some time in getting used to it and explore all its features. Its webapge lists several examples that you should have a look at.

As I said earlier, it is not the prettiest application, but it gets the job done with a huge list of features. If you are a photographer or have a large collection of images, you may give Fotoxx a try and see if it fits your need. And when you do that, please do share your experience with it in the comment section.

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    KTorrent: An Incredibly Useful BitTorrent Application by KDE

    pubsub.do.nohost.me / ItsFoss · Monday, 21 June, 2021 - 09:54 · 2 minutes

There are a variety of BitTorrent applications available for Linux. But finding a good application that offers many features should save you some time.

KTorrent by KDE is one such BitTorrent app built for Linux.

While there are several torrent clients for Linux , I recently found KTorrent interesting for my use-case.

KTorrent: Open Source BitTorrent Client for Linux

ktorrent download

KTorrent is a full-fledged torrent client primarily tailored for KDE desktop. It should work simply fine no matter what desktop environment you use.

Of course, with KDE desktop, you may get a seamless user experience.

Let us look at the all the features offered.

Features of KTorrent

ktorrent configure

For regular torrent users, having an extensive set of features makes things easy. And KTorrent is no exception. Here, I’ll highlight the key highlights of KTorrent:

  • Adding torrent downloads in a queue
  • Ability to control the speed limits per download (or overall)
  • Video and audio file preview option
  • Supports importing of downloaded files (partial/full)
  • Ability to prioritize torrent downloads when downloading multiple files
  • Selection of specific files to download for multi-file torrents
  • IP filter with the option of kicking/banning peers
  • UDP tracker support
  • µTorrent peer support
  • Support for protocol encryption
  • Ability to create trackerless torrent
  • Scripting support
  • System tray integration
  • Connection through a proxy
  • Added plugin support
  • Supports IPv6

KTorrent sounds something useful as a torrent client that you can use daily with control to manage all your torrent downloads at one place.

ktorrent speed limit

In addition to the features mentioned above, it offers great control over the behavior of the client as well. For instance, tweaking the color that indicates downloads/pause/trackers.

You also get the ability to set the notification if you want to disable the sound of completing a torrent download or getting notified of the activity.

ktorrent plugins

While features like protocol encryption support may not be able to replace some of the best VPN services, it is an important addition for desktop clients.

Installing KTorrent in Linux

KTorrent should be available through your package managers like Synaptic or the default repositories. You can also find it listed in your software center for easy installation.

In addition to this, it also offers a Flatpak official package on Flathub for any Linux distribution. If you need help with that, we have a Flatpak guide for reference.

You can also try the snap package available if you prefer that.

To explore more about it and the source code, head to its official KDE app page .

Closing Thoughts

KTorrent is a phenomenal torrent client for Linux. I tried it on my Linux Mint system on top of Cinnamon desktop, and it worked great.

I like how simple, yet configurable it is. Even though I don’t use a torrent client every day, I did not see anything weird with KTorrent in my brief testing.

What do you think about KTorrent as a torrent client for Linux? What do you prefer to use it instead?

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    Kooha is a Nascent Screen Recorder for GNOME With Wayland Support

    pubsub.do.nohost.me / ItsFoss · Monday, 15 March, 2021 - 11:50 · 2 minutes

There is not a single decent screen recording software for Linux that supports Wayland display server.

GNOME’s built-in screen recorder is probably the rare (and lone) one that works if you are using Wayland. But that screen recorder has no visible interface and features you expect in a standard screen recording software.

Thankfully, there is a new application in development that provides a bit more feature than GNOME screen recorder and works okay-ish on Wayland.

Meet Kooha: a new screen recorder for GNOME desktop

kooha screen recorder

Kooha is an application in the nascent stage of development. It can be used in GNOME and it is built with GTK and PyGObject. In fact, it utilizes the same backend as the GNOME’s built-in screen recorder.

Here are the features Kooha has:

  • Record the entire screen or a selected area
  • Works on both Wayland and Xorg display servers
  • Records audio from microphone along with the video
  • Option to include or omit mouse pointer
  • Can add a delay of 5 or 10 seconds before start the recording
  • Supports recording in WebM and MKV formats
  • Allows to change the default saving location
  • Supports a few keyboard shortcuts

My experience with Kooha

kooha

I was contacted by its developer, Dave Patrick and since I desperately want a good screen recorder, I immediately went on to try it.

At present, Kooha is only available to install via Flatpak . I installed Flatpak and when I tried to use it, nothing was recorded. I had a quick email discussion with Dave and he told me that it was due to a bug with GNOME screen recorder in Ubuntu 20.10 .

You can imagine my desperation for a screen recorder with Wayland support that I upgraded my Ubuntu to the beta version of 21.04.

The screen recording worked in 21.04 but it could still not record the audio from the microphone.

There are a few more things that I noticed and didn’t work smoothly to my liking.

For example, while recording the counter remains visible on the screen and is included in the recording. I wouldn’t want that in a video tutorial. You wouldn’t like to see that either I guess.

kooha recording

Another thing is about multi-monitor support. There is no option to exclusively select a particular screen. I connect with two external monitors and by default it recorded all three of them. Setting a capture region could be used but dragging it to exact pixels of a screen is a time-consuming task.

There is no option to set the frame rate or encoding that comes with Kazam or other legacy screen recorders.

Installing Kooha on Linux (if you are using GNOME)

Please make sure to enable Flatpak support on your Linux distribution. It only works with GNOME for now so please check which desktop environment you are using.

Use this command to add Flathub to your Flatpak repositories list:

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

And then use this command to install it:

flatpak install flathub io.github.seadve.Kooha

You may run it from the menu or by using this command:

flatpak run io.github.seadve.Kooha

Conclusion

Kooha is not perfect but considering the huge void in the Wayland domain, I hope that the developers work on fixing the issues and adding more features. This is important considering Ubuntu 21.04 is switching to Wayland by default and some other popular distros like Fedora and openSUSE already use Wayland by default.

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    Use gImageReader to Extract Text From Images and PDFs on Linux

    pubsub.do.nohost.me / ItsFoss · Monday, 8 March, 2021 - 15:05 · 2 minutes

Brief: gImageReader is a GUI tool to utilize tesseract OCR engine for extracting texts from images and PDF files in Linux.

gImageReader is a front-end for Tesseract Open Source OCR Engine . Tesseract was originally developed at HP and then was open-sourced in 2006.

Basically, the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) engine lets you scan texts from a picture or a file (PDF). It can detect several languages by default and also supports scanning through Unicode characters.

However, the Tesseract by itself is a command-line tool without any GUI. So, here, gImageReader comes to the rescue to let any user utilize it to extract text from images and files.

Let me highlight a few things about it while mentioning my experience with it for the time I tested it out.

gImageReader: A Cross-Platform Front-End to Tesseract OCR

gimagereader

To simplify things, gImageReader comes in handy to extract text from a PDF file or an image that contains any kind of text.

Whether you need it for spellcheck or translation, it should be useful for a specific group of users.

To sum up the features in a list, here’s what you can do with it:

  • Add PDF documents and images from disk, scanning devices, clipboard and screenshots
  • Ability to rotate images
  • Common image controls to adjust brightness, contrast, and resolution
  • Scan images directly through the app
  • Ability to process multiple images or files in one go
  • Manual or automatic recognition area definition
  • Recognize to plain text or to hOCR documents
  • Editor to display the recognized text
  • Can spellcheck the text extracted
  • Convert/Export to PDF documents from hOCR document
  • Export extracted text as a .txt file
  • Cross-platform (Windows)

Installing gImageReader on Linux

Note : You need to explicitly install Tesseract language packs to detect from images/files from your software manager.

tesseract language pack

You can find gImageReader in the default repositories for some Linux distributions like Fedora and Debian.

For Ubuntu, you need to add a PPA and then install it. To do that, here’s what you need to type in the terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sandromani/gimagereader
sudo apt update
sudo apt install gimagereader

You can also find it for openSUSE from its build service and AUR will be the place for Arch Linux users.

All the links to the repositories and the packages can be found in their GitHub page .

Experience with gImageReader

gImageReader is a quite useful tool for extracting texts from images when you need them. It works great when you try from a PDF file.

For extracting images from a picture shot on a smartphone, the detection was close but a bit inaccurate. Maybe when you scan something, recognition of characters from the file could be better.

So, you’ll have to try it for yourself to see how well it works for your use-case. I tried it on Linux Mint 20.1 (based on Ubuntu 20.04).

I just had an issue to manage languages from the settings and I didn’t get a quick solution for that. If you encounter the issue, you might want to troubleshoot it and explore more about it how to fix it.

gimagereader 1

Other than that, it worked just fine.

Do give it a try and let me know how it worked for you! If you know of something similar (and better), do let me know about it in the comments below.

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    Viper Browser: A Lightweight Qt5-based Web Browser With A Focus on Privacy and Minimalism

    pubsub.dcentralisedmedia.com / ItsFoss · Monday, 8 February, 2021 - 11:20 · 2 minutes

Brief: Viper Browser is a Qt-based browser that offers a simple user experience keeping privacy in mind.

While the majority of the popular browsers run on top of Chromium, unique alternatives like Firefox , Beaker Browser , and some other chrome alternatives should not cease to exist.

Especially, considering Google’s recent potential thought of stripping Google Chrome-specific features from Chromium giving an excuse of abuse.

In the look-out for more Chrome alternatives, I came across an interesting project “ Viper Browser ” as per our reader’s suggestion on Mastodon .

Viper Browser: An Open-Source Qt5-based Browser

Note : Viper Browser is fairly a new project with a couple of contributors. It lacks certain features which I’ll be mentioning as you read on.

Viper Browser

Viper is an interesting web browser that focuses on being a powerful yet lightweight option while utilizing QtWebEngine .

QtWebEngine borrows the code from Chromium but it does not include the binaries and services that connect to the Google platform.

I spent some time using it and performing some daily browsing activities and I must say that I’m quite interested. Not just because it is something simple to use (how complicated a browser can be), but it also focuses on enhancing your privacy by giving you the option to add different Ad blocking options along with some useful options.

Viper Browser Setup

Even though I think it is not meant for everyone, it is still worth taking a look. Let me highlight the features briefly before you can proceed trying it out.

Features of Viper Browser

Viper Preferences

I’ll list some of the key features that you can find useful:

  • Ability to manage cookies
  • Multiple preset options to choose different Adblocker networks
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Privacy-friendly default search engine – Startpage (you can change this)
  • Ability to add user scripts
  • Ability to add new user agents
  • Option to disable JavaScript
  • Ability to prevent images from loading up

In addition to all these highlights, you can easily tweak the privacy settings to remove your history, clean cookies when existing, and some more options.

Viper Browser Tools

Installing Viper Browser on Linux

It just offers an AppImage file on its releases section that you can utilize to test on any Linux distribution.

In case you need help, you may refer to our guide on using AppImage file on Linux as well. If you’re curious, you can explore more about it on GitHub .

My Thoughts on Using Viper Browser

I don’t think it is something that could replace your current browser immediately but if you are interested to test out new projects that are trying to offer Chrome alternatives, this is surely one of them.

When I tried logging in my Google account, it prevented me by mentioning that it is potentially an insecure browser or unsupported browser. So, if you rely on your Google account, it is a disappointing news.

However, other social media platforms work just fine along with YouTube (without signing in). Netflix is not something supported but overall the browsing experience is quite fast and usable.

You can install user scripts, but Chrome extensions aren’t supported yet. Of course, it is either intentional or something to be looked after as the development progresses considering it as a privacy-friendly web browser.

Wrapping Up

Considering that this is a less-known yet something interesting for some, do you have any suggestions for us to take a look at? An open-source project that deserves coverage?

Let me know in the comments down below.

  • It chevron_right

    Filmulator is a Simple, Open Source, Raw Image Editor for Linux Desktop

    pubsub.dcentralisedmedia.com / ItsFoss · Monday, 1 February, 2021 - 03:41 · 2 minutes

Brief: Filmulator is an open source raw photo editing application with library management focusing on simplicity, ease of use and streamlined workflow.

Filmulator: Raw Image Editor for Linux (and Windows)

There are a bunch of raw photo editors for Linux . Filmulator is one of them. Filmulator aims to make raw image editing simple by giving only the essential elements. It also adds the feature of library handling which is a plus if you are looking for a decent application for your camera images.

For those unaware, raw image file is a minimally processed, uncompressed file. In other words, it is untouched digital file with no compression and minimal processing applied to it. Professional photographers prefer to capture photos in raw file and process it themselves. Normal people take photos from their smartphones and it is usually compressed in JPEG format or filtered.

Let’s see what features you get in the Filmulator editor.

Features of Filmulator

Filmulator raw image editor Filmulator interface

Filmulator claims that it is not the typical “film effect filter” that merely copies the outward characteristics of film. Instead, Filmulator gets to the root of what makes film so appealing: the development process.

It simulates film development process: from “exposure” of film, to the growth of “silver crystals” within each pixel, to the diffusion of “developer” both between neighboring pixels and with the bulk developer in the tank.

Fimulator developer says that the simulation brings about the following benefits:

  • Large bright regions become darker, compressing the output dynamic range.
  • Small bright regions make their surroundings darker, enhancing local contrast.
  • In bright regions, saturation is enhanced, helping retain color in blue skies, brighter skin tones, and sunsets.
  • In extremely saturated regions, the brightness is attenuated, helping retain detail e.g. in flowers.

Here’s a comparison of a raw image processed by Filmulator to enhance colors in a natural manner without inducing color clipping.

Image Without FilmulatorImage With Filmulator

Installing Filmulator on Ubuntu/Linux

There is an AppImage available for Filmulator so that you can use it easily on Linux. Using AppImage files is really simple. You download it, make it executable and make it run by double-clicking on it.

There is also a Windows version available for Windows users. Apart from that, you can always head over to its GitHub repository and peek into its source code.

There is a little documentation to help you get started with Fimulator.

Conclusion

Fimulator’s design ideology is to have the best tool for any job, and only that one tool. This means compromising flexibility, but gaining a greatly simplified and streamlined user interface.

I am not even an amateur photographer, let alone be a professional one. I do not own a DSLR or other high-end photography equipments. For this reason, I cannot test and share my experience on the usefulness of Filmulator.

If you have more experience dealing with raw images, I let you try Filmulator and share your opinion on it. There is an AppImage available so you can quickly test it and see if it fits your needs or not.

  • It chevron_right

    Movim: An Open-Source Decentralized Social Platform Based on XMPP Network

    pubsub.dcentralisedmedia.com / ItsFoss · Monday, 25 January, 2021 - 11:31 · 2 minutes

Brief: Movim is an open-source decentralized social media platform that relies on XMPP network and can communicate with other applications using XMPP.

We’ve already highlighted some open-source alternatives to mainstream social media platforms . In addition to those options available, I have come across another open-source social media platform that focuses on privacy and decentralization.

Movim: Open-Source Web-based Social Platform

Movim Dark Mode

Just like some other XMPP desktop clients, Movim is a web-based XMPP front-end to let you utilize it as a federated social media.

Since it relies on XMPP network , you can interact with other users utilizing XMPP clients such as Conversations (for Android) and Dino (for Desktop).

In case you didn’t know, XMPP is an open-standard for messaging.

So, Movim can act as your decentralized messaging app or a full-fledged social media platform giving you an all-in-one experience without relying on a centralized network.

It offers many features that can appeal to a wide variety of users. Let me briefly highlight most of the important ones.

Movim Discover

Features of Movim

  • Chatroom
  • Ability to organize video conferences
  • Publish articles/stories publicly to all federated network
  • Tweak the privacy setting of your post
  • Easily talk with other Movim users or XMPP users with different clients
  • Automatically embed your links and images to your post
  • Explore topics easily using hashtags
  • Ability to follow a topic or publication
  • Auto-save to draft when you type in a post
  • Supports Markdown syntax to let you publish informative posts and start a publication on the network for free
  • React to chat messages
  • Supports GIFs and funny Stickers
  • Edit or delete your messages
  • Supports screen sharing
  • Supports night mode
  • Self-hosting option available
  • Offers a free public instance as well
  • Cross-platform web support

Using Movim XMPP Client

Movim Eu

In addition to all the features listed above, it is also worth noting that you can also find a Movim mobile app on F-Droid .

If you have an iOS device, you might have a hard time looking for a good XMPP client (I’m not aware of any decent options). If you rule that out, you should not have any issues using it on your Android device.

For desktop, you can simply use Movim’s public instance , sign up for an account, and use it on your favorite browser no matter which platform you’re on.

You can also deploy your instance by using the Docker Compose script, the Debian package, or any other methods mentioned in their GitHub page .

Concluding Thoughts

While the idea of decentralized social media platforms is good, not everyone would prefer to use it because they probably do not have friends on it and the user experience is not the best out there.

That being said, XMPP clients like Movim are trying to make a federated social platform that a general consumer can easily use without any hiccups.

Just like it took a while for users to look for WhatsApp alternatives , the craze for decentralized social media platform like Movim and Mastodon is a possibility in the near future as well.

If you like it, do consider making a donation to their project.

What do you think about Movim? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.