Featuring - Ethan Sholly

And here is the second article about somebody who really deserves it. I am talking about Ethan Sholly, the creator of selfh.st. Oh, you don't know him? If you are into self-hosting and home networks, you really should.

Featuring - Ethan Sholly
Screenshot - selfh.st

And here is the second article about somebody who really deserves it. I am talking about Ethan Sholly, the creator of selfh.st. Oh, you don't know him? If you are into self-hosting and home networks, you really should.

Featuring FOSS people

"Featuring FOSS people" is a format to learn more about the people in FOSS. If you wonder how these folks manage to work for FOSS in their free time or as a professional, this format might be for you. But it also introduces those that are seeking for support, want to make an impact or just do the heavy lifting when it comes to testing and bug reports.

If you want to learn more about this format, check out "Featuring FOSS people".


Before getting to know Ethan, I want to talk about the project I am following for quite some time already. I am talking about his newsletter selfh.st. Every week, he collects and prepares a list of nice projects, sources he found and projects that are interesting and sending them into the world.

selfh.st - Self-hosted content and software
Self-hosted news, content, updates, launches, events, and more

The newsletter is only 1 1/2 years old, yet has some traction. Since it is (only) a hobby project, it is even more impressive how much content you can find there.

You may ask how I found his page. Well, actually he found me. I was featured one or twice in the newsletter and my tracking showed that I am getting traffic from his page. Curiosity kicked in, and I subscribed to his RSS feed.


But, what is behind the mastermind of selfh.st? Fortunately, Ethan reached out to me, and I was able to get a brief interview with him. Therefore, here we go.

The man

Ethan seemed like a very grounded and well-ordered person. His life speaks the same language. He wakes up 4 am (over an hour earlier than I do), follows his morning routine and has a pretty normal day with his 9-5 job, similar to most of us. Well, and selfh.st is just a hobby, similar to the blog you are reading right now.

Ethan Sholly - by Ethan Sholly

He also manages to take care of his family, meaning his wife and a 4-year-old daughter.

What inspired you to start selfh.st?

When I talked to Ethan about his inspiration, he was talking about his lack of experience and drive to learn new things, first. Ethan has no professional technical background, nor is he a programmer. But he also stated:

I am using self-hosted software, very often Open Source for 10-12 years now. When starting selfh.st, I was think about what I can give back.

On top, he reads lots of articles on his own and had a deep urge to write something on his own in a similar style. Yet, he was not willing (or felt able to) write full-blown tutorial articles. So, the newsletter format seemed appealing and he just gave it a shot.

The newsletter format allowed him to share what he learned and other noteworthy and interesting articles, tutorials, or projects.

Ethan contributes to this very blog!

As I stated above, I found Ethan's work, due to my own traffic tracking. But I am really not the kind of guy, who checks every single source of traffic. Yet, selfh.st was somewhat prominent.

Very often it ranks in the Top 10, occasionally even higher. When confronting Ethan with this, he was first a bit speechless, but seemed happy about the results and even more about the feedback.

Success and Struggle

I assume, all of us are happy about something, frustrated about something and uncertain about other things. "Well, Ethan, what is your personal success story?" was my question to him.

One thing he is really proud of is his app library. And yes, you can be proud of this, Ethan. It's one of the best collections of self-hostable solutions for private use and corporate life.

Screenshot - selfh.st/apps

But, he is also happy about each connection he makes and when people are sharing feedback or their own success stories with Ethan.

But, as always, the struggle is real. Just the other day, I was reminded on one saying I came across in various way:

Everyone who is good at something has a long trail of trials, errors, fuckups and failures in their wake.

And this also applies to Ethan. The major constraint is time. One article can consume up to 10 hours for him. He needs to do lots of reading and research, often things he never heard of before. His lack of technical experience seems to play a role in here, too. And sometimes, he has the same feeling that many of you know already:

Am I good enough to even write about this? Does the community even need this knowledge? Don't they know already?

Ethan, I can ensure you, all of us go through this. Even after years of writing, hundreds of talks, lectures, demos and community events, I am still having these same feelings.

Is there anything you want to let the community know?

I asked Ethan what he wants to share with the community. At the end of this interview, I wasn't even surprised of his answer. His whole attitude pointed towards this:

Self Hosted software is open source adjacent. I see people being tough on closed source and open source software. Put yourself in the shoes of developers and people of doing these things. Step back sometimes and think about what you want to share.

There is nothing more to say here.


In case you want to get in touch with Ethan, below you can find some valuable sources and public interfaces.

Let this guy know how much you appreciate his content and how you self-host.


As the final verdict, I want to add one more thing here. It was a pleasure to have the interview with you, Ethan. I would love to work again with you.

Keep the way you are: curious, grounded, modest and friendly. Thank you, mate!