The limits (and dangers) of YunoHost

YunoHost is a great applications manager! It is not only free but also very fast: in a few clicks you have installed a complete application! It is becoming an increasing competitor to Softaculous and even WHM/cPanel.

If you are an application developer: you can reach new customers and new users by deploying your software through YunoHost.

However: it should probably not be used for a production purpose or for a critical usage.

This is a real story: once upon a time, Invoice Ninja version 4 could be deployed easily on YunoHost. Everything went well and fast, until one day it got flagged as broken within the YunoHost catalog.

Invoice Ninja version 4 used the PhantomJS library, but with the upgrade to Debian 11 this library got deprecated and unavailable as a system package. Because of this: it was now impossible to restore a backup of Invoice Ninja version 4 on a YunoHost version 11. Suddenly users of this software were blocked out of their own data without any support.

The applications listed within YunoHost are maintained by others. No one should ever forget that: software is written and maintained by real persons.

Yes, we don’t decide what upstream developers do with their apps …

So said one YunoHost developer!

If, for whatever reasons, you are using an application that is not maintained anymore, be sure that you will be left in your dirt. You have two layers to worry about: the core developers of the software, and the portability of the software to YunoHost. In this sense and over the long term: YunoHost is adding a new layer of risk!

In this case the story did not end that badly: Invoice Ninja was still being developed and a version 5 came out later (including on YunoHost). But this could have left users in serious trouble.

Another such case was with WordPress: one upgrade messed up the files’ permissions and the Media File Manager within WordPress broke, with images becoming unreadable or new uploads not working. For the users having WooCommerce in WordPress running on YunoHost: this must have been a painful period until the next update came out!

The PHP versions on YunoHost are installed when they are needed, only when they are installed for the first time. So if you run one single application on PHP 7.4 and you want to migrate it to another YunoHost server which does not have PHP 7.4 installed: it will be impossible for you to restore that application! You will first need to find another application using PHP 7.4, install it, then restore yours…

In conclusion:

-YunoHost is great for small, testing, and fast deployments

-Remember that YunoHost increases your risk and removes some control away from you

-If you want to use an application in production: make sure that there is a team behind a particular project

-YunoHost value, reliability, and interest can only grow over time! If you have not tried it out: install it on your favorite server as soon as possible!