Zusam - A Lightweight and User-Friendly Way to Self Host Private Social Groups

Create a private social group platform using the self hosted Zusam.

Zusam - A Lightweight and User-Friendly Way to Self Host Private Social Groups

If you ever wanted to have your own private social group platform that you can self host, look no further, Zusam is here. A simple and lightweight social solution where you can share text, photos, videos and even embed website links and PDF files.

There are several ways I can think to use Zusam so let's get started and see what this is all about!

What is Zusam?

Zusam (/tsuˈzam/) is a free and open-source way to self-host private forums for groups of friends. Composed of a server written in PHP exposing a REST API and a lightweight webapp, Zusam is extensible and easy to install. The goal is to make a stable, extensible, lightweight and user-friendly way to self-host private social groups.


  • Links preview and embedded youtube, vimeo, imgur, soundcloud, twitch, bandcamp...
  • Video and image upload
  • Photo albums
  • Public link generation for messages
  • Completely responsive and mobile friendly
  • Low server footprint

Installing Zusam with Docker Compose

Using this Docker Compose, you can be up in no time.

version: '3.9'
        container_name: zusam
            - 5560:8080
            - /docker/zusam:/zusam/data
            - INIT_USER=admin
            - INIT_PASSWORD=P@ssw0rd2023
        restart: always
        image: zusam/zusam:0.5.3

The login for the first user is admin with the password P@ssw0rd2023 in this example. Please change the initial password after initialization since it's public if passed as an docker ENV variable. If you don't specify an INIT_USER/INIT_PASSWORD, they will default to zusam.

To get started using Zusam, you can either use the default "zusam" group or create a new group based on the content you want to add to it. For example, Personal Notes, Bookmarks or Journal.

The post types are shown on the bottom left side of the page. There are three icons you can choose from as far as media goes. You an choose image, video or PDF post. Otherwise just write a text entry and choose no icon. If you add more than 4 photos to the post, it will automatically create a gallery view.

Video posts that are larger than 10Mo are placed into a process queue that will run at a later time set in the config file. If the video files are less than that size, they are processed right away.

Zusam has a universal search at the top of the app. It can search titles and text from all of the posts made in the group. It will only search the group you are in so make sure you are in the correct group before searching.

One thing I find useful is the ability to share public links to posts. When you go to a post and press the three dots at the bottom right corner, you are presented with a list of options.

I requested a plugin feature for code snippets in the issue tracker and this was the response from the developer:

The plugin system has yet to be completely defined (cf #22) but my idea for a start was to allow different type of messages. The one already in place would be the "standard" type and developers should be able to add other types of messages. I thought of adding html, markdown, polls on my own. I could add a plugin to add code snippets also (I could use it myself as well).

So it's promising that it could be implemented in a future release but not clear if it will be for sure.

When asked if there will be a dark mode, this was the response:

I plan to add a way to define custom themes for the groups that will be visible for everyone in the group (and maybe later a way to define a theme that bypasses those defined at the group level so that the user could have a global dark mode)


You can test Zusam right now on https://demo.zusam.org
The login is "zusam" and the password is "zusam". The instance is reset every hour.

Final Notes and Thoughts

Zusam is still in early stages and I see the potential it has for growth. It works really well on my iPhone which is something I wanted to try right away. It's responsive and allows media upload from mobile devices.

Currently I am using Humhub for my personal private Facebook clone however, I can see this being a replacement for that. Humhub is much more polished with a much larger developer team so it's not fair to compare it to Zusam at this time.

Even if you don't want to use Zusam as a social platform, I can see it being used as a way to save websites much like Wallabag or even being used as a personal journal of sorts. Zusam has many use cases!

If you find Zusam useful, be sure to head over to the Github repo and tap the star!

GitHub - zusam/zusam: Private groups to share messages, photos, videos, links with friends and family.
Private groups to share messages, photos, videos, links with friends and family. - GitHub - zusam/zusam: Private groups to share messages, photos, videos, links with friends and family.