New Plans for Self-Hosted Zulip Customers


Zulip, the open-source team collaboration platform, recently announced changes to their self-hosted plans that have sparked discussions among users. While some have found the changes fair, others have expressed disappointment and concerns about the shift towards a more proprietary model. Let’s delve into the key insights from the user comments to understand the different perspectives and implications.

The Challenge of Push Notifications

A central aspect of the discussion revolves around push notifications and the challenges of handling them without a centralized server. As one user (@lacker) points out, push notifications require a centralized server to function properly. This raises concerns among self-hosted users who may have relied on this feature when it was free.

The Pain of Self-Hosting

Self-hosting Zulip and managing push notifications can be challenging, as highlighted by users like @yellow_lead. Customizing and distributing the Android and iOS apps for self-hosting can be a complex process, with potential limitations and obstacles such as app store approvals.

Alternatives and Workarounds

Some users have explored alternatives and workarounds to handle push notifications without relying on Zulip’s centralized server. One user (@notpushkin) suggests using UnifiedPush, an open-source project that enables the use of a preferred push notification provider. However, it is important to note that UnifiedPush is not currently viable for iOS due to restrictions on running services in the background.

Another user (@catherd) mentions the use of the self-hosted Gotify platform as a workaround for push notifications in self-hosted Zulip instances. However, there are limitations on iOS due to the lack of viable background connections.

Challenges with App Stores

The discussion also touches upon the challenges of distributing self-hosted apps through official app stores. While private and unlisted apps are options, there are limitations based on country, multiple device management, and the overall complexity of managing release parity across different platforms.

Pricing and Support

Pricing is another topic of discussion, with users expressing their opinions on the fairness of the pricing structure. Some users believe that the cost of providing push notifications and support justifies the price, while others find it steep and argue that it undermines the value of self-hosting.

Balancing Open Source and Proprietary Models

One user (@jcreus) raises concerns about Zulip slowly moving towards a more proprietary model and losing value as an open-source and self-hosting solution. However, the Zulip team maintains that they are committed to open source and clarifies that running the services for self-hosting does not necessarily fall within the scope of an open-source project.

The Complexity of Communication

It is also worth noting the challenge of communicating pricing changes and plans, especially to non-technical users. Some users acknowledge that understanding the distinction between paying for push notifications and paying for support can be difficult for non-technical team members.

Strategies to Prevent Spamming

The Zulip team’s decision to restrict access to the push notification API is not solely a matter of cost but also relates to preventing misuse and spamming. As one user (@CJefferson) points out, any system that allows customizable notifications or messages becomes vulnerable to attacks. Therefore, the Zulip team needs to carefully manage and secure the push notification service.

Overall, the evolution of Zulip’s self-hosted plans reflects the complex challenges of providing push notifications in a self-hosted environment. The discussions highlight the trade-offs between cost, support, open source principles, and the need to prevent abuse. As Zulip continues to iterate on its offerings, it will be interesting to see how they address these concerns and find a balance that meets the diverse needs of their user base.


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