June 18, 2024

Best Self-hosted Photo Management Software to Replace Google Photos

A photograph of a person typing on a laptop beside a SLR camera.

Google Photos is a cloud-based platform that can tag and share your pictures with other users. However, relying on Google to preserve your precious memories can be a problem on both cost and privacy grounds. Here, we show you eight of the best self-hosted photo management software in Linux that you can use to preserve your pictures today.

Best Self-Hosted Photo Libraries at a glance

Ease of Installation User Security Mobile App Availability Machine Learning (ML) Memory Requirements
Immich Comes with a Docker image. Supports OAuth via Open ID Connect. Android and iOS apps ML-backed automatic face detection. Requires at least 4 GB of RAM for ML features.
Nextcloud Memories Installable from the Nextcloud App Store. Supports OAuth via Nextcloud. Android and iOS apps No ML support. Requires at least 4-6 GB of RAM depending on the Nextcloud load.
PiGallery2 Comes with a Docker image and a manual install method. Basic In-App User Accounts. No native mobile app support. No ML support. Requires at least 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM.
Piwigo Requires PHP and MySQL before deploying. Basic In-App User Accounts. Android and iOS apps. No ML support. Requires at least 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM.
Photoprism Comes with a Docker image. Basic In-App User Accounts and 2FA Support. Progressive Web App. ML-backed automatic face detection. Requires at least 4 GB of RAM for ML features.
Damselfly Comes with a Docker image. Basic In-App User Accounts. No native mobile app support. ML-backed face and object detection and image analysis. Requires at least 4 GB of RAM for ML features.
Photonix Comes with a Docker image. Can only create user accounts in the CLI. Android and iOS apps. ML-backed automatic face detection and color analysis. Requires at least 4 GB of RAM for ML features.
Lychee Comes with a Docker image and a manual install method. Basic In-App User Accounts. No native mobile app support. No ML support. Requires at least 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM.

Note: Most of these apps support installation using the Docker method. You can get started by first install Docker on your Linux machcine.

1. Best for All Around Use: Immich

Immich is a sleek and beautiful online photo management software for Linux. Similar to Google Photos, it can upload and sort pictures based on its EXIF tags. This makes it a great pick if you’re looking for an easy-to-use, general-purpose photo gallery.

A screenshot of the Immich photo management software's homepage.

One of the best selling points of Immich is that it accepts images and videos by default. It also boasts decent RAW image support, a built-in image archive, and the ability to share albums between different users.

Installation Method

Features

  • Scrollable and highly responsive photo timeline
  • Support for video uploads
  • Can import data from third-party platforms
  • Comes with a dedicated mobile app for Android and iOS.

2. Best for Cloud Integration: Nextcloud Memories

Nextcloud Memories is a third-party application for Nextcloud that can manage, modify, and display photos directly from your Nextcloud drive. Unlike Immich, the developers of Memories built it to integrate well with existing cloud services such as Google Photos.

A screenshot of the Nextcloud Memories homepage.

Memories also takes advantage of the existing Nextcloud ecosystem. You can quickly install the app from the Nextcloud App Store as well as use the platform’s default mobile app. This makes it a good option if you want an all-in-one solution that handles your general cloud storage and photo backup.

Installation Method

Features

  • Great integration with Nextcloud Files
  • Comes with basic photo editing tools
  • Supports the official Nextcloud app for automated uploads
  • Can do bulk metadata editing

3. Best for Lightweight Servers: PiGallery2

PiGallery2 is a lightweight online photo library solution for Linux. It works by listing the contents of an existing directory in your server and displaying them on a fast and responsive gallery page.

A screenshot showing the PiGallery2 default homepage.

One of the key selling points of PiGallery2 is that it can create additional information for your photos and albums. For example, you can add small blog posts in Markdown and attach GPS tracks to your photos using .gpx files. This makes it an ideal option for logging your journey using your pictures.

Installation Method

  • Docker/Docker Compose
  • Manual system installation using Node.js

Features

  • Consumes little system resources
  • Can load .gpx files for overlaying recorded GPS tracks
  • Can do complex search queries using the indexed metadata
  • Can create basic blog posts inside photo albums

On a side note: you can create your own .gpx files by hosting a GPS tracking server such as OnTrack.

4. Best for Extensibility: Piwigo

Piwigo is a simple collaborative online photo management software. Right out of the box, the platform provides features to share, comment, and rate the images uploaded to your machine. It also has a built-in web form that you can use to upload directly from your browser.

A screenshot showing the default homepage for Piwigo.

Aside from that, the strength of Piwigo comes from its sheer extensibility. Piwigo’s developers host more than 300 third-party plugins on its website, which range from simple themes to complex extensions. Because of that, Piwigo is a great choice if you want a photo library server that can adapt to your custom workflow and demands.

Installation Method

  • Automatic system installation using a built-in “netinstall” script
  • Manual system installation using bare PHP files

Features

  • Extensible through third-party plugins
  • Decent multi-user support
  • Permissions-based access system for photos and albums
  • Comment and rating systems for users and guests

5. Best for Privacy: Photoprism

Photoprism is a feature-filled online photo library software for Linux. It can automatically organize photos, tag them according to EXIF metadata, and host multiple users under a single installation.

A screenshot showing the default homepage for Photoprism.

One of the unique selling points of Photoprism is that it’s a Progressive Web Application (PWA). This is a type of web-based software that behaves as a “platform-specific app” depending on the system it’s running on. As a result, Photoprism can run as a native app on your phone and laptop.

Another selling point of Photoprism is its developers’ commitment to user privacy. For example, the application allows you to turn off EXIF data collection and any facial recognition feature for your specific instance.

Installation Method

  • Docker/Docker Compose
  • Manual system installation using precompiled package binaries

Features

  • Can run on any platform with its PWA
  • Supports and renders Live Images on its gallery screen
  • Privacy invasive features can be disabled
  • WebDAV and CDN support

FYI: The good thing about Docker is that it is easy to deploy, and you can easily migrate it to another host.

6. Best for Archivers: Damselfly

Damselfly is a responsive photo management software with an advanced filtering module. It can handle and index large photo collections with varying degrees of quality and metadata info. This makes it ideal for photographers looking for a self-host gallery server that can handle complex search requests and run as fast as possible.

A screenshot showing the details page of the Damselfly photo management software.

Another key selling point of Damselfly is its built-in tools for adding watermarks and detecting faces and objects in your photos. Further, it also comes with a desktop app, making it easy to read and pull data from your server.

Installation Method

Features

  • Can easily handle and index up to 500,000 images
  • Comes with a detailed filer syntax
  • Support for EXIF and IPTC tags
  • Comes with its own dedicated desktop app

7. Best for Simplicity: Photonix

Photonix is a clean and modern-looking online photo library server for Linux. It provides a wealth of filters that allow you to sift through your photo collection. For example, you can sort your pictures depending on the primary and secondary colors in the photograph.

A screenshot showing the default homepage of the Photonix photo management software.

One selling point of Photonix is its ability to create custom image detection tags and sort them through filters. It can also track duplicate and modified copies of an image and display it on the server’s interface.

Installation Method

Features

  • Can filter photos and create albums based on their color profile
  • Can compare duplicate and slightly similar photos
  • Comes with good multi-user support
  • Has its own dedicated mobile app

8. Best for Simplicity: Lychee

Lychee is an easy-to-use and minimalist photo gallery server for Linux. It provides a simple and highly functional interface that can upload, tag, and share pictures to other online platforms.

A screenshot showing the default homepage for Lychee.

One of the selling points of Lychee is that it can pull data straight from either a remote cloud drive or an S3 object storage bucket. On top of that, Lychee also has built-in support for Single Sign On services via OAuth. This makes it easy to onboard your friends and family since they can immediately use an account from a different service.

Installation Method

  • Docker/Docker Compose
  • Manual system installation using a prepackaged .zip file
  • Compiling from source code using PHP Composer and Node.js

Features

  • Easy batch tagging and metadata editing
  • Comes with accessible keyboard shortcuts
  • Supports OAuth SSO for third-party logins
  • Supports Dropbox and S3 for remote storage

Exploring the strengths of some of the best self-hosted photo libraries in Linux is just the first step in taking back control of your online life. Learn how to publish your content online by creating your webserver with Caddy.

Image credit: No Revisions via Unsplash. All alterations and screenshots by Ramces Red.

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Ramces Red

Ramces is a technology writer that lived with computers all his life. A prolific reader and a student of Anthropology, he is an eccentric character that writes articles about Linux and anything *nix.

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