Hello everyone, I’d like your recommendations for a note taking app that:

  • Can be selfhosted
  • Stores the notes as plain text or *.md files, not some SQL database.
  • Can use Marddown format.
  • Have an android client or at least a mobile optimized web-interface.
  • Not a must but it would be nice to have a to-do list option.

I tried:

  • Trilium: use an encrypted litesql to store the notes.
  • Joplin: does not encrypt the notes, but store them in random named directories, making ot harder finding the notes.
  • Logseq: No firefox support, I did not check how it stores itsdatabase.
  • Standard note: Needs subscription to selfhost or to even use markdown format, otherwise it is a heavy text editor.
  • Memos: does not store plain files, instead uses a (sqlite probably) database even when setting local filesystem as current object storage.
  • CodiMD: use database to store its notes
  • Hedgedoc: the same as above
  • Silverbulet.md: This is what I will end up using if Obsidian + syncthing was not for me,It is minimal without losing much features and can be enhanced with plug-ins. . It does need a bit of getting used to and it does not have an android app but can it can be run as PWA that runs offline. The only downside is it does clutter your note directory with a bunch of dot files (if you decided to install plug-ins).

The closest I found so far is Obsidian, which:

  • Unfortunately, does not have any selfhosting option.
  • Have a client app on every platform and store.
  • Can use a custom directory to store it database as plain text files, which can be a network mounted directory (on my laptop/desktop) or a directory on my android phone that i will have to keep synchronized using a third party app.
  • I used “Remotely Save by fyears” which allows you to synchronize local obsidian note directory with a cloud directory (onedrive, dropbox, webdav…), It requires webdav for self-hosted options, kinda forcing you to use a 3th party service to run a 3rd party plug-in so you can use Obsidian with your home server directory. On top of that It can only use a folder on the root of the webdave server (say /notes instead of /documents/notes).
  • I used syncthing initially to sync my Notes directory but I ended up using it to keep a buch of directories in sync across all my devices. Leaving you to use whatever app you like on any device, not just Obsidian.

Edit: March-2nd: added memos, codimd, hedgedoc Edit: March-9th, It has been a busy week and I could not do much. I added silverbullet and both syncthing adn remotly-save for obsidian. I’m using now Silverbullet and Obsidian+syncthing until I decide on one. Thank you everyone who helped me choosing.

  • @Gutless2615@ttrpg.network
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    305 months ago

    I’ve fallen deep down the Silverbullet rabbit hole. Self hosted markdown editor but with built in dataview style querying (if you used Obsidian that will be familiar), accessible cross platform and with a progressive web app, and basically endlessly extendable with a scripting language. Really really enjoying it and it’s made me finally move from Obsidian, which I used to evangelize (and pay for the premium sync features). Definitely check it out. Silverbullet.md

    • @thirdBreakfast@lemmy.world
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      55 months ago

      I’m also on Silverbullet, and from OP’s description it sounds like it could be a good fit. I don’t use any of the fancy template stuff - just a bunch of md files in a directory with links between them.

    • @mhz@lemm.eeOP
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      25 months ago

      I hosted it on my home server. It is great for sure, I will need to look into it enhancing its experience with plugins. Any idea about the PWA and how to use it? someone else here mentioned it it is a feature I’d like to have.

      • @Gutless2615@ttrpg.network
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        15 months ago

        So on iOS it’s a matter of clicking the share button on Safari and selecting “add to homepage”. I think it’s similar on Android but I can’t confirm.

  • @Nibodhika@lemmy.world
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    5 months ago

    You sound like me from last month. I strongly recommend silverbullet, check it out on https://silverbullet.md

    • Can be selfhosted

    Check, even has a simple docker compose

    • Stores the notes as plain text or *.md files, not some SQL database.

    Check, it does have an SQL database, but it’s used for queries, you can even copy or modify MD files at will

    • Can use Marddown format.

    Check, it’s a superset of markdown that includes queries for cool stuff like create tables that group data from other pages

    • Have an android client or at least a mobile optimized web-interface.

    Check, it has a PWA that works offline and syncs when back online. Note that this means that all files will be on your device if you use it like that, but that’s expected.

    • Not a must but it would be nice to have a to-do list option.

    Check, like I mentioned you can query all tasks on all pages and even do filters based on several factors, like where the task is defined or extra attributes that you set to them, e.g. priority.

    Edit: bonus points:

    • The main developer is active here https://lemmy.world/post/11816898
    • Also he’s very active on discord and always answering questions
    • Easily extensible with plugins and simple JavaScript functions, e.g. very easy to write a function to import a section of a page
    • You can have multiple instances in sync with syncthing (just exclude the databases from syncing)
    • @mhz@lemm.eeOP
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      55 months ago

      PWA that works offline and syncs when back online. Note that this means that all files will be on your device

      Someone else mentioned Silverbullet, I hosted on my home server and it looks promising, here are a few thing I will need to explore:

      • The PWA sound like a feature I was hoping, i will need to check it out
      • Is there any android client rather than using the web-interface that firefox wont let me connect to remotely without a valid certificat.
      • While it looks easy to use markup language using /, I’m wondering is there is a plugin that add a tool bar or a client app that does have it.

      Thank you for your comment

      • @Nibodhika@lemmy.world
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        15 months ago

        Is there any android client rather than using the web-interface that firefox wont let me connect to remotely without a valid certificat.

        No, I use the PWA, i.e. access the page on your phone and as long as it’s https it will prompt you to install it. Personally I just used a tailscale network to get past the https authorisation, this also allows me to access it outside of my house so win-win

        While it looks easy to use markup language using /, I’m wondering is there is a plugin that add a tool bar or a client app that does have it.

        Didn’t understood, this is just a markdown file, you can just type things, no need to have buttons to add text.

    • @constantokra@lemmy.one
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      25 months ago

      Is there a way to embed portions of one page into another page, such that if you edit it on either the change shows up on both, like in logseq?

      The documentation is actually pretty good, but i’ve not been able to find that feature, if it exists. That’s probably the last thing keeping me on logseq.

    • @johntash@eviltoast.org
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      25 months ago

      Another +1 for silverbullet from me too. I was skeptical about only having a PWA for mobile access, but it actually works really well.

      It’s open source, so somewhat more customizable than obsidian since you can see the inner workings of it. There aren’t too many active community plugins yet, but there is a relatively new concept of ‘Space Scripts’ where you can write simple functions/commands directly in a note (markdown file) to extend silverbullet without even needing to write a real plugin. That’s been an amazing addition for me.

    • RBG
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      5 months ago

      Check, it has a PWA that works offline and syncs when back online.

      I am either an idiot or that is not working for me on my android phone. I have used PWAs before and I remember you can use them by tapping the “install” in the browser menu.

      I installed Silverbullet via docker on my rpi4, but when I connect to it my browsers do not give me the option to install it as a PWA. I tried Mull, DuckDuckGo browser and even (gah!) Chrome.

      I can only put a shortcut on my home screen, but that then goes to the IP of my rpi4 and when I am not online I cannot reach it.

      Do I need to configure something that I forgot or is the shortcut on the home screen the “PWA”?

        • RBG
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          15 months ago

          Ah dang, had no idea. I see there’s instructions on how to make silver bullet accessible via internet through https. But I only need this locally in my home WiFi, not connected to outside internet. Is there an easy way to enable https for it without exposing it outside my home WiFi?

          • @Nibodhika@lemmy.world
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            15 months ago

            I use tailscale, that allows me to access it remotely securely and gets https. If you don’t want to do that it’s hard but doable to emit your own certificates, but the tailscale approach is a lot more simple.

  • @ebits21@lemmy.ca
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    205 months ago

    Obsidian + Syncthing is what I’ve settled on. Not perfect, but the best I’ve used.

    • @brilokuloj@lemmy.world
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      25 months ago

      This is what I’m using and it’s perfect for my use case. Tried more elaborate setups and it just wasn’t worth it. I also use it with my household over LAN.

    • @isles@lemmy.world
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      25 months ago

      Same combo, can use it on android (and probably iOS), windows, linux; the plugins really extend Obsidian’s abilities.

        • @ebits21@lemmy.ca
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          5 months ago

          I do with Mobius and it’s usable. I have a Synology NAS always there at home to sync to though. (Mobius syncs 1-2 hours per day in the background but it’s dynamic and not predictable thanks to Apple).

          If I didn’t syncing between iOS devices would probably not work very well.

          Yes instant syncing with iOS requires you to open the app if you can’t wait. I’ll often open Mobius if I’m working back and forth to make sure it syncs instantly.

    • Strit
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      5 months ago

      This is also what I use. It ticks all of OPs boxes, but it might be overkill if you just want notes.

      • @mhz@lemm.eeOP
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        45 months ago

        Actually, nextcloud is what introduced me to the markdown format. Hiwever, i found myself using NC for its note app only, hence i’m looking for a lightweight alternative.

  • Neo
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    145 months ago

    I use Obsidian, you have mentioned it and it’s not self hosted, but for me that depends on how you look at it. I use it in a folder that’s synced to Nextcloud, so I consider the data self hosted markdown files. The viewer, i.e. the Obsidian app is not self hosted, but I consider that just a client used to view the data so it doesn’t really bother me.

    • @lascapi
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      55 months ago

      I use Nextcloud Notes too. Simple and ok for my usage.

    • @mhz@lemm.eeOP
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      35 months ago

      Obaidian + Syncthing will do the trick.

      This will be my backup plan if nothing else work out.

  • @abies_exarchia@lemm.ee
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    75 months ago

    I use obsidian with obsidian-livesync for selfhosting the notes. Works pretty well across linux, macos, ios so far

  • @Hule@lemmy.world
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    75 months ago

    I use logseq. It has an Android app, and also desktop app (the latter being more complex). Also, it’s plain markdown.

    But you have to sync the different devices yourself and be careful not to run two instances at the same time.

  • @johntash@eviltoast.org
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    75 months ago

    I already replied to a different thread, but figured I’d comment on some of the other options too. My vote is for Silverbullet, but I’ve tried way too many note taking tools.

    • Joplin: I ran into multiple syncing issues that caused data loss and large numbers of conflicted files. I’m pretty sure these were all fixed a long time ago, but it was annoying. The dev was always good about fixing issues when they came up. It takes forever to sync on my devices and only syncs while the app is open with the screen on. The format it exports markdown files in isn’t standard, so I had to write my own scripts to export from joplin to markdown and preserve metadata.
    • Standard Notes: I was willing to pay for this, but it’s extremely slow. Their support said it’s because it loads everything into memory, which I’d expect to be terrible on mobile with large databases. It’s also pretty limited in what you can do on the free self-hosted version.
    • Obsidian: I really like obsidian’s ui/ux, and my only complaint is that it’s not OSS. I’d even be happy if they offered a self-hosted sync solution. There are some third party solutions for syncing, but they aren’t as smooth as the paid sync.
    • Trillium: I love Trillium. I would vote for it, but it recently entered into maintenance mode. The community is working to start a new fork and I’m sure it will be great, but it’s too new to know where things will go yet. Trilium lets you encrypt specific notes and also has a cool plugin system where the plugin scripts are just notes in the database. It does have a mobile interface, but it’s a bit limited compared to the desktop interface and also doesn’t have an option to sync notes to use offline.
    • Silverbullet: My current choice. I use it between windows, macos, and an android phone. I leave all three clients on sync mode all the time. The interface is minimalistic, but offers everything I need for notes and documentation so far. One of the rare “markdown” tools that actually save your content to markdown files and not to a database with the ability to export to markdown. It also has a cool feature built in where it indexes all of your notes/tasks/paragraphs and lets you build queries around them sort of like the dataview plugin for obsidian.
    • Emacs: I haven’t seen emacs mentioned yet, but emacs+org-mode is still great. The mobile apps just don’t live up to the desktop experience, and you’d still have to figure out how to sync your notes yourself. Logseq’s outliner format is a similar feel afaict
  • @The1029@literature.cafe
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    65 months ago

    Another vote for Obsidian. I use it with the remotely-save plugin via WebDav and Nextcloud - completely self-hosted, I haven’t even made an Obsidian account. Sync conflicts are very rare, I’m using it on iOS and four desktops. While I wish it was OSS, nothing I’ve looked at even comes close to the flexibility of Obsidian. I’m using it for daily notes, habit tracking, task lists, and most recently to write a book.

  • @d13@programming.dev
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    65 months ago

    Logseq has an Android app and clients for the usual desktop platforms. It stores as .md files. It meets your requirements. I’m not sure why you’re focused on Firefox support?

    One I have my eye on is Silverbullet.md. the creator recently promoted it here and it has some nice ideas. It’s a web app that you self host. Behind the scenes everything is stored in .md files.

    • @constantokra@lemmy.one
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      25 months ago

      I’m getting a bit concerned with logseq. It’s just kind of backwards to have a web app packaged as a desktop/android app that can be hosted on a server, but you can’t store your files there. I get that they want to monetize sync, but they’re kind of bending over backwards here to not have what’s inherently a pretty reasonable feature in a web based app, and it makes me concerned about what they’re going to do with the project in the future.

  • Handles
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    65 months ago

    For the past many years I’ve simply synced my notes across devices (originally from webDAV, currently Syncthing) and open them with my favourite Markdown editor for each platform. On my android phone it’s Markor, and Marktext on desktop.

    I’ve tried so many note taking apps but especially Joplin’s weird renaming of my files cooled my enthusiasm for One App To Rule Them All. I do understand the attraction of it, I just prefer a simple setup where I’m not bound by any developer (team)’s whims.

    • @mhz@lemm.eeOP
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      5 months ago

      I just prefer a simple setup where I’m not bound by any developer (team)’s whims.

      This is my concern, if anything goes wrong with my favorite app I would just move on to another without much fuss.