Pleroma: admin-fe

Published 2019-10-12 on Matthew's Blog

I recently switched from Mastodon to Pleroma, for no real reason in specific other than: Pleroma is far less resource intensive. Setting up Pleroma was a breeze compared to setting up Mastodon–I remember having a great deal of trouble. I enjoy the simpler interface as well. While Pleroma doesn’t have all of the flashy features1 mastodon does, I don’t need or use them anyway.

Tonight I came across admin-fe for Pleroma, and thought I’d give it a shot even though I’m the only use on my instance. Installation documentation is lacking for the project, so I thought I’d offer my notes in case they could be useful to anyone else.


I downloaded the latest version of admin-fe2 and unarchived the tarball.

curl -O https://git.pleroma.social/pleroma/admin-fe/-/archive/1.2.0/admin-fe-1.2.0.tar.gz
tar xzvf admin-fe-1.2.0.tar.gz

Entered the directory and attempted to run yarn build:prod per the README:

cd admin-fe-1.2.0
yarn build:prod

I was greeted with a somewhat unhelpful error:

Yarn requires Node.js 4.0 or higher to be installed.

So I looked Node.js up, I remember it takes more to install than sudo apt install nodejs. I saw the latest version was 12, which I found odd considering Pleroma’s fairly new on the block.

After installing Node.js, yarn build:prod still wasn’t successful:

$ yarn build:prod
yarn run v1.17.3
$ cross-env NODE_ENV=production env_config=prod node build/build.js
/bin/sh: 1: cross-env: not found
error Command failed with exit code 127.
info Visit https://yarnpkg.com/en/docs/cli/run for documentation about this command.

I solved this by simply running yarn with no arguments. Finally, yarn build:prod was successful and I had a built distribution of admin-fe.

Serving admin-fe was a bit of a hassle, mostly due to my limited knowledge of nginx configuration. At first, my config looked like this:

location /_admin-fe/ {
	root /var/www/pleroma/admin-fe;
	index index.html
}

Which was failing with an HTTP 404, requests to example.com/_afe were trying to be served from /var/www/pleroma/admin-fe/_afe/. I needed to switch the root directive for the alias directive, add a trailing slash, and I was in business.

Note: I tried to pick a URL that probably wouldn’t become a username. There was no hint towards what to call it in the limited documentation–not that it really matters on an instance for 1 anyway.

The ending result is my location block ended up reading this:

location /_admin-fe/ {
	alias /var/www/pleroma/admin-fe/;
	index index.html;
}

Now the login page loads, is on the right domain3, and it successfully authenticates against my Pleroma database.

Unfortunately, admin-fe seems to have a lot of trouble on my instance and I’m sure it’s due to the way I configured Pleroma. I can’t find any documentation on it, but I vaguely remember choosing something along the lines of “Don’t allow site configuration changes from the frontend.” Thus, my adventures setting up admin-fe have come to an end.

After reaching out on #pleroma on freenode, it’s a big possibility that admin-fe doesn’t work for me because the necessary pieces aren’t implemented on the backend.

If you think you can help, please don’t hesitate to find me on the fediverse or write to my public-inbox.

  1. Mastodon 3.0 came out today, some of their new features include: moving accounts, audio in toots, and hashtag auto-suggestions. 

  2. 1.2.0 at the time of writing 

  3. At first I thought about hosting admin-fe at something like admin.example.com, but that didn’t work because now admin-fe would try to load the Pleroma API at admin.example.com/api/... instead of example.com/api/...


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