Libravatar has a new home

Libravatar is a free and open source service that anyone can use to host and share an avatar (profile picture) to other websites. Read on for some news about the service and its relevance to the Fedora Project.

As defined in the project’s blog, The Libravatar project is part of a movement working to give control back to people, away from centralized services and the organizations running them. It addresses a simple problem: putting a face on an email address.

The project originated from the will to have a free, as in freedom, service alternative to Gravatar, giving the users the possibility to use a hosted service or to run their own instance of the service and have full control of their data.

In April 2018 the Libravatar project announced that the service will be shutting down. The service is/was being used by many communities like Fedora, Mozilla and the Linux Kernel to name a few. The announcement triggered a big response from the community, of people interested and willing to help to keep it running.

After some coordination, and a complete rewrite of the application the launch of the new service was announced Tuesday 19th February 2019. The Fedora Project is proud to sponsor Libravatar by providing the infrastructure needed to run the service.

Fedora Project community

14 Comments

  1. svsv sarma

    first and foremost, is it advisable to have our personal profile, photos, docs and info in this avatar? we all know what happened in the case of face-book! better keep our info to ourselves than regretting latter. email never asks for a profile photo. now a days we are being advised against keeping our profile photos and pictures in the social media.
    but i welcome the idea of the libravatar and people may use it for the fun of it with caution.

    • James

      I honestly don’t see why anyone would want this. Surely Stallman wouldn’t.
      “If you create an account with us, your photo could start popping up next to forum posts or blog comments on any site where you left your email address.”
      Umm no thanks?

      • @James: What distinguishes Libravatar is that because it’s run entirely on free software, and allows the user to set up via only an OpenID identifier, it’s returning control of identity to the user. The avatar needn’t be a personal photo — you choose it. Of course this assumes you want to have an avatar to begin with. If you don’t, simple: don’t use a service like this. But if you do, then the free software Libravatar is one that keeps you more in control. Perhaps Stallman wouldn’t want to use such a service, but not because it runs counter to his free software philosophy.

  2. clime

    Thank you for writing about this. We are not a big team but very dedicated.

  3. I was kind of sad when I knew that Libravatar was shooting down. I saw some emails exploring what it takes to keep it running. This is a good news, to know that a small good idea, like this, can keep going.

  4. Creak

    I wonder how the distributed model works?

    Does it look at the domain name in the email, send a request to it and if it fails falls back to libravatar server?

    • nipos

      Yes,that’s exactly how it works!

      • Creak

        So in that case you only have two choices: Libravatar or your own server (it’s always better than Gravatar 😉 )

        Or I guess if you own a domain name but don’t want to hassle to spawn yet another service, you can change your DNS zone file to point your

        _avatars._tcp.example.com

        and

        _avatars-sec._tcp.example.com

        domain to another server somewhere else.. Would it work?

        • nipos

          If you control the domain of your email address,yes,that’s possible.
          But I think it’s not that easy to find Libravatar servers which allow bringing your own domain other than libravatar.org
          The federation feature was created for hosting your avatar server together with your email server.
          That means there won’t be many servers which operate an open to everyone Libravatar service even if that’s technically possible.

        • clime

          Yes, you can use the DNS SRV records (

          _avatars._tcp.<domain>

          and

          _avatars-sec._tcp.<domain>

          ) to delegate serving avatars for a certain domain you own to a different libravatar instance than the https://www.libravatar.org one. Support for this is implemented client side (python lib, php lib, haskell lib, etc.). Pretty neat. Libravatar is inherently a decentralized service.

  5. Creak

    Funny to see that my avatar here is still pulled from Gravatar :]

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