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    Life Server (life-server)

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    A decentralized personal data server inspired by Solid

    Table of Contents

    Important: For upgrade notes and change history, see


    Life Server is personal data server written in Node.js, originally based on MIT's Solid Server.


    This server is intended for the following audiences:

    1. (primarily) Myself. I'm using this as an experimental platform for incubating and implementing various Solid-related and Solid-adjacent specifications and standards.
    2. (hopefully) Other developers of user centric offline-first decentralized applications.
    3. (to a much smaller extent) End-users interested in running their own file sharing server (a minimal Dropbox/Google Drive sort of setup). This server is not really ready for mainstream (or even early adopter) usage.
    4. (almost not at all) For system administrators / potential service providers interested in running their own multi-user data server.

    To put it another way, due to a shortage of engineering resources, the priorities will be: Developer QoL (Quality of Life) over User QoL over DevOps QoL.


    Updated: June 2020.

    This is an experimental server focusing on interop exploration and rapid feature iteration. "Move fast and break things (and then fix them just as quickly)", to use a tired cliché.

    Roadmap Phase One

    This phase focuses on general cleanup and refactoring from the source node-solid-server v4 baseline.

    • [x] Remove external dependency on Mashlib and the Data Browser. (The various built-in apps (account homepage, data viewing and file management, sharing and permission management, etc) will be performed on the server side.)
    • [x] Simplify architecture, remove a number of non-core components (globbing, realtime updates via WebSockets, WebID-TLS local authentication, CORS proxy and authentication proxy, storage quotas, external WebIDs).
    • [x] Refactor the LDP interface to more closely match the proposed Solid architecture, and to support modular/pluggable storage backends beyond the existing File System based one (such as an in-memory store, graph stores and others).
    • [x] Bring some external authn-related dependencies (such as the oidc-auth-manager and the solid-multi-rp-client) libs into this repository (to make for a faster release and refactoring process).
    • [x] Replace logging layer (currently a mix of console and debug) with a dedicated logger like Bunyan or Pino.
    • [x] Shorten the WebID Profile URL template for new accounts from /profile/card#me to /web#id
    • [x] Simplify the new account templating system (do not create template and view copies for customizability)


    • [x] Update node-mailer package to latest version
    • [x] Update inquirer and commander packages to latest version
    • [x] Make all tests pass on Windows 10

    Roadmap Phase Two

    This phase focuses on exploring some advanced features that may make it into Solid spec proposals, as well as integration with external Solid-adjacent projects and specs.

    • [x] Fix/update Dockerfile (to enable Life Server to be hosted on PermanentCloud)
    • [ ] DID Integration
      • [x] Generate a did:web DID and corresponding keys for the Server itself, during installation.
      • [x] Generate a did:web DID and corresponding keys for each user on account registration.
      • [ ] (in progress) Implement DIDAuth for wallet, hook it up to Login page.
      • [ ] Add did:key support
      • [ ] Add Veres One DIDs support
    • [ ] Interop with Verifiable Credentials
    • [ ] Implement an in-Memory based LDP backend, to go alongside the FS backend.
    • [ ] Integrate or implement Static OIDC Client Registration functionality, to make interfacing with server-side Solid apps easier.
    • [ ] Investigate level of effort required to switch from the current oidc-op OpenID Connect Provider library to a more widely supported one, such as Filip's node-oidc-provider lib.
    • [ ] Implement a server-side metadata mechanism, to support being able to record who created a resource
    • [ ] (in progress) Experimental integration with CouchDB (for synchronizing of graphs and documents to mobile and offline-first clients).
    • [ ] Explore using an Encrypted Data Vault as a storage backend. This would require some basic Key Management capability, possible based on the Web KMS spec.
    • [ ] Interop with the Fediverse by implementing ActivityPub protocol.

    Differences from Solid Server

    Since node-solid-server (NSS) is being deprecated in favor of inrupt/pod-server, this repo intends to be another compatible implementation (the more the merrier!).

    Does not support:

    • Using an external WebID on signup
    • acl:origin checking or Trusted Apps (uses solid-permissions
      instead of acl-check.js for access control)
    • Password strength checking on account signup.
    • Enforcement of storage space quotas
    • WebID-TLS local authentication
    • WebSockets
    • Globbing

    Value Proposition for Developers

    See Solid and Life Server Value Proposition for Developers doc.


    Pre-requisites: Node.js v12+

    • Linux, Mac OS X, or Windows 10
    • Node 12+

    To run the Life Server server, you will first need to install Node.js. (The developers recommend using nvm to install Node.)

    Install life-server from Github

    git clone
    cd life-server
    npm install

    Edit /etc/hosts (development/testing only)

    To run the account creation on unit tests, life-server's test suite uses the following localhost domains: nic.localhost, tim.localhost, and nicola.localhost. You will need to create host file entries for these, in order for the tests to pass.

    Edit your /etc/hosts file, and append:

    # Used for unit testing nic.localhost tim.localhost nicola.localhost

    (Optional) Prepare the SSL/TLS certificate

    Local/Development: life-server includes a default localhost self-signed TLS certificate in the config/ folder. Advanced users may want to create their own certificates for local testing.

    Production: Installing life-server in a production environment will require a valid TLS certificate (self-signed certs will not work). In addition, if you're running the server in Multi User mode, you will need a Wildcard Certificate.

    (Optional) Generate a config file

    The easiest way to customize life-server is by running the init wizard. This will create a in your current folder:

    ./bin/server init


    To run your server:

    ./bin/server start

    After startup, the server is available at the configured server URL (by default, https://localhost:7070).

    Usage with Docker

    You can run life-server from our prebuilt docker image with the following command:

    Run latest build from master branch

    docker run -p 7070:7070 interopalliance/life-server:master

    Run a tagged release

    docker run -p 7070:7070 interopalliance/life-server:{gitTag}
    # e.g. docker run -p 7070:7070 interopalliance/life-server:v6.0.2

    You can then access the application at https://localhost:7070.

    If you want to provide a custom config.js, mount it as a volume:

    docker run -p 7070:7070 -v $(pwd)/config.json:/usr/src/app/

    Build your own Docker image

    Clone the repository, then:

    docker build -t life-server .
    docker run -p 7070:7070 life-server



    Note: This is an experimental research server, not for production use.


    Life Server is only possible because of a large community of Solid contributors. A heartfelt thank you to everyone for all of your efforts!


    The MIT License




    npm i life-server

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