Self-Hosted Podcast Generator

Posted on Thursday, Mar 18, 2021

Moving from Gitlab to Podcast Generator

A few years ago, a friend and I had what I would call a “hobby cast”. We would put together show ideas, meet up once a week and record a 30-60 minute show. It was a lot of fun and I used the open source software Podcast Generator to publish it in iTunes so our friends could subscribe and listen.

I remember the installation process being really easy so I figured I would go a head and try to get it up and running for the Linux Lemming. I considered self-hosting it locally using docker and that went fine at first, but then I decided against it if more than 5 people actually start paying attention to this project.

Linode Woes and Vague Documentation

I figured I would get a $5 VPS to run the software and went with Linode since a lot of the JB community is using their service now. It was an absolute headache. I don’t want to knock the service and would still recommend them to other people but in terms of getting up and running quickly, it did not function as expected.

Their base Ubuntu 20.04.3 image was similar to my experience on the Raspberry Pi 4 where adding users was a pain, setting default shells was a pain, it was overall just a hassle. Then on top of that, after I got everything setup how I wanted it to, I couldn’t get the software to run as expected.

Granted, getting the software to run was a two fold issue.

  1. The documentation from Podcast Generator consists of this:
1. Download the latest version of Podcast Generator;
2. Unzip the zip package containing the script;
3. Upload the resulting files and folders to your web server;
4. Point your web browser to the URL corresponding to the location where Podcast Generator files were uploaded (e.g. You will be redirected automatically to the 3-step setup wizard;
5. Log-in into Podcast Generator administration area and start publishing your podcast.

That’s it, five steps. Simple right? Well, if you are already familiar with setting up a LAMP stack, and administrating apache then sure it would be simple. If it’s something you’ve done once a few years ago, good luck. After tons of searching, I stumbled onto this open issue from 2020 which kind of helped but I still wasn’t able to get past the welcome screen. A user from that thread, j-atoms, put together some documentation which I think could be cleaned up and merged into the main project. I don’t see the main project doing that though, because they kind of want people to I shouldn’t have passed judgement so quickly. They were receptive to my pull request and offered feedback! They do offer users the option to purchase a hosted instance from their partner. The pricing was hard to find for them. If you have a university account, you can get their service for $5.99 USD but if you’re a private party, it’s $12.99 USD. They do offer free accounts for non-profits too which is pretty cool.

So what now? Pay the $12.99 or keep searching?

Let’s Try Digital Ocean

I figured maybe I had done something horribly wrong on my Linode and I had already blown it away five or so times so I figured I might as well try Digital Ocean and see if I get different results.

I’ve used DO a lot in the past and when I spun up their LAMP stack for $5.99 USD (BTW, you don’t need a LAMP stack for this server but it saves you the step of having to download apache and PHP) and it had the user creation I am use to! Strange that their image did and Linode didn’t. . . .

Now before I found the j-atoms documentation as mentioned earlier, I was using Digital Ocean’s documentation on how to setup apache. Linode also had documentation but their LAMP uses Debian 9 Buster and the guide is about how to install it from scratch on Ubuntu so the disconnect was just too much for me. The DO documentation was straight forward but I still had the same issue in the end.

Back to Git Hub

So what do I do now? I went back to the source to try to get help. I commented on the j-atoms thread and got no response. I figured I could open an new “Help Wanted” issue on their tracker and see if anyone could help. Well I was waiting for reply, I went back and re-read the j-atoms thread and noticed something that I had over looked previously.User emilengler had been the first to reply and below their main point, included an extra little thing about packages that I had missed.

After this please install these packages sudo apt install php-gettext php-xml If php-gettext is not available, try to not install it. Maybe it is not required on Ubuntu


Are these two things not included in a standard LAMP install?!? I figured I might as well give it a go and see what happens.

The php-gettext package was not available. When I tried to apt install php-xml it gave me the option to install it. I was floored. After installing the package, everything worked as expected. You’d think Podcast Generator would include that little piece of information in their five step installation.

Up and Running

Well, it’s all up now. I eventually I’ll be serving my podcast files from this site rather than hosting them through gitlab. I am thinking I may try and contribute this back upstream using j-atoms work as a jumping off point as well.


I did open up a Pull Request with the main project.

Side Note You do not need a LAMP stack to run Podcast Generator. In fact, it would probably be easier to follow my new written documentation that is a pending pull request.

DO LAMP Stack Details

Linode LAMP Stack Details