Mugshot Review

Even though Nate invited me a long time ago, I only just got around to signing up and using Mugshot, the social networking system put together / sponsored by Red Hat.

I eventually did it because I knew Nate was on there, as well as a couple people who aren’t too into the whole blogging thing (Randy, Nick, etc.)

The good:

It offers a lot of the same features as other such systems, such as automatically pulling in content from a whole lot of external sources via feeds or APIs as well as letting you share random links directly, and provides a system where you and your friends can comment on any of those items.

What’s even better than all the features and the refreshing lack of the meme-type applications common on Facebook, etc. is the open nature of the platform. The whole thing, from the optional desktop client all the way to the server itself, is completely open source.

You could even set up and run your own private Mugshot server / network if you wanted to, but more importantly if there is a strong need / demand for a particular feature (see next section) it will eventually be filled by someone just writing that themselves.

The bad:

I don’t have much negative to say, but to give a completely fair review I do have to be honest and point out some of the glitches or downsides I’ve seen so far.

One general issue is just the growing pains that seem to accompany the expansion of the service as more people sign up, etc. Shortly after I started using it, the web UI seemed painfully slow in doing anything, but it definitely seems to have been much faster lately.

Just the other day I ran into an issue on a post that Nate and I were putting in a lot of comments back and forth on, and it seemed to break / crash after we reached that point. I’m assuming it’s related to the volume of the comments, but that’s the only time I’ve seen something like that happen in the system.

My number one peeve with the system is the same one I have expressed numerous times on this blog in relation to FaceBook – I want external RSS feed access to all updates that I might care about within the system. If you install the desktop client it will notify you, but I’d rather use RSS because (#1) I want everything in one place and (#2) I prefer not to install any always-running apps on my system if I can avoid it.

The conclusion:

All in all, I give Mugshot a strong thumbs up. As I said above, there were only a couple issues that I ran into, and I’m sure those will be ironed out over time. Even the lack of RSS feeds can be compensated for by just writing them yourself, whether by modifying the client code to consolidate and publish feeds or writing your own app that interacts with the server directly.

For me, that openness is incredibly important, and Mugshot is a role model that all other social networking systems can look up to in that regard.

As a side note, the general user population seems (at least at this point, in the early stages) strongly skewed towards freedom-loving Linux types, just judging by the popular groups, which is fine by me.

UDPATE – six months later…

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7 Responses to Mugshot Review

  1. Dan says:

    Too bad they they hate Macs.

  2. Dan says:

    How am I supposed to find you guys?

  3. JB says:

    I think they’re working on a mac version.

    As for finding people, I think I used e-mail addresses. You can find me using mugshot@pacific22.com, and then link to everyone else off of my list, or I’ll invite you into a group that we’re all in already.

  4. JB says:

    Nevermind, I just found you, so I’ll connect to you and add you to the group.

  5. JB says:

    Yeah, searching is actually another area that needs work. Even searching by exact user name doesn’t seem to work, but e-mail address does.

  6. Nate says:

    I’m feeling to lazy to make real comment.

    Exporting data out is limited but should get better -
    http://developer.mugshot.org/wiki/API

    Mac client-
    http://developer.mugshot.org/wiki/Mac_OS_X_Client

    The future, if it catches on -
    http://online-desktop.org/wiki/Online_Desktop

    I like the mugshot client, It’s refreshing to move some of this online trash out of the browser where the ui can still be so much better.

  7. JB says:

    Yeah, there are other minor quirks that you run into every once in a while, but in general I have more hope for it than other social networking systems.

    The client is OK, but I’d still rather just do everything in the web UI. I’m actually thinking of uninstalling the client from my laptop and only keeping it around on a box at home that I can always get to if I ever really need it.

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