When my favorite photo gallery software Gallery closed up shop after 14 years I was faced with the decision to migrate to a photo community like 500px, photo hosting sites like Zenfolio, Photobucket or SmugMug, or a major corporate hosted solution like Yahoo’s Flickr. There’s an endless amount of free and paid hosting services these days and new alternatives like DropBox, OneDrive, FaceBook or Imgur. But I prefer to host and own my images and I like to tinker with the interwebs!
So I fired up my search that some 8yrs prior had lead me to the Gallery Project and… I didn’t find much new or that was impressive. The explosion in digital images led to an explosion in services and it’s damn hard for individual or small programmers & enthusiasts to compete. While there are many options with a variety of excellent features and capabilities it’s hard to find ones that look and function professionally. In the end I found two – Piwigo and a new kid on the block Koken. Both are free and Piwigo is open source. I installed and played with both using Site5’s Multisite. I really liked both – Piwigo is fast and flexible with lots of extensions and themes. Koken is fast with some extensibility and very clean professional themes and administrative console which won me over.
Thus began the project to move from Gallery to Koken. It was a bit rough as the database migration process I found on GitHub did not work for me and in the end Koken would never run correctly on Site fives Multisite system with uploads taking forever or failing (100 200k images might take an hour) and visitors getting 1-3 image previews and then having to wait minutes for 2-3-4 more images to load. Neither Site5 nor Koken staff could figure out the issue. Sigh… do I just stick with Gallery and hope it never gets hacked? Do I move to a new host? Do I… shudder… move to a service? No! I’m in this for the fun, learning and (sometimes painful) benefits of self hosting!
All of these issues turned into a great thing – I ended up testing virtual servers at Digital Ocean which is something I always wanted to do and man o man did Koken Fly!! I also ended up moving my email from Site5’s shared hosting service to Microsoft’s O365 cloud service. Fun! Learning! Excellent services! I ended up building my virtual droplet Ubuntu with Apache and manually imported all my photos which allowed for restructuring and elimination of dupes or tired images. When all said and done I had a great new site that was fast, new photo gallery software that rocked and I’d learned a ton of great things about virtual hosts and Unix.
So where is all this going. Sigh… yep you guessed it – despite my researching Koken and seeing a history of commitment, steady upgrades and improvements with responsive support….. the updates stopped coming after about 6 months. Then the forums went silent, then… Koken announces they’re ceasing development and are up for sale. FARK!! This is why people use Flickr right? Well I still had my VPS on Digital ocean and Koken was still rockin my site but where to turn? Patience!! And… Koken announces they’ve been purchased by NetObjects Fusion. Whaaaat? NetObjects Fusion? Didn’t they go out of business about twenty years ago due to really dated Middleware for websites? I guess not! And first thing they do is kick out two major updates and announce their commitment to the free model – “New installations of Koken may continue to be set up, for free, same as ever. NetObjects shares our enthusiasm for the freemium business model and will continue to offer free installations of the core system in addition to expanding the Koken Store with a mix of free and premium themes and plugins.”
Rock and Roll – Koken is back!!