Exploring Sandstorm: The Self-Hostable Web Productivity Suite

In today’s digital landscape, the ability to control your data and maintain privacy while using powerful productivity tools is paramount. Sandstorm, a self-hostable web productivity suite, offers a unique solution by allowing users to run a range of web applications on their own servers. This blog post will delve into the features, installation process, and use cases of Sandstorm, providing a comprehensive guide for those interested in harnessing the power of this versatile platform.

Introduction to Sandstorm

Sandstorm is an open-source, self-hostable web productivity suite that functions as a security-hardened web app package manager. It simplifies the process of running your own server, enabling you to install and manage a variety of web applications with ease. Think of Sandstorm as an app store for server-based applications, where you can install apps to create documents, spreadsheets, blogs, git repositories, task lists, and more—much like you would install apps on your smartphone.

Key Features

  1. Self-Hostable: Sandstorm can be installed on any x86-64 Linux system, giving you complete control over your data and environment.
  2. Security-Hardened: Sandstorm is designed with security in mind, isolating each app and its instances to prevent cross-app vulnerabilities.
  3. Versatile App Support: The platform supports a wide range of applications, from collaborative document editing to project management tools.
  4. Ease of Use: Installing and managing apps on Sandstorm is straightforward, making it accessible even to those with limited technical expertise.
  5. Open Source: Sandstorm is open-source, allowing for community contributions and transparency in its development.

For more information about Sandstorm, you can visit their official website here.

Installing Sandstorm

Installing Sandstorm is a straightforward process, but it requires some familiarity with Linux systems. Below are the steps to install Sandstorm on your own server.


  • A server running an x86-64 Linux distribution.
  • Basic knowledge of Linux command-line operations.
  • Internet access for downloading the Sandstorm installation script.

Installation Steps

  1. Prepare Your Server

    Ensure your server is up-to-date and has the necessary packages installed. You can update your server using the following commands:

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get upgrade
  2. Download and Run the Installation Script

    Sandstorm provides an installation script that simplifies the setup process. Download and execute the script using the following commands:

    curl https://install.sandstorm.io | bash

    Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the installation. The script will install Sandstorm and configure it to run on your server.

  3. Configure Sandstorm

    After installation, you can access the Sandstorm web interface to complete the configuration. Open your web browser and navigate to the server's IP address or domain name, followed by the port number 6080 (e.g., http://your-server-ip:6080).

  4. Set Up DNS

    Sandstorm provides a dynamic DNS service for free, allowing you to access your server with a subdomain like http://your-server.sandcats.io:6080/. You can also use your own domain by configuring DNS settings accordingly.

For detailed installation instructions, refer to the Sandstorm documentation.

Using Sandstorm

Once Sandstorm is installed, you can start exploring its features and installing applications. Here's a quick overview of how to use Sandstorm.

Installing Applications

  1. Access the Sandstorm App Market

    Log in to the Sandstorm web interface and click on the “Install” button to access the Sandstorm App Market. Here, you can browse and search for applications to install.

  2. Install an Application

    Find the application you want to install and click the “Install” button. Sandstorm will handle the download and installation process.

  3. Create App Instances

    After installing an application, you can create instances of that app. For example, if you install Etherpad, you can create multiple Etherpad documents, each running as a separate instance.

Managing App Instances

Each instance of an application in Sandstorm is isolated, ensuring security and stability. You can manage these instances through the Sandstorm web interface, where you can start, stop, and delete instances as needed.

Sharing and Collaboration

Sandstorm makes it easy to collaborate by sharing app instances with others. You can generate sharing links or send email invitations to grant access to specific instances.

  1. Share Access

    Open the instance you want to share and click on the “Share Access” button. Choose a sharing role (e.g., view, edit) and enter the recipient’s email address. Optionally, you can add a personal message before sending the invitation.

  2. Generate Sharing Links

    Alternatively, you can generate a sharing link that you can share with others. This link will grant access to the app instance based on the specified role.

For more details on using Sandstorm, refer to the Sandstorm documentation.

Hands-On Tour of Sandstorm

To get a better understanding of Sandstorm’s capabilities, let’s take a hands-on tour through some common use cases.

Example 1: Collaborative Document Editing with Etherpad

Etherpad is a popular real-time collaborative text editor. Here’s how you can use Etherpad with Sandstorm:

  1. Install Etherpad

    Access the Sandstorm App Market, search for Etherpad, and click “Install.” Confirm the installation to add Etherpad to your Sandstorm instance.

  2. Create a New Pad

    Once installed, click “Create new pad” to create a new Etherpad document. You can now start editing the document in real-time.

  3. Share the Pad

    To collaborate with others, click “Share Access” and enter the email addresses of your collaborators. They will receive an invitation to join the document.

Example 2: Project Management with Wekan

Wekan is a Kanban board app that helps you organize tasks and projects. Here’s how to use Wekan with Sandstorm:

  1. Install Wekan

    Access the Sandstorm App Market, search for Wekan, and click “Install.” Confirm the installation to add Wekan to your Sandstorm instance.

  2. Create a New Board

    Once installed, click “Create new board” to create a new Kanban board. You can add lists and cards to organize your tasks.

  3. Collaborate on the Board

    To collaborate with your team, click “Share Access” and enter the email addresses of your team members. They will receive an invitation to join the board and start contributing.

Example 3: Blogging with WordPress

WordPress is a widely used blogging platform. Here’s how to use WordPress with Sandstorm:

  1. Install WordPress

    Access the Sandstorm App Market, search for WordPress, and click “Install.” Confirm the installation to add WordPress to your Sandstorm instance.

  2. Create a New Site

    Once installed, click “Create new site” to set up your WordPress blog. You can start writing and publishing posts immediately.

  3. Static Publishing

    Sandstorm supports static publishing, which enhances security by serving static HTML pages. Click “Rebuild public site” to generate static pages for your blog.

These examples demonstrate the versatility of Sandstorm and its ability to support a wide range of applications. For more hands-on tutorials, visit the Sandstorm documentation.

How Sandstorm Works

Understanding how Sandstorm works under the hood can help you appreciate its security and flexibility. Let’s explore the architecture and security practices of Sandstorm.


Sandstorm’s architecture revolves around its role as a web app package manager. Here are the key components:

  1. Sandstorm Core

    The core of Sandstorm manages the lifecycle of applications, including installation, updates, and instance management. It ensures that each app runs in isolation, providing security and stability.

  2. Grains

    In Sandstorm, each instance of an application is called a “grain.” Grains are isolated from each other, preventing one app instance from affecting another.

  3. Sandstorm Shell

    The Sandstorm shell is the web interface that users interact with. It provides access to installed apps, manages grains, and handles user authentication and access control.

Security Practices

Sandstorm employs several security practices to protect your data and applications:

  1. Sandboxing

    Each app and its instances run in a sandboxed environment, isolating them from the host system and other apps. This prevents vulnerabilities in one app from affecting others.

  2. Capability-Based Security

    Sandstorm uses capability-based security, where access to resources is granted through capabilities (tokens) rather than traditional access control lists. This approach simplifies permission management and enhances security.

  3. Automatic Updates

    Sandstorm can automatically update applications and the core system, ensuring that you always have the latest security patches and features.

  4. Data Encryption

    Sandstorm supports data encryption both in transit and at rest, protecting your data from unauthorized access.

For more information on Sandstorm’s security practices, refer to the Sandstorm documentation.

Developing Apps for Sandstorm

Developers can extend Sandstorm’s functionality by creating custom applications. Here’s a quick overview of how to develop apps for Sandstorm.

Setting Up the Development Environment

  1. Install Sandstorm Locally

    For development purposes, you can install Sandstorm on a local machine.

    Follow the installation instructions to set up Sandstorm.

  2. Clone the Sandstorm Repository

    Clone the Sandstorm GitHub repository to access the source code and development tools:

    git clone https://github.com/sandstorm-io/sandstorm.git
  3. Set Up the Development Environment

    Follow the instructions in the repository to set up your development environment. This includes installing dependencies and configuring your local Sandstorm instance.

Creating an App

  1. Create a New Project

    Use the Sandstorm developer tools to create a new project. This includes defining the app’s metadata, dependencies, and build process.

  2. Develop Your App

    Develop your app using the web technologies of your choice (e.g., HTML, CSS, JavaScript). Sandstorm supports any web app that runs on Linux, though some apps may need modifications to work within the Sandstorm sandbox.

  3. Package Your App

    Package your app using the Sandstorm packaging tools. This process creates a .spk file, which can be installed on any Sandstorm instance.

  4. Test Your App

    Test your app thoroughly to ensure it works as expected within the Sandstorm environment. Use the Sandstorm web interface to install and run your app.

  5. Publish Your App

    Once your app is ready, you can publish it to the Sandstorm App Market, making it available to other Sandstorm users. Follow the submission guidelines in the Sandstorm documentation.

For detailed information on app development, refer to the Sandstorm developer hub.

Contributing to Sandstorm

Sandstorm is an open-source project, and contributions from the community are welcome. Here’s how you can get involved:

Contributing Code

  1. Fork the Repository

    Fork the Sandstorm GitHub repository and clone it to your local machine:

    git clone https://github.com/your-username/sandstorm.git
  2. Create a Branch

    Create a new branch for your feature or bug fix:

    git checkout -b my-feature-branch
  3. Make Your Changes

    Implement your changes and commit them to your branch. Follow the coding standards and guidelines outlined in the CONTRIBUTING.md file.

  4. Submit a Pull Request

    Push your changes to your fork and submit a pull request to the main Sandstorm repository. Provide a clear description of your changes and their impact.

Reporting Issues

If you encounter bugs or have suggestions for improvements, you can report them on the Sandstorm GitHub issues page. Be sure to provide detailed information and steps to reproduce any bugs.

Joining the Community

Join the Sandstorm community to stay updated on the latest developments and participate in discussions:

By contributing to Sandstorm, you can help shape the future of this innovative platform and ensure it continues to meet the needs of its users.


Sandstorm offers a powerful and flexible solution for self-hosting web applications, providing control, security, and ease of use. Whether you are an individual looking to manage your own data, a developer seeking to create new applications, or a business aiming to enhance productivity with secure, self-hosted tools, Sandstorm has something to offer.

By following this guide, you should now have a solid understanding of how to install, use, and develop for Sandstorm. Embrace the power of self-hosting and take control of your digital environment with Sandstorm.

For more information, try out the Sandstorm demo at https://demo.sandstorm.io/ and explore the extensive Sandstorm documentation.

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