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Benjamin's interview in Belginux

If there's one wonderful thing about the Internet, it's the ability to express oneself. Well, with more or less freedom depending on where you are located.

belginux🇧🇪 Vous pouvez retrouver cet entretien en Français sur belginux, site informatif concernant principalement les applications auto-hébergées avec Docker.

This interview was originally written in French for belginux (informative website primarily about self-hosted applications with Docker).

The growing need for people to do so implies the use of various tools, and podcasting is an excellent means to achieve this. Even though the system isn't new (dating back to 2004), it's booming! And significantly so.

belginux offers you an interview with Benjamin Bellamy, the "father" of Castopod, the free application for creating and broadcasting podcasts, but also the creator of The Podcast Font, a resource providing all the icons you need for your podcast website, podcast application, or podcast documents.
Benjamin Bellamy

Benjamin Bellamy is the CEO and co-founder of Ad Aures, a startup founded in 2020, which offers podcast hosting through Castopod.

And it's precisely about Castopod that Benjamin will talk to us!

Thanks to him because for the site's first interview, he was generous with his answers and extremely kind!

From my side, I'm almost done with the site that will host Castopod for belginux, and I have exciting news: Benjamin Bellamy has already given his agreement for us to offer you a podcast! I sense that it won't just be about Castopod but also about free software and open-source! 😎

I think he has a lot to say...!

belginux: How did the idea to create Castopod come about?

Benjamin: Initially (around 2019), Castopod was part of a triptych of three solutions aimed at solving three problems we identified in the world of Podcasting (which we grouped under the initiative "Podlibre", to free Podcasting):

  • A decentralized directory, open to everyone, freely, for reading and writing, so as not to depend on Apple's index. Eventually, PodcastIndex (and Podping to a certain extent) met this expectation, probably much better than we could have done!
  • A tool for sharing podcasts and podcast episodes, and sharing "timestamps" of podcast episodes, across platforms, so that a listener can share a podcast in a simple and transparent way, with someone who might not use the same listening app. We had built a prototype based on deep linking and... third-party cookies. With these being decommissioned by Google and Apple, the project was stopped, and I don't know if it will ever be reborn.
  • A free tool for publishing podcasts to guarantee real freedom of creation for podcasters. Yes, this is Castopod. In 2019, there were no more modern, open-source podcast hosting solutions. Yet, we are very attached to the decentralized and open architecture of Podcasting. The risk of "YouTubisation" of Podcasting, which has become evident in recent months, has always existed. ("YouTubisation" means locking creation into a pretty and convenient ecosystem but also a closed one and controlled by a single actor.)

belginux: In your opinion, what makes Castopod an ally of choice for hosting, creating, and publishing podcasts?

Benjamin: We weren't very imaginative concerning the foundations of Castopod: we tried to create the WordPress of Podcasting.

The idea was therefore that anyone could "easily" (as easily as WordPress...) install Castopod, even on a PHP/MySQL shared hosting service costing 2€ a month: by downloading a zip file, you would only have to "upload" it to your server, and then follow the installation wizard.

And that's what we did!

Type in your browser's address bar (yes, try it), and off you go!
Thanks to this design, i.e., no need for a big expensive server, no complicated installation procedure, Castopod allows everyone to self-host.

And self-hosting is the key to freedom: as a podcaster, you alone decide what content you put online, and no one (as long as you respect the law, of course) can censor you.
Castopod gives power back to creators over their content.

But what makes a podcast valuable is not just the content: a podcast's value is also its audience.
And we see this every day with the big tech companies: they "lend" you an audience, an audience that does not belong to you and that they can take back at the slightest misstep, justified or not. They alone decide the rules.

That's why Castopod has been connected (well, almost always, since alpha-42 version) to the Fediverse and Mastodon thanks to the ActivityPub protocol: this allows interactions ("likes", comments, shares...) with listeners from any server in the Fediverse, without centralized control.
It is essential to guarantee direct contact, without intermediaries, between a podcast and its audience.

With Castopod, creators take back the control that big tech companies had appropriated.

Finally, Castopod was designed to meet the needs of everyone, amateurs, professionals: each installation or "instance" of Castopod can host as many episodes and podcasts as you want with manageable rights, but also publication on all listening apps (Apple, Spotify, Deezer, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, AntennaPod...), the creation of videograms, a PWA app, "widgets" (players embeddable on all websites), geolocation of podcasts and episodes, podcast import, monetization, listening statistics, content pages, private episodes, scheduling publications, integration of subtitles and chapters, and still quite a few surprises!

belginux: Why did you choose to make it open-source?

Benjamin: In fact, Castopod would not exist if it were not open-source. Historically, it's even its primary “raison d'être”.

There are about a thousand podcast hosts (among which about a hundred are "visible", meaning those we hear about regularly).
So, there's little interest in being the 1001st.
However, we couldn't find any modern, comprehensive, and open-source solutions. Castopod came to fill this gap we felt.

And again, the podcast is open and decentralized: it's the ideal ecosystem for open-source.

Finally, we received support (including from NLnet) for the development of Castopod precisely because it is open source.

belginux: There is often a lot of confusion when we talk about free software, Castopod being free software, does that necessarily mean it's free and that we can do anything with it?

Benjamin: We often confuse three very different notions: open-source, free, and gratis. Castopod is all three.

This confusion is even more common as English speakers have one word ("free") for both "libre" and "gratis" (differentiated by "free as in free beer", gratis, and "free as in free speech", libre).

Free, according to the Free Software Foundation (FSF), means:

  • the freedom to run the program for any purpose;
  • the freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish;
  • the freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor;
  • the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.

Open-Source means the source code is published, i.e., the internal workings of the software are not secret and are publicly known. For a user, open-source has no interest: it's "free" that is important.
In practice, free software is always open-source, but the reverse is not necessarily true: open-source software can be not free.

Gratis means you can use the software without financial compensation.
Free software or open-source software can very well be paid.

And to answer your question, yes, you can do anything with Castopod, as long as you respect its AGPLv3 license.
This means, to simplify, that if you modify Castopod and make it operate on a publicly accessible server, you must also share your code modifications under the same AGPLv3 license.

belginux: Does Castopod have a business model?

Benjamin: Yes, and it even has several!

  • Castopod benefited from European NGI0 aid through NLnet.
  • It's possible to support Castopod through donations on
  • By contacting us, it's possible to request the development of a particular feature.
  • Finally, if you don't want to manage hosting, updates, etc., it's possible to get hosted by going to your podcast will be online in less than two minutes (with your own domain name if you wish).

belginux: In the case where someone is convinced by the idea of using Castopod but doesn't have the technical skills to install it or simply doesn't want to waste time doing so, preferring to devote their time to creativity, is there a way to use Castopod nonetheless?

Benjamin: Yes, it's possible by going to!

belginux: How many people are working on the development of Castopod, and what are their roles?

Benjamin: Today, the main contributor and grand architect of Castopod is my partner Yassine Doghri. However, there are still some bugs and comments of my creation. 😉
About fifty contributors also participate, with varying degrees of involvement (developments, bug tickets...), and 90 have participated in translations of Castopod into about thirty languages!

belginux: If someone wants to join your team and work on the development of Castopod, are there any opportunities, any vacancies?

Benjamin: Yes, of course!
We are always open and ready to meet all talents, whatever they may be and as atypical as they are, as long as they share with us the values of free software!


As long as you host it, Castopod won’t cost you a dime to use and is open-source. Moreover, if you encounter any issues, their Discord offers flawless support.

I know what I’m talking about; I’ve been working with it for several months, from my first installation of Castopod to testing, with the intention of hosting belginux's podcasts. I received all the necessary help and contributed by doing translations.

The lead developer, Yassine, is more than willing to answer your inquiries and questions with a lot of kindness!

What more could people ask for?

Just because an application is free doesn't mean you can't contribute to it, either through translations, a donation, or just a star on Github!

And don't forget, belginux has made an amaziiiiiing tutorial on installing Castopod!

Image by Dall·e: a cute 3D cartoon-style image of a penguin and whale exploring the streets of Brussels.


🐧 Passionate about self-hosting, I share what I know and feed on the knowledge of kind souls who share with me. I support the use of open-source solutions and their developers.