Responsive Photo Galleries Part 2: Free self-hosted options

matthias on 2015/09/13

This is a followup of Part1 where I talked about commercial offerings.

Use Case Repeated

I am still taking pictures that I would like to show to family and friends. My photography skills haven’t improved much since the last writing and I still don’t want to make money with them. I do however want to keep control of my data. In addition, some of my relatives don’t even have a Facebook account.

Continuing my recent post where I evaluated commercial options, I will now go over the open source solutions that I found.

Here, I started from the wikipedia comparison page and this overview article created by Hong Kiat.

Full Galleries incl. Upload Management

Immediate red flags

Going through the list, I immediately excluded the following options:

  • Gallery because it is no longer maintained.
  • Coppermine because it wasn’t updated since 2010 and isn’t responsive at all.
  • Flash Gallery because it needs Flash.
  • phpGraphy because the last news entry was from 2008.

Further exclusions (yellow flags)

  • Plogger because I subjectively didn’t like the look and the demos didn’t feel very responsive.
  • Mediagoblin which looks very promising. However installing a Python-based project will give me more pain than I’m willing to stand right now.
  • Phoca because the installation instructions looked longer and less clear than a typical math textbook.


Piwigo appears to be the main contender in my opinion. It requires MySQL access, but I had it installed quite quickly nevertheless. Unfortunately, I ran into many issues with automatic resizing of uploaded images that I couldn’t resolve after exerting a reasonable effort.

It even has an Android app, but that didn’t seem to do anything.

NextGen Gallery was an easy install from the WordPress plugin manager. It allows for plenty of options that left me entirely happy. The only downside I see with this right now is that it would entangle everything with my WordPress blog.

This in turn means that I’m losing robustness as is always the case when entangling things. I could however just host another WordPress site just for these pictures. Hmm.


Galleria comes with an MIT license, but it appears to be more of a framework that you include in your own web site than a standalone product. I followed their beginner’s guide to put together a web site, but I did stop along the way. This is what I got. I guess I didn’t fully get that running yet. Oh well.


I evaluated supersized rather early and almost thought that it was exactly what I needed. I had it up and running from the included demo super-fast. I then edited the included fullscreen.html according to their guide to include all image files from a certain sub-directory. And that was sufficient to yield me this carousel.

Unfortunately, I later realized that when I loaded this up with more, larger files it started to become sluggish on my PC and crashed the browser on my Android phone. Clearly not the way this software was intended to be used, but unfortunately that’s kind of what I want.


This claims to be the most lightweight responsive plugin out there and I don’t see any reason to doubt that. At this point, I already assumed that it would suffer from the same issues as supersized when it comes to many large images, so I didn’t test that. And it worked great. I could use the same php code that I used for supersized (see the guide there) to parse a sub-directory and had it running in a couple of minutes.


Unfortunately, none of these offerings really did everything I wanted. Maybe I’m just too picky. This leaves me with the following options overall. Host small amounts of photos using supersized/ResponsiveSlides or shell out some money and sign up with smugmug. Let’s see 🙂