Twice I setup Mastodon.
Once many years ago - I followed the step but step guide and got it working. It worked for quite a while and then broke - out of disk. I gave up.
Then a second time we easier - this time my ops team set me up a VM, and Mastodon had improved a bit, so set up again, following the instructions. Again it worked. It caused problems as it was a "new" instance on an existing domain, and that caused things that had cached stuff to get confused. It got sorted, people had follow requests they had to cancel and try again, that sort of thing.
These days it seems to have a lot more "cleanup" logic, and a lot more obvious on disk usage, but still far from perfect from what I can see.
WTF is it not simple?
My big issue really is that Mastodon should be like apache, or many other quite complex systems, which are basically apt install mastodon. That really is what it should be. Simple as that. The web interface or command line could take you through the initial steps for admin user password and domain name and so on, but that should be it.
There are docker instances. I know nothing about docker, but I am told they sort of just work. Maybe that is the answer?
But why is it not as simple any anything else on linux, really. It seems Ruby is the main problem, as is python it seems. A pain in the arse.
But all is well, so not problem.
Yes, all is well, and even upgrading to next mastodon version as needed was not that hard. Again, following a load of step by step instructions not a simple apt upgrade mastodon or some such. But not rocket science.
But err, then, it broke. Basically the ops team wanted to upgrade Debian to bookworm, which is fair enough, but doing so cleaned out almost all of the stuff Mastodon needs.
Now I am not just upgrading Mastodon, and not installing Mastodon (as I don't want to lose/break what I have), I am sort of trying to make it work from instructions that are one or the other, and constantly hitting stupidities like OpenSSL is not available (how the fuck is that not standard in these tools?!) and not clue how to fix that.
I gave up
I must be getting old, because, yes, I gave up, it is too much of a pain in the arse, and I have better things to do. I tried, honest, but life is too short.
Bring in the experts!
The simple answer is to call in some experts. In this case Mythic Beasts. They actually run the A&A instance because my ops team were smart enough to not go near this with a barge pole.
They are not only running my instance, but in very short order managed to copy all the stuff from the old, and now broken, instance over, and make it continue seamlessly for me, well mostly - some avatar issues they are fixing. But followers, and so on, all working. I have not missed anything and was off for a day at most.
It is not cheap, it is several hundred quid a year. But what do I value my time at?
There is an irony here. I am paying that for my social media. If the likes of Twitter had people paying that for a really good, clean, not sales/advertising/pushy/confrontational/stressy service, they would make a fortune. That is not their business model.
The only mitigation is it may end up being more than just me - some family members, when they finally catch this boat. Of course, subject to whatever stupid rules the Online Safety Bill may create, LOL!