A constant bugbear is my bookmarks being synced to my Google accounts, meaning access to them outside that Google account requires various manual steps.

So it got me thinking of a roll your own way to sync your bookmarks. Obviously this system would need to be, above all, secure, as your bookmark data is potentially very sensitive. The system would need to following features:

  • Totally platform agnostic
  • Secure, in that the data at rest should be encrypted
  • Easily accessible
  • Easily searchable
  • Easy to back up
  • NOT linked to a 3rd party supplier. I know there are generic bookmark sync services out there. I want control and do not want to trust this data to a 3rd party.

So far the most practical solution I can think of is a lightweight web app that you could deploy as a roll your own solution.

My question(s): Does this exists already? Does anyone else find this a problem, if so is this feature list correct, i.e would you add anything to it.

  • i have a bookmarklet that takes a master password and derives passwords from that and the domain. normal bookmark syncing copies that functionality without revealing secrets.
    – dandavis
    Oct 21 '17 at 21:16
  • @user2497 I have no problem using notepad or plain old vi but it does not give me the features above and it would require syncing the actual file using some other method, plus I would need to copy paste every time I wanted to use a link.
    – Trickycm
    Oct 22 '17 at 7:20

I have come across a couple of solutions that mostly fit this bill. Your list above is a good set of requirements for bookmark management.

Implicitly, your points throw out Google's Chrome and Microsoft's browsers because those companies have shown intense hunger for personal data. Safari's benevolent tyranny is not very extensible, so that leaves you to use Firefox, and/or a Firefox derivative like Palemoon or the Tor Browser Bundle (TBB).

1. Outertech's Linkman

From their website:

Linkman is a bookmark manager that efficiently organizes large numbers of bookmarks. Linkman directly integrates with Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera browsers, and supports many other browsers. Synchronizing bookmarks between browsers and among computers is also possible. You get the choice to manage your bookmarks by keywords only, folders only, or folders and keywords. Linkman will extract keywords from web sites and update moved web addresses. The bookmark collection can be protected by a password. With a screenshot tutorial, an introduction video, and a comprehensive PDF manual, getting started has never been easier!

This software creates a local webserver and then there's a plugin for each browser. I've made it work with FireFox and Palemoon, but the Tor Browser Bundle seems to block part of the way this works. I didn't look into it, so it may be possible to get it to work.

On laptops/desktops, you could probably use Dropbox, SpiderOak, or Syncthing to sync the database file across multiple machines.

I have not looked in to doing this on mobile. I doubt iOS would be able to work with this, and Android would probably take a bit of work to get it going.

2. Firefox Sync

From their website:

With Firefox on all your devices, you can access bookmarks, tabs and passwords with one easy sign-in.

I've done some preliminary research into how secure this is from 2nd, 3rd, and 4th parties, and they seem to had security and privacy in mind when they built it. This article goes in depth about they why and how without being too technical.

This is supposed to work on mobile too.

Their software does use their own servers/services though. If they did succeed in true Trust No One security, then that should be fine. That's a big if though.

You do have the option to implement your own sync servers. Although a complete DIY solution also requires setting up authentication servers, which have little-to-no documentation, guides, or support. See below, emphasis mine:

Alternatively, you can also Run your own Firefox Accounts Server to control all aspects of the system. The process for doing so is currently very experimental and not well documented.

  • That's a big if though.: actually Firefox Sync server is freely available (published under the GPL-compatible Mozilla Public license) and you can install your own. Oct 21 '17 at 17:54
  • I meant to mention that. Thanks for reminding me! Oct 21 '17 at 17:58

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