FreedomBox Calendar

Created by Steven Baltakatei Sandoval on 2021-03-10T22:45Z under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and last updated on 2021-03-12T01:50Z.


I decided to try the Radicale CalDAV software available as a FreedomBox app. My motivation for doing so was to be less reliant upon Google Calendar, the calendar and task server I have been using for years.


When I first started using computer calendars, it was when I was attending university. I had barely started using Email via Gmail in my last year of high school. I remember using the calendar software in the iMac my father purchased for me; the software was very useful in helping me to keep track of when all my classes were in the fast-paced Stanford quarter system. Later, I used mostly Microsoft Outlook because my employer used it for internal meeting scheduling and correspondance. After I read Free Software, Free Society by Richard Stallman, I grew a desire to use free and open-source software whenever it was available.

To that end, one of the first major changes I made was to switch from Microsoft's Windows and (at the time) Apple's OS X to GNU/Linux Debian. I quickly learned that dual-booting was more hassle than it was worth. I found Debian was a viable substitute for every major computing activity of mine except for gaming. Therefore, I purchased a dedicated GNU/Linux machine from Think Penguin and ran Debian on that. I have been satisfied ever since.

However, some computing activities I did not switch over because I had not been using them as often. I haven't been maintaining a personal calendar because either:

  1. An scheduleable event will involve my employer so I'd default to what they require.

  2. Scheduleable events were so infrequent that I didn't think I needed to bother with even Google Calendar.

For years I have neglected to maintain a personal calendar. However, I believe it is a useful activity, especially when planning tasks for myself. I have played with Org Mode but I haven't caught on to using its task management functionality (i.e. "TODO") which appears very robust. Org Mode attempts to do as much as it can in the GNU Emacs text editor. However, I have yet to see a Emacs calendar synchronization function that I like. I'm sure one exists, but in discussion threads about what people use Emacs for, I haven't noticed such an Emacs package. So, even though I'd like to maintain a calendar and task list, Org Mode hasn't really caught my attention. That's where my experiment with FreedomBox comes in.

FreedomBox is a free and open-source project to make server software available and usable to non-sysadmin people. Although I have some experience in crafting my own Bash) scripts and messing with Debian system services via systemd commands, I have been averse to messing with web server software such as Apache. That changed after I purchased a FreedomBox device from Olimex; the device is a small ARM computer about the size of a deck of playing cards which I purchased from Olimex (the "Pioneer Edition Freedombox Home Server Kit"). It contains a set of apps, which includes a calendar server called "Radicale". It stores calendar, journal, and task data that remote clients can synchronize with; this synchornization action can occur over the public internet since FreedomBox software has been designed to provide all its apps with the ability to securely communicate using a user's own public domain name (e.g. for this blog). This means that I can activate the Radicale app, initialize a calendar, copy the provided synchronization URL into my smartphone or computer's calendar app, and then, as a result, be able to update the calendar while I am away from home (specifically, away from the FreedomBox located there). None of this process requires that I save any data with a commercial 3rd party such as Google or Apple. With the FreedomBox, I am my own server.


The setup instructions for Radicale can be found here in the Debian wiki for the FreedomBox. Basically, the steps are:

  1. Setup the FreedomBox (Let's Encrypt certificate, Dynamic DNS if applicable, a username/password to push/pull CalDAV data)
  2. Install Radicale app (the CalDAV server) on the FreedomBox's system web interface.
  3. Login to Radicale as a FreedomBox user and create a calendar/journal/task repository (?) via the Radicale web interface.
  4. Copy the repository's (?) CalDAV URL into a client device (e.g. smartphone) app (e.g. DAVx5 for Android), Thunderbird for GNU/Linux Debian). Provide the client app with the password for a FreedomBox user.

After following the steps described in the wiki for my Android phone and my work machine's Thunderbird instances, I found I was able to successfully push a calendar event from Thunderbird and a task from Android. Now I don't have to use Google Calendar!


Using FreedomBox and Radicale, I set up my own personal digital calendar server without needing to involve Google Calendar at any step.