CloudTube: Invidious alternative

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chaosmonk

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CloudTube[1] is an Invidious-like frontend to YouTube by the same developer as Bibliogram (a frontend to Instagram). Until recently it has used Invidious's API, but since Invidious no longer has a maintainer, the developer is reimplementing Invidious's backend in Python using youtube-dl for video URL extraction.[2]

There are no longer any Invidious instances that work reliably for me, and as YouTube makes changes the situation will get worse and worse unless someone steps up to take over Invidious maintenance. Today I started using the main CloudTube instance[3], and it works much better so far. This might be in part because CloudTube has fewer users, and if the user base grows the additional strain might lead to problems, but at least there is an active maintainer to address those problems, and hopefully being written in a less obscure programming language will pose less of a barrier to entry for potential contributors.

[1] https://git.sr.ht/~cadence/cloudtube

[2] https://git.sr.ht/~cadence/Second

[3] https://cadence.moe/cloudtube

lutes
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> https://cadence.moe/cloudtube/subscriptions

Nice. Search by video reference (whatever follows "?v=") also works.

In case one forgets the https://cadence.moe/cloudtube/video/[video_reference] link structure, that is.

GNUser
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Thanks for sharing!
Due to me using Tor, I can't access it, Cadence has had trouble with Tor users in the past. Are there any other instances of Cloudtube like there are in Invidious? Thanks.

PsychicEcho
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Wow nice share, thanks.

The thumbnails for the videos are not displaying for me. Is anybody else having this issue? Invidious, Youtube and Tonvid all display properly for me.

lutes
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I am not sure I would consider it as an issue, but I am not getting thumbnails either on cloudtube.

I would rather worry about the maintainer base of cloudtube. Maybe kicking our dependence on Google for video content is the only reliable path.

chaosmonk

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> I am not sure I would consider it as an issue, but I am not getting thumbnails either on cloudtube.

By default CloudTube proxies thumbnails through Invidious, and that feature isn't working right now. In the settings you can disable this and it will load the thumbnails directly from YouTube instead. Hopefully this will not be an issue once CloudTube no longer relies on Invidious for its backend.

> Maybe kicking our dependence on Google for video content is the only reliable path.

Absolutely. Proxies like Invidious and CloudTube are short-term workarounds for the underlying problem, which is reliance on YouTube for video content itself. Hopefully Peertube will become a viable replacement at some point.

lutes
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Two interesting articles about cloudtube, both written by its developer:

* On its relationship with invidious: https://datahorde.org/?p=1335

* On Cadence, cloudtube's dev: https://cadence.moe/blog/2020-08-29-untitled-i

[EDIT: link]

chaosmonk

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Here is the new version of CloudTube (still experimental) that uses its own Python backend and does not rely on Invidious: https://tube.cadence.moe/

andyprough
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Works well for me this morning. Seems faster and better performing than most invidio.us instances have been lately. And I was able to plug it into my Privacy Redirect add-on and it worked like a charm. Thanks for this and thanks for telling me about Privacy Redirect. Little things like these make going online soooo much better.

chaosmonk

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> Seems faster and better performing than most invidio.us instances have been lately.

Yes, that's been my experience too. It remains to be seen how much of that is due to a lower amount of traffic. Eventually the main CloudTube instance and any other large CloudTube instances that emerge may start getting blocked by and need to solve CAPTCHAs like large Invidious instances have. Still, I am optimistic for a few reasons:

* There is an active maintainer.

* The language is Python, so it will be easier to find others with the skill to contribute. I sometimes tried to make sense of Invidious's source code, but could never get anywhere with the unfamiliar programming language and lack of comments/documentation.

* It uses youtube-dl for video extraction (another advantage of choosing Python is that yt-dl can be imported as a Python module), so when it comes to keeping up with changes by YouTube the maintenance burden is spread across yt-dl and CloudTube, whereas with Invidious all of the maintenance burden was on Omarroth.

> And I was able to plug it into my Privacy Redirect add-on and it worked like a charm.

Yes, it's nice that the URL format is the same as Invidious's, so that third-party programs that work with arbitrary Invidious instances can use CloudTube as a drop-in replacement without the developer needing to make any changes.

koszkonutek
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Error

Could not extract video info. Instance is likely blocked.

RATE_LIMITED_BY_YOUTUBE

That error was generated by https://second.cadence.moe.

:/

andyprough
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I've been using tube.cadence.moe and having really good performance and responsiveness. No videos blocked that I've noticed.

lutes
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I have been met with the same error message several times in the past week. As of today the problem seems to have been resolved, or worked around.

However, these points from chaosmonk's post above remain:

> how much of that is due to a lower amount of traffic.

> keeping up with changes by YouTube

andyprough
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> keeping up with changes by YouTube

As chaosmonk said in his most recent post, cloudtube is passing all calls directly to youtube-dl, and youtube-dl keeps up with the changes by youtube. So it shouldn't be a problem.

lutes
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I thought he wrote that "the maintenance burden is spread across yt-dl and CloudTube". So it could still possibly be a problem at some point in the future, only a less acute one. My interpretation could be wrong, though. Hopefully the reduced burden will allow CloudTube instances a better fate anyhow.

But again, relying on Google for any sort of content does not sound the proper thing to do. I cannot help replying to emails from people using gmail, because for the time being doing otherwise would mean falling into almost complete isolation, but I only use 'ungoogled' YouTube when someone sends me a link to a YouTube video.

Last time I tried Peertube it had odd stuff, like a hybrid of Project-Free-TV and a fake version of Pornhub would have. That might have changed since, though.

chaosmonk

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> I thought he wrote that "the maintenance burden is spread across yt-dl and CloudTube". So it could still possibly be a problem at some point in the future, only a less acute one. My interpretation could be wrong, though. Hopefully the reduced burden will allow CloudTube instances a better fate anyhow.

youtube-dl is used for extracting video information and downloading the video itself. Since youtube-dl does cannot actually search YouTube, CloudTube does need to maintain its own extractor to do that. However, I feel like I've noticed that when an Invidious instance isn't working, it's usually not the search functionality that is broken, but the ability to view video information and play videos. So the extractors that seem to be most fragile are the same extractors that are provided by youtube-edl/

lutes
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I see, thanks for these details.

So the long-term viability of CloudTube mainly depends on the viability of youtube-dl, which itself has 750+ contributors. Fair enough.

chaosmonk

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> I have been met with the same error message several times in the past week. As of today the problem seems to have been resolved, or worked around.

For a few days I could not watch any videos because the instance was rate limited. That may be what you are referring to, and it was likely because the amount of traffic increased. I discussed this with the developer here.[1]

[1] https://lists.sr.ht/~cadence/tube-devel/%3CC5V3YQIKSL4T.2RLPS41CAI88P%40libricia-thinkcentre%3E

lutes
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Right, it seems that it was working on and off, probably depending on the incoming traffic.

Meanwhile: https://cadence.moe/blog/2020-09-28-my-experience-with-the-workman-layout

GNUbahn
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I tried to use Cloudtube via tor:

Access denied

You aren't allowed to access CloudTube through the Tor network or through a proxy service.

Sadly, this is due to bad actors abusing the site through the Tor network.

If you are blocked by mistake, you can leave a comment here.

Disable your proxy to use CloudTube.

I know there are different opinions whether to use tor for watching videos but that is not the issue here (for me at least).

Can someone help to explain to me in not too technical terms to what extent using couldtube rather than youtube will protect my privacy?

lutes
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chaosmonk

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> I tried to use Cloudtube via tor:

It's unfortunate that Cadence has had to block Tor. Perhaps other instances will pop up that don't, or even some onion instances like Invidious has.

> Can someone help to explain to me in not too technical terms to what extent using couldtube rather than youtube will protect my privacy?

No JS or trackers.

GNUser
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Actually I have used https://tube.cadence.moe through Tor and it works like a charm.

Keep in mind that the way Cloudtube works both the video AND the thumbnails are loaded directly from Youtube. Even a simple search can be used to track you. Only solution is using Tor.

chaosmonk

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GNUser
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Thanks for the info.

chaosmonk

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> Keep in mind that the way Cloudtube works both the video AND the thumbnails are loaded directly from Youtube. Even a simple search can be used to track you.

Limiting the information YouTube gets to the IP address associated with your requests reduces the invasiveness of YouTube to that of a normal website. The things that make YouTube particularly privacy invading are done in JS, trackers, analytics, ads, and the other things the CloudTube/Invidious eliminate. If you *also* want to hide your IP address, then yeah use Tor or some other form of proxy, but that goes for any website. It has nothing to do with CloudTube.

GNUser
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Very true.
One point I disagree though, Google is able to learn a lot more about you from your IP address than other websites (traffic correlation). So if you use Cloudtube and they get your IP, those searches (even not watching the video itself) will be correlated to your traffic in other places.
Other than that, fully agree with you, their JS and analytics are the worse.

lutes
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I am now left wondering: what if I use Tor for every website I visit except my favorite CloudTube instance?

GNUser
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Tor Browser uses a different circuit (most of the time that will mean a different Exit Node) for each domain.
I am not sure if third party content might be using the same IP (being from the same 3rd party domain).
I suspect that will be taken care of by the Tor Browser, especially if you browse with the Security Slider set to highest.

Edit: But there is another important point. Each time you use the Tor Browser you will get a different IP. That makes it much harder to correlate traffic from different days for example. Yes, I know regular internet connections at home also use different IPs from time to time, but not the same thing.

lutes
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Last update about CloudTube and Second:

https://cadence.moe/blog/2020-09-30-cloudtube-progress-update

strypey
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It would be nice if the maintainers of Invidious instances could do something so that links posted to them will continue to work. Even a URL redirect that took https://invidio.us/watch?v=abcdefg and sent the user to https://youtube.com/watch?v=abcdefg would be better than broken links all over the fediverse etc.

chaosmonk

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> It would be nice if the maintainers of Invidious instances could do something so that links posted to them will continue to work. Even a URL redirect that took https://invidio.us/watch?v=abcdefg and sent the user to https://youtube.com/watch?v=abcdefg would be better than broken links all over the fediverse etc.

That sounds like basically what they've already done[1], unless I'm misunderstanding you. What about the current behavior of invidio.us would you like to see changed?

[1] https://github.com/iv-org/invidious/issues/1321