TLDR; Invidious is a fast-loading, ad- and tracking-free window to YouTube. Host it yourself or use mine at invidious.40two.app.

The problem with YouTube

Like it or not, to get your daily fix of videos there’s no avoiding big G’s ubiquitous YouTube. PeerTube is excellent but content limited. Vimeo not so excellent and impossible to navigate. And Facebook, well, Facebook. Besides, half your search-results point to the video giant.

It’s got it all. It’s free. So what’s the problem?

Ads. More ads. And even more ads.

I watch YouTube for the content. Which comes to me after first watching commercial 1 (3…2…1…skip) and 2 (10 seconds, can’t skip). It’s then interrupted at least once for more ads and often finishes adding insult to injury having me wait to skip an Ad only to find that what I was watching had already ended.

The Rabbit Hole

Plenty has been written on the dangers of Recommendation Algorithms aka the Rabbit Hole. In their Relentless Pursuit of Profit™, Google thinks they can best keep me on-platform by recommending videos like the one I just watched, only a bit weirder, more outspoken or confrontational.

I kid you not, you can start off watching Bambi and end up watching the World Explode. That Rabbit Hole.

The Tracking

50 requests, 10Mb, 23 cookies, 7 content sources. Just opening youtube.com.

‘nough said

I tried Pi-holeBrave Browser and NoScript but all of them broke something and I still ended up watching the World Explode.  

Invidious to the rescue

Just like NitterTeddit and Bibliogram (front-ends for Twitter, Reddit and Instagram), Invidious sits in between you and YouTube. It’ll dispose of cookies, bin the ads and trackers and build chronological timelines out of subscriptions.

In other words, Invidious offers all of YouTube and none of the annoyances. Coded by @omarroth, it offers a light-weight, ad-free frontend to YouTube.

It also offers:

  • Audio-only mode (with background play on mobile)
  • Subscriptions (instance based, separate from YouTube)
  • Reddit Comments (instead of the useless YouTube ones)
  • No need for JavaScript to play videos
  • No ads and a chronological time-line
  • Dark mode (to match the rest of your device, right?)

Try it out yourself at invidious.40two.app, or on one of these public instances (or these ones).

* note: I’ve had to pause my own instance for now due to recent versions consuming more memory than even my ElasticSearch install and consuming large amounts of bandwidth even when not visited.

Invidious has a nice – if not very pretty – front-end, but what about all these YouTube embeds and links on pages you read?

Simply install the Privacy Redirect plugin for FireFoxChrome and Edge Chromium. Open Source and easy to setup, it will automatically re-route all YouTube* links to the Invidious instance of your choice.

* it also redirects Twitter to Nitter, Reddit to Old-Reddit, Instagram to Bibliogram and Google Maps to OpenStreetMap.

Host it yourself

The GitHub repo for Invidious contains all you need to spin up a copy for yourself.

I cloned the repo, edited the included docker-compose.yml to front it with Traefik and then built it from Dockerfile. There’s an image on Docker Hub as well, which might make things even easier.

Documentation is scattered to put it mildly; useful were this config page, the bit about reverse proxies because of Traefik and TheFrenchGhosty’s tip on restarting the container daily to handle a known memory leak.

Happy YouTube!

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