How to use matrix: for normies!

What is matrix?

  • A federated and decentralized network for communication the likes of signal, whatsapp, the most similar probably being discord..

  • Freedom-respecting software that you can install and host on your own server.

  • Frankly, a superior messaging system to most others. XMPP is probably superior to matrix in some ways, but matrix is, in my opinion, more usable for non-tech-savvy users. (normies) (iphone users). (jk, android users too).

Why should you care about matrix?

  • It's literally easier to use than anything else.

  • It has more features than something like discord.

  • You can make your own matrix server on your own computer if you wish.

  • It supports basically all mainstream (and some more obscure) platforms: Windows, MacOS, GNU+Linux, BSD, Android, Ios, even the nintendo 3DS. (and some others I don't know about probably too. Might not have TempleOS support tho.

  • I know you probably "don't care about privacy" but at least you can feel good about yourself that you're not being spied on by some corporation.

  • You literally just have to create a username and a password to use it. No retarded, non-functional, insecure and unnecessary two factor authentification which is getting shilled everywhere for some reason nowdays.

"How do I download matrix?"

The simple answer:

Download the element app. Or use the element web interface.

The right anwer:

Matrix does not interface through a single app. There are a lot of different matrix clients from different developers with different goals and intentions, and all of these clients can interface with matrix. You might use element, while your friend might be using FluffyChat, or mirage, or a different client, but you all can communicate together. If one of the projects stops being developped, or becomes corrupt and maybe integrate spyware into them (which is a real possibility), you can just switch to another client. A list of these clients can be found here. The reason why I recommend element to most people is because it's probably the most easy-to-use of them all.

Creating an account

After you install a matrix client, it will prompt you to either log in or to create an account.

Now you will have to create an account. If you want to create an account on my server not that this account is not saved anywhere but on my raspberry pi. And it is all encrypted of course, so I don't have access to your passwords even if I wanted. You don't have to give away your email address or phone number mandatorily. You can do that if you're afraid that you'll forget your password. Of course you can create an account everywhere else and you will be still able to talk to my server via my link.

Note if you want to join my matrix server:

After clicking "create new account", Do not go with the default server. Instead Hit "edit" next to and under "other homeserver" write:

That's basically it!

Now you should be logged into my matrix server. As of writing this guide, there aren't many people on the server (because it's a new server too), but that will hopefully change.

You can join a public room, or create your own room, be it private or public! On this server you are in control and I won't ban interfere with that. In fact, I can't even see what a person is doing in a public, encrypted room.

Things to do after logging into matrix for the first time.

Generate a security phrase

A security phrase must be generated for proper and secure cross-device syncing. This will be basically your password for messages you and your friends have sent in encrypted rooms (and DMs).

To do that (in element) click on your profile picture >> All settings >> Security & privacy >> Cross-signing >> Set up Secure Backup >> Generate a security phrase

Now when you sign into a new device, you will have to use this passphrase to unlock your messages. You can choose to generate a security key , but it is more convenient for most people to just generate a password.

Some potentially confusing things with matrix

Keyrings on GNU+Linux

Note: this happens only on GNU+Linux as far as I know.

If you use GNU+Linux, chances are that you've encountered a prompt to "choose a password for new keyring". What this is is basically your decryption key for your matrix password that is stored on your computer locally. By default, anyone who would have access to your computer, could see this password basically in plain text. If you encrypt your password with a keyring, that is impossible. It is just an extra security step.

Invite your frens!

Matrix is so easy to use literally your grandma can use it with ease.

Invite other people to use matrix! Whether it's my instance, or some other, it's always good to get people more familiar with software like matrix. With proprietary software and centralized technology, whatever the intentions were originally, the developer will get corrupted eventually. We can see that with software the likes of discord, whatsapp, facebook etc. Facebook respects your privacy only if it doesn't hurt their profit. Matrix respects your privacy wheter the developer wants it or not. That is control. That is freedom.

Copyright © 2022-2023 Jakub Bidžan
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later
Source code: