James Desmond

Using a Blackberry Classic in 2021 with self-hosted services

I want to use a phone with a qwerty keyboard.


  • Unresolved envy. As a kid with a flip phone I was always envious of blackberries.
  • Nostalgia. These devices remind me of ‘simpler times’.
  • Technical Challenge. There are many technical aspects involved in making a dated phone usable in the future. These have been exciting to solve and plan around.


  • Now. This blackberry-2021.md file will serve as the living documentation of this project. The Blackberry Classic is ordered, expected to arrive July 2nd.


  • If SMS and data function on the Blackberry Classic, the plan is to utilize an ssh application to remote into a vps as a specific user.
  • This user will exist just to run weechat: a chat application that supports multiple protocols. weechat will have a matrix plugin installed.
  • On the vps there will be a matrix server running that only I will use.
  • Also on the vps matterbridge will be running. matterbridge will connect to my personal discord, slack, and facebook messenger accounts and forward all channels to their related channel in the matrix server.
  • I will then be able to read all my messages using ssh connected to weechat.
  • For notifications, weechat has a trigger that can run a script when my name is mentioned. I will write a python script that passes the message containing my name through sms to the blackberry itself. Whenever the blackberry is connected to weechat, this notification trigger will be disabled.
  • I will also need to make sure keywords like @here and @everyone are captured as “highlighted”


This project could be or will become impossible to implement. I am not sure if SMS, phone calls, or data will work with this device. I have a current verizon sim card that I will try to just put into the phone and see if it works, I also have a U.S. mobile sim card that I will try to activate. If neither of these options work, this project has little hope. The only other option would be to use my current iphone as a wifi hotspot and utilize the blackberry’s wifi connection in order to use it. The implementation steps below are for either wifi-tethering or mobile network usage.


# Step Notes Status
1 Create a plan Here it is!
2 Purchase a domain
3 Purchase a vps
4 Install and document Synapse Matrix server
5 Install and document weechat
6 Install, configure, and document Matrix weechat plugin
7 Install and document Matterbridge
8 Create channels in Matrix server for Discord
9 Create discord bot according to Matterbridge docs
10 Configure Matterbridge to connect discord channels to Matrix channels as inout

Future Additions

  • Integration with my workplace chat app, hopefully something like Slack
  • Integration with Facebook Messenger for personal communication, though I may switch to Telegram or Whatsapp as both are more natively supported by Matterbridge
  • Add logging from this vps and my other vps into channels in Matrix


Jun. 30, 2021: Received the Blackberry Classic in the mail. My verizon sim works on it with 4G LTE as well as sms and phone calls. This is a great sign. I have installed FDroid and connectbot to try some basic ssh action with a new DO droplet.