Christian Weiske


Simple open source Libravatar compatible avatar image server written
in PHP.


  • Delivers images for email addresses
  • Very easy to setup.
  • No graphics processing is done on the server, keeping the CPU load low. All avatar images get pre-generated for a set of sizes
  • If no image at the user requested size is found, the next larger image gets returned.
  • Supports the mm fallback image (mystery man)


  1. Copy data/surrogator.config.php.dist to
    data/surrogator.config.php (remove the .dist)
  2. Adjust the config file to your needs
  3. (optional) Create a default image and put it into the raw folder,
    name it default.png
  4. Setup your web server and set the document root to the www/
    directory. Make sure you allow the .htaccess file and have
    mod_rewrite activated.

    _avatars._tcp.example.org. IN SRV 0 0 80 avatars.example.org
    _avatars-sec._tcp.example.org. IN SRV 0 0 443 avatars.example.org

    This makes the avatar server avatars.example.org responsible for
    the domain example.org, on ports 80 (HTTP) and 443 (HTTPS).

It is possible to use an existing domain as avatar server. Just copy avatar.php into its document root dir and copy the rewrite rule from .htaccess into the domain’s .htaccess file if one exists. If not, copy the whole .htaccess file. After that, you have to point the $cfgFile path at the beginning of the avatar.php file to the correct


  1. Put images in raw/ folder. Name has to be email address + image
    file extension, for example foo@example.org.png. Surrogator
    supports .png and .jpg.
  2. Run php surrogator.php. The small files get generated.
  3. You will get more information with -v
  4. When you run surrogator.php again, it will only generate small
    files when the raw file is newer than the “square” file in the var
    folder. You can force the update with --force.


To check if everything is setup correctly, try the following tools:

See the libravatar wiki about running a custom server and the API specification for more information.


Surrogator is licensed under the AGPL v3 or later.


Written by Christian Weiske, cweiske@cweiske.de