Self-hosting my life
Over the last few months, I’ve grown to despise the way most people now interact with computers. A typical person:
- Uses Gmail for their email. Some folks may still some other megacorp email, but rarely will folks even use their own domain name.
- Uses Google to search the web. Because we all know that Google can be trusted.
- Uses Discord, Skype, Zoom, and other proprietary chat programs.
- Uses Spotify (or a competitor) for music.
- Uses Netflix to watch movies and TV shows.
- Uses Facebook, Twitter, or some competitor.
- Uses Windows or macOS. Some people don’t even have non-mobile devices.
You get the idea.
Each service we use that’s operated by someone other than ourselves is another point of failure in our lives. Each of these corporations is handling staggeringly large amounts of personal data. When (not if) these companies go belly-up, they inevitably will take peoples' online lives with them. I think it’s clear to see that these are horrible companies, to be avoided at all cost. But what’s the alternative?
Enter FOSS1. Over the past 30ish years, millions of man-hours have been put into creating an ecosystem of open-source2 tools. It’s feasible to run a daily-driver computer with 100% free software. But why stop there? There are open-source self-hostable solutions for practically all of these.
A quick overview, only including what I was able to set up within 20 days:
- Postfix/Dovecot for email, as well as alps webmail
- The Lounge for some the non-techies, and a normal IRC bouncer for myself
- I’m actually quite happy with a combination of mpd and mpv, though I’m considering setting up FunkWhale
- A Pleroma instance
- Finally, this blog
Surprisingly enough, the last one took the most time, since I opted to use wersh instead of a more “normal” framework. I’m rather proud of where I ended up, check out the code if you’re curious!
While setting these up took some time, it’s a fixed time-sink, with a low maintenance cost. If you’d like to migrate off of any of these services but don’t have the technical experience, send me an email!
- Free and Open-Source Software. Loosely, this is where programmers make the secret sauce that powers their programs tick publicly available. Even better, they take contributions!↩
- I use the terms “FOSS”, “free software”, and “open-source” interchangeably. Some people don’t, and that’s a topic for another day.↩