Freedom in Self-Hosting | 02/04/2020
I find often that a computer user carries the attitude that daily computing is kind of whimsical, in the sense that it might seem like a computer does what it wants, and when it doesn't want something to work one day, it won't work. The user works for the computer, and not the other way around.
"I don't know why it's loading so slow. I guess the computer is deciding to throw a fit."
Today, I believe that we only encourage that attitude by diverting most of the computing to centralized servers and bottlenecking performance based on how good a user's internet connection is. These servers may be run by large companies, but their uptime will never be indefinite nor guaranteed.
Most of the apps that do this diversion of computation do it in irresponsible ways, creating software that relies on one provider and stops working once the provider decides to end service. An imperfect example is video games without available server hosting software or always-on DRM.
The industry seems to think the only way to make money is to charge a service cost for unicorn software that can only be hosted by themselves.
Now is a better time than ever to take control of the services you use and see the end of "whimsical" computing in an afternoon with software we have right now, available gratis. It doesn't take a lot of computing power to host a server for single person use, especially when you need a replacement for simple things such as cloud storage and cross-device syncing. You can get a cheap device such as a Raspberry Pi for about 30-300 USD depending on your needs and you can start to build your own services that you can be more confident in the performance of, because you host them yourself. Nextcloud is a great example. It's a Google Drive-like suite of self-hosted services that provide an easy setup for a multitude of use cases.
The modern cycle of SaaS is "users trusting tyranical software that do not guarantee anything," "software breaks users' trust," "users pick new company with a cleaner name to trust." When you self host, you don't have to worry about the whim of whatever company you're submitting to, especially when most of the things you trust them for are really simple. When there is an issue, you can immediately start to consult the issue yourself, instead of waiting for a company to get their servers back up. If you want to amend your service and add your own special functionality, you can, instead of waiting for a company to decide what you want. Packaged in this is the added plus of knowing exactly what your server is running, and what computations you are doing with your data. Have a blog, cloud, or chat service without being blasted by the standards of providers and forces that bend the web for the interests of the hand that force-feeds you.
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