personal servers

Moxie Marlinspike, former CEO of Signal, wrote a very interesting blog post about "web3", the crypto-scam1. It's worth a read if you are interested in that stuff. This blog post, however, is not about crypto-scams; but I wanted to quote from the beginning of the article:

People don’t want to run their own servers, and never will. The premise for web1 was that everyone on the internet would be both a publisher and consumer of content as well as a publisher and consumer of infrastructure.

We’d all have our own web server with our own web site, our own mail server for our own email, our own finger server for our own status messages, our own chargen server for our own character generation. However – and I don’t think this can be emphasized enough – that is not what people want. People do not want to run their own servers.

What's interesting to me about this is I feel that he's right: the vast, vast majority of people almost certainly do not want to run their own servers. Yet, I decided to. I started renting a Linux virtual server2 close to 20 years ago3, but more recently, decided to build and run a home NAS, which was a critical decision for getting my personal data under control.

FreedomBox and Debian

I am almost entirely dormant within the Debian project these days, and that's unlikely to change in the near future, at least until I wrap up some other commitments. I do sometimes mull over what I would do within Debian, if/when I return to the fold. And one thing I could focus on, since I am running my own NAS, would be software support for that sort of thing.

FreedomBox is a project that bills itself as a private server for non-experts: in other words, it's almost exactly the thing that Marlinspike states people don't want. Nonetheless, it is an interesting project. And, it's a Debian Pure Blend: which is to say (quoting the previous link) a subset of Debian that is tailored to be used out-of-the-box in a particular situation or by a particular target group. So FreedomBox is a candidate project for me to get involved with, especially (or more sensibly, assuming that) I end up using some of it myself.

But, that's not the only possibility, especially after a really, really good conversation I had earlier today with old friends Neil McGovern and Chris Boot…

  1. crypto-scam is my characterisation, not Marlinspike's.
  2. hosting, amongst other things, the site you are reading
  3. The Linux virtual servers replaced an ancient beige Pentium that was running as an Internet server from my parent's house in the 3-4 years before that.