Free Software Personal Servers (LP09)

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Proposed by Wes Felter

Free software took off because of the freedoms offered by the personal computer, but software as a service (aka Web 2.0 aka the cloud) threatens to roll back those freedoms. However, there are legitimate benefits to network services that we should not ignore. I propose to combine the best features of the PC and the cloud in the personal server: a (virtual) server for each person that lives in a data center yet is under total control of its user. Many hackers have personal servers today, but they require a lot of unix knowledge and system administration. A new Web-based user interface for personal servers can be built that requires no unix knowledge and virtually no administration; this would make the freedom of the personal server available to many more people.

The personal server is also a better environment than SaaS for free software developers, since they no longer have to worry about paying for hosting (each user pays for their own server) or scaling (each instance of an application need only support one user).

Comments from others

This is a good idea, but I fear it might be too broad a goal. It seems to me we should focus on special-task personal servers before trying to make the grand unified one, which this seems to be proposing. -- bkuhn 12:15, 21 March 2009 (EDT)

It seems that the use of computers is, to a large extent, controlled by others. Why don’t people maintain personal servers of their own and host an alternate internet where website distribution is entirely dependent upon individuals and their preferences? With such a web, individuals could forever be private.