First published April 2020.
Updated 03 March 2022.
Presently, I pay businesspeople to let me use a teeny skerrick of a server bank. The hosting has been in transition from a webhost to a Virtual Private Server (V.P.S.), to allow for a deeper engagement with internet accessibility.
This makes for a kind of typing computers better.
If anyone knows of Australasian or Asian V.P.S. hostererers aux chatons (du Collectif des Hébergeurs Alternatifs, Transparents, Ouverts, Neutres et Solidaires), please get in touch! Human rights respectin’ and environmentalist practices preferred.
Meanwhile, why not work on organising such community infrastructure?
Running an internet server might sound like an overwhelming idea. Trying to know what needs knowing struck me as beyond daunting enough in itself. Really, charting a comfortable course was perhaps the hardest part. The actual doing unfolded surprisingly smoothly.1
It helped to break the study into stages:
- Figure out what machinery to use for a server.
- Prepare for logging in.
- Set up a firewall.
- Ready whichever service(s) one intends to kick off with.
- Organise back‐ups for anything irreplaceable that is not already backed up regularly.
- Everything fine? Point D.N.S. records at things.
Here’s something of the present Breydon method…
3. Choosing a server
The romance of rescuing an unloved machine and feeding it sips from a portable solar supply propped up at a sunny window, empowering loved ones to engage with the world over seasonally‐responsive hours and in fulfilling ways, that appealed to me greatly. But I was not prepared to ask nor teach other members of the household to babysit a computer, when I didn’t even feel ready myself. Realistically, it was going to be a while before I could power it from anything but a dubious mains blend anyway.
So first came entering a decent agreement for a fairly modest V.P.S. to be provided in a manner relatively gentle on the world. Wind power. Respectful privacy policies. Use of the proceeds towards the public interest. Ideally, non‐proprietary firmware and hardware, but that is incredibly rare still in this era. Long service lives for equipment. Climatically appropriate architecture. Whatever considerations you can think of could be taken into account. If we are going to draw up yet more of the toxic “cloud” into its superfluous being, we ought to at very least be sensitive to its palpability, hey?
This then also determines the choices of operating system (O.S.) available. The hardware owner might not permit a wide range. For the sake of properly free software, secure‐ish functionality for several years, and plentiful beginners’ instructive material should anything bamboozle: how about the latest stable version of Debian?
If something comparable but more efficient is on offer, though, great!
For smol/slow/static content shared among a smol/slow/cosy readership, computer memory, storage, and processing capacity can all be minimal. Consult system requirements for running the O.S. without a graphical shell. That’ll do.
Mind you, I was lucky enough to have been taught about computer files — in that limited window of time, space, and culture where a working knowledge of the metaphor was usually only justifiably taken for granted. Indeed this story continues to assume a grasp of the concept.