What does it mean to run your own servers?

I used to be a member of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Flickr, etc. But I felt guilty because I didn't run my own servers. OK, I could host content with them. But I had a severely limited way of curating what I saw and how much I could customise what people saw of me.

So I signed up to a cloud provider and installed Mastodon and Pixelfed. Neat! But I didn't really run that server. Sure, I could install software - but I didn't have root. It was all managed by someone else.

Next, I got a dedicated machine in a rack somewhere. Great! I had root and was able to mess around with the system as much as I liked. I mean, I could always roll back. Wait… I did set up backups, right? But it was never really my server. If I wanted to install more RAM or a bigger disk, I had to ask a technician to do that for me. And those technicians were able to power off my machine at any moment without warning.

Fine! I bought a dedicated fibre connection at home with a static IP address. I bought a couple of servers, a load balancer, and a hardware firewall - then set up a domain name to point to it all. I also bought a UPS to deal with power cuts. Then I installed a security system to prevent burglars or spies coming in to mess with it.

Of course, I want to make sure I know exactly what's running on my machine; not your code, not your server. That means I make sure to read all the diffs to the source before I run apt upgrade. But reading that many changes to Linux, Apache, and WordPress is complicated.

So I've not been able to post much on social since I started studying for a Phd in Computer Science.

Heavily inspired by this masterpiece:

I thought using loops was cheating, so I programmed my own using samples. I then thought using samples was cheating, so I recorded real drums. I then thought that programming it was cheating, so I learned to play drums for real. I then thought using bought drums was cheating, so I learned to make my own. I then thought using premade skins was cheating, so I killed a goat and skinned it. I then thought that that was cheating too, so I grew my own goat from a baby goat. I also think that is cheating, but I'm not sure where to go from here. I haven't made any music lately, what with the goat farming and all.
MagpieIndustries - 2010-09-03

One thought on “What does it mean to run your own servers?

  1. says:

    At least Free software means that you are enabled to do all of this, even if you could not do the last step in any meaningful fashion.

    The bigger problem, much though I like the idea, is that getting anywhere close to this is far too complex for most people.

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