7.1. Why Should We Use Our Own Server?

7.1.1. Privacy and Censorship Concerns Rise at the Age of the Internet

At the age of the Internet, we use Internet apps everyday: we use Google Hangout to communicate; we use Facebook to share stories; we use Chrome Sync to synchronize browser bookmarks and history. They are pretty cool and useful, but do you know

  • that they collect your data, even private data, for the purpose to “improve your experience as a user”;
  • that they tie you to their platforms and your friends have to be also tied to the platform to be with you;
  • that they control what stories you “can” publish and what stories you “cannot” publish.

Privacy and free speech are threatened.

7.1.2. Organizations and Working Groups are Subjugated to Proprietary Network Service and Software

Many small organizations and working groups use proprietary network service, often coupled with some client side proprietary software, to collaborate. This leads to the fact that they are largely limited by the software they use.

  • They are not able to extend the service or software they use to better fit in their situation by themselves or hiring people—in other words, they do not have control over the software they run.
  • If the companies which control the proprietary network service and software are gone, they will probably become unsupported. To migrate to a new system, it is usually expensive in the sense of time, money and quality.

7.1.3. Solve the Issue by Using Our Own Server

This issue can be solved. There are many network related free software projects which cover almost all commonly used network services, either on the Internet or an intranet:

  • GNU Social for decentralized and federated social networking,
  • Firefox Sync for synchronizing your web browsers,
  • ownCloud for file, contact and calendar synchronization,
  • Prosody and other free XMPP software for instant messaging,
  • ... (a longer list is available on Wikipedia)

From this long list, it seems practical to deploy network services on our own servers to satisfy most of our needs, if not all. As stated in Preface, this becomes one of the reasons why this manual was written.