It's a sad situation that it's so difficult to set up self-owned online services. It's taken me weeks to set up my own code hosting platform, working on it in my free time. Similarly with my fediverse instance, and before that my Nextcloud setup.

I have a lot more tech experience than the average person, plus the privilege of having free time to do all this, and I've still found it difficult. So it's practically unachievable for the majority of people.

This is what keeps people locked within surveillance capitalism.

@gid What were the big pain points? Specifically?

I'll note that Mastodon is awesome to use but is a big drooling pain in the keister to set up and run.

@feoh For me the pain points of Mastodon was the initial deployment - making sure all the dependencies were installed, figuring out the slight differences between Mastodon docs and what was available on the server I'd set up (running Debian 10). None of it was overly difficult but it all added up. I will say that of all the documentation I've read, Mastodon's setup documentation was towards the better end of the scale.

@feoh for Gitea, I found the documentation very sparse. The setup guide stops at running the service: it doesn't cover initial configuration. I had to trawl through forums and issue tracker posts to figure out how to configure it.

Granted, code hosting is not something that non-developers would often set up so I can accept the technical bar to access is much higher here.

@feoh but in general none of these services (and I'm not picking on particular projects here, I mean general services) are things that non-technically-inclined people could set up for themselves without requiring investing a lot of time and learning

@gid That's absolutely true and something I've thought a lot about. There's a headspace issue here among techies. I have an idea for a forum/Discourse like server side app meant for mere humans, and mostly when I try to explain it to people they're like WHAT? BUT? DOCKER? OR? LINODE/DO? and I try to explain to them that no, trying to get Joe Sixpack to install and run a Docker container Will Not Fly. Orders of magnitude simpler for simple apps? Yes. Simple enough? Not by a long shot. And then there's the problem of ongoing maintenance which Docker actually IMO complexifies (if only slightly.)

@feoh exactly. I fall into this headspace issue as well: one of my pet projects is a home media server. So far it's not installable with standard Python tooling (setuptools etc.), and the reverse proxying via web server needs to be set up manually. This is absolutely not accessible or user friendly. But I started it because it was technically fun and filled a niche demand I have.

If we're serious about enabling people to own their own online services and data, we (as developers and engineers) need to think way beyond our relatively confined domains.

@gid Agreed, and at times the doc is downright misleading. From reading the doc I came away thinking that Gitea doesn't do repo mirroring, which it in fact does. I've found their Discord very helpful though. Great community.

@gid You may want to contribute to the Freedombox project.

@alvarezp thanks, I think I've seen the name before but I didn't know any specifics.

@gid @alvarezp both @freedomboxfndn and @yunohost are interesting options to help with selfhosting.

But I think your general point is correct, users won't have freedom unless setting them up becomes as easy as installing something from a consumer store.

@uniq @alvarezp @freedomboxfndn @yunohost yeah, that's what I'm getting at. These projects are great but the underlying technical stack, as well as the ongoing task of administering/maintaining these services, is still too complex for the majority of people.

It needs to get simpler and more robust if we're ever going to meaningfully break free from the surveillance capitalist space.

@freedomboxfndn @yunohost this isn't a criticism of your projects by the way. I think what you're doing is important.

cc @uniq @alvarezp

@gid @uniq @alvarezp @freedomboxfndn @yunohost I agree. I wish that selfhosting would be easier. I will try to set up my own yunohost in November. I don't have IT background, but I love to learn new stuff. I hope I'll manage to get it to work.

@tasugo @gid @uniq @alvarezp @freedomboxfndn @yunohost Nice. I am waiting for my Olinuxino Lime 2 with SSD. One can buy a premade package for home server on Olimex.

@gid @uniq @alvarezp @freedomboxfndn @yunohost Not sure if that's ever going to happen, not completely. The matter is complex, you can only simplify things so much. I'd say aim for making it feasible for the somewhat-techies, and let people help eachother. Not everyone needs (or should have) their own personal Nextcloud, you can share one within your family, for example.

@doenietzomoeilijk @uniq @alvarezp @freedomboxfndn @yunohost sure, you're right there. And the efforts to simplify availability/access to self-hosting these services doesn't just stop at software development. Robust/permanent Internet access is also a barrier. But imagine if there were widely available cooperatives that provided communities with bandwidth/address space/discovery services so they could self-host. That would greatly reduce the cost (money, time, training) of setting up and running these services.

@gid @doenietzomoeilijk @uniq @freedomboxfndn @yunohost I don't know... On one hand, only those who can read code can be certain they are free from surveillance. Otherwise they are forced to trust someone else, be it a relative or an ethical company.

On the other, it is impossible for everybody in the world to be able to know everything, including coding. Most have made the choice to not learn to code. I think that's OK.

@alvarezp @gid @uniq @freedomboxfndn @yunohost

That latter part is exactly what I mean. It's also not limited to code - at some point you're going to have to trust Someone Else to do something for you, and not cock it up (healthcare, transit come to mind), and that's indeed OK. Nobody can know and do everything.

What we *do* need, perhaps, is more incentive for honest, non-cocking-up folks to start doing things for others, instead of leaving it to the current powers that be.

@gid @uniq @alvarezp @freedomboxfndn @yunohost
Could we think to a version "basic" of @yunohost with only some services that do not require difficult configurations like DNS and external services (at least only dynamic DNS)? For example I think all the web based services - @nextcloud, @calibreweb, @ttrss - does not require anything more than a domain name.
Leaving back email and jabber, but we could leave an option to "upgrade" the basic version to a full one with a warning to the user (...)

@gid @uniq @alvarezp @freedomboxfndn @yunohost @yunohost @nextcloud, @calibreweb, @ttrss that the upgrade will need some technical steps

@uniq @gid @alvarezp see also Sandstorm, which never quite took off (not without reason, but still at least an honest and explicit attempt to make that sort of thing happen)

@gid As I see it, aren't there docker images for the big selfhosted solutions readily available?!

And when that's the case, it should actually be really easy to get things going.

The actual work at least for me personally is wanting to understand the underlying architecture and configuration, therefore diving rather deep into the software...

@phel there are, but try explaining how to use Docker to someone non-technical. It doesn't really lower the barrier for entry.

@gid True. However NextCloud is super easy to setup. Follow the web installer… Basically you upload a single php file on your server, then access it and go one by one through the graphical steps. Easier to set up than wordpress. I wish I could see the same process for Friendica, Mastodon and so many other federated networks.

@tio it was relatively simple for me, but I have experience with setting up servers and administering them. I suspect even the ease of the Nextcloud installation is beyond what most users who just want to sync & share photos are comfortable with.

@gid That's true. Should be as easy as installing a desktop app and simply use it. That should act as a "node" and deal with all of the setup. Almost like the Tox, RetroShare or DAT protocol are doing it. No need for servers. Install and use.

@gid @uniq in addition to the suggestions of @yunohost or @freedomboxfndn there is also netbox by @nitrokey : and syncloud which both sell pre-configured NextCloud appliances on affordable hardware.

@gid I'd add to this, that besides the technical considerations, this is just as much a cultural problem: Autonomously maintaining infrastructure is a responsibility and recurring work, and as such we have to mutually support ourselves to do it. It should, in my view, precisely *not* be the thing we do "on the side" in our free time, but instead something that we acknowledge as an important but laborious duty that we collectively finance/compensate, distribute and share among our communities of varying sizes (down to the completely personalized hosting where it makes sense). I personally don't want to be my own service provider, but I want to see the people who do that work get paid and/or supported, just as I want them to be trustworthy and accountable, i.e. real people, not a corporate cloud on the other side of the globe. :)

@freebliss definitely. I think it's more a cultural problem than a technological one actually. There aren't a lack of technological solutions to these problems, but accessible (in the sense of being approachable to non-technical people) solutions are rare if they exist at all.

@gid agreed, and even if self hosting could be made completely no-brainer-painkess and convenient, conventional servers remain a problem. p2p is also not there yet, and of course you lose the possibility of running the dB or business logic on a server. But!

It's my belief that we must create solutions that are easier to use, have almost zero adoption barriers, and offer more if we want most people to shift to them. I also believe this we can achieve this, and hope will get us there.

@gid but i think another big point is that we use free software without paying for it. I don't want to argue against the principles of free software. I rather want to point out that not paying for things you don't have to pay for creates weird business models, that e.g. are based on secret documentation that you only receive via support contracts. If we want to solve the adoption of free software we have to solve the financial problem. But this is the hardest one, i think.

@gid It’s not fully seamless yet and aimed at developers, not eveyday use but have you seen Site.js? (

The next step is to make it 30 seconds to get a site deployed at your own domain.

@aral I really dig what you're doing with Site.js

@gid Thank you :) Please do let me know if you have any thoughts if you get to play with it at any point :)

@gid I couldn't agree more. I'd like to think of myself as more technologically savvy than the average person but setting up nextcloud in its non snap form is a literal nightmare. I hope that the community can make progress to ease the entry to self hosting for new and possibly less experienced people.

@ThreeBadgersInATrenchcoat it needs to get much simpler. There's a big assumption of background knowledge when you read the Nextcloud install guide: how do you set up a server? How do you make it accessible over the Internet? How do you install all the things needed to get Nextcloud running?

And again, I'm not picking on Nextcloud specifically here: their documentation ranks among the better docs I've read. But these projects are still aimed at people who have those technical skill or the time and resources to learn those skills.

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