It has been a very complicated year regarding my cloud services. I started completely unaware of the difficulties, and it has been a fun and painful ride. The fact that there are projects aiming to provide personally controlled cloud services is great. The fact that there is people being paid for doing this kind of work for companies means that it ain’t that simple to manage.

I encourage to try the sovereign project, which assists you in building and maintaining your own private cloud. I even managed to contribute a bit to it. That is the whole point of Free Software: Let others learn from your work and experience and share with them the burden of managing a project that serves the common good. Yes, there is a lot about Freedoms involved in it too, and I may better say Open Source for the reduced scope in my last sentence, but that is just a consequence of Free Software and I rather promote with the full philosophy.

Sovereign covers all the basic services for your personal cloud, and many more that I don’t even use. I dislike that currently it is not modular enough, because there were few things I just didn’t want installed in my server. In the end choosing not to install something reduces to commenting out roles, but there is no way of uninstalling what you already deployed to your server. That is just a step you have to manually do. However, this encouraged me to learn about Ansible and how to configure my own server manually and with the configuration manager. In the end for someone like me, I ended up winning.

I’m not yet completely out of mainstream providers, it is hard to get out, but I’m way more conscious on my personal choices nowadays. I also feel good that I’m trying to fight against the current state of affairs regarding cloud services by using my server. The cloud is a good thing, but you need to understand its business model. You need to understand why its “Free”, and what you are giving away for using it.

Using your own cloud should be for everyone, and there are amazing Free Software projects that help you to do so. Having your cloud does feel really expensive because you need money to pay for the VPS provider plus time to manage it, compared to free stuff as offered by mainstream providers it just seems pointless and that’s why so many of us have followed the path of resignation and embrace the current business models where we pay with our data. Instead, we should support Free Software projects and companies that aim to protect your data and give you freedom respecting internet. Yes, it will cost you cash, but you’ll be aware of what is going on. Also, the Free Software model help in distributing power, there is no single Super provider you can always choose the provider you trust and do business with them. This helps avoid monopolies, because you are decentralizing the use of a service.

My final thought is to give it a try. Yes, it can feel like a nightmare, but is our duty to fight for a free and open internet.