Visioning and building the infrastructure we need
unfurl.cloud -- middle layer of open cloud system on existing cloud providers
One org has setup full control of their data, where it's stored, who has access, single button to destroy all if need-be.
Struggle is next 5 years. Always the last mile problem, implementation gap that good to use but need installer/maintainer.
Locally installed community networks paused for later side conversation.
Levels of control you can have over infra
In context of GreenHost:
Hardware, bare metal servers, maintenance of them. Very difficult for most orgs to do on their own due to costs, access to data centers with good Internet access. They boot a very basic OS giving you access, from there you can encrypt, install what you want, whiel main host can only reboot, etc. This is level or layer 1. Most everything already open source. Sysadmin being level 2. You must place trust in the people at this level. Admin access to software tools installed on the hardware, level 3. Users at level 4.
Confidential computer -- idea that hosting provider ensures isolation and security at the hardware level, like VM cannot access host maching.
Host outside US is useful for avoiding secret national security letters forcing hosting providers to hand over data without telling you. GreenHost only has to divulge data when Dutch courts say they have to, but usually have ability to notify customer first.
Types of users
Some users just need a virtual private cloud to install and maintein their own tools, but many groups do not have that capacity on their own.
eclips.is a free service for activists and freedom fighters with some common collaboration tools installed. Can also install some other tools for a group, like Mattermost chat. But doing this can hide the real cost from the users. Would like to automate more of this.
stackspin.net is a cloud collaboration sweet with Nextcloud + OnlyOffice for collaborative editing. Has a chat application, WordPress. GreenHost keeps it updated, maintained.
It can be hard for open source projects to sustain for the long term.
Replicating data across geographic regions can enable data to survive threats, plus ability to wipe all data in one location without a trace.
SysAdmin pain points
Big one is interoperability. Other orgs also offer similar platforms with Nextcloud, etc., but the technical connective tissue, the control panel, everyone has their own. Makes it hard to switch a Nextcloud from one movement provider to another, must be done manually. Can be hard to find info—someone's client needed hosting in a jurisdiction avoiding some nations. Couldn't find GreenHost for instance, but knew there was a Dutch company. If a Dev Summit attendee can't find these resources and providers easily, others will have a harder time.
More providers, more pain points
In.fra.red is a somewhat dormant group of indy providers providing these platforms and resources. These groups often at thinnest margins. What usually gets cut fastest is improvements of legacy code and documentation.
Maadix.org is another such provider. Having the revenue to take a step back, clean the house, and collaborate better between these orgs is a challenge.
Constantly at capacity, so promotion and branding also goes out the window. It's like eating organic food in the '90s, you had to live near a farmers market for example. Need to get to where finding this infrastructure doesn't require being near in proximity (socially, physically).
How can we build something independing of the hosting environment so it's easier to move or place anywhere.
More people moving to indy hosts because they don't like the value misalignment of hosting with, i.e., Amazon.
May First, another movement host provider, has pushed back on the notion that hosting is a commodity, because the providers can also be allies.
We've hit scaling problems with autonomous hosting.
Flying under the radar, withstanding attacks
How about having robust enough infra to withstand DDoS attacks and similar. Or, if you host with the corporate cloud you're maybe less of a target that stands out since not on a indy host. But a corporate host might drop a client who gets DDoS'd vs an indy shop might work through holidays to defend their customers.
Equalit.ie has great tool called Deflect for defending against DDoS.
Everyone expects gmail like email, and maintaining email servers is a worsening situation that is very hard to keep up with. Keeping mail delivered and not flagged as spam when not using a corporate email provider is a labor intensive continual battle.
This is one of the biggest struggles we have right now.
Can use GPG encryption on email, but it's challenging to get people to use and many find it very complicated to use.
Electric Embers can host your email in a basic level. May First, too.
Stripe is commonly used, but will shut down processing if someone steals credit cards elsewhere and tries testing the stolen cards on the org's payment gateway.
A couple efforts have looked at building open source tools focused on transferring remmittances.
Mollie Payments is an alright option.
Mullvad VPN, backs Firefox VPN, and will take payment however you want, including cash in an envelope.
Big Blue Button for video conf, but usually one person can't hear anything. Simultaneous translation is hard unless you have version 2.5.
Venueless.org - combines open source stuff like Big Blue Button to provide services for events with ticketing, planning, etc.
Jitsi - improved massively during the pandemic. Can play test at meet.greenhost.net. If want to have a big meeting on it, let GreenHost know ahead of time so they can beef up the server first.
Nextcloud - works well, has two collaborative editing plugins: OnlyOffice and Collabora. OnlyOffice super fast, works in browser, has a million glitches. Works great with office formats, but not open source formats. Collabora just like LibreOffice online, but they stream your work back to the server which introduces a delay. A third solution that's not collaborative but it locks the doc on the server when you open it, downloads it for you to edit, then save and reuploads and unlocks.
HedgeDoc.org - open source collaborative markdown editor on a server. Two windows with editor on one side and markdown viewer on other side. Tested and just started using it over other editing software. Has track changes. Surprisingly good.
Plausible.io - not value aligned in terms of fighting for the cause, but are anti-investment, open source analytics tool. Alternative to Google Analytics.
Cal.com - open source alt to calendly. Can self-host.
BaseRow.io - open source AirTable. Has a freemium model. Venture funded.
Mattermost - Slack alternative
Matrix - end-to-end encrypted chat but GreenHost found it hard to maintain with quality of service.
selfhosted.reddit.com - for tech oriented folks who want to set things up. Great place to find out about new projects.
InvoiceNinja.com - alt to quickbooks online or freshbooks. Been solid for someone in the session, on github, can self-host.
onecommons.org/cloudfunding - a vision for funding for free open cloud