FTA:Personal Cloud Computing Course

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Personal cloud computing with Free Software: Course Description

This course aims to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to build personal cloud services from scratch with Free Software and open digital standards.

Cloud computing for individuals and small organizations, in the form of centralized, free of charge services like, for example, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Flickr, is extremely convenient. The same type of cloud computing, however, also has severe limits and drawbacks.

On one hand, providing complete portability of users data is against the interests and needs of the companies providing the service: the result is that, as soon as that company goes of business, or simply of fashio, or as soon as a user finds a better provider of the same services, she may be forced to "rebuild" at least part of the content, contact lists and other data in the new cloud from scratch.

On the other hand, amassing all the data and metadata of many individuals in the same cluster of servers, owned and managed by just a few players who can then analyze and (above all) correlate them as they want creates a huge potential for several kinds of abuses, from mass spying and over-invasive advertising.

Free Software and digital standards can contribute a big part of the solution to these problems, if used to build personal clouds: bundles of Free Software that create personal blogging, social networking, email and other services.

Members of this course study and document how to perform these activities

Structure, practical info and fees

The first edition of the course will be at a fairly advanced level, like a Masters-level seminar in which students are required to prepare and share original material. The objectives of the first editions are: first, to learn a lot from each other, and secondly, to produce a textbook that can be used in subsequent editions of the course, all according to the Development Plan below.

For this reason, this course will be offered, for the time being, in FTA:Enhanced_Peer_Learning_Model EPL mode.

The course facilitator (M. Fioretti) will help answer questions and help keep everything on track! In order to help keep a roof over his head and to cover other incidental fees, we ask for a donation of 1 Euro per day for the 30 day course or 30 Euro total per participant.

Development Plan

All the materials produced by the course will be made freely available online under a GNU FDL or equivalent license.

More specifically, the first editions are based around collaborative development of materials on the following topics and Free Software products (please note that this is a temporary, temptative list: part of the course, and of the fun, consists exactly of finding out if the specific solutions or procedures mentioned below are the best ones!)

  • existing Free Software projects suitable as single components of personal clouds
    • Wordpress for blogging
    • Sogo or equivalents for webmail (Mailpile when ready)
    • the email susbsystem (IMAP, SMTP...) with Postfix and Dovecot
    • web server: nGinx or Apache?
    • social bookmarking with SemanticScuttle
    • ownCloud for self-hosted storage and collaborative online editing
    • etherpad?
    • Tor?
    • basics of Internet routing (TCP/IP, DNS...)
  • Federation, that is protocols and software to connect independent blogs to each other, so they work as one social network: pump.io, others...
  • Existing Free Software products in this space: arkOS, Cozy Cloud, Cloud|Fleet...
  • The percloud proposal by M. Fioretti