I think what causes most issues with our digital rights today is distance. Using services provided by a city-wise non-profit would allow both to hold them accountable for what they do with our data, and make it easier to get support. I would also help understanding the “business model”: pay a few bucks so they can help you in person when needed, run servers locally, and contribute (whether financially or with code) to upstream software.

Basically: get humans back at the core of services.

@thibaultamartin @amolith I tend to think that what causes most privacy/security (aka digital rights) issues is the common misconception that everything on the Internet should be free/gratis. This drives business models that necessitate paying for services via non-currency means (e.g., advertising and data collection/wholesaling).

A for-cash subscription-based service would change the nature of the exchange. There just doesn't seem to be a significant market for such a thing in consumer space.

@sean @amolith I do agree with you. Those problems arise because the general population is not educated to those issues.

Having a kind human explaining how things work and why you need to pay the price of a coffee to get most of your online services, and helping you with setting things up would address those problems though.

Do you think of other ways to handle the problem?

@thibaultamartin @amolith Humans are great, it's just an issue of economics. How much does the human cost to employ, how much revenue is required to pay for that cost, and are consumers willing to pay that premium for the service the human provides. Given that the current price of these services is "free" most consumers would probably balk at paying anything, much less a realistic figure (~$50/mo).

You can have Google services without ads, but most won't even pay the measly $10/mo to get it.

@sean @amolith Absolutely. This is also why I mention non-profit.

It is quite hard to "scale" or to set a trend so enough people join, but it would absolutely rely on volunteer work at least at first. Getting help from public services may be an option.

I don't have a short term plan to launch such a non-profit, but those are some ideas I like to discuss. Opinions such as yours are very valuable to shape a project of this kind

@thibaultamartin @amolith Purely volunteer-based non-profits don't scale well either, though. Once upon a time in the ancient 90's there were things call Linux User Groups (LUGs). LUGs were local, non-profit, and did volunteer Linux "installfests" to encourage people to use GNU/Linux and Free software, and to help them install it on their computers. And that is why today, GNU/Linux is the dominant consumer operating system with 90% of the world's desktops and laptops running GNU/Linux.


There are still a lot of LUGs in operation 😉 I started one for my community nearly a year ago and there's another one a couple of hours away from us. They organise the SouthEast LinuxFest where I'll be speaking next month.

@amolith @thibaultamartin I lived in Charlotte for 30 years, I believe I'm familiar with the LUG of which you speak. And unless I'm mistaken SELF is about the only event the group engages in. The rest of the year it's mostly dead. TMK there hasn't been an "active" LUG in the area for many years.

I don't know what CharLUG does other than SELF so you're probably right. My LUG (all of three people from school) has a lot of plans but I don't think they include install fests. For a lot of people, simply installing a district isn't enough; we would have to provide a lot of support and help them along. Three college students won't be able to do all that very well 😅 One of the things we've talked about is doing our own "Linux Presentation Day" in a year or two where we show what Linux is capable of and help interested people get started, rather than just "switch from Windows and save money today" like I've seen a couple install fests do.

@amolith The whole LUG thing came into being in an era before widespread broadband access. It used to be a great place to meet up with other Linuxers, swap stories, help with problems, present about a new app or tech, and importantly - get copies of install media.

In the age of broadband, Reddit, IRC, Youtube, etc. LUGs should have doubled down on the fellowship aspect but they were slow to adapt and fell out of relevance, along with most computer user groups. It was just easier to go online.

@amolith If you've got a LUG going today, my advice would be to stick to advocacy, information, outreach, and support. Yeah, the whole "installfest" thing is largely a historical artifact.

It is easy to go online and do "virtual LUGs" as I've heard thrown around but one of the things I love about SELF is getting together with other users in person and "nerding out" together lol. While you can do that online, it's entirely different IRL and so much better.

That's exactly what we're thinking. Focusing on genuinely helping our community where they need it is a much better strategy than just installing Linux on as many people's computers as we possibly can.

You should check out It's still a very new network but it brings together a lot of established projects similar to what you're talking about under one name. I've been a member for a few months now (I run and it's a wonderful community. I'm thinking someone mentioned it to Purism with their Librem One suite and they talked about applying to join as well.

@amolith @thibaultamartin Thanks, but I'm not interested in being anyone else's provider, especially for free or paid in "tips". I want neither the responsibility, the legal liability, nor the added expense. I already host all of my own network services and that runs me the better part of $100/mo plus hardware, plus my time.

Why so expensive? My operating costs are only like $9/mo.

@amolith @thibaultamartin I could be snarky and say "because I'm doing it correctly." 😁

I run about a dozen public-facing servers hosted in two geographically diverse data centers. There is another dozen or so in my private on-prem environment.

I would definitely say that's doing it correctly lol. In an ideal world, I'd like to have two dedicated servers running everything in containers with shared databases and a load balancer in front. I don't have the money for that though 😅

Over the summer, I plan to learn Ansible and I'll get some playbooks written to provision and deploy everything at once in lxc. Right now, the internals are really messy and I am following no "best practices" because I didn't know about them until after everything was already running.

@sean @amolith Very interesting. About those public-facing servers, are you load-balancing in active-active mode between two sites? If you have some documentation regarding your public facing services architecture I'd be glad to have give it an eye.

I often see "General/Technical Architecture Documents" in my work, but rarely in the wild :)

@thibaultamartin @amolith I have a lot of documentation about my personal environment but none of it is available publicly, sorry. I don't think security should rely entirely on obscurity but it's a valid layer. It wouldn't be a good idea to tack the castle blueprints to the front gate.

@thibaultamartin @amolith

Re: data centers, my stuff doesn't require a level of HA that I need to do active-active. Mainly geo-diversity is for service redundancy (eg, for DNS) and diversification (all eggs not in one basket). If one DC goes down for an extended period it doesn't take down all of my stuff, and I can quickly spin up duplicated services in the other DC and re-route traffic.

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