All of you might have heard the Google moto:
Don’t be evil
With a bit of context, this is said by a company that have only one goal: Be the only web that people will use. Glazman explain that Google, and Apple, are working to build a works only on webkit web, using some CSS closed properties (the one that starts with webkit-*). I won’t develop too much on this, it’s just that this is the event that generates this post.
So, we need to be evil and to move out of the googles-centralized-and-closed-space.
There is a lot of steps, and I’ll probably miss some. You have to know that I’m using an Android too, and that I’m tweaking it (and I almost managed to kick google out of it). But first thing first, let’s go for the easiest part first.
So, let’s start. I do not like webmail. Not back when POP3 was hype, not even now that we have IMAP. I do not want to gives my personal email to a third party that will do whatever they want with it (yeah, even with encryption, if the mail is decrypted on the server, that gives the server to read it and break the point of encryption.
We know that Google is reading your mail, to place targeted advertisements on the page you’re reading it. We do not know what they’re doing with your mail and, since there still is an issue with censorship and google being ruled by US laws and regulation, you cannot be sure you won’t have any legal problem with your mails.
So, what can you do? Simple answer: host your mails. You will need a server. It’s cheap, and there is some nice virtual server hosted in Iceland, a country which have strong personal data protection law. Head at https://www.1984hosting.com for instance. That will cost you a few bucks per month. You’re going to need a domain name to. I made a mistake, mine is nation-tied (.fr), don’t do it, try to find a non nation-linked one.
Now, you’ve got a nice server, install an OS server (one open and free, as in freedom, one you know or can learn about, one designed for servers so, basically, a Linux distribution or a BSD one), plug a small databases in it, that will be needed later, and install stuff.
For your mail, I’ll advise you with postfix, I know it more than I know the other ones out there (but not enough to treat myself as a guru). There’s a lot of interesting Howto in the wild, pick one.
Look at TLS too, and grab a SSL Certs (either fire up an account on https://cacert.org, a distributed Certificate Authority based on trust, not on money, or create your own authority.
So, you know have your own server for sending and receiving mail. It’s enough for my needs, because I do not use webmail. If you really want one, have a look at roundcube, it’s pretty and shiny, works on most of the modern browser (probably even with links or mozaic), it looks a bit like gmail so you won’t be lost.
Nice isn’t it, you’re now in charge of your own mail system. No more advertisement, no more dependencies on an external company for that, plain and total autonomy. How does it feel?
You’re addicted now and you want more fix of decentralized freedom? You’re a junkie. But so am I, so, here is your new fix.
The previous one was easy to understand and to do. Now, we’re going after the big player. Search engines. Google wants you to find websites they think is more relevant to you. They do not want to tell you how they’re doing it, they will target you with advertisement, and they will operates real time censorship and suggestion.
But then, you’re going to say ‘Hey, no choices.’ For one, it’s not true. Even among the closed search engines, there’s Bing (and Yahoo, same engine now) which is quite interesting. Or http://duckduckgo.com. But those are still centralized and closed source solution.
I do not know well YaCy, but it have the advantage of scanning and index local pages, and it has its own fans and community. I’m more a seeker (and I run my personal seeks node). They started like a proxy and a meta-engine, but they are now sharing results across P2P and, since the 0.4.0 version, there’s pure seeks results.
You can use a public node for seeks (like mine) that will learn from the uses of all the people that uses it, or you can install your private one. You can use it as a proxy that will intercept all the query that should have landed on Google to process it via seeks instead.
It will require you to build it from sources, but it’s easy to do, there’s an updated and fully detailed tutorial, so go for it. Also, there’s an IRC chan: #email@example.com, they’re quite nice people to hang with.
So, now, you won’t use google anymore to search your stuff. You see? The Colossus won’t feed on you. Now, worst part is done, let’s deal with the details.
Calendar and contact
Yeah, those are nice tools. But you do not need to them being on google. They are ical compatible, which is nice. VCARD is a old protocol, that used to work on my Nokia 3210 (the phone that can break the world in half with enough velocity). You just need an ical server (and a webserver, but with nginx or apache out there… Plus, if you have roundcube, you already have one).
The best solution I can found until now is Davical. It’s light, it do the job, it works on Postgresql. The sad part is that it does not gives you a shiny interface to click on. But that’s why you need software, no? You need an RSS Reader to read RSS flux, you need a client mail to read mail, you need a calendar client to read calendar. Claws-mail have one, but I assume that if you’re reading this, you’re not on claws. I suspect mutt to have one, emacs-fan will tell you that emacs most probably have one calendar included.
Davical works with contact to. And the calendar can be read by a lot of other clients, just go through their wiki. Or use your new seeks node to find more about it.
Use a local office suite (such as libre office if you really need the weight of it. You can use some pad (etherpad one for instance), like the one on Telecomix for on line and collaborative editing. You can even set one up on your own server, yay \o/.
If all you want is hosting and sharing documents, you have two choices. Owncloud will give you the possibility to use a part of your server as a public (or private: your server, your rules) hard drive. I strongly suggest you to encrypt it. Or Unhosted which, as the name suggest, is based on ‘not hosting’ the data. Sounds promising, the fact that the data are encrypted before being stocked anywhere is promising, and, since it’s free software, you can add your own server.
So, no more google docs, ok people?
The last fix will be for the coders one.
A RSS Reader. It’s extremely easy and there’s a lot of one. I personally use tinytinyrss. Again it needs a webserver, but then you’ll have all your RSS in the same place. You can probably find other project like this one, but it works quite well.
And you can import OPML (or whatever the acronym is) file format. The one used by google when you want to do a backup of your flux.
And last but not least (also, quite an easy one). Google talk. Google talk is pure XMPP. Just like jabber is. You can find a lots of client for jabber, but go for pidgin-otr, you’ll then have the possibility of Encrypted chat with plausible deniability for the same price.
You’ll just need an account for that. EIther set-up your own jabber server (all the XMPP-server can talk to each other) or you use one. Use your seeks node to find a provider you like.
For hosting your own XMPP server, go for Jabberd. Simple, packaged for most distribution. You can then register there with your own nick and talk to other XMPP accounts.
Get out of it now, and as fast as you can. There’s plenty of open source git forge out there, especially the most notorious one Gitorious. GitHub isn’t free (does not run on free software) but is a not that bad candidate. But you do not want me to feed you with half-freedom, right? So, gitorious.
I need to talk to you about Android, but I’m not fully satisfied with what I have now, so you’ll have to wait for your next fix of freedom.
If you’ve done everything here, you probably have nothing left on google. Close and destroy your account. If they ask you why, just answer:
I do what I want, I’m a Matser of Evilness, MOUAHAHAHAHAHAH!
Or RickRoll them.
If you find one server for only you is a bit overkill, then go talk to your friends and family, have them in your server. It will be funnier if you’re a lot. Do not sold them anything, have them understand that the services might or might not working. Do backup. Try restoring your backup. Encrypt them. And do not forget:
Computers and freedom are like sex. The more we are doing it at the same time, the better it get.
version 2.0 – I’ve forgot about reader and talk. Need to find a picasa