Be Evil, Kick Google In the balls

Be Evil

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.

Gmail

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.

Google search

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.

We want to go derper. And farther. We want really open and decentralized search solutions. There’s two out there: YaCy, a java implementation of P2P search and seeks, a C++ one.

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: #seeks@freenode.org, 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.

If you want a client that won’t scare you, go for the Mozilla Sunbird or, if you’re already using ThunderBird, there is a lightning add-on.

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.

Documents

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.

Google reader

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.

Google talk

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.

Google Code

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.

What else?

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

I won’t install you any software anymore.

I won’t install you any software anymore.

Yeah, you read that right. I would not install you any software. Never. For once, I’m usually paid for it already, and it’s the lamest part of my job,the one that I hate the most: making things works for people who do not want to understand how it works. My work, as an IT worker is to do everything that’s possible to keep the flow of information flowing in the company I work for. It includes updating and maintaining complex system architecture, but alos interacting with people who do not want to bother to understand. They think they’re beyond this, trying to sell stuff and that computers are just in the middle of their way to get things done, that there is a kind of secret sect of computers trying to undermine their job.

I’ll be glad if it was the case, at least computers could try to teach people what they’re doing wrong. But they are simply information treatment machine, they do exactly what you asks for. They do not takes initiative or working in your back. They are delicate machine we engineered to ease your life, not to make it harder. I admit we did not get some stuff right, we have problem with some UI that goes in your way to work. But then, you come at me and just yell, just as if it’s an evidence and that we exist only to makes you happy (go get a life if that’s the case):

It does not work.

Yeah. Right. Not a bug report. Redirect to /dev/null. ‘It’ could be a lot of stuff (from the keyboard to the mainframe your connected on, I’ve got at least 10 systems that you use everyday without noticing, and each one of them can be a It. Or any part of it could be the It. It’s like heading at the Financial office and yelling at them:

There’s a problem.

They will probably ignore you, and they’ll be right to do so. And you’ll do some reasearch trying to find what’s wrong, what part of the fianncial report you read seems wrong to you, and why. That will takes you probably a good part of your day, then you can formulate a problematic to submit them. Why don’t you make it for computer? They are full of warning and errors, the one that get clicked off faster than light. Softwware and computer parts have name and version number extremly easy to find, and explicit (at least for me), error message. SO why don’t you send me a documented bug report as you’re going to do with any other problem you’ll ever encounter?

You gonna say ‘I do not know zip about computer’. That’s right, that’s not a problem per se, but it means you do not want this situation to evolve. You’ll come two weeks later with teh exact same problem without having done the effort to learn about it and to try to work around. And you do not know nothing about financial problems, but you’ll try to understand how it works and learn. So you’re next argument "I’m not here to learn", is a fail. You learn everyday you work, that’s why you’re betetr now than two years ago.

So, mainly, I’m confronted everyday with people that do not want to learn. That’s why I won’t install you software, becasue if y’oure doing it yourself you will learn and understand how things works.

Let me explain you

I will, however, spend a huge amount of time to answer all your questions. You’ve got to understand that most of teh question you’ll ask will probably looks trivial to me and that’s why I’ll slap you hard on your head with Read That Fucking Manual, use man, man man works too and other go seeks onthe internet, the answer is in the first page. I’m doing it beacuse those questions are of no interests for me, and because you’re going to learn to learn by yourself.

I’m a fierce defenser of free knowledge. So I try to share it with people willing to. You do not want to learn or to make the necessary mental effort to do so? You can die. I won’t move to helps you. One day, maybe, you will coem at me asking me how to go around the fracking DRM, or how to surf without being monitored. I’ll try to not hold gruudge and I’ll try to explain you again the exact same thing you do not want to know before. So, I won’t event try to explain things to people who do not asks questions. It’s a loss of time for both of us, I have better things to do, and you have some porn to watch.

Because this is the main problem. You think computer or knowledge is not necessary as long as you do have what you want. But a brainless citizen is no more a citizen than a cow (and cows are really stupid) or a sheep. Following the amss because the mass must probably know what’s good for them. Following them, happy to be a sheep in the sheep yard until you see the knife of the butcher. Until it’s too late and you’ll die in terror sith the rest of the sheep, while the black sheep will yells "I told you so. I warned you. And you did not wanted to listen, you have what you deserve". The black sheep won’t laugh, or be happy. Evene if you throw shit at his face all the time, even if you’ve laughed at him because he was awkward inhigh school, choosing to talk to computers instead of regular sheeps.

This is what I feel, each time someone told me ‘What’s ACTA?’ or ‘I’m bothered with you’re computer bullshit’. I’m sad because this is what have led us here. With private interests going over public ones. With banks ruling countries. With music industries trying to protect themselves and writing laws, and closing down websites. That’s why I was raging against you when Megaupload was shut down by foreign companies. I was sad because we tried to warn you. You necessarily got the message (with Telecomix, we’ve hit most of the national newspaper and radio of Europe, even the Wall Street Journal had written on us, and on ACTA) so you knew. You just did think that this kind of shit won’t happen because it’s a sad thought and that will change your mood and the way you look at the world.

You do not want toget burned by the world outside. That’s understandable. But then stop complaining about it. Or try to fix things.

This is what we do

We. Hackers. The weird kids in town. I can speak for all of them, so will wpeak for me. I grew up in a world that do not suit me. I’m rather tall and extremly thin. I was alone most of my time at school, at least until my graduation. So I spent all the time you spend in parties, hitting on girl, getting wasted, to learn. I assemble my computer myself, I learned Linux the hard way (back in the time, early Internet here, I needed to use another computer to get the documentation) with noone to help me. I’m not complaining, I learned a lot. And I’ve done this because I wanted to understand how things works. I wanted to unscrew everything and to adapt it to my needs. You were doing the exact opposite things: adapting your needs to your environment. You wanted the thing everybody wants, you let people decides for your future.

We, in the meantime, tried to understand how the world was working to change it. We want to change it because it is broken, it does not work in a way that suits humanity. So we learn. When a law appeared in a parliament that we think will destroy some liberties, we learn about the democratic process in the EU, the US Senate, the French parliament, we learned about laws, we read and process the huge amount of paper that no one was supposed to read, we find flaws and we sued them to try to subvert the system. We thrive by knowledge, this is our weapon, this is our life. That’s why we have a lot of conference and formal or informal meetings, that’s why I enjoy going at the CCC to meet people and learn what they did last year.

A world without a total openness and free sharing of knowledge is a world we reject fiercely.