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Real Geeks do Peer Clouding

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"The cloud" is just a new buzzword for an old concept, hosted services. While a number of grumpy old geekbeards swear they will never embrace "the cloud" because they do not trust their data in other hands, it's already happening. Google Mail, for whatever reason, is cool in ways that Hotmail and Yahoo mail never were. Google Apps are also cool. Inexpensive hosting services have been a staple of the do-it-yourself geek since forever.

So, does refusing "the cloud" mean that the hardcore refusenik is condemned to a life of isolation? No, because there is a third alternative, and that is the Peer Cloud.

Naturally it needs a better name, but it's all I can think of right now. I do like "peer" because it's been made into a dirty word by poor oppressed big business moguls, who cry themselves to sleep at night because so many of us do what we want without their consent. A lot of you are probably already doing some kind of Peer Clouding. It's no big deal, it's just trading services with friends. For example, back in the olden days when I ran my own DNS server I had a couple of far-flung friends acting as my secondaries, as I did for them. It didn't cost anything but a bit of disk space and bandwidth.

We also had arrangements for acting as off-site backup repositories. rsync plus disk encryption ensures end-to-end privacy, and fast mirroring. As long as you have adequate storage and bandwidth, this works for anything-- mirroring Web and FTP sites, source code repositories, valuable collections of kitten photos, anything you can think of.

Everything in life doesn't need to be a big elaborate commercial deal. There is still plenty of room for the small-time do-it-yourselfer. My wireless access point is set up with an open bandwidth-limited subnet just so neighbors or tourists or whoever is in range can have Internet access without a big hassle. (And without snooping privileges in my stuff.) This is a rural area, so we don't have Internet cafes and free public wi-fi everywhere.

I had an IMAP mail account once upon a time that lived on server that was literally in a friend's bedroom on an ISDN Internet connection. He hosted a whole herd of friends. It was a little slow sometimes, but it always worked.

Perhaps I'm stretching the definition of "cloud" a bit, but that's OK because I'm sick of hearing it. But I do think the idea of informal hosting and sharing is a good one; it's under the radar of Big Brother, and of course with Linux it's secure, reliable, and not that hard to do.

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