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Stepping away from Scroogle

Ok, so the title may be a bit misleading because I haven’t cut ties 100% with the demon spawn of big brother data collection, yet. I’m working on it though.

Unfortunately, I still need to use Gmail, Drive, and Twitter for work, and I haven’t got around to figuring out how to root & mod my phone, yet either.

However, I have been able to sever most of my personal life from the surveillance panopticon of the FAANGs of Silicon Valley almost completely.

So, what did I do, and how exactly did I do it?

For starters, I stopped using Google and its suite of apps for my personal, non-work related internet stuff. I cut dropbox, and just stopped logging into Facebook & Instagram.

Why?

Well, I began to hear about self-hosting as way to take back control of your personal data, around the same time I was beginning to become aware of Mastodon and the Fediverse.

This article may jump around a bit and seem convoluted but I need you to understand the progression of how I got here. In order to do that, I have to paint a picture of where my head was at.

Before I heard about any of the stuff mentioned above, I had been a rebel or anarchist at heart for as long as I can remember. I am idealistic and believe in inaleinable rights granted by God and all that shit and yadadada.

As a child in the US, being indocrinated into ‘Murica’, and the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the Revolutionary War, and all that other stuff about how it’s the greatest country in the world with the most freedom, etc.

I truly believed it then, and I truly believe in freedom still.

This led me to read about history and I learned about the way the financial system is rigged by central banks and the history of banking and all the stuff that goes along with opening that can of worms. I became a libertarian-minded person, I was into buying gold and silver, etc.

This led me to Bitcoin in 2010 or so. I was on several drug-related sites like Erowid, Bluelight, Overgrow (no longer operational), and the Shroomery. I was a lot younger then, and I was busy with being a psychonaut. Nowadays, I am too old for all that, and I quit indulging years ago.

I began to see people on these boards talking about places where you could buy things online, with this virtual money that was designed to be like gold and that the government couldn’t trace or control. I know what you’re probably thinking, but this was so early, this is what people actually thought at the time.

The website they were talking about was the Silk Road and the digital money was Bitcoin.

Free Ross Ulbricht, by the way, and Julien Assange too, while I’m at it.

I figured out how to use Tor, and remember checking out the Silk Road marketplace for the first time, and marvelling at all the crazy shit. It was like some black market website you see in a movie or something.

They had Passports, Fake IDs, stolen credit card numbers in bulk, the real authentic Hoffman print LSD, MDMA from Holland, 90% pure Heroin #4 from Afghanistan, 94% percent pure Cocaine from Peru, etc. I remember showing it to my friends, like “you’re not even going to believe this”. I even had some friends who bought weed off of it, or Acid, Oxycontins, or Ketamine or whatever.

I never bought nothing off it, as I always had an inherent distrust of technology and mixing it with crime, because when you’re running around in the streets, talking on the phone will get you caught up. Them cameras will get you caught up. I just naturally assumed computers would get you caught up too. Needless to say, I was very much in the streets at the time.

I was however very intrigued by Bitcoin and the possibilities it offered to people like me. It sparked a fire in me to find out everything I could about it. I became somewhat obsessed, and fell way down the rabbit hole.

I also wanted to get on the Silk Road as a vendor. I knew from reading forum posts from guys who were doing things, that people were getting away with it. For me, being a normie computer guy on Windows, it was just too risky. I didn’t have the 1337 computer skills.

Pandora’s Box

This kicked me down a path of learning everything I could about open source software and Bitcoin. Keep in mind this was when Bittorrent first came out, I didn’t ever pay for software at all, I was downloading every movie, CD, and video game for free.

I was doing it all on Windows though, so I made the decision to switch to Linux, and decided to learn the command line. My first distro was Tails to surf the deep web, but my first daily driver was Linux Mint.

I have since become a full time Linux user for 7 years now, and I have distro hopped around a lot, all the way to a few of the BSDs and back. Eventually, when I have some extra time I want to get my backup laptop back running OpenBSD again. Years later, here I am learning about the Fediverse, for the same freedom-minded reasons as back then.

In the interim, I never became a vendor, I quit doing drugs, social media blew up, and censorship and deplatforming started going crazy. It started with Wikileaks, and spread to every mainstream social media and financial service, damn near.

In meat space a bunch of draconian laws are continuosly being passed because of “muh terrorism”. Political correctness has gone into to overdrive to shut down debate on any topic that strays from whatever bullshit narrative is the flavor of the day.

Welcome to clown world.

Censorship is so ridiculous now, I can’t even believe it, but that’s why I started this site. People are literally having their bank accounts, and social media accounts turned off for saying something that doesn’t tow the party line.

They lose years of followers, hard work, and content. They have to open a new account and start from scratch. Some people have built their businesses on these platforms, and lost them for an unpopular post. It’s fucked up. I never thought that Americans would allow this kind of shit to happen without a fight.

There is a certain tribe of people that own and control everything and will turn off your ability to communicate or earn a living if you tell the truth about them or what they are doing. Tribal nepotism is a bitch. This site is the response to people trying to shut down free speech and disarm people. The pen is mightier than the sword, and I am decent with a pen.

After getting censored a bunch, I decided I needed to get off censorship spyware social media for good. I stumbled upon Disroot first, then Framasoft, and afterwards, I finally came across Mastodon and Switching.Social (who I just found out changed to Switching.Software) a page which lists resources for ethical alternatives to Surveillance capitalism software services.

All of these resources were a very great help in making me aware of all the FOSS alternatives to tech monopoly surveillance capitalism big brotherware.

Flirting with Mastodon

I first made an account on Mastodon.Social the main instance run by Eugen the guy who created it. I had intially heard it was like a free speech and open source version of Twitter. I created the account in high hopes of digital freedom.

What I found was anything but freedom. Mastodon.Social is full of trannies, faggots, libtards, and other thought-police. The people there are lame as all hell, and they are little bitches who will get you banned for anything. It’s actually worse than Twitter in a way because at least Twitter isn’t like 75% faggots and trannies.

To make matters worse, Eugen the creator of Mastodon is a censorship-happy member of a certain ethnic tribe who is actually working with the EU to implement a Chinese-style social credit system to enslave the faggots and libtards seeking freedom online, who came to his Fediverse app trying to escape the centralization, censorship and control of the FAANGs in the first place.

You can’t even make this shit up.

Either way, I decided that Mastodon wasn’t a project I could support, that Eugen is a bitch ass motherfucker, and that I needed to host my own instance of different Fediverse app. Luckily the Fediverse is very diverse when it comes to social media apps which can interconnect with each other through federation. This is why it’s called the Fediverse.

What this means is that there is a bunch of current FOSS projects that are recreating social media experiences like Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc. except they are not spying on you, you can host them on your own hardware so nobody can ban or censor you, and from one app, you can follow anyone on any other app that is also on the fediverse.

So, for example, I can use my Pixelfed account (think fediverse’s instagram) to follow someone on Hubzilla (fediverse’s facebook) or Peertube (fediverse’s youtube) without having to switch accounts or creating a new account on another platform. It’s really dope.

So, what did I decide to use after ditching the Mastodon dumpster fire? I researhed a lot, and realized that the first thing I had to figure out how to self-host. Before I could host any Fediverse app, I needed a server to host it on.

I had played around with some servers a bit in the past, to a very limited extent. I had a digital ocean account that I hosted a website on for a while. I still have a siteground account that I have a site hosted on, and I have a BTCPay server I use to accept Bitcoin donations and invoice clients. I am far from an experienced sysadmin though. The one thing these have in common is they were noob friendly one click deployments.

I needed a solution for noobs. I am pretty comfortable working through the command line but I didn’t know anything about nginx or Apache or DNS records, or related server stuff. I started looking into easy self-host projects.

I found the reddits sub r/selfhosted as well as an awesome github list of self-hosting resources, and sysadmin guide, which detailed a bunch of different solutions like the Freedom box, AnsibleNAS, Free NAS, etc. I finally settled on Yunohost because it was billed as the most noob friendly way to get up running with the least amount of headaches.

What is Yunohost?

For this, I’ll defer to the Yunohost documentation:

“YunoHost is an operating system aiming to simplify as much as possible the administration of a server and therefore democratize self-hosting, while making sure it stays reliable, secure, ethical and lightweight. It is a free software project maintained exclusively by volunteers. Technically, it can be seen as a distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux and can be installed on many kinds of hardware.”

Yunohost is pretty awesome. It’s really easy to install, and there is a GUI to help you easily configure it, install apps, and begin using your server. You can be up an running in a couple hours. They also have a great community which can help you out with any issues you may have with install & setup. There is a forum and IRC, XMPP, & Matrix live chat so you can get assistance quickly and easily.

A head’s up, the Yunohost project is based in France, so the forum is mostly in French & English, although you may need to have a translate app available to read some of the posts that might be most useful to you.

This blog is hosted on my Yunohost server, I also have a few other apps I self-host. Mostly Fediverse instances like my personal Peertube, Pleroma, Plume, Pixelfed, and Hubzilla. I also have a Nextcloud instance to keep my files and stuff, a Jitsi Meet instance for videochats w/o eavesdropping, and I also have a Synapse Matrix server and Riot client for secure instant messaging.

To get back to the section above, where I realized Mastodon was a SJW retard censorship platform, I decided I need to run a Pleroma instance on my server. Pleroma is designed way better, it’s lighter on resources, Lain, Pleroma’s creator is pretty chill, and I am very happy with my decision.

This is all hosted on a vps that costs me about $10 USD a month. They have other plans that are cheaper, too. I use Lunanode, a Bitcoin-friendly hosting service. They also have a one-click install option for setting up a BTCPay Server. Here is my affiliate link, if you’re looking for cheap, reliable, hosting.

A lot of self-hosting advocates will say that using a VPS or other cloud hosting option is not desirable, because it introduces centralization vectors which could potentially lead to censorship or being deplatformed by the hosting provider. They suggest running your server on your own physical hardware which you control.

I basically agree with this assessment but my personal situation is unsuitable for this option. I live on a farm, on top of a mountain, in a rural area, so my home internet is a satellite internet service which is really slow and shitty. I can’t wait until we get regular cable internet access, so I can tell the satellite internet provider to go fuck themselves.

I needed to have a VPS, since having access to a server in a datacenter with a fast internet connection was essential for my server and it’s usability. Especially with my crappy home connection. At least at my office I have a decent internet speeds. Everyone needs to self-host with the methodology that works best for their unique situation.

The important part is just doing it in the first place. We need to take back control of our data, and also decentralize the internet again, to recreate the freedom of information that made it great to begin with.

Self-hosting is one of the most effective political acts one can undertake besides planting a garden to grow your own healthy food and medicinal herbs, using Bitcoin to opt-out of the rigged inflationary rent-seeking, financial system, and using 3-d printers to manufacture your own unregistered firearms at home.

I wanted to start this blog with a brief overview of self-hosting and a few pointers to get people moving in the right direction. I hope this was helpful, and if it wasn’t, at least I hope it was an entertaining read. Until next time, peace and love and God bless.