Good Bye loadaverage.org

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Alij
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Joined: 05/07/2012

https://wiki.loadaverage.org/news/bye_guys

https://loadaverage.org/main/all

Good feed for news and related, will be missed. ;(

Mappack (not verified)
Mappack

Damn, I registered there. It was a nice place to log on to once in a while.

Any recommendations for another GNU Social instance?

jxself
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Joined: 09/13/2010

The best option is to set up your own.

Mappack (not verified)
Mappack

Of course that's the best, but I am not in a situation to set up my own right now, so any second-best suggestions would be much appreciated.

marioxcc
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Joined: 08/13/2014

Do you also grow all of your own food in your house and refine your own car's fuel?

jxself
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Joined: 09/13/2010

As a matter of fact I do. Why do you ask? :)

marioxcc
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Joined: 08/13/2014

So does your house looks like this? Or does your car runs in biodiesel and you live in a farm where you cultivate the required oil-generating and alcohol-generating plants?

If you do, great for you, but most people do not live in an oil refinery nor a farm just like most do not have the money, time, nor technical knowledge required to run their own instance of a web service, so your suggestion to run one's own is not very realistic.

jxself
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Joined: 09/13/2010

"so your suggestion to run one's own is not very realistic."
Maybe not everyone has the knowledge (and there is something to work on improving and making it easier for people to do) but working on decentralizing and federating the internet is an important topic.

marioxcc
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Joined: 08/13/2014

Federation does not mean necessarily that everybody should run his own server, not even that it is something desirable to do.

jxself
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Joined: 09/13/2010

"Federation does not mean necessarily that everybody should run his own server"

Yes, sharing nodes is possible. In my experience though people seem to immediately jump to using someone else's machine instead, just as happened in this thread. Super nodes begin forming. Some random examples to point it are identi.ca and Goblin Refuge. Even if the software is in theory federated if everyone is using one, or a very small number of them, it moves to being more centralized in practice. Pushing for the creation of other nodes, as I'm doing, is a way to counter this. In my experience common responses to this include things like it's not "realistic" and etc, as this thread shows. But the problem and solution remain.

"not even that it is something desirable to do."

It is desirable: The ideal outcome is having it completely decentralized out where each person is their own node. That probably won't be achieved in practice but it is still a good direction to keep pushing to help keep things decentralized and help to avoid the creation of super nodes. To that end the advice to run your own is my default response whenever the question comes up of what server to use: Your own. And negotiate down from there only if needed. It seems better to me to start out with the ideal recommendation and have a conversation about why it's better to run your own node and then compromise down from there rather than starting from the compromised position from the start.

JadedCtrl
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Joined: 08/11/2014

That's why we need a federated *and* distributed web, where everyone is their own node.
Kind of like IPFS. With IPFS, for example, if you upload a video file it isn't a matter of MediaGoblin-like sites hosting the videos, it's a matter of displaying and curating them for the overall selection to be user-friendly. Two nodes could easily share the same videos (with slight variations, if node-operators wanted it to be so).

marioxcc
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Joined: 08/13/2014

Sure, everybody should run his own node.

Energy efficiency? What is that? Why have just a few efficient computers computer using energy if everybody can simply keep his home computer turned on all day long! There is not enough CO2 in the atmosphere after all.

Why have just a couple of well experienced and well intentioned system administrators maintain a supernode that will serve thousands of users if you can have the same thousands of users waste thousands of man-hours cumulatively doing a mediocre job just to serve a single user each (themselves)?

Also, evil "supernodes" servers hosted in datacenters are too hard to bring down by DoS attacks. That's not good. It's better if every server is behind a residential Internet connection, preferentially an ADSL one. That will make the task of good script kiddies easier.

And let's not forget that everybody should run his own petroleum refinery like you too, and his own electrical energy plant too for that matter.

"Energy efficiency" you say? "Specialization of human activities"? "Economy of scale"???? I never heard such words.

jxself
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Joined: 09/13/2010

Of course people should use energy efficient computers. These issues you raise, like energy consumption, are important but separate issue from the topic of decentralization. As far as energy consumption and sysadmin work goes have you heard of the Freedombox? It's small -- no bigger than a cell phone charger -- and uses a very small amount of energy. There are people working on making it easy for people to use it. It's not anymore difficult than setting up an answering machine.

There are lots of reasons why someone might want to run their own server, but I think the important ones boil down to freedom, privacy, and autonomy. Since you're still advocating for centralized services I recommend this recording to become familiar with the issues:
http://www.softwarefreedom.org/news/2010/feb/08/audio-and-video-eben-moglens-talk-freedom-cloud-no/

And I'm not saying that there can't be shared servers. But they should be small. And at the edge of the network. Not plopped down into the middle of it with nearly everyone using it where it begins to limit people's privacy and autonomy rather than enhancing it.

marioxcc
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Joined: 08/13/2014

I have never advocated for centralization. I favor interconnected publicly shared nodes, like what currently exists in Diaspora*.

I did not know about the Freedombox project, although I know about slightly similar project with different scopes. Anyway, this does not solves any of the problems that I mentioned.

Moreover, as far as I can see, Freedombox is about creating software to ease configuration. That's good, but it does not replaces experience. Blindly following a pre-made procedure leads to data loss and security flaws. It is not feasible to expect from most users to be competent to run their own services.

Small appliances, like cell phone chargers, are an energy efficiency problem. The smallest a machine is, the more inefficient it is. That holds for electrical machines, combustion engines, and most other types of machines. Moreover, if you are suggesting that everybody buys a mini-computer to host his own node of decentralized services, that means that millions of such devices would need to be produced, with the associated environmental contamination.

It does not matter if each device has an apparently small power requirement, because you are replacing each big server with thousands of small devices. Once this is taken into account, the inefficiency becomes obvious. With a back of the envelope calculation, we can predict that the energy demand is increased approximately by a factor of 1,000 (100,000 small computers using 10 watts each versus one computer using 1,000 watts).

It's good that small computers exist, and they have many applications, but this is a very unwise application for them. It's like trying to dig a tunnel with spoons.

And do not forget that anybody hosting his own node from home is highly vulnerable to a simple DoS attack, since most residential Internet connections can not compare to the bandwidth of a datacenter. Thus anybody who follows your advice is vulnerable to censorship by any small group of people who coordinated to launch a DoS attack from their home computers. As you see, you have reintroduced the threat of censorship that decentralization was supposed to help us get rid of.

jxself
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Joined: 09/13/2010

"I have never advocated for centralization"
On the contrary. A direct quote is that there should be "just a couple." So your argument is that it's not centralized because there's a choice of a small number of providers? That's not saying much for decentralization. As I mentioned earlier if the software is in theory decentralized if everyone is using one, or a very small number of them (as in your "just a couple"), it moves to being more centralized in practice.

"I favor interconnected publicly shared nodes, like what currently exists in Diaspora*."
And there's no harm in having those, but they should be small and at the edges of the network. It's not as good as having something more fully decentralized where each person is their own node. Don't forget there's the "Oh, no - my provider is shutting down - There goes all my stuff" problem that this thread started with. You overlook (or ignore) that self-hosting is immune to that specific problem. The individual person can still decide to shut down their stuff if they want but they're not at the mercy of someone else for doing it. I've been burned by people shutting stuff down before - the demise of Gitorious for example: https://jxself.org/goodbye-gitorious.shtml Now I am immune to that specific problem ever happening again.

"Moreover, as far as I can see, Freedombox is about creating software to ease configuration. That's good, but it does not replaces experience."
Earlier you were talking of how people can't be expected to run their own box. I pointed to a project to make that easier but you're still not satisfied and still point out problems. Well, to counter that I would expect that more experienced people are probably capable of setting up their own box without outside help, and so would probably benefit less from Freedombox.

"Blindly following a pre-made procedure leads to data loss and security flaws. It is not feasible to expect from most users to be competent to run their own services."
Not necessarily. I think GNU/Linux distros have shown that things can be managed well with good defaults to take care of things for less knowledgeable people.

"And do not forget that anybody hosting his own node from home is highly vulnerable to a simple DoS attack, since most residential Internet connections can not compare to the bandwidth of a datacenter. Thus anybody who follows your advice is vulnerable to censorship by any small group of people who coordinated to launch a DoS attack from their home computers. As you see, you have reintroduced the threat of censorship that decentralization was supposed to help us get rid of."
I very much doubt any of those public nodes are going to be using a whole data center (because you did specifically say "bandwidth of a datacenter", referring to the whole data center.) That cost would be too prohibitive. Especially since they're commonly offered free of charge. They people running those are not an Amazon or a Google or a Twitter or a Facebook or whatever. It's going to be -- at best -- one machine in a data center. And perhaps not even that but a VPS which shares even one machine. So now you're just making stuff up, as if they'd have the resources of an entire data center behind them. Anyone using someone else's service is not going to be any safer. That other node could also undergo a denial of service attack too. Merely that the device is -- at best -- taking up one spot in a some rack somewhere in a data center doesn't mean that machine's ethernet interface can't be overwhelmed too. It's not as if that one machine has infinite bandwidth - or even access to a significant portion of that data center's bandwidth. The ethernet port will max out at -- at best -- 1gbps and it's easy to launch DDOS attacks that are far greater. I have been running my own stuff since 1999 and have never undergone a denial of service attack. But even if it happened: "Oh no, my node is undergoing a denial of service attack because of the political speech I've posting. I know - I'll hop over here to my friend's node and continue on without issue." I'd argue that having more people run more nodes makes things like, say, pump.io more resilient against the stuff you're describing because you now have far more targets rather than the "just a couple" that a botnet could launch a sustained denial of service attack against (and when botnets include things like IoT devices it becomes easier to launch huge DDoS attacks.) Having people run their own also makes it more resilient to things like police raids. Otherwise they need to raid "just a couple" places (or serve them with national security letters if they're in the U.S.) and you get access to everyone's stuff because there's "just a couple." That becomes much harder to do if everyone is spread out. I understand you're concerned about energy usage and people should use energy-efficient equipment but that can't be an argument for re-centralizing things. The internet as a whole probably already uses a nice percentage of global power but you're not talking of that. It seems you're trying to come up with any and all possible excuses to avoid people taking responsibility for their own stuff. Good luck with that but I'm not buying it and will continue to advocate for people to use their own decentralized services. It's been fun but I'm done now. *Drops Mic*

marioxcc
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Joined: 08/13/2014

You have just demonstrated that you are functionally illiterate, incapable of making a self-consistent discourse, and ignorant of the technical details that underlie the subject matter, so there is no point in continuing to argue with you. Nonetheless, some points are worth clarifying for the sake of other readers of this thread:

  • You misinterpreted "just a couple of well experienced and well intentioned system administrators" (to maintain each supernode) as "just a couple of nodes".

Here is the verbatim quote from me that you could not read properly: "Why have just a couple of well experienced and well intentioned system administrators maintain a supernode that will serve thousands of users if you can have the same thousands of users waste thousands of man-hours cumulatively doing a mediocre job just to serve a single user each (themselves)?"

  • The bandwidth of an ethernet port is not the limiting factor of a big server maintained by competent system administrators.

Apparently you do not even know what a CDN or a traffic scrubber is. Whilst one may object that not all supernodes are behind a traffic scrubber, the users can pool donations to pay for DoS protection if it becomes necessary. Under your proposal of hosting one's own services, hiring any form of DoS protection is impossible, because by definition, one would not be self-hosted anymore.

If you have not had a DoS attack for 18 years, that just show how irrelevant your publications are. In other words, hardly anybody cares about what you write in your web site. On the other hand, the web page of a critical journalist will be targeted many times per year. I can attest to it. I have seen it with the web pages of journalists in my country.

  • "The internet as a whole probably already uses a nice percentage of global power but you're not talking of that."

You are trying to dodge the problem of energy consumption which is inherent in your extreme decentralization proposal using the energy consumption of other Internet services as a red herring. By your own logic, it would be acceptable for me to litter the street just because other people do it.

No, littering is wrong even if others do it. And just like it, just because other services use a lot of energy it does not mean that one should stop worrying about the energy efficiency of one's own actions.

  • "Not necessarily. I think GNU/Linux distros have shown that things can be managed well with good defaults to take care of things for less knowledgeable people."

Sure... That is why most GNU/Linux distributions come with Firefox settings bad for privacy and security and most users leave it that way, not even installing NoScript and HTTPSEverywhere.

  • Finally, a textbook example of a contradiction: "I've been burned by people shutting stuff down before - the demise of Gitorious for example"—that was in 2015. "I have been running my own stuff since 1999".

It's only honest that you admit that your proposal exposes people to censorship by anybody who can get a few of his friends to launch a DoS attack (not even a botnet is needed) and is extremely energy inefficient, but I expect that you will continue deluding users into thinking that self-hosting is a magic solution against censorship and surveillance.

Geshmy
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Joined: 04/23/2015

Aye! marioxcc, there you go again calling people "functionally illiterate."

I like this forum. So many posts are either helpful or written in an effort to be so. I accept the fact that not everyone is gifted with the same abilities of grammar, vocabulary and clarity of thinking (in other words, there are different levels of 'functional literacy') and that is obvious in many posts though jxself's thoughts seem to me to be very well expressed here and his patience doesn't deserve insult. But the level of patience in this community is another thing that makes the forum great.

I often think it would be good if power distribution was more decentralized. For instance, a cell phone charger running on power from a small solar panel in a window sill would be resilient when the grid goes down. Maybe this isn't more efficient but resiliency is very important. I live in a serious earthquake zone and do not think the local power company will be reliable when the big one happens.

Re supernodes, last night I was reading that the entire country of Pakistan goes through one node for it's Internet connection. Of course this is an all out privacy concern and censorship is actively at work. But there is also this fact that if this node goes down, the entire nation will be cut off from the Internet.

jxself says, "The best option is to set up your own," and later mentions "Now I am immune to that specific problem ever happening again," I would look forward to new threads that spell out how you got to this point.

Cheers!

marioxcc
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Joined: 08/13/2014

>Aye! marioxcc, there you go again calling people "functionally illiterate."

And I made clear the reason for why I used this term. When I see a spade, I call it a spade. In this case, the problem is not one of bad grammar or similar, but the inability to understand. I said "A couple of system administrators [...]" and jxself mistakenly thought that I was suggesting that only a couple of supernodes should exist, whilst I never wrote that.

>I often think it would be good if power distribution was more decentralized. For instance, a cell phone charger running on power from a small solar panel in a window sill would be resilient when the grid goes down. Maybe this isn't more efficient but resiliency is very important. I live in a serious earthquake zone and do not think the local power company will be reliable when the big one happens.

I addressed the issue of resilience in my previous posts in this thread. On almost all practical points, services hosted in one's house are less resilient than services hosted in a datacenter. Regarding earthquakes, bear in mind that Datacenters and their ISPs almost always have backup power generators and sometimes redundant Internet connections for reliability. On the other hand, residential Internet connections and power supply are likely to go down.

Anyway, note that having a solar panel charger for your cell phone is of little use against a big earthquake. In such situation, the phone system will be saturated from people trying to contact with their familiars and close friends. Additionally some communication lines may be damaged. Therefore, you should not rely on a cell phone for your communications in case of earthquake. Buy a radio transceiver for yourself and give one to everyone who you will want to communicate with in case of an earthquake and instruct them to keep it charged and turn it of in case it happens.

Services that require high reliability, like police stations and health service should have their backup own power generators, I do not object to that, but they should be reserved for emergencies.

What you are talking about is decentralization of electrical power generation, not distribution. Decentralizing most of the electrical power generation to consumers makes no sense. Even for those houses which use solar panels, they are much more efficient and have an higher capacity factor when they are connected to the grid because the solar electric system is held at maximum production. Operating on solar power without a connection to the grid is much more expensive and uses more natural resources because it requires batteries and more solar panels.

Decentralization of electrical power generation beyond the degree that it already is decentralized will not improve reliability. Backup power generators can improve reliability, but that is not the same as decentralization because most of the time they are not working and the "centralized" supply is used instead.

>Re supernodes, last night I was reading that the entire country of Pakistan goes through one node for it's Internet connection.

But I am not advocating for a single node.

Geshmy
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Joined: 04/23/2015

marioxcc,
I am no expert but am always thinking about this power grid thing and in fact recently heard about Dongwang Village, Jeju-do Island, South Korea.

According to 'https://reregions.blogspot.com/2010/03/self-sufficiency-energy-villages-korea.html:' "Dongwang is the first self sufficient energy village in the world. It is located in the west of Jeju-do Island, the biggest southern island in South Korea. This semi-tropical village takes benefit from the solar energy to fulfill their electricity demand. In every roof of the house (40 houses) and roof of the school are installed big solar panels."

This grid would have to be very decentralized wouldn't it? If a house and its solar panels burned down (or got bombed), I imagine the rest of the village would be OK. So if every house had a server running decentralized services it would be the ultimate in resiliency, no? If a tornado ripped through the town and flattened half the village, as long as the wiring was underground, the remaining half would still be functional, no? At least I think it would be possible to design it so.

re 'Buy a radio transceiver for yourself and give one to everyone who you will want to communicate with in case of an earthquake and instruct them to keep it charged and turn it of in case it happens.'

Maybe I'll look into that. Communications definitely get wasted during a disaster. And a solar charging station for that might make it even better!

And I get that you are not advocating for a single node. I like the idea of decentralization but wouldn't advocate tearing down the data centers or digging up the backbones. Maybe when we all have drone transmitted routing going round the world. Someone is working on that aren't they?

marioxcc
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Joined: 08/13/2014

>This grid would have to be very decentralized wouldn't it?

I have some knowledge in electric power generation, transmission and distribution. The technical details about the electrical system of that village do not seem to be available, so I can only make suppositions.

It is possible that the village was designed so that each house is independent, so that failures in one house do not affect the rest at all. On the other hand, it is also possible that it is wired with connections between houses or even a central solar converter, which would be single point of failure.

But this is only about power supply reliability, which is only a part of reliability (or resilience) of the system. So one can not conclude that self-hosted nodes are reliable in general just because of the example of this village. I mentioned the other problems of reliability above.

Anyway, running a solar system "off-grid" is possible, but it much more expensive and uses more natural resources (and thus generate more pollution because of the utilization of those resources) than a grid-connected solar system, so it is not desirable.

In grid-connected solar system, all the electrical energy that solar panels produce can be utilized. The excess or deficit of energy is sent or taken from the grid, thus no batteries are required.

Moreover, a grid-connected solar system the solar panels can be of any size. In a independent solar system, the solar panels and battery must be sized to provide the load by themselves.

>Maybe I'll look into that. Communications definitely get wasted during a disaster. And a solar charging station for that might make it even better!

Of course. This is a reasonable application of a solar charger.

>And I get that you are not advocating for a single node. I like the idea of decentralization but wouldn't advocate tearing down the data centers or digging up the backbones. Maybe when we all have drone transmitted routing going round the world. Someone is working on that aren't they?

Datacenters and "Internet backbones" are not a problem. They are effective and efficient at what they do: hosting services and providing connectivity. Why do you want to get rid of them? What would be the benefit?

It is not feasible nor desirable to abandon wired connections in favor of communication routed through UAVs (popularly known as "drones"). They are expensive to acquire and maintain. Obviously they are vulnerable to bad weather and firearms. Moreover, wireless networks are slow, prone to jamming and unintentional interference. I do not see what would be gained with this.

If you want independence from corporate control, then start an user-owned ISP.