So, I self-host... a lot!

Image by Jordan Harrison on Unsplash

The teenage years (from the Amiga to Linux/BSD)

In the '90s, I started a BBS. I was a teenager living in my parent's house with a Commodore Amiga and a 2400 baud modem (without error correction protocols); it seemed that the entire world was just a phone call away.

BAT BBS ran the marvelous Xenolink BBS by Jonathan Forbes on a Commodore Amiga 3000 computer. The software was blindingly fast and very configurable, and it made my teenager-self want to learn more about system administration (sysop) and managing an online community (moderator).

The BBS's popularity grew significantly, and I joined Fidonet. At the time, the best modem was the USRobotics Courier Dual Standard, so I got one. Mind you; the Internet was not widely available outside universities. So we used Netmail for private messaging, with gateways that allowed me to reach email addresses and any user on any Fidonet BBS and Echomail (forums) for public messages (local and worldwide).

I became proficient in programming C, administering the heck out of the Amiga and OS/2 machines, and as a host to BBS users. Those skills earned me my first job as a SysOp at one of the biggest BBSs in Portugal (Visus) and a few years later at the first Portuguese private ISP (Esoterica).

I moved from Amiga and OS/2 to Linux and later *BSD, and I still administer machines running those operating systems today.

image by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Administering Email (Sendmail) servers for three decades

During the period I worked on the Internet Service Provider (Esoterica), the main focus of my job was email and Usenet news servers. Although I completely let go of the Usenet stuff over time, I kept my own email servers to this day.

The problem with email is that it was never meant to be a private or secure medium for transmitting and storing in-transit messages. Furthermore, it has been abused by spammers and other bad actors for decades, with no signs of slowing down. Although tools are available to encrypt messages, like PGP/GPG and S/MIME, very few people use them. Since emails are stored in plain text, there is no way I will ever rely on third parties to host my email.

There is no other option. Since email is used to recover and reset passwords on critical systems, it's insane the amount of misplaced trust people (and corporations) place in email operators.

Image by C Dustin K on Unsplash

Cloud storage, video calls, and backups with Nextcloud

I run my own Nextcloud server. While it does not bother me in the slightest people using big-tech services to sync and ensure backups of non-critical data, I need to keep some of the stuff (personal notes, contacts, and calendars) going to all my computers private and protected from bad actors.

Nextcloud talk is what you should be using instead of WhatsApp (a Facebook company) for messaging and (voice/video) calls. It has apps for iOS and Android and runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux on a browser. Of course, trusting a Facebook platform is not a good idea, and you don't have to...

Nextcloud is amazing open-source software with an excellent track record for updating services and keeping them secure. I host for myself, family, and close friends.

image by Nelly Antoniadou on Unsplash

Bitwarden to keep my passwords on hand on every device

Everyone needs a password manager. There are no exceptions. I used 1Password for years, then switched to self-hosting Bitwarden. It is open-source and can be used for free.

Due to the nature of the service, as long as you do not use web interfaces and the hosting is just a gateway to sync the vault, self-hosting is not mandatory. However, I do it anyway, just because I can.

Image by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Social media hosting

Social media companies are evil. They use you as the product they sell to advertisers and try every possible trick to keep you engaged in the platforms. The effects on society have been nefarious, from the rise of extremism, online scams, and a culture of hate. But it does not have to be that way. It was not that way with Fidonet and Usenet. You can socialize online and exchange experiences without being explored and used by corporations.

I self-host distributed open-source Fediverse platforms (again primarily for family and friends) that have all benefits of “social media” without making its users the target of advertising. No algorithms are trying to hook into discussions, “influencers” can't buy their way into popularity by being obnoxious freaks, and society looks “normal” again instead of the twisted black mirror created by Facebook and Twitter.

Short-form blogs on Mastodon on It's similar to Twitter without the hate and with a much smaller population of morons. I absolutely love it and use it daily.

Long-form blogs on Writefreely on Similar to Medium, it provides you with a clean interface for writing and ways to monetize your blog, but without a company handling the money distribution (whatever money readers send your way is yours, I don't take commissions, and want nothing to do with your income). there are no algorithms promoting posts; you will have to earn your readers, but, on the plus side, you don't have to feed the machine with regular posts. Instead, create good content, and you will gain a following if that is what you crave.

Feel like using my self-hosted services?

If I know you really well, I will give you access to email, Nextcloud, and Bitwarden servers. Otherwise, no, you can't. Sorry, but no cigar. You may ask (send me an email!); the worst possible outcome is that I will say no.

You can use my Mastodon and Writefreely instances as long as you understand and agree to the rules I have set (they will be presented to you when you apply to register). I am not some corporation; I will die someday, get sick, lose my job, or some other life-altering event. On such a day, these services will disappear without warning. Backup whatever data you publish there if that is important to you!

You are welcome if you get the scope of what I have just explained in the last paragraph. Please note that I do not allow rude behavior or any illegal content on my hosted services, and I will expel you without a second thought if you misbehave. Act like a normal educated human being that would make your mother proud, and we will get along just fine.

The servers are the fastest you will ever find (south of hosting your own locally using top-of-the-line hardware), and I keep them updated and safe to the best of my ability.