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ArkOS: Building the Anti-Cloud (on a Raspberry Pi) 166

angry tapir writes "arkOS is a Linux distribution that runs on the Raspberry Pi. It's an initiative of the CitizenWeb Project, which promotes decentralization and democratization of the Internet. arkOS is aiming to aid this effort by making it super-simple for people to host their own email, blogs, storage and other services from their own home, instead of relying on cloud services run by third parties. about the project."
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ArkOS: Building the Anti-Cloud (on a Raspberry Pi)

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  • Home servers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Professr3 ( 670356 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:32AM (#45032975)
    I imagine Comcast will have something to say about this - something like "No more internet for you, TOS-breaker"
    • Not to mention committing a felony in the process.

      That shit is bananas.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So ditch Comcast?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        that isn't an option is many areas

    • Re:Home servers? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by icebike ( 68054 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @02:41AM (#45033253)

      I imagine Comcast will have something to say about this - something like "No more internet for you, TOS-breaker"

      This is true, their TOS generally forbid any services (listening ports for inbound connections) which pretty much means you can't host web servers or email servers. They actively scan for these, and contact you if they find them.

      Yet, oddly they want to open a public wifi access point on every customer's cable drop so that their customers can have mobile wifi on mobile devices everywhere.

      Seems sort of odd.

      • No.

        One of these things increases usage without your ISP receiving additional money

        The other one increases usage with your ISP receiving additional money, without requiring them to pay for the buildout or even the electricity to actually provide the service.

      • the charge business extra for this privilege. If they give it away to consumers then business... especially small business will ask... "why are we paying more"... and that is why comcast etc have a hissy fit about this sort of thing.

      • Open access to the internet entails being able to offer services just as much as being able to use them. By prohibiting users to run their own services they are violating net neutrality. When is the class action suit coming?
      • I imagine Comcast will have something to say about this - something like "No more internet for you, TOS-breaker"

        This is true, their TOS generally forbid any services (listening ports for inbound connections) which pretty much means you can't host web servers or email servers. They actively scan for these, and contact you if they find them.

        Yet, oddly they want to open a public wifi access point on every customer's cable drop so that their customers can have mobile wifi on mobile devices everywhere.

        Seems sort of odd.

        If they actively scan for open ports you could set-up port-knocking where they would have to ping certain ports in a specific order and use encrypted payload that changes based on when it sent so that it is not vulnerable to them replaying it.

    • Re:Home servers? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @02:47AM (#45033271)

      I imagine Comcast will have something to say about this - something like "No more internet for you, TOS-breaker"

      Click. Click. Aaaand it's now a tor service. Because fuck you, Comcast. -_- They have a long history of screwing up people's internet. I just configure the router to pipe all traffic to a VPN, encrypt it, and call it a day. They get exactly zero bytes of unencrypted traffic. Go ahead and try and say anything about my traffic other than "It always goes from point A, to point B, and while the packets vary in length, the bandwidth usage is the same 24/7/365. Because I use QoS on my router and purposefully stuff my Torrent client full of things, even if I don't need them, just to keep the pipe full. Sortof a quiet fuck you to traffic analysis techniques. -_-

      • Will work fine for a few days.

        After that you have reached your data limit for the month.

        • by n0dna ( 939092 )

          Comcast stop capping their customers a while ago. I still double check every time Steam has one of their holiday sales though. :)

          • Comcast stop capping their customers a while ago.

            Well, yes and no []. Comcast still contacts people, but in most, but not all [] markets, the cap was removed. They still throttle and use shaping technologies, which is why my QoS is setup the way it does; On paper, I have almost twice as much bandwidth as I can reliably get without triggering a transient bandwidth clamp-down on my service. Weeks of careful experimentation has revealed that Comcast only provides unmetered access at about 75% of your rated line speed. Go above that, and at certain times of the day

      • by jacook ( 3379199 )
        Hi! I'm the dev on this project that was quoted in the article. Tor Hidden Service support is high-priority for me, coming within the next few months. :) Thanks.
      • Well, if you do that, all you've done is move the problem. If you want to host your own mail, you need a connection _somewhere_ which will allow incoming SMTP traffic on port 25, because that's how email works.

    • by Burz ( 138833 )

      Use I2P. Then its all just encrypted P2P traffic.

    • Which is a complete bullshit stipulation, given that "server" and "client" are really just a way of expressing which machine is initiating a connection.

      In a perfect world, net neutrality would outlaw such clauses.

      Also, I wish I could find the link, but do you not remember the guy who crossed out certain terms in the EULA for a product and it was determined reasonable by a court of law? Makes sense: it's not really an "agreement" unless both parties are making compromises.

      • "In a perfect world, net neutrality would outlaw such clauses."

        True, but in a perfect world, everyone would understand how to run a mail server, and how to avoid malware.

        Having worked for an ISP's AUP department, I really can see both sides of the argument. Most people with internet connections really don't have a fucking clue what they're doing, and ISPs have to deal with that _somehow_. The problem is really the 'lack of a free market' one: if there was a proper market, there'd be a geek provider in each

        • Geek providers with exactly that level of service exist. They are called colocation providesr. They exist in pretty much every major city. I host with Joes Data Center in Kansas City Mo. Pretty much equidistant from the entire CONUS. They have 24x7 smart hands/NOC, cameras covering the entire floor, badge access etc. Reverse DNS? Check. Smart technical folks I can call? Check. Redundant power/fiber? Check. On top of all that I have fully redundant servers,network,PDU. Plus out of band Cyclades. Yeah I co
    • by jacook ( 3379199 )
      Hi! I'm the dev on this project that was quoted in the article. We obviously can't specifically encourage anyone to break the ToS of their ISP. We will do our best to make the restrictions known to people before they decide to do something. The tool is there, if they choose to use it then that is their responsibility for what they do with it. I figure that, as long as we are interested in practical decentralization, this is the best that anyone can do.
    • And Google Fiber: []

      Wait, what!? But they're the good guys!

  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:44AM (#45033025)

    I'm running my own server for mail, my web site, and various other little bits.

    Not running from home: bandwidth is a primary issue, especially my uplink is too slow. My host has at least some 100 Mbit for me, maybe more - shared of course with many other sites but it's there for those bursts, so the few people daily that visit my site have a quick response.

    Other concerns are dynamic IP (will need dynDNS, not sure how well that works), uptime, power use, hardware management... I pay some USD 350 a year for my virtual server. All in. Fixed IP, fast hardware, fast bandwidth, reliable connection - more reliable than from home with our over-sensitive RCD. More than enough for a small setup, a couple dozen mails a day, a dozen or so web site visitors a day. Not going to run that from home: more work, more cost, more trouble.

    • Seconded. I've run various servers for various purposes for years at home, but for the shit that just needs to work all the time with minimal fuss, paying someone else to do it is the smarter and cheaper choice.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rs79 ( 71822 )

        You just have bad software.

        If you had decent software, you'd be eager and happy to have a home server. Your problem after all isn't a hardware issue now is it?

        So... what's the six things you'd need for you to consider this easy?

      • Maybe.

        Renting a server (virtual or physical), "your" server is still the property of the service provider. This project is about enabling people to avoid the problems associated with that.

        Also, I don't think co-location will be much help, either. While you certainly own the server, it's still in the custody of a third party.

    • by isama ( 1537121 )
      I've got my stuff on a "kimsufi" server at OVH. i pay less than 100$ per year, I don't even remember how much :D
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I run a home-based website. Dynamic IPs aren't a problem. First, if you're always connected your IP almost never changes. Second, routers with updated firmware (like DD-WRT) can update your dnyDNS provider automatically. I use (I'm not sure if you can still sign up for their free service).

      The main problem with self-hosting will be your ISP. You may or may not have to change your website's port every once-in-a-while to get around blocking. In addition, many consumer IPs are blocked by stupid ne

    • more reliable than from home with our over-sensitive RCD.

      RCDs are rarely over sensitive. They have a pre-defined trip point and a pre-defined trip time. Odds are far greater that you have some gear somewhere in your house that is leaking current into the earth and that you're already very close to the trip point. If you have an old fridge or oven I would look there first. Pool pumps or any other electro-magnetic devices are good culprits too.

      Nothing to do with home servers, just some advice of where you may start looking for a potential problem. If it is the RCD,

      • Most of our electronics are reasonably new. Our old washing machine used to be a real issue, we have a new one now. Fridge maybe a decade old, no more. Really I've been searching a few times really hard when the problem occurred: power would go down all of a sudden, and just wouldn't go on again. Once I had to switch off all power groups, switch them on one by one, finally find out there are two that each would trip the breaker. That's strange, you'd expect one. Anyway in the end I never found the culprit.

        • It may be a slight intermittent fault pushing you over the edge. If you have a friend who's an electrician or EE see if he can bring over a clampmeter and clamp around both the active and neutral cables going through your RCD. Both at the same time will give you a measure of earth leakage.

          It's common for some devices to leak. In our case we had a dodgy beer fridge leaking ~30mA and our RCD tripped at 40mA (country standard, not sure how things work were you life). Turns out there was an ants nest amidst all

          • Will see, it's been a while that we had a spontaneous cut. Usually can just switch it on and everything is fine.

    • by aurb ( 674003 )
      Colocation for Raspberry Pi? I'm sure there are services like that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sootman ( 158191 )

      I've been running a public-facing web server at home for over 10 years. I use DynDNS (I joined right after they were founded; so for a small 'donation' (as it was at the time) I got lifetime service. :D ) and I've used it with different ISPs, and static and dynamic IPs. Name-wise, everything works great.

      Bandwidth-wise, I used to have 1.5M down/256k up and it was fine. Not blazing fast or tons of capacity, but for "a couple dozen mails a day, a dozen or so web site visitors a day" even that was plenty. I use

      • by lewiscr ( 3314 )

        Seconded. I've been doing the same, since 1999. Web spiders are responsible for most of my upstream bandwidth, and I only notice when I'm looking at the log files. None of the 4 ISPs I've had over the years have complained or blocked my service.

        The only actual problem I've had is email deliverability. Most destinations would bounce my emails because they came from a Dynamic IP. I configured Postfix to forward everything through Time Warner's mail servers, and I haven't had problems since.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We could decentralize and democratize the protocol standards as well.

  • Dr P Linux will hopefully be out by the end of the year ... :)
  • by Burz ( 138833 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @02:23AM (#45033177) Homepage Journal

    It should come with I2P like TAILS does:

    I2P-Bote: Decentralized / anonymized email based on DHT

    Tahoe-LAFS on I2P: Decentralized and anonymous file storage

    Syndie on I2P: Decentralized and anon blog


    I2P itself: A general replacement for IP. Like a cross between Tor and bittorrent, where everyone is expected to contibute to bandwidth and so reduce the centralization (and opportunity for attacks) as much as possible and expand the approved uses to anything (instead of just web browsing).

    Take away the centralized power of the ISP and government to monitor and control every aspect of your online life.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Take away the centralized power of the ISP and government to monitor and control every aspect of your online life.

      The government and the corporations are controlling everyone! Seriously who gives a fuck, its the internet, what are you doing on it that youre so desperate to keep secret and hidden? In the end all you are battling is information freedom and that is a battle you will ultimately lose, you are communicating with the outside world and frankly if you think you can keep that private youre just a naive idiot.

  • Until there's widespread FTTP (GPON or AON) it will be more pain than it's worth.

    I have run a Linux server for years with just these services on ADSL & ADSL2. Mail is fine, even a Jabber server is fine, even private file hosting is ok, if a bit slow, but once you start hosting websites your ability to actually use your own Internet when you're home is diminished.

    I was hoping that the National Broadband Network (NBN) would stay 93% FTTP here in Australia, but unfortunately with the change in government t

  • Can't believe I only discovered this project today, when it's been running, it seems, for at least 6 months. Anyway, it seems very similar to what I just proposed, the percloud [] With the difference, if I'm not mistaken, that the percloud would be an easier to use, preconfigured, locked down version of arkOS. Am I right?
  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:52AM (#45034029)
    The TOS for Google Fiber says NO SERVERS... at all. Kind of lame when you consider they initially called Google Fiber an experiment to see what people would do with all that bandwidth. This sounds ideal. Google Fiber will be available to me very soon, but I may just have to pass it up. I don't like that they have already drastically changed the game by excluding servers.
  • Great copy paste job boys :)

    • I've got a really cool idea! We should totally get slashdot to get someone to read and tidy up the posts before they're well posted. You know, edit them to make them more readable. We could even give those people a title, say, "editor"....

  • Net neutrality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @08:04AM (#45034301)

    To me, it seems that providers that prohibit home servers (either by TOS or by actually blocking e.g. port 80) are in violation of FCC-10-201 (net neutrality).

    This was brought up before on Slashdot [] with specific reference to Google Fiber's TOS prohibition of incoming ports. The complaint is described in [] . I wish someone would pursue this against all major providers, not just Google Fiber.

    There is simply no valid reason to prohibit incoming ports. This issue is not bandwidth - most home servers use far less than say streaming video. In any case if it's abused, the providers can use their existing procedures to deal with bandwidth abusers.

    This is really at the heart of network neutrality. The only reason I can see for prohibiting incoming ports is to prevent individuals from competing with commercial interests that provide network services. Personally, it really PO's me that my ISP blocks ports 80 and 443. I keep my files on a home server, and although I can access them via ssh, many public wifi services (e.g. at hospitals) block every port, in and out, except 80 and 443. I can't really complain about the public wifi (well, I can complain, but they'll just tell me that it's a free courtesy they're under no obligation to provide, so if you don't like it, don't use it). So, to access my personal files, I need to use a 3rd party's commercial server (cloud or VPN) that allows port 80.

    (As for the dynamic DNS, that hasn't been a serious problem for me - my ISP keeps it fixed as long as my cable modem is powered and connected, and the IP only changes when I restart the cable modem. Anyway, that is a secondary and minor problem.)

    • You know you can tunnel SSH over proxies, right? And you can tunnel SOCKS over that SSH session?

      • I'm not sure you understand the problem. The outgoing service (free public wireless) allows only outgoing ports 80 and 443, whether I'm using ssh, http, or whatever. The destination (my home) blocks incoming ports 80 and 443. It is impossible to get from one to the other without going through a commercial 3rd-party service, which is the point of my complaint.
  • You mean I can run a server out of my home?! That's amazing!

    How is this easier than spinning up a TurnkeyLinux [] appliance on an old Pentium 4 (or better) desktop you can get for free in almost any part of the country?

    Let's see - I need to buy the RaspberryPi, a case, and a power brick at a (practical) minimum, which puts the system in the $75+ range - compared to a repurposed desktop that will cost around $0. Of course, the difference is in the monthly power bill - the old Pentium 4 desktop will use much m

    • Tried running a media server (not public facing) on an old P4 a friend gave me. $40 on the next electric bill. Guess which machine got donated to someone else?
  • Missing something? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @09:21AM (#45034763)

    When did people not have the opportunity to host their own content?

    For anybody that has ever hosted their own email server, Raspberry Pi is NOT the right platform to do this on. While you can easily set up an email server on any Linux distro, the reality is that you need something a little bit more powerful than Raspberry Pi to process the ten's of thousands of spam messages a minute you are going to get. And don't think that just because you are "clever" enough to set up your own email server that you will be immune to spam.

    And it seems a lot the the Slashdot denizens seem to have forgotten the bygone era of the "Slashdot Effect", when people and companies used to try and host their own websites which couldn't handle a sudden influx of people that used the RTFA. Even a lot of corporate servers couldn't handle when hundreds of thousands of people suddenly jumped onto their websites all at once back in the day. This is why many corporations and consumers just started using hosted services which have a larger, dynamically scalable infrastructure to handle sudden jumps in traffic.

    Finally, with things like Facebook and Twitter and a slew of other social networking services, these all but decimated the "personal blog". Nobody cares to go to and read some mindless ranting from a conspiracy nut. The problem with "decentralization" is that you will be lost in obscurity.

    So, aside from hosting anything more than a hobby website for friends and family to touch base with, good luck.

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:33AM (#45036279)

    I get that we're all busy frolicking with our Raspberry Pis, but any Linux distro on an old PC will do this. There's nothing "Pi" about this. You don't need a new distro for this either. Maybe a handful of shell scripts or some kind of GUI to manage all the bits and pieces would be nice, but this is all a solved problem.

  • This sounds like the same concept that the Freedom Box Foundation [] has been working on for a while. It would seem like a better use of resources for these groups to get together and pool their efforts rather than do the same thing twice.

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