Author: Oscar Benedito <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2021 19:43:41 +0100
New entry: New home server
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+<!-- title: New home server -->
+<!-- slug: new-home-server -->
+<!-- categories: Decentralization, Self-hosting -->
+<!-- date: 2021-03-03T18:39:00Z -->
+During this past year, I have been coming up with a variety of services that I
+want to host from home. The problem was that I didn't have a computer to host
+them on, so I decided to buy one before my Christmas vacation, when I would have
+time to tinker with it. Because of the gifting tradition, I was asked if there
+was anything that I wanted, so I ended up getting it for Christmas instead. In
+case you are curious, the computer is a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, I decided to go
+with a Raspberry Pi because it's the only device I have experience with and it
+has worked great, on top of having good specs at a good price. I already have a
+server running round-the-clock (the one hosting this website), so why did I need
+another machine running nonstop? For two reasons: control and proximity.
+When I talk about "my server", I mean a virtual private server (VPS) that I
+rent. "My server" can be more accurately described as a virtual machine that
+lives in someone else's computer and that I can administer for a certain fee.
+This is great for many reasons which can be summarized in "I don't have to deal
+with any infrastructure-related matter": the server's owner takes care of
+maintenance, broken parts, refrigeration, etc. On top of that, the server has a
+very fast internet connection and a static IP. So it's a machine that has all
+the needed features to start serving content to the internet. However, because
+this is someone else's computer, they have complete access to it. My guess is
+nobody is accessing my data—it probably takes some effort to automate scraping
+virtual machines, and I think I'm not interesting enough to be a target—, but
+that is not a reassuring argument, so I don't trust my VPS with my private data.
+With a computer at home, I have full control of everything that is happening,
+and I am more comfortable saving personal data there.
+That was related to control, let's look at proximity. The VPS is hosted
+somewhere far away (I believe in Germany), so the only feasible way to connect
+to it is through an internet connection. This comes with limitations—you need
+internet, and internet connections are slower than local ones. Moreover, I want
+to be able to unplug external hard drives and plug them into my computer to have
+instant access to any data (for example to make a copy to give to someone), as
+well as the other way around: I want to be able to grab a USB drive, connect it
+to my local server and have all the data available from all the devices in the
+network. For obvious reasons, I can't do that with my VPS. Finally, because my
+home server is not exposing any service to the internet, it is much harder to
+hack it or for some data to get leaked.
+More arguments come to mind of why some things are better hosted at home, but I
+think by now the general feeling has gotten across, so let's jump into what I've
+done so far and what are some ideas I have for the future.
+What I currently have:
+- **Media center**: Well, something like it... I originally thought about
+ self-hosting Jellyfin or Plex, but the first time I wanted to use the media
+ center I didn't have much time to set it up, so I made a *very* minimal Apache
+ site with an HTML file linking to multiple videos and podcasts I had
+ downloaded. Surprisingly, this setup has been working great so far. I have
+ created a script that autogenerates the page from a JSON with all the metadata
+ of the files I have and I have added some features (like marking media as
+ "seen"). Now, all I need to access the files is a web browser and, in some
+ cases, [mpv] or [VLC] if the format is not supported on the browser (did
+ you know you can stream videos with them?)
+- **Git backup**: It backs up all my Git repositories from different providers.
+ It does so with a [Python script][gb] I made some time ago that given some
+ authentication tokens, will mirror all my repositories (and any others that
+ I tell it to).
+- **Syncthing**: It runs Syncthing as another peer for all my folders. This way,
+ all my devices are always synchronized with the Raspberry Pi. Previously, two
+ of them had to be on and connected to have any synchronization. This also acts
+ as a quick transparent backup for my data, since the RPi is backed up daily.
+My plans for the future are the following:
+- **Expanding the media center**: Add more functionality to the scripts
+ generating the webpage, add functionality to the website to be able to do some
+ basic operations without the need to SSH into the Raspberry Pi, and add more
+ types of content.
+- **Backup center**: I'm not sure if "backup center" means anything (or if I'm
+ using it correctly), but as my backup center, the Raspberry Pi would be in
+ charge of backing up all my devices. Syncthing already helps with my phone and
+ some other small folders, but I'd like to improve my backup system so that a
+ lot more data can be automatically backed up. I think with my home server it
+ will be much easier to regularly pull data from the services I use as well as
+ have a centralized location to which send my files.
+- **Calendar and contacts synchronization**: Right now, I use my email provider
+ to synchronize my contacts, calendar and reminders using the CardDAV and
+ CalDAV protocols. I would like to stop sending that information online and
+ just have it synchronize with my home server (ideally with the same
+- **Photo and video library**: I want to centralize all the photos and videos I
+ have (and the rest of the family's as well) and have a good interface to
+ access them. This will include sorting them out and will probably take a lot
+ of time, so I'm not sure if I'll end up doing it.
+... and anything else that comes to mind! I enjoy playing around with new
+software and I have been enjoying every step of the move towards a more
+self-hosting setup, so I am sure that more things will come up!
+[mpv]: <https://mpv.io> "mpv"
+[VLC]: <https://www.videolan.org> "VLC"
+[gb]: <https://git.oscarbenedito.com/git-backup/> "git-backup — git.oscarbenedito.com"