You may have already heard the expression, “The cloud is just someone else’s computer”. While being a rough simplification of how the Internet works, this saying points at the fact that behind the cloud lies an infrastructure of computers configured and programmed to provide various services that are taken for granted, from instant messaging, office and productivity tools, to streaming services. Today these services are provided by large companies often referred to as Big Tech. These companies are linked to problematic practices in which convenience has been traded for a monocultural extractivist, productivist surveillance infrastructure.
In recent years many groups of people have been actively trying to figure out if there can be any alternative to this situation. One approach, in particular, is called self-hosting. Self-hosting is a practice in which a person or group of people decide to make use of the Internet connection of their house or office to install and configure consumer computers to host websites and various network services. It’s often surprising how little you need to do these things, and it’s possible that you already have everything already to get started! For instance, do you have an old laptop or an old desktop computer? – let’s turn your old machine into a functional cloud.
Is this workshop for me?
This workshop is open to participants with little or no experience in system administration. You will be introduced to the wonders and frustrations of setting up your own server, using your old laptop, nettop, and desktop machine that you thought had turned into e-waste. Over the course of the two days, you will learn to turn your antique hardware into a functional server that can be used to host a website, or some useful web applications for yourself, friends, family, or colleagues.
On day one, for those interested, we will give a short introduction to the command line, a way of interacting with computers without graphical user interfaces. Afterwards, we will spend the rest of the day installing the free and open-source operating system Linux on the computer you bought. On day two, we will install a number of different network and web applications, and connect the servers to the larger Internet.
What will I gain from participating in this workshop?
At the end of the workshop, you will have familiarised yourself with basic computer networking, servers, command line, web hosting, and server installation. You will have have turned an old
computer from e-waste to a functional server, which we will host at the FIBER premises until the end of the workshop series.
Overall you will acquire enough knowledge and jargon to further explore this alternative to Big Tech cloud from your home or studio afterward on your own, or better with others, and we will point you in the direction of how to continue when you take your newly created server back with you at the end of the workshop series.
How to prepare yourself?
- Bring an old computer to turn into a server (all data will be lost, so make sure there is nothing important on this computer)
- Bring an empty USB stick
- Bring a working laptop from which you can work during the workshop
2 weeks before the workshop we need to know from all participants what hardware they plan to bring, so we can prepare for different eventualities
About the workshop hosts: Aymeric Mansoux & Lukas Engelhardt
Aymeric Mansoux (he/him) has been messing around with computers and networks for far too long. He is a Hogeschool Lector (reader/professor of practice-oriented research) at the Willem de Kooning Academy, Hogeschool Rotterdam. Recent collaborations include What Remains, an 8-bit Nintendo game about whistleblowing and the manipulation of public opinion in relation to the climate crisis; LURK, a server infrastructure and collective to host discussions around net/computational art, culture, and politics; and the Permacomputing Wiki where a growing number of contributors document and discuss alternatives to extractive mainstream computation.
Lukas Engelhardt (Hamburg, 1991) is a graphic designer and artist in Amsterdam. He creates and explores (supposedly) autonomous spaces, both online and offline, and tries to understand the tactics, terms and conditions necessary to negotiate and maintain them. He builds, breaks and fixes servers for himself and for others and is active in the housing struggle. Together with Justus Gelberg he runs the graphic design studio Correspondence. He holds an MFA from the Design Department at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.
Depending on the type of workshop prices will be decided upon in the beginning of September.
Regular: Range € 40-60
Student: Range € 20-40
If you have any questions about pricing, please visit our FAQ.