I've been working on removing myself from the Google silo for the past few months. It's tough, and the alternatives just aren't as good or convenient as what Google offers, but I think it's an important thing to do at least on principle.
I found Owncloud to be difficult to install and very buggy. For self-hosted CalDAV/CardDAV, I chose Baikal (http://http://baikal-server.com/) instead of Radicale. It seemed easier to set up and it's been working great so far. There's no web interface unfortunately, and the Thunderbird addon that connects to CardDAV (SOGO connector) is buggy at times too.
Replacing Dropbox doesn't seem practical right now. Owncloud is buggy, Sparkleshare seems like a "when you've got a hammer, everything's a nail" kind of solution, and I haven't tried Seafile yet because the configuration is intimidating and I haven't really heard anything about it.
Rackspace has great hosted email for $1/inbox/month. Eventually I want to bite the bullet and host my own mail server (I still have nightmares from when I self-hosted email a few years ago) but in the meantime I've really liked Rackspace.
Hacker idea: Create an OSS self-hosted email appliance. Simple setup for a one-inbox self-hosted email server, including DNS, DKIM, spam filter, etc. No matter what anyone says Dovecot/Postfix is not for mere mortals and self-hosted email in general is so full of pitfalls it could be an Indiana Jones temple.
"I've been working on removing myself from the Google silo ... Replacing Dropbox doesn't seem practical right now."
I must have missed something, did Google acquire Dropbox? Dropbox makes their money from the Dropbox product which is exactly why you should use a company like them instead of a borg offering. I prefer Sugarsync but there are no shortage of options.
By principle I prefer software that's free as in freedom of speech and services that are managed by non-profits.
However, you're not talking about "free as in freedom of speech", but rather about being a cheap bastard.
Nothing wrong with that, I am and will always be a cheap bastard myself. BUT sometimes being cheap is different from being frugal and can have a negative effect on your bottom line.
My Dropbox subscription costs as much as 2 Starbucks coffees and man, let me tell you, I drink a lot of coffee. In exchange I get a good Linux client, a good iPad client, plus unlimited history of changes. I also trust them with my data, for now at least.
With Google Drive you may think that you'll always have alternatives to move in case they shut it down. However, by supporting Google, you're contributing to a possible future where no alternatives are left. Also, in case Google ever cuts you out of your account based on a malfunctioning script that calculated some probability that you may be violating their TOS for one of their dozens of services, you will not have the moral right to bitch about it, because you knew the associated risks.
Huh? Google is happy to give me a very good free e-mail account if I let them process my e-mail and serve me ads. I'm perfectly fine with that, so I'm taking the deal. Similar deals exist for calendar and talk (for which, admittedly, I
have limited use for - my work Outlook calendar is canon and I have maybe two persons I IM with on Google Talk).
How does that make me a 'cheap bastard'? In fact, I've been looking around, and my conclusion is that if I were to pay for my e-mail with another provider, I'd be paying more for an inferior product.
I'm fine with robots looking at my email too. I'm worried about the stories of people getting randomly locked out of their gmail though. My gmail powers nearly everything. It is responsible for pretty much all communications with all of my other accounts, and that includes accounts with automated payments. If I get locked out of my email, it would be a huge burden to regain my digital life. That said, I still use gmail, but that will be only temporary if these stories continue.
As I said in another comment I'm also a free Google Apps user and have made no attempt or thought about escaping Google's "silo".
Please read my reply in the context it was given. Using Google's services when they are the best makes sense. Using Ad-sponsored services, especially in cases where something valuable like access to your data is involved, when better alternatives exist for the price of coffee, well that does not make sense.
Non-profits may not run a service better but it does mean they can't be bought (or it's just more complicated to do so). It can be a clear way to signal the intent behind the organisation and restrict what can be done by the company.
In the UK, it's easy to set up a non-profit as a Company Limited by Guarantee, which has no shares. Such companies can still make profits, but they can't necessarily be distributed to Directors. It doesn't prevent them from making profits or spending them any other way.
For a comparison, see past discussions about Post Haven (re: pledges to "never be acquired") . Had they set up as a non-profit from the beginning, the purpose would have been clearer and enshrined in the company's legal structure. Presumably fewer people would have had cause to question the founders' motives.
The comment I replied to does NOT mention hosting free software by yourself, a route with which I agree if you're so inclined.
The comment I replied to mentions preference towards Ads-enabled services, just because they are free of charge and when a subscription to a service that keeps your data is the same price as 2 coffees, that's being a cheap bastard dude.
Also, in case this term offends anyone, it wasn't really meant to be insulting. As I said, I'm a cheap bastard myself. For instance I take advantage of a lot of available freebies, like Heroku's free dynos. I'm also a free Google Apps user and haven't made any attempts to escape Google's silo. Nothing wrong with that. But in regards to the price you end up paying, sometimes cheap stuff ends up costing more.
That's where you (and by some extension most computer science people) are completely off-base. You don't get to define what is private for me or what privacy means for me. It is a social construct. I have a select set of information that I do not want in the hands of a select group of people - THAT constitutes MY privacy.
That's not how it works. My privacy perception has nothing to do with another person's trust in me. And no I did not say I am volunteering ALL the information I am privy to - I did say that I have my boundaries. How I define those boundaries will obviously take into consideration what I think is a mutually understood contract between me and another person. But those boundaries vary from person to person and so it is futile to try to define someone else's privacy perception objectively.
> You don't get to define what is private for me or what privacy means for me
No, but I'm sure most people see privacy in a roughly similar way. You want control over what people know about you and your life, and control over who know it. This control is being taken away from us at every turn, no matter what we do online. Most people have no idea it's happening, but most of those who do, would prefer it.
You may be perfectly fine with losing your privacy, regardless of how you might personally want to define it, but most people aren't.
For me, and a few other people, 'personalized ads' is something that sounds very, very bad in itself, even if separated from the privacy issues. There really is a point on the scale of ad effectiveness where it stops being useful information and becomes brainwashing.
> Replacing Dropbox doesn't seem practical right now. Owncloud is buggy, Sparkleshare seems like a "when you've got a hammer, everything's a nail" kind of solution, and I haven't tried Seafile yet because the configuration is intimidating and I haven't really heard anything about it.
git-annex-assistant provides a friendly Dropbox replacement, with a web-based GUI and a magically synced/shared folder. Supports Linux, Android, and (very early stages) Windows and OS X.
> Rackspace has great hosted email for $1/inbox/month. Eventually I want to bite the bullet and host my own mail server (I still have nightmares from when I self-hosted email a few years ago) but in the meantime I've really liked Rackspace.
I currently use Gandi's mail servers, which you get free when you have a domain through them. I run my own IMAP server and move the mail to it with getmail, but I let Gandi handle SMTP receipt and delivery.
I have used Rackspace mail for 5 or 6 years, since I gave up trying managing email servers for firm and my clients. All it took was one client getting a spamming virus, and all email from the IP address would get black listed.
I have found their email to be very reliable. The webmail aspect is not perfect, and some of my clients have run into occasional issues with it. I almost always use an IMAP client app and never have an issue. You can get an upgrade and enable full mobile sync using (I think) MS ActiveSync.
For folder synchronization Bittorrent Sync is a pretty good alternative to Dropbox. Of course, you don't get the web interface and all, but you get the same functionality for folders, for free, with your own server.
I agree that email is scary and downright complicated, but it is definitely not an unreasonable task.
I've set up a few mailservers mostly through manual changes to the configurations and if you just need something simple and secured with SSL/TLS, it's not too bad. From my experiences, the only major headache is how intricate you want your user and password configurations to be.
Setting up email servers, especially ensuring that they don't get blacklisted by other servers, is a huge pain and definitely not worth the trouble for an individual or a small team. If you're concerned about Google, there are lots of other providers out there, and whatever they're charging is probably a bargain relative to rolling your own.
Can you elaborate on the blacklisting part? I've had my mailserver for a little over a year now and never had any issues with my mail going to spam, but my uses for that mailserver only revolve around 2-3 email accounts.
Sorry, I was a little unclear - the setup is easy, it's the maintenance that's annoying. (I've run mail servers in one way or another for ~15 years. I use Google Apps for my personal email now but still maintain some servers that do about 10,000 emails a day.)
Even if you have DKM/SPF setup, someone can decide to start spoofing email from your domain to send spam, especially if your domain has been around a while and is relatively clean. Since you don't send a lot of real mail, all of a sudden 99% of the email marked as coming from your domain is spam.
It's not always even obvious that you've been blacklisted; mails may simply be significantly delayed (AOL does this, I guess so they can check for similar messages to other users), etc.
This is an issue for email providers as well, but they have people on staff paid to deal with it.
Even if you only have to deal with this once every 2-3 years, that's still generally going to be worse than simply paying someone $5 a month for a managed email service, not to mention to you have to deal with backups, etc.
You may be right on this ... spoofing is still an aggravation because of the bouncing. Most of the time I haven't been able to find out exactly _why_ a particular provider has an issue (not blacklists), only ask for them to change their mind.
AOL, as far as I'm concerned, is a lost cause. They will block on rDNS alone, and no amount of calling or emailing will convince them otherwise. Recently, Verizon has gotten pissy about domain names matching the sending server, without even checking SPF.
In my 10+ years of running an SMTP server for SOHO use off of first business DSL (where Verizon refused to change rDNS), then cable modem, AOL was the sole server I encountered rejecting on mismatching rDNS alone.
Managing black lists is definitely a pain in the ass. If you can do outgoing spamassassin it definitely helps. I also use MXToolbox's free plan to monitor my two outgoing mail servers for blacklist. Alternatively, you can use Nagios to monitor blacklists.
You've been lucky so far; I have been running my own personal SMTP server(s) for quite some time, and while it's usually setup and forget, it can be an all-nighter headache.
First and foremost, static IPs are a must. Second, make sure those static IPs haven't been misclassified as dynamic or dialup. Then get reverse DNS setup properly (some providers won't do this). Then setup SPF. On top of all this, make absolutely 100% sure you don't run an open proxy. Then keep an eye on blacklists and your logs, and be ready to call and deal with obstinate tech support for hours on end. DKIM, and having some way to reject emails at the envelope stage (to save bandwidth, avoid double bounces, and punish the guilty rather than bouncing to innocent parties being Joe-jobbed) are also good ideas.
It's not horrible, IMHO, but it's not necessarily a cake walk either. You might need to have an understanding employer so that you can take off for half a day to deal with things.
Can you make a recommendation? I want something in the middle of a cheap hosting like Dreamhost and Google/Yahoo/Rackspace.
It was difficult to find it. Dreamhost was great because I can create a lot of e-mail accounts for my company but in the last year there were a lot of outage that complicated my business. On the other spectrum Google/Yahoo/Rackspace could be great but they are expensive when there is a linear relationship between e-mail accounts and price, and we create new e-mail accounts all the time not only for employees but for testing specific pieces of software.
Honestly, I use Google Apps for Domains myself, behind a domain I own (so I can leave down the road if I want.) I don't think folks moving off Gmail to leave Google want to do that but it's worked well for me. It's been long enough that I can't remember what I used before that for my email.
For an OSS self-hosted e-mail appliance, I've been using iRedMail. It's built on dovecot/postfix with a decent management interface for free. I run it on Ramnode for 2 bucks a month with no other costs. Works fine.
I think ISPs should firewall SMTP by default, and if they don't provide you with static IP they absolutely should add their dynamic IP blocks to the DUL / PBL etc. Almost all of the spam rejects from my mail server are from dynamic IPs. Them's the breaks. FWIW my ISP were perfectly happy to relax the firewall rules when I asked.
I'm working on this right now! It's going to integrate with both Amazon S3 for file storage and Amazon Glacier for backup. I hope to get it working with the BitTorrent Sync protocol so I don't have to write my own app that watches a dir and uploads files to the server.
As others have mentioned, it's not really the technical aspects of SMTP that make hosting your own email difficult. It's the entire deliverability ecosystem that's developed (ostensibly to protect from spam), such as most residential providers blocking outgoing port 25, or most mailservers filtering incoming mail from dynamic IPs.
I used iRedMail to setup department mail server and it just worked. I had no problems with configuration: IMAP, SSL, SMTP - everything works out of the box. Spam protection is also adequate, at least for a relatively low-volume usage.
You're not addressing what majelix mentions. How about DKIM? SPF? Do you know if/when you end up on any block-lists? What about deferrals from the major providers?
It is by no means impossible that everything "just works" for you, but depending on your e-mail patterns, and what ISP you uses, and whether or not there's any spammers or spammer-look-alikes on the same netblocks as you, the level of hassle in ensuring your outbound e-mails actually gets delivered to your recipients inboxes rather than spam-filtered can be immense.
For replacing dropbox I recommend copy.com - they give you 15GB for free (or 20GB if you use my ref link: https://copy.com?r=alqolW) instead of dropbox's tiny 2GB. Their client app looks and behaves very similar to dropbox and they support all important platforms.