I'm in love with cloud computing. OK, so I'm not really in love with cloud computing itself, but I love the idea of being able to access my data from anywhere. Cloud computing itself scares me a little bit. The idea of putting my unprotected data in the hands of someone else and trusting them to keep it safe and keep it from prying eyes isn't something I'll likely ever get comfortable with. So, while I love the universal data access that the cloud offers, I generally avoid using any cloud services because I don't trust them.
Thankfully, the days of having to rely on Google, Amazon, or Microsoft, for your cloud services are quickly coming to an end. Free software alternatives are being built and made better every day that will give us total control over our data and allow us to have a 'home cloud in a box'. Add the fact that computer hardware is getting cheaper every day and there's virtually no reason why anyone has to rely on the public cloud.
Just last night, I was looking at a pretty sweet free software web based office suite that's pretty much a drop-in replacement for Google Docs, and a web based email app that not only replaces Gmail and other web mail providers, but does a better job with web mail than its non-free counterparts. Oh, and let's not forget easy replacements for Facebook and Google+ and Twitter. I'm still looking for a good free software replacement for Dropbox so I'm using Ubuntu One (which works on Windows and Mac too) until I can find something that allows everything to live on my server. Free software has come a LONG way and is just getting better every day.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be testing a bunch of these solutions on my home server and writing a series of posts about how they perform against their non-free alternatives. If things work out really well, I'll write up a quick and dirty guide on how to set them all up on your own home server so that you can get rolling quickly and easily. Watch this blog for updates and (maybe) even a few screenshots.
Yep, we've come a long way baby.