Take back control II

Last time, in “Take back control”, I talked about the basic concepts, on why we should take back control.

Today, I’ll talk a bit about concrete steps – concrete implementation of what works for me.

Instant messaging

XMPP is an open standard, and one of the core concepts is federation. – Works exactly like e-mail. (XMPP/Jabber addresses also look like e-mail addresses.)

I personally run ejabberd, and use pidgin on client computers. Obviously, don’t forget to enable encryption! And OTR.

On the phone: I don’t use instant messaging on the phone. Just have people call if it’s important.


Very generic setup, and unchanged for years. Running Exim + Dovecot for SMTP + IMAP. Again, don’t forget SSL.

For clients: mutt. On the phone: Apple MobileMail.

Calendar & Contacts

This was the hardest thing to move off the cloud. Whilst I was evaluating various so called “Groupware” “solutions”, none of them particularly appealed to me. (Most of these are fine packages, but they look like overkill for a single user, plus I wasn’t comfortable with putting any of them onto the Internet.)

At some point I just realized, I don’t need “always on” availability of these services. My phone always has a full copy of the data, and can sync changes back whenever the server is reachable. This realization made me choose the OS X Server Calendar and Contacts features, on the Mac mini “server” I already had at home.

While this choice works good enough for me, it’s certainly not for everybody.


The sad part of the story – there’s no real replacement yet.

I’ve begun work on a partial replacement, more as a feasability study. No sharing/teams yet, no nice web thing yet, and so on.

I present: Oncotrunk

What really needs to be done is proper syncing – right now Oncotrunk relies on Unison to actually do the file synchronization. While Unison is certainly a great standalone tool, it’s really not meant to be driven by other programs, and my glue code isn’t any good either.

I’m using Oncotrunk on multiple computers today.

That’s all for now.

Good luck, and take back control!

The U.S. cloud party was fun while it lasted, but it’s really over now.