Open Source Cloud

The day has come when I have confidence it is possible to move off of all third party clouds, with the only exception being social media and social network sites. That is, the wonderful world of email, file sharing and synchronization, and even online document collaboration, can all be supported independent of third party services.

Desktop Applications - Open Source Replacements

Around 10 years ago I had decided to move off of all possible proprietary third-party applications. This has been largely successful, though there are a few smaller tools I do pay for. In those days the two monsters were (and still are) Microsoft and Adobe.

There are many additional tools which have been overcome by their Open Source rivals, especially with the trend toward lightweight.

Cloud Applications - Open Source Replacements

In terms of the cloud, the heavyweights are Google Docs/Google Drive and Dropbox. Of course there are other tools out there which are equivalent (essentially, web-based document editing/sharing and file synchronization and sharing tools). And not to forget, the venerable mail and calendar tools.

So what we need are:

  • An email, calendar, contacts application with webmail functionality (and underlying email transport) -- Kolab has become an attractive platform since it integrates other well-known tools (for an all-in-one option, Citadel is a great project).
    • Update 08-03-2015 - Kolab is very difficult to get working, so Citadel looks to be the focus for next steps.
  • A file synchronization and sharing tool that can support multi-user, online document editing -- OwnCloud appears to have reached a point of viability.
    • Update 08-03-2015 - OwnCloud is woefully buggy, therefore splitting up the functionality of file synchronization, file sharing, and file collaborative editing. For synchronization and sharing, Sparkleshare looks good as a purely synchronizing tool (though Gitlab (and raw git) might be better in general), and for real-time (and archived) collaborative file editing, Etherpad looks great.

Both of these cloud applications need to have fairly broad support so that mobile clients and use situations are supported.

Cloud Applications - Part Two and Three

Eventually, we should all migrate off of Github, which has the same kind of dependency issue, but by then Gitlab will likely be viable and have third-party support. Also, the smaller tools like Trello, Waffle, even Gitter. I'm not against these in principle, only that the software is not open source, and so while paying a small monthly fee is something I support, being locked in and having (in the case of Gitter and Waffle) an unresponsive project manager who can't make things better (and necessarily others cannot contribute). P.S., note that GitPeach might be the Waffle/Trello replacement candidate.

Then there comes video, audio, and our social graphs. I don't see a way off of those anytime soon -- partly because of institutional resistance, partly because of a lack of maturity in the open source options, but largely because of user behavior.

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