Setting up a Raspberry server + daemonized Homebase for pinning Dat websites

This suite of tutorials is the result of a recent Agorama Server Co-op workshop day. They cover how to set up a Raspberry Pi, how to use an Ansible playbook to easily get a Pi set up as a server, and how to run Homebase on a Raspberry server.

A Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+


Introduction

Mise en scène

For almost all of the tutorials below, you’ll need: a computer, a Raspberry Pi, a power supply for your Pi (read more), an SD card appropriate to your requirements (read more), and an SD card reader. You may also find an ethernet cable useful if your Pi has an ethernet port.

Personally, I’m working with: a 15ʺ MacBook Pro with an SD card port; a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+; a SanDisk Ultra 16GB micro SD card with an 80Mbps read speed that came with a microSD adapter; and the charger from an old Android phone.

Glossary

Some of these tutorials are like a mini crash course in server administration. You don’t need to know much to get started and mess around, but it is useful to be aware of a few terms. If you’re unfamiliar with any of the terms used, see below for very brief explanations.

Ansible
An IT automation tool
Beaker
Primarily a browser for Dat and HTTP/S websites; also offers website seeding and other features
booting
The startup sequence that happens when you turn on a computer
command line
A text interface where you can write in commands for your computer; on a Mac, you can open the command line by firing up the Terminal application
daemon
A computer program that runs as a background process; most people pronounce it “DEE-muhn”
Dat
A peer-to-peer protocol for sharing websites, files, and other data over the internet
Etcher
Software that can be used to flash OS images on to SD cards or USB drives; a free and open-source Electron app developed by Balena
flashing
To update a drive with a new program such as an operating system
Git
A version control system widely used by programmers and web developers
Homebase
“A self-deployable tool for managing websites published with the Dat protocol”; by the Beaker team
image
A serialized copy of an entire computer system stored safely in a file
IP address
A series of numbers separated by periods that is assigned to each computer connected to a network
mount
Making a drive such as an SD card or an external hard drive accessible to your computer; in theory, all you should usually have to do to mount a drive is plug it in to your computer
Nano
A simple command line text editor; for more complex editing, emacs or vi may be preferable
operating system (OS)
System software that manages a computer’s software and hardware; if you compared all of the software on a computer to a house, the OS would be the foundations
pinning
Synonymous with seeding or hosting for Dat sites; read more in the Beaker documentation
pip
Python package manager
playbook
A defined set of scripts and variables used by Ansible for server configuration
Python
A programming language
Raspbian
The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s officially supported operating system
root (directory)
The top-level directory in a filesystem; if you compared the filesystem to a family tree, the root would be the oldest ancestor at the very top of the tree
root (user)
The user with administrative privileges; it’s a powerful user so should be kept very secure
SD card
A memory card often used in portable devices; SD stands for “secure digital”
service
With computers, a service is usually a program that runs in the background; if you were to compare a computer with a human, you might compare a service to breathing
SSH
A protocol for connecting to a server securely over a potentially insecure network; SSH stands for “Secure Shell”
SSH key
An SSH key is used to log in to SSH; it is considered much more secure than a simple username + password combo
user
With servers, a “user” is an account with a particular set of privileges and permissions
wpa_supplicant
Cross-platform software that implements WiFi security protocols including WPA and WPA2; the wpa_supplicant.conf file configures wpa_supplicant

Set up a Raspberry Pi for the first time

Flash Raspbian on an SD card using Etcher
  1. If you don’t already have it installed, download and install Etcher.
  2. Download your preferred Raspbian image as a .zip file. If you will only be using the Raspberry Pi as a server, such as with Homebase, you may wish to go with Raspbian Lite.
  3. Plug your SD card in to your card reader so that it mounts on your computer.
  4. Flash the Raspbian image on to your SD card by opening the downloaded image in Etcher, selecting your mounted SD card, and then clicking flash. Use caution. Flashing will overwrite anything on the selected drive. If you accidentally select an external hard drive instead of your SD, you’re going to have a bad time.
  5. When Etcher is done, remove the SD card. It should have been unmounted as part of the flashing process, but double-check before you pull it out of the card reader.

Flashing the Raspbian image on to an SD can be done manually instead of using Etcher. For further info, see the base of the “Installing operating system images” page on raspberrypi.org.

If you want to connect the Pi to a WiFi network or enable SSH, complete those steps before booting the Pi.

Connect a Raspberry Pi to WiFi on the command line

This tutorial assumes you have flashed Raspbian on an SD card but have not yet booted the Pi. If you have already booted the Pi, see instructions on how to change the existing WiFi configuration on the command line.

Plug your SD card in to your card reader so that it mounts on your computer.

Open the command line and run:

nano /Volumes/boot/wpa_supplicant.conf

This will open a blank file using nano. Paste in the configuration below:

country=gb
update_config=1
ctrl_interface=/var/run/wpa_supplicant

network={
  scan_ssid=1
  ssid="YOUR_NETWORK_NAME"
  psk="YOUR_NETWORK_PASSWORD"
}

Be sure to change the ssid and psk values to your WiFi network name and password respectively. The country value should be set to the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code for the country the Pi is in.

If you are planning to use the Raspberry Pi on a few networks, you should add any other required networks to this file as so:

country=gb
update_config=1
ctrl_interface=/var/run/wpa_supplicant

network={
  scan_ssid=1
  ssid="YOUR_NETWORK_NAME_1"
  psk="YOUR_NETWORK_PASSWORD_1"
  priority = 1
}

network={
  scan_ssid=1
  ssid="YOUR_NETWORK_NAME_2"
  psk="YOUR_NETWORK_PASSWORD_2"
  priority = 2
}

When you are done editing the credentials, save the wpa_supplicant.conf file and close Nano.

If you want to enable SSH but haven’t yet done so, complete that step before you boot the Pi for the first time.

When you are ready to boot the Pi for the first time and test the WiFi connection, insert the SD card in the Raspberry Pi and plug the Pi in to a power source. Give it a minute or two, then view the devices on the network. If the Pi shows up, you’re ready to go.

If you are planning to use the Raspberry Pi as a server, such as to run Homebase, you may wish to keep it plugged in to the ethernet for a more stable connection.

Enable SSH on a Raspberry Pi

As of late 2016, Raspbian has SSH disabled by default. This is to protect users from accidentally making their Pi accessible to the internet with default credentials. This tutorial assumes you have flashed Raspbian on an SD card but have not yet booted the Pi.

Plug your SD card in to your card reader so that it mounts on your computer.

Next, open the command line and run

touch /Volumes/boot/ssh

This will create a new empty file titled ssh in the root of your SD card. This empty file will allow you to connect via SSH when the Pi is first booted.

If you get an error after running the touch command that says No such file or directory, check that your SD card has mounted correctly and check that Raspbian is installed on the SD card.

If you want to connect the Pi to a WiFi network but haven’t yet done so, complete that step before you boot the Pi for the first time.

Log in to a Raspberry Pi via SSH as the root user pi

This tutorial assumes you have already flashed Raspbian on an SD card, have enabled SSH, have connected the Pi to the internet via WiFi or ethernet, and have booted the Pi.

Open the command line and run:

ssh pi@raspberrypi.local

If this is the first time you are connecting via SSH then type in the default password raspberry. If you don’t plan to use Agorama’s Ansible playbook to configure your SSH credentials, you must change your default password by using the passwd command (read more). Keeping the default password in place and enabling SSH just invites bad guys to do shady things with your Pi.

If this is not the first time you are connecting via SSH, use the password you configured with passwd or the password you added to the Ansible playbook.

For security reasons, nothing will show on the screen while you are typing your password.

If nothing happens when you attempt to log in, your Pi may not be connected to the internet.

If you receive a Permission denied error, you will need to find the Pi’s IP address. View the devices on the network to determine the IP. Once you have the Pi’s IP address, try logging in as instructed above but replace raspberrypi.local with your Pi’s IP address. If you had to take this step, you may want to write down your Pi’s IP address for use in other steps on this page.

If you receive an error relating to the ECDSA host key changing, see the guidance below guidance below related to ECDSA errors.


Use Ansible playbook to configure Raspberry Pi server

About Agorama’s Ansible playbook

Agorama’s Ansible Raspberry server playbook automates a number of fiddly tasks that are required to get a Raspberry Pi set up as a server geared towards use with Homebase. You can get a feel for the tasks that will be performed by the playbook by browsing the files within the playbook, working backwards from all.yml.

As of late April 2019, the tasks performed by the playbook include:

  • Set up user accounts and apply basic updates & security
  • Prepare Raspberry Pi to run Node.js apps
    • Run nodesource.node
    • Create global package directory
    • Add global package directory to .npmrc
    • Add global package directory to PATH
  • Install nginx web server

Future tasks planned for the playbook include DNS configuration and HTTPS support.

Regardless of what method you use to set up a server, and no matter where the server “lives” – on a Raspberry Pi, a DigitalOcean droplet, or anywhere else – the most important thing to remember is that it is your responsibility to keep it secure and up-to-date.

Install Ansible and get the playbook

This tutorial assumes you have Python, pip, and git installed on your computer.

Open the command line.

Install the Python packages Ansible and Passlib by running:

pip install ansible passlib

Next, clone Agorama’s ansible-raspberry-server repository:

git clone https://github.com/agoramaHub/ansible-raspberry-server.git

and change directories in to the root of that repository by running:

cd ansible-raspberry-server

Now you are ready to add your SSH credentials to this Ansible playbook and configure a Raspberry Pi.

Add your SSH credentials and timezone to the playbook

This tutorial assumes you have already set up Ansible and the playbook. It also assumes that you have set up SSH keys (see tutorial on DigitalOcean).

Open the command line and change directories to the root directory of the cloned Ansible playbook by running the command below. Replace the path with the correct path on your computer.

cd /path/to/your/ansible-raspberry-server

To add your SSH key and change the password for the root pi user, run the command:

ansible-playbook 01-auth.yml

You will be prompted to add your public key path and set a password for the root user. The default key path should be fine unless you placed your public key somewhere other than the default path when you created it. Set the password to the password you would prefer to use when you log in to the root pi user via SSH. Note that you will not need to use this password often since you are adding your SSH key, however you will need it when you first run the playbook.

When you have finished answering each prompt, the output will be saved to vars/auth.yml with the password encrypted by passlib.

To check and edit the timezone, run:

nano vars/base.yml

to open the base variables file with nano. If you need to change the timezone, edit the ntp_timezone value and save this file.

Run the playbook

This tutorial assumes you have already set up Ansible and the playbook, have configured your SSH credentials in the playbook, have flashed Raspbian, have enabled SSH, have connected the Pi to the internet via WiFi or ethernet, and have booted the Pi.

Open the command line and change directories to the root directory of the cloned Ansible playbook by running the command below. Replace the path with the correct path on your computer.

cd /path/to/your/ansible-raspberry-server

When you’re ready, run the playbook:

ansible-playbook all.yml --ask-pass

If the command fails because it cannot find the Pi, you need to change the hosts file so that the script can find the Pi via its IP address. View the devices on the network to determine the IP, then run:

nano hosts

to open the hosts file with nano. Replace raspberrypi.local with your Raspberry Pi’s IP address. You may add additional Raspberry Pi IP addresses to this file if you want to run the playbook on multiple Pis. When you are done editing, save and close this file and then run the ansible-playbook command above again.

You will be prompted for the password you added to the playbook. If your SSH key is added and you can log in successfully then the playbook will proceed to configure the Raspberry Pi, logging tasks as they are performed.

Note: if you configured a passphrase for your SSH key when you set it up, you will be asked for this as well and will be asked for it each time you connect to your Raspberry Pi via SSH in the future. See this StackExchange thread for a few suggestions on how to avoid being asked for the passphrase every time.


Run Homebase on a Raspberry Pi server

Install dat and homebase

This tutorial assumes that you have set up a Raspberry Pi and have configured it for use as a server using Agorama’s Ansible playbook or via other means. It also assumes that your configured Raspberry Pi is on and connected to the internet and that you have logged in via SSH.

For security purposes, the Ansible playbook configures worker user on Raspberry server so that we’re not using the root user pi to install and run software. When you first log in with SSH you are logged in as the root user, so we need to switch to worker by running:

sudo su worker

Next, install dat:

npm install -g dat

Test whether or not the dat installation works with the Pi configuration by running:

dat doctor

When prompted, select the peer-to-peer test and send the command it returns to a friend that has dat installed. Ask the friend to run the command. If dat doctor returns successful, then you’re all good. Disconnect from dat doctor by typing ctrl + c.

Install homebase by running:

npm install -g @beaker/homebase

Change directory to the user root:

cd

and then create a Homebase config. Run:

nano .homebase.yml

to open up the Homebase config with nano, then paste in:

dats:
  - url: dat://01cd482f39eb729cdcbb479b03b0c76c6def9cfc9cff276a564a17c99c4432f4/
  - url: dat://b0bc462c23e3ca1fee7731d0a1a2dc38bd9b9385daa413520e25aea0a26237a6/
  - url: dat://f707397e8dacc1893dced5afa285bab1715b70fe40135c2e14aac7de52f2c6bb/

directory: ~/.homebase        # where your data will be stored

# For API service. Establish API endpoint through port 80 (http)
ports:
  http: 8080                  # HTTP port for redirects or non-TLS serving

This config will set up a pinning service without DNS support that pins three Agorama-related URLs. Feel free to replace them with URLs of your choice. Save and close the file when you’re done editing.

Next, run homebase:

homebase

The response should indicate success and that your URLs from the .homebase.yml file are being pinned.

If you get an error message here or when you ran dat doctor, you may need to check the configuration of your Raspberry Pi.

Daemonize homebase with systemd

This tutorial assumes that you have set up a Raspberry Pi, have configured it with Agorama’s Ansible Raspberry playbook according to the instructions above, and have installed dat and homebase on the Pi. It also assumes that your configured Raspberry Pi is on and connected to the internet and that you have logged in via SSH.

Daemonizing homebase means that it will constantly run in the background as long as the service hasn’t failed, the server is on, and the server is connected to the internet. This is important because the whole point is that we want the Dat sites specified in .homebase.yml to run in perpetuity.

First, add a service configuration for homebase. As the root user pi, run:

nano /etc/systemd/system/homebase.service

to open a new file with nano. Paste in:

[Unit]
Description=homebase

[Service]
Type=simple
ExecStart=/usr/bin/env .npm-packages/bin/homebase
WorkingDirectory=/home/worker/
Restart=on-failure
StandardInput=null
StandardOutput=syslog
StandardError=syslog
Restart=always
SyslogIdentifier=homebase
User=worker
Group=worker

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

This configuration file indicates (amongst other things) which user will run the service, where to find homebase, and whether or not to restart when the system is rebooted.

To start the service, run:

sudo service homebase start

To stop the service, run:

sudo service homebase stop

To read the logs, run:

journalctl -u homebase

If the service is running and is working as it should, you should be able to visit any of the URLs you added to your .homebase.yml config file in Beaker Browser.

NOTE
A few friendly folks have suggested pm2 for daemonizing Homebase (see Twitter thread). This is also what is suggested in the Homebase readme, and it’s what I used previously when getting Homebase set up on DigitalOcean. It worked great for me, but this time round we used systemd because two people at the workshop had rough experiences using pm2 with Homebase on a Raspberry Pi. I think it had something to do with a crazy amount of memory usage? Not 100% sure, I think we may cover this in a future workshop.


Related tasks, troubleshooting, and edits

Useful commands

These are very basic examples of some useful commands. Have a search online for more powerful examples.

To change directory:

cd preferred/directory

To list the files in a directory (omit directoryname if you want to list the files in the current directory):

ls directoryname

To display the contents of a file:

cat filename

To edit a file using nano (the file will be created in the current directory if it doesn’t exist):

nano filename

To reboot a Raspberry Pi, be sure you are connected via SSH as the pi root user and then run:

sudo reboot

To disconnect from an SSH session, type ctrl + d

It isn’t a great idea to just pull the plug on a Raspberry Pi to turn it off since it can cause problems with your SD card or the file system. To shut down a Raspberry Pi:

sudo shutdown -h now
View all devices connected to a network

It can be useful to view all devices connected to a network if you want to check your Raspberry Pi’s WiFi connection or need to identify its IP address.

You can use your router’s admin interface, the mobile app Fing, or the network scanning tool nmap to view a list of the devices connected to your network.

If you are trying to find a Raspberry Pi’s IP address and there are a lot of devices connected, you may need to use the list of devices and the process of elimination (i.e. turn devices on and off and see what disappears).

If the SD card will not mount

If you plug in an SD card and it will not mount, try to use your system tools such as Disk Utility to check for the drive. If that doesn’t work, try restarting your computer. If that doesn’t work, try different hardware such as a friend’s computer or an external card reader. I know at least four people with Macbook Pros that have dealt with defective card reader ports.

Fixing ECDSA error triggered at SSH login when a Raspberry Pi has been connected to a new network

If you added your SSH key using Agorama’s Ansible Raspberry playbook and then move your Pi on to a new network, you will probably receive an error relating to the ECDSA host key changing. The base of the warning message should indicate that you can fix this by adding the correct host key in ~/.ssh/known_hosts.

One way to resolve this is to re-add your SSH credentials to the Ansible playbook and then run the playbook so that your SSH keys are added again.

Changing the WiFi configuration for an existing Raspberry Pi on the command line

If you did not add your new network to your wpa_supplicant.config file when you first set up WiFi on your Pi, you will need to add your new network to this file.

If your Raspberry Pi does not have an ethernet port, it may be easiest to start from scratch (flash Raspbian on to the SD card and configure the wpa_supplicant.conf file).

If your Raspberry Pi has an ethernet port, connect it to the network via ethernet. Open the command line and connect via SSH, then run:

sudo nano /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

This will open up the wpa_supplicant.conf with nano. Scroll down the file and edit the network details as per the WiFi connection instructions above.

When you are done editing, save and close the file then disconnect your Raspberry Pi from the ethernet. To test the connection, check for the Raspberry Pi by viewing all of the devices connected to the network. If the Pi is not connected after a couple minutes, try rebooting the Raspberry Pi.

List of edits
  • 03.03.19 – Added note about pm2 to “Daemonize homebase with systemd” tutorial

Next steps include configuring HTTPS support, DNS support, and getting more familiar with the maintenance involved in this setup. I think there is also some complication involving DMZ and routers, but I’m very unfamiliar with those implications at this point. I have a feeling we’ll dig in to a lot of this during the upcoming Agorama Server Co-op evenings and workshops. See the Agorama site and their Twitter account for dates.

Thanks to the Agorama folks – organisers and fellow attendees – for a very fun workshop.

Agorama #7: Raspberry Pis, SSH, Ansible, Dat, and Homebase

Raised wallpaper in Rebecca’s Flat at Raven Row, London

Saturday was an Agorama Server Co-op workshop day. A bunch of us spent the afternoon getting Homebase set up on various Raspberry Pis, a lot of trial and error! The main reference material we used was the README from Agorama’s ansible-raspberry-server repo, Agorama’s Dat Server Node Tutorial, and the brainpower of some of the more knowledgeable people present.

I learned a *lot* from the process and the people there, particularly Max, Ali, and Harry. I’m in the process of writing it all up in to a series of tutorials, will add it here.

Read tutorials

Surfing with coffee 5

Surfing with coffee #5. Order of exploration:

A
Noticed that HB starred Samiz-Dat on GitHub (↓B)(↓C)(↓D)

B
Hyperreadings (↓G)

C
Distributed, a book from OPEN Editions that “focusses attention on the act of distribution as a subject for serious creative consideration and one of great social and economic importance”. (↓D)

D
bradhaylock.com (↓E)(↓F)

E
Searched for Brad Haylock on Twitter. (↓L)

F
Surpllus (↓H)

G
Kenneth Goldsmith reflecting on the current state and possible future of UbuWeb after 15 years. Also relevant to the Whyspace event last Wednesday. “For the moment, we have no competition, a fact we’re not happy about. We’re distressed that there is only one UbuWeb: why aren’t there dozens like it?” (↓I)

H
Searched for Surpllus on Twitter. (↓L)

I
UbuWeb Twitter feed (↓J)(↓L)

J
RIP Filmstruck (↓K)

K
A wild, multi-armed internet search for an independent video rental hole-in-the-wall I went to probably around 5-6 years ago. Spent 20 minutes searching and couldn’t find it. Asked SB and he figured it out in about 30 seconds, see The Film Shop in Stoke Newington. Looks like it has probably gone the way of most other video shops though. :(

L
Hate how heavily I rely on Twitter to keep up with interesting peoples’ activity, especially after this past Saturday. Look in to alternative methods of creating/curating feeds outside of the social media rat race. (↓M)(↓N)(↓O)

M
Hardly Everything, “your feed with a cadence”.

N
Reeder for iOS and Mac (I think this is what SB uses).

O
Search for self-hosted RSS, came across Awesome self-hosted repo. See Feed Readers section specifically.

Saturday at Mozfest 2018

SB and I went to Mozfest for the first time last Saturday. What a lovely day! Took some haphazard notes throughout, see below for a dump of notes/links related to the sessions I attended. The bits in brackets are mostly thoughts that bounced around my head while taking notes during talks. All quotes are paraphrased.

Read more

my experience getting up and running with Homebase

I finally got round to exploring Homebase yesterday (jump straight to setup steps). My original intention was to get the SB-PH site on Dat + HTTPS à la this blog post by Tara Vancil. As far as I can tell though, without multi-writer support in Dat this setup would effectively lock Sam out of being able to quickly deploy changes. We’re interested in making that site a little bit more of a collaborative sandbox, so making deployment harder than it is currently is not the right step to take there.

So though I definitely want to get the SB-PH site on Dat eventually, we’re putting that on hold for now and I’m pivoting towards my site. In this blog’s earliest incarnation it was on Tumblr, and for a long while now has been a pretty standard WordPress site. The big task in moving to Dat, besides figuring out Homebase, is converting my site from WordPress to a static site via Jekyll/Hugo/Eleventy/GatsbyJS or something similar. It’s taking a while, I didn’t realise quite how much content has accumulated (1000+ tags?!) and there are a few WordPress-y features that I definitely want to build in (“more” tags, descriptions for tags+categories, proper pagination, etc.). More on that in a separate note.

So yesterday I put that aside and focused on getting Homebase up and running on a DigitalOcean droplet. Overall, setting up Homebase wasn’t too bad. The most involved part of the process was setting up the server. I kind of like tinkering with server stuff, so that’s cool. I 100% agree with the caveat at the top of the Homebase README, you should consider Homebase only if you’re comfortable with and interested in server administration. I would add that your interest should be *ongoing*. Servers take maintenance (related, see note on serverless setups). It’s your responsibility if a process stops running, or the software is out of date, or the Let’s Encrypt certificate doesn’t renew, etc. Hashbase looks like a great alternative for those that want the final result but don’t want to deal with the server configuration/maintenance.

The rest of this note is an outline of the steps I took to get Homebase working. Where good documentation exists elsewhere, I have linked to that instead of elaborating.

Read Homebase setup steps

Agorama #2: exploring Scuttlebutt

A wall in Rebecca’s Flat at Raven Row

This past Thursday 18 October was the second Server Co-op meetup in Rebecca’s Flat at Raven Row. See all Server Co-op notes.

I didn’t take as many notes this time, wasn’t feeling fantastic. Very sketchy notes below.


click public button twice if the Patchwork feed seems stuck after first install

how to have Scuttlebutt on multiple devices?
eh, maybe not worth the hassle, just use one device
“sameAs” is currently being worked on by devs in Scuttlebutt community

identity = private + public + network key combo
lib sodium

back up private key and gossip.json

dark crystal for backing up private key using social network

“shamir’s secrets” algorithm
kind of like horcruxes!

with Scuttlebutt, your friends are your cloud/datacentre

nothing is ever deleted (same as Dat)

could technically have multiple identities, but functionality isn’t implemented currently. Would have to swap .ssb directories

Agorama #1: outstanding home decor + P2P

The rug in Rebecca’s Flat at Raven Row

Last night I went to the first Server Co-op meetup hosted by Agorama in Rebecca’s Flat. It’s a more-is-more space, and then some. It was a lovely evening. Notes:

Check out infocivics.com by Paul Frazee. “Computing networks are social and political systems. We should attempt to answer how the technical design of a network will influence the internal politics.”

There *is* a mobile Dat browser, but apparently it’s a bit… buggy. See Bunsen for Android (nada for iOS). Still, kudos to them for taking a stab at it. Apparently the project of making a Dat browser sort of hits a brick wall due to node.js, but a bunch of devs have taken it upon themselves to make a Rust implementation of Dat. TBH I don’t understand the ins-and-outs well enough to be able to describe how that lowers the barrier, but it sounds like the future of mobile Dat might be brighter for it.

I haven’t dug in to Scuttlebutt yet, and it sounds like it’s about time. An offline-first protocol, described by KG as a database/social network/community. See also Patchwork. Feel like I heard HL say that it came about after 2011 Christchurch earthquake due to the difficulties at the time with having any sort of connectivity, but that might be wrong?

And crucially, are there ethical conversations around P2P tech that we’re failing to have, or happily skating past? I’m thinking about when Facebook and similar now-giants were in their nascent stages, surely some of the current nastiness could have been avoided if the making was accompanied by a little more thinking, more extrospection? How do you wrap your head around the potential ethical implications of something that doesn’t yet exist? I found KB’s anecdote interesting, when a few fascistic idiots attempted to hijack Scuttlebutt but were almost immediately, organically, blocked from having any meaningful impact. It feels great, but who’s to say they’re not off in their own node somewhere trolling away? Feels awful to think that Scuttlebutt might be harbouring some sort of extreme-right cell, and yet maybe so be it, should it be a decentralised network’s responsibility to police that? How on earth would that work anyway?


Separate: I got my hair cut by Dean last week and am very pleased. When it’s styled it’s a bit Josie Packard (fabulous) and when not styled, it’s very Shawn Hunter (not totally a bad thing).

Exploring the use cases for serverless website architecture

Last Saturday, Sam introduced me to Chris Coyier’s talk on serverless-ness, The All-Powerful Front-End Developer. Pretty interesting and useful. I’m glad he leads it by breaking down the problematic nature of the word “serverless”! The following day was spent in agorama’s p2p workshop at furtherfield. Coincidentally, there is a lot of overlap in these topics.

I’ve spent the past few days wrapping my head around all of this, contextualising it against the sorts of concerns and projects we work with. Though I desperately want to get going with Dat, I’m starting with serverless because it may solve an urgent need in my day-to-day work. Right now, I’m spending much more time than I realistically can maintaining CMSs and hosting environments for older websites.

All of the below is a thought dump on the topic, an attempt to pick apart the meaning of and the use cases for a serverless website architecture.

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Link dump: P2P, serverless, sushi, etc.

Weekend activities resulted in an explosion of information that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. 💥 Link dump below for reference. Most of these are via Sam B, Gemma C, Hannah B, and agorama.

Going to write up more about serverless and P2P, and how they kind of intersect, once I’ve digested some of this.