Challenging Workflows

A workshop/conversation on open source digital tools and self hosting infrastructure


11th July 2022


with Ineke, Mascha, Weronika, Gloria, Mark, Mckinley, David, Supi, Dez, Samira, Tommy, Cliona, Nica, Ines, Onur and Davide

Notes were collected at this etherpad

Self Hosting

The cultures of self hosting
and maintaining independent infrastructure


11th July 2022


in this websitezine:

  • a brief but complete overview of internet infrastructures
  • what is needed for self-hosting
  • notes about self hosting with old devices
  • where to look for information and get hooked on running own infrastructure!
  • Who was in this conversation?

  • Someone tring to be critical, feeling uncomfortable about tools and visibility
  • A software dev, using FLOSS, not self-hosting theirself
  • An architect * interdisciplinary phd / mapping cities through collective experience
  • Someone using GIMP & Inkscape use for images
  • Someone making websites * sustainable tools
  • Someone in new media studies, net art, thesis on free software.
  • A web dev, server setups / also use close software.
  • Someone in digital humanities, familiar with Open Source, never self-hosted / library of babel / work with archives of copyrighted novels (teminal)
  • A phd candidate in film studies, brainwork * how are Maps made / colonial tools / not familiar with hosting, but with piracy.
  • A librarian, demographics * how to merge new and old tech
  • An artist & teacher / doing HTML in the 90s
  • A director at studio, looking how to integrate open souce tools there. Currently non benefit of open source tools, not making them, but using them. Importance of sharing skills.
  • Someone who studied biotechnology / now working as developer in a company.
  • Credits

    The workshop was held by Onur Olgaç and Davide Bevilacqua, at NØ SCHOOL NEVERS 2022
    This webtoprint is made with the great knowledge and help of Lucile Haute.

    Anthony by Sun Young Oh from Velvetyne Type Foundry Minipax By Raphaël Ronot from Velvetyne Type Foundry

    Welcome & Intro

    This coversation is about digital tools. Every tools comes with and generates some technological, but also social dependencies. Here we try to unpack these.

    Tools are not neutral
    –but full of emotions!

    consciousness on tools is not always easy

    Mainstream tools and platforms are infused with capitalist values, modernist ideas of progress and dreams of seamlessness

    They generate digital discomfort, rage / anger towards tools, literacy on digital tools is needed

    Seamlessness of interfaces, one solution fits them all

    Education of tools, not tecniques (adobe)

    Premise for institutions:
    there is an elephant in the room

    Institutions seemingly accepting that own computational practice depends on the fortunes of Sillicon Valley billiardaires

    What would be a corrispective for artists?

    Self hosting

    Self-hosting is the act of providing or serving digital content or an online service, typically delivered by a business

    Important to notice: a server is always another person's computer.

    This computer is only slightly different to the one you have at home.

    Political motivations of self-hosting
    Self hosting as an alternative to:
        traffic and communications (user behavior)
        or data storage (data-ownership)

    Map your digital extensions

    • which tools are you using in your practice? What is their role?
    • Draw the shape of your institution / project
    • Insert the tools you are using to keep it in that shape / connect people

    F/LOSS & self-hosting

    anything you are allowed to host yourself is most likely licensed as FLOSS
    although sometimes there are 3rd party dependencies and/or closed parts

    Considering hardware implications
    also old consumer-grade devices can be easily used.
    old enterprise-grade hw is another way to go. they do not have many interchangeable parts with consumer grade, they are usually very  powerful, built to run 24/7.

    ARM architecture -> for raspberry pi and other (usually) smaller devices. not only ubuntu, but also other OSs are built and available for the ARM architecture

    auto-troubleshooting & less black boxes


    Data-loss is something to consider when hosting your own data
    companies that take care of it, 99.99% reliable
    if you do it, you are the responsible one
    321 principle: 3 backups, 2 locations, 1 should be offsite 

    Map analysis

    Which service are you most dependent on?

    What is least working?

    Where is your community mostly active?

  • Imagine alterations in your workflow
  • How easily / difficultly can a workflow alteration be implemented?
  • When is a best moment to do the switch?
  • Communities around self hosting

  • r/selfhosted
  • selfhosted wiki:
  • linux fleet
  • self hosted podcast
  • show wiki:

  • Another overlapping community is the privacy-oriented community.
    A nice resource to use as an entry point from that community is:
    Keep in mind to always verify projects/tools from multiple sources, never trust a single source.

    These communities stay together over different channels: IRC, Matrix, also other non self-hosted tools and nuch of their knowledge can be found here:

    Awesome self hosted
    Licenses MIT Apache or ... determine how the tool can be used

    How does a workflow evolve?

    Counter argument for suite - Risk on tool bloathing processes being initiated.

    Being a tool maker could solve that, but it brings along the difficulties of maintening these tools.

    Changing a tool might require relearning the interfaces.

    Sometimes choice of proprietary systems happens for the hope of richness of tutorials.

    Also proprietary software evolve in non-logical way and sometimes get trashed.

    Some alternative tools have 1 or 2 people behind, for many after a few years it is difficult to sustain the project.

    In frontend to backend workflows, the practice of compartimentalizing tasks generates a lot of miscommunication and blackboxing.

    Afternoon Session

    We set up adelio, an old dell laptop as server to host something from home.

    server operating system:
    linux is the kernel - communicates between OS and hardware.

    ubuntu has a server distribution ubuntu server comes without a desktop environment, but with common packages useful for server, headless.

    server-client terminology the device itself becomes a server
    ADDITIONALLY there is also specific software  services installed in the server that also act as a server (webserver, mailserver...)

    Difficulties & thoughts

    Replacing proprietary software is complicated in collaborative processes, where tools are used across various areas / teams. eg within drama production

    Alternatives to old workflow might require the constructions of new worflows

    There is difficulty in finding alternative tools for doing vector work like autocad

    Often there is the need of being proficient with the industry.

    As professor, feeling the responsibility of training students with specific software also to make sure they can they can pay back their student loan with what they learn. does not provide many options for software or platforms bound to specific fields (eg film studies). There is often also open questions about the inclusivity*  of curated lists. From who are they curated and for whom? And a final thought on languages used in these communities / offered by these tools.

    Intro to network topology

    How would selfhosting in an existing network and/or infrastructure work?

    localhost & networking 101

    localhost "localhost is a hostname that refers to the current device used to access it" loopback address

    You can actually host something locally on your own computer and work directly with localhost

    internet communication protocols

    TCP/IP stack
    protocols used in computer-based communication and the internet

    Consider the politics of the workflow. Often proprietary standards adopted by institutional bodies are very difficult to find alternative to / eg acrobat forms only adopted by adobe, but no other way to generate the same formats

    More in general, it would be important to undermine the cultures of suites and the machinery of burocracies. Solutions suites are mostly something that in the end generates the problems

    open source not necessarily ethically better

    A difficulty is having big institutions using open source or alternative software.

    Tools such as Canvas  contribute generating a constant feedback, self-monitoring practices on students who expect life-feedback on how they are performing. They bring up also problems of ownership in regard to the materials that are uploaded. And are also excluding external people into looking at the syllabus.

    at some point apple will jump too much and force me to change the text editor I am using since 1995

    webapps vs websites: react has a different ethos.

    Some architecture studio pay more for software than for the salary. They are very dependent on archicad autocad vectorworks. Those are very heavy programs, which also force the user to change computer every 2 years to keep up with the software updates.

    Addresses and networks

    From one computer to another (the server)

  • local ip address 1 (subnet)
  • public IP 1
  • public IP 2
  • local ip address 2 (subnet)

  • public IP addresses are usually not handed out to individual ISP customers but rather to institutions, businesses etc.

    local Network * gets other IPs (subnet)

    DNS (Domain Name System): mapping domain names to IP addresses

    Ideas, Possibilities and wishes

    Tools can be community-run, like using independent mailservice and build around fairer values

    We need better public transportation apps, with better multimodal connections, as well as bike focused maps? 

    Many DIY or activist groups organize on fb, it would be great if they could build their own spaces outside of it, simple password protected websites eg to exchange their ideas. We could make a zine to show how to do it

    A strong reason to explore alternatives is that many digital products are quickly not available anymore

    identify formats that are useble to document and sustain time. EG midi is very sustainable, we can access file done in the 1980s.

    devlogs could be used also for design and other parts of the workflow

    "etherpad as a place where everything meets" (see Varia & constant etherdump and etherpump and octomodebr

    Problem of addressing
    As consumers we get IP addresses behind NAT (or even 2 NATs, aka double NAT).

    NAT: Network Address Translation
    solution to isolate private/home networks and later an important tool used against IPv4 exhaustion


    why would I use open source software?

    Why would we want to do change our workflows?

    An attitude for radical compromising or critical pragmatism might be needed

    Not everyone can be a sysadmin!

    We should find a way to control also the impetus to find replacements for things that work fine.

    As a researcher is very difficult to avoud google maps. I tried using and make my own 3d environmetnts, but I always end up with google maps

    due to visibility issues not really easy to eliminate insstragram from the workflow of an artist, but google can be abandoned more easily.

    Someone can be happy in their software stack - there is a general awareness of paying vs "free but you are the product", so the motivation to switch needs to be strong

    Consumer grade access to the internet

    Modem -> termination point for the ISP's connection coming in
    Router -> does the routing of a network: specifies where traffic goes - gateway routers deal with WAN -> LAN connections
    Access Point -> deals with wireless networks

    Switch -> receiving and forwarding data to devices via ports

    Join the Fediverse

    We did not go into this during these days, but don't forget to check the world of self-hosted, decentralized and community maintained social media!

    Internet Protocols

    Ports  -> internet protocol define which ports shall be used.
    Port needs to be defined for the communication to happen.

    Ports for http(s) requests
    http:// 80
    https:// 443

    localhost revisted

    localhost is arguably the fastest way to test something on your own device
    if you'd like a service you're hosting at home to be exposed to the internet, then you need to find a solution to the NAT
    ISP usually don't give public ip address

    Need of / worth looking at:

  • zoola as replacement for slack
  • ArchGIS -> qGIS (with some relearning needed)

  • Google maps alternatives: it depends on the need. Could be: openstreetmaps. Leaflets -> js library to create maps

  • Open source library software Koha

  • open tax solver:
  • (?)
  • Publishing: zlibrary
  • magazine self funded, subscription based, publish marxist essays
  • figma alternatives: linacy or penpot
  • Acrobat alternative Okular
  • for system diagrams ->
  • calendars alternatives: specifically google calendars -> CalDAV
    OR: using a suite such as Nextcloud ( that integrates CalDAV and CardDAV
  • Solving NAT

    "Exposing the port": between the private and public layers we need to map and define which request goes where.

    It can be done through port forwarding or VPN tunnel

    Separation between the definition of a Virtual Private Network and a commercial VPN service is important.

    ngnix is one of the most popular web servers; quick and easy to setup for simple web sites

  • deepl -> (alternative front-end for privacy, still uses Google translate in the back)
  • miro
  • note taking apps:, or, or
  • Premiere: flatmagick davinci resolve 
  • discord alternatives - text-based: mattermost,, matrix/element
  • lists for videos and photos galleries:
  • convert any video/audio format with handbrake
  • teamsphones * phones from ms teams
  • smart thermostat
  • doodle polls
  • alternative to airdrop called snapdrop:
  • - track mouse, access to the performer's tools
  • We have a server

    The common local server space on Davide's old laptop "adellio" is ready. The ethernet port is a bit loose and wonky, so I'll try to set it up as stable as possible, but please try not to move it much.

    When you're on the NOWIFI network inside the workshop venue simply go to:
    user: noserver
    pass: NOSCHOOL2019

    Feel free to share presentations, workshop material, notes, bookmarks, links, photos or whatever you'd like to share with everyone else.

    There's ~900 GB available. But I'd like to remind everyone again that it's a volatile and temporary storage space that (in the best case scenario) will go away at the end of the week. And it's not to be considered reliable in any way as it's a very old laptop. Have fun!

    Notedump on backups

    aws -> backup on tape ? 

    photoshop saved as tif

    digital preservation / - file fixity (if file is really the fine). checksum. there is a gap lower down the scale in file fixity / verify the file.

    some filesystems NAS Network Attached Storage - nas specific 

    bitrot, one bit will flip, you won't realize but 

    dropbox is gettings worse, best dropbox was in 2011.

    how to get solutions within artistic practices / with unreliable fundings.

    Alternatives to onedrive, integrates to your system, you don't know what is online or offline

    filetransfer and syncronization. / "syncthing" as a peer-to-peer * backup solution


    The workshop was held by Onur Olgaç and Davide Bevilacqua, at NØ SCHOOL NEVERS 2022
    This webtoprint is made with the great knowledge and help of Lucile Haute.

    Anthony by Sun Young Oh from Velvetyne Type Foundry Minipax By Raphaël Ronot from Velvetyne Type Foundry


    The workshop was held by Onur Olgaç and Davide Bevilacqua, at NØ SCHOOL NEVERS 2022
    This webtoprint is made with the great knowledge and help of Lucile Haute.

    Anthony by Sun Young Oh from Velvetyne Type Foundry Minipax By Raphaël Ronot from Velvetyne Type Foundry


    The workshop was held by Onur Olgaç and Davide Bevilacqua, at NØ SCHOOL NEVERS 2022
    This webtoprint is made with the great knowledge and help of Lucile Haute.

    Anthony by Sun Young Oh from Velvetyne Type Foundry Minipax By Raphaël Ronot from Velvetyne Type Foundry