Freedom in VPS

Anonymous - about 2 years ago -

Renting a VPS gives you more flexibility than just having a shared managed hosting plan. You can basically install any OS you want and configure it the way you like, similar to the control you have over your own desktop computer.

However, there is one major difference: the service operator owns the hardware and still limits you in your ability to choose every piece of software you can run (namely the BIOS). Since there is no information on the BIOS that runs on VPS servers, it has to be assumed that it is proprietary. And, it has also be assumed that mechanisms like Intel Management Engine are implemented as well.

Therefore, whose freedom is violated in this case? Is it the server operator’s since he or she owns the hardware and manage it, limiting the use you can have over it? Or is it yours, the user of the VPS?

Replies (3)

Freedom in VPS - bill-auger - about 2 years ago -

an important element which was omitted from the OP is the OS
itself - the VPS admin determines which OSes may be installed -
the only VPS that could be recommended by parabola would be one
which runs a fully libre software stack on the most
libre-friendly hardware - in any case though, one can only
trust the promises of the host regarding this - such a
recommendation could never be entirely sincere unless parabola
was hosting the VPS's

operating your own hardware is a pre-requisite for computing
freedom - there is no alternative - the software running on
someone else's machine is simply irrelevant to a remote user -
users of a remote server, operated by anyone else, never has
100% software freedom; and it should be so - if they did, the
service itself would be vulnerable from any user to impose
their choices onto other users (removing any freedom they had),
or even disrupt/damage the service entirely

luckily, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to operate your
own server - if one has the skills needed to admin a VPS
remotely, then there is little more involved with simply doing
so on ones own machine - most people could suffice with a very
modest and inexpensive ARM computer, costing the same investment
as approximately 6-months to 1-year of paid VPS service - only
if the server becomes used daily by many many users, would
more powerful hardware be required

RE: Freedom in VPS - Anonymous - about 2 years ago -

One major hurdle I see in self-hosting with one’s own server is your ISP policy towards self-hosting itself.

I found this article from the FSF about software freedom in single-board computers. Do you have any recommendation or feedback based on your experience with one of these?

RE: Freedom in VPS - maddox - almost 2 years ago -

There are few solutions for running exposed hosts on Internet:

  1. There are many VPS providers that will allow upload of any image so that any OS may be run remotely. As hardware is mostly not free, I don't think this matters from the sole aspect of running free software.
  2. There are collocation hosting providers that will accept your own hardware.
  3. And maybe one is in the area where one can expose the IP or get fixed IP address and thus host everything from home or office.

We mostly do not have free hardware.

Regarding ISP, just ask. They may have different policies in a different group of customers. Majority of them have it.