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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Sun, 21 Apr 2019

Google Cloud Platform uses storage 'buckets' to bring files into the system

I am attempting to create a Google Could Platform storage bucket instead of setting up FTP on this VM.

Later: I was able to create the bucket, and I can move files from that bucket to this website, but I can't seem to copy them the other way.

Sun, 07 Apr 2019

How do you choose a cloud-computing platform?

There are so many cloud-computing platforms to choose from. I'm not so close to the industry that I can rattle off the names of even the top 10, but you have providers larger (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Oracle) and smaller (Digital Ocean, Linode, Heroku) with offerings that seem wildly different.

I have no idea if Red Hat's cloud belongs in the "large" or "small" group, but I did use it in the pre-Kubernetes days, so it's definitely on my mind.

Trying to figure out the pricing of running your services/websites/etc on these clouds can be anything from easy to impossible. That's part of the game. Can you get along with a Digital Ocean "droplet," do you need 10 of them, or should you go for a mix of the many dozen products offered by Amazon's AWS?

Some cloud providers might be more "tailored" to your workloads, but how exactly do you find that out. Others tout a lack of "lock-in." And then there are things like price, security, reliability, usability and support.

So there's a lot to consider. For small users (and at least for this small user), you want it to work, you want to be able to figure things out, and you don't want billing surprises.

If you do anticipate growth, a provider that can work with you on that "journey" might be one to consider. Or you can just move your stuff from one service to another and hope for minimal downtime during those transitions. If you know what you're doing, maybe a sudden move (or even a gradual one, workload by workload) is realistic.

Given the explosion in cloud computing, there must be an exploding industry of consultants and admins working in this crowded and confusing space that's constantly shifting and growing right under our feet.

Running a small VM on Google Cloud is pretty much like running a small server anywhere

Google's "little" VMs, one of which I'm seemingly getting for free, at least for a year, can be run pretty much like any Debian Linux system. That's great if you're a Debian expert, not so great if you're not.

Luckily I know how to get around in Debian, and like pretty much everybody I can search (or "Google" if you will) for everything else.

One thing I can say is that the Google Cloud Platform virtual terminal, which opens in a web window, is very usable.

Much cloud pricing is complicated (barring those like Digital Ocean, which spell out what's going to cost you per month), but it appears that Google is giving us one "micro"-VM for free with no time limit as part of the "Google Platform Free Tier":

  • 1 f1-micro instance per month (US regions us-central1, us-east1 and us-west1 only)
  • 30 GB-months HDD
  • 5 GB-months snapshot in select regions
  • 1 GB network egress from North America to all region destinations per month (excluding China and Australia)

Somehow I either had to sign up for a credit. You can get a free shell without signing up, but to get the actual VM, you need to fork over a credit card number and "accept" the credit over one year. I'm not sure if/when/how I'll be charged, but I will definitely be keeping my eye on that.

My sites definitely consume more than 1 GB per month: In March 2019, http://stevenrosenberg.net used 4.69 GB, and http://updates.stevenrosenberg.net used 216 MB.

This is a compelling use case for Digital Ocean because that service offers VMs with 1 TB of bandwidth, which is 1000+ times what Google is offering for "free." The predictable, consistent yet low pricing is very attractive.

Still, there's something to be said for /home/public//cgi-bin/ode.cgi, and if I keep an eye on the bandwidth and charges, I'll see what kind of value proposition the Google Cloud Platform offers for smaller users.

Sun, 26 Apr 2015

The Latvian-coded ONLYOFFICE adds document server for Linux

The new onlyoffice.org page for the self-hosted version of the software

In my first entry about ONLYOFFICE, which is both a software-as-a-service offering you can purchase for individuals or teams and software you can install on your Linux system via traditional package or Docker containers, a key piece of the puzzle was missing.

That piece was the "document server," which allows users to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations through the web browser in real time.

As of April 20, ONLYOFFICE is offering Document Server 3.0 to make that happen.

And to separate out the hosted service from the community edition, there are now separate web sites at http://onlyoffice.com and http://onlyoffice.org

Also announced that day are Mail Server 1.0, and Community Server 8.5.0.

And according to the blog post, you can get it all in one bundle.

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Thu, 02 Apr 2015

Have you heard of ONLYOFFICE? It's like Google Docs, only it's not from Google ... and you might be able to run your own instance

How could I have missed ONLYOFFICE? If not for this How to Forge article on installing it, I would have never known that it existed as a hosted alternative to Google Docs/Spreadsheets or that you can self-host the software, though I'm not sure how functional the roll-your-own version is at this point.

The air leaves the balloon when I see this line:

*Online Document Editors aren't included into the Community Server solution and will be available soon as a separate installation, however now you can download the previous version.

Without the "online document editors," what's left?

I certainly want to try ONLYOFFICE on their hosted service. The world is crying out for collaborative tools that aren't controlled by Google/Apple/Microsoft.

At my day job, we've been using Slack to collaborate and mostly cut down on email. Probably half the attraction is that Slack is not part of a massive corporate entity.

Any of the biggies -- Google, Microsoft, Apple -- could have done what Slack is doing. They still could. It's pretty simple. And that's one of the main reasons why Slack is so compelling. I expect Slack to do much more as time goes on. I also expect somebody big to make an offer to buy Slack outright.

Like Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, Slack is a hosted service. It has to stay that way to monetize. Or so it seems.

Companies like mine are happy to use hosted services. We are deep in Google (Docs/Drive/Mail). A large part of the attraction is not having to host, troubleshoot or maintain the software or the servers. Many companies large and small don't think of IT as part of their core business and would rather farm it out to Google, Amazon or Microsoft (and often all three). Or it comes down to cost. The cloud can be cheaper. Or at least those costs are consistent.

But there are other people, entities and companies that desperately want to host and run their own services and keep everything under local control.

Just because it's a cloud world doesn't mean we don't want our own cloud (even if OwnCloud isn't quite the way to do it).

If ONLYOFFICE lives up to the hype, it could be a player for those who want to collaborate using web-based apps while retaining total control over their work.

This just in: There are forums for the hosted ONLYOFFICE and the self-hosted version.

Sun, 02 Mar 2014

New OpenShift feature I'm excited about: scp

I use Red Hat's OpenShift, and I'd like to use it more. I'm aiming to get the hang of all the different moving parts: the web interface, the rhc command-line interface, getting in with SFTP, git ...

I still maintain that PaaS (platform as a service) solutions like OpenShift need to be as easy to manage as shared hosting, which you can deal with via FTP and which doesn't need a special command-line utility.

I'm not saying that everything shouldn't be configurable for full-on developers. But there should be a simpler way to run cloud/networked applications. And yes, I recognize that we still do have shared web hosting, which can be pretty darn easy.

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