Self-healing Systems & Permacomputing

Wed, 25. Oct 2023

Categories: en Tags: agency Atom cdb CGI NLnet OCaml permacomputing self-hosted Seppo

Many people wish agency and, essentially, freedom in their everyday life and do likewise in their electronic environments. They feel uncomfortable with the vast asymmetry as an individual in the face of billionaire-run mass platforms where they are easily marginalised and subject to

The more you have done by others, the less you control what you get and what it takes.

At the same time, “self-hosting”[10] isn’t appealing either. Alien jargon, emergency updates, finickey version changes and fiddling with thorny configurations, bit rot of long forgotten dependencies – an endless list of embarrassing problems come to mind.

Those computer systems tend to feel like a pencil balancing on it’s tip and requiring if not permanent then reoccuring attention and eventual care. The need for action can strike any time and with unforeseeable efforts.

Neither are appealing.

But why is this? One reason may be, the systems created by experts are biased towards also being operated by experts. Designing self-healing properties[11] is more effort than not and simply doesn’t pay, except you happen to fancy them. Permanent care, on the other hand, ensures the job of the caretakers. Market logic.

How would self-hostable systems have to be then?

Ivan Illich spoke of “Tools for Convivality”[12], meaning being supportive rather than encroaching, serving rather than dominating, promising less but be reliable in that. Being a humble means for a well respected end. There is a big overlap with the Permacomputing Principles[13].

Translated to technical systems, this may include

#Seppo[14] makes such decisions, e.g.


To compete with said billionaire-run surveillance platforms grassroot volunteer work is brave but not professionally sustainable. I am very grateful that some NGOs[26] and state actors give grants for the public good and complement individual hacktivism.

Paramount, however, are netizens with an attitude of self-esteem and practical will:


The price you pay

Seizing agency requires ownership and a certain frugality. Running a service like #Seppo means renting webspace (or having one in your basement) and a domain name. A simple contract with one of the numerous vendors[27] out there. Security updates are ideally as frequent as qmail’s (none since 25 years[28]), so that may be no big deal.

And then you have your own home in the social web.


[1] “The books will stop working”
[2] Google Plus, Reader
[3] Whatsapp, Instagram, Friendfeed, GitHub,
[4] “To Regulate Tech, Nullify Click-Through Contracts”, Communications of the ACM, September 2023,
[5] Instagram seizes unlimited usage rights
[6] Microsoft: “hold my beer!”:
[7] “Website Obesity Crisis”, 2015,
[8] Surveillance Capitalism
[9] “As Platforms Decay, Let’s Put Users First”
[12] “Tools for Conviviality”, Ivan Illich, 1973,
[14] https://Seppo.Social
[17] https://Seppo.Social/downloads/
[24] The Atom Syndication Format, RFC4287,
[25] ActivityPub, W3C Recommendation 23 January 2018,