My personal views, thoughts and opinions.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Replacing a server with free services

I have had a server with:
  • Apache Tomcat
  • Git and SVN servers
  • Gallery (Apache, PHP, MySQL)
  • IP Cam Motion
Recently I found out that all of this can be easily migrated to free internet services. What do I gain? Well ... a lot of things but amongst them:
  • silence in my living room
  • reduced electricity costs
  • data protection in case a thunder storm comes close
If you are interested what I used to replace all of the above, below is the breakout with some pros and cons.

Image hosting

I had concerns that my photos are far too big to fit any of the offerings on the web, but I replaced my self-hosted Gallery instance with Flickr since they offer a free terabyte of storage.

  • access from my mobile 
  • I don't have to backup the data from my server
  • great groupping in Flickr (sets and collections)
  • social elements

Cons - clumsy Uploadr that:
  • does not understand some camera rotation exif info 
  • does not allow me to upload more than 200 photos no matter that I have 1 TB free in Flickr and 30 GB RAM for its JavaScript

Source code

GitHub would have been my choice but ... I needed a private repository for some of my code. So I had to go with BitBucket that offers Git hosting for teams and 5 private repos.

IP Cam

I used to run Motion to capture photos and video of my home IP Cam. I found out that I can simply mail the photos to a dedicated GMail account and make use of several GB storage they offer.

Instead of my custom web interface (simple HTML page) I now use the camera's web interface with guest access (no rotation or settings change).

The hardest part was to create a rule/filter that deletes motion detect events older than several days. After I googled on the topic I found out that this is easily achieved with Google Apps Scripts.


A good Tomcat hosting is not easy to find. I experimented a bit with Amazon's Free Tier but I cannot recommend it since:
  • it is not really free (once you go out of the tier usage limits)
  • it does not provide enough storage for big projects (MySQL would cost you a lot)

I used my server to download torrents since Apple does not allow such software in the AppStore for iOS (and therefore for my iPad). I can use my Android phone to do this but this is not really reliable or cost-effective.

No real replacement I can recommend so far.
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