Taking off, nailing down

Hi! If you wonder why my website looks different, this article is about why.

If you already know about the background of this site you may want to jump to the section Know why, know what, know how.

The history of this site

Since I started the this.ven project in the fall of 2017 and created the website in the following year, the purpose of these pages and the services I am running has changed.

Taking off with Tor on a netbook

In the beginning, I just wanted to share my music (drafts) and some of the details related to it. For this reason, an old netbook with a 700 MHz single-core CPU, 512 MB RAM and 4 GB SSD running Debian 9 (Stretch)1 has been sufficient to serve static HTML files via an Apache 2 webserver over the Tor2 network. To connect the site to the clearnet3 I resorted to a proxy together with a link shortener service. This way the visitors could access my onion site by navigating to a clearnet address.

Netbook Kernel panic

The last screen (kernel panic) of the netbook in Oktober 2022

Though this solution induces that visitors had to trust the free proxy service since the end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) Tor traffic is terminated at the exit node (before the proxy node), at that time I didn’t have enough resources for another option. Additionally, I didn’t want to register at a service, share my personal data, such as the place of residence and phone number, due to the legislation in my country.

Migration to Uberspace

However, as the need for E2EE instant messaging (IM) became more urgent, and I was looking for options to run other web applications without being dependend on Tor I gave Uberspace a try. I migrated the website files and extended it in the following years. I used a Prosody4 server for IM with my family and friends, and registered a domain in order to setup DNS records against my concerns. I setup and tried out many other services for blogging, collaborative writing, file sharing, instant messaging, streaming, and audio- and videoconferencing. After some time I learned that there’s a high price to convert fellow people for Internet politics and digital rights this way. I cancelled the domain and most services. Unfortunately, some friends didn’t manage or didn’t want to switch to another protocol (Matrix) and fell back to SMS.

A more private Uberspace

As of 2019 the Uberspace evolved into a more private resource to allow myself to be more independent from GAFAM, which I—kind of—celebrated in November 2020 when I organized to do a live miniconcert using a streaming setup backed by Icecast. However, I still wanted to share my experiences and knowledge to support other people on their way to digital sovereignty5. I started a wiki using DokuWiki6 documenting my infrastructure.

lar.ven wiki

Startpage of the discontinued lar.ven wiki

In addition to instructions on how I tweak my services at Uberspace to achieve more security and privacy I also wrote articles about setting up a Tor relay with the netbook that was providing the onion site before and VoidLinux7 as a more lightweight OS until the hardware finally died. It was replaced by a Raspberry Pi 3 A+, but due the lack of a wired NIC I switched to a Snowflake proxy8 very soon. If you want to support the Tor network, donate to the project and have a look at the:

Site building overhaul, handy features, and a new design

At the end of 2023 I reconsidered my infrastructure and website content. If the intent is to share my music and knowledge together, there is no reason to separate the contents. Furthermore, I was getting tired of manually maintaining the static HTML files. I browsed the Uberlab guides to find a content management system that has already been proven to work. A few of my requirements were to write Markdown files and a Git repository for version control and site building automation.

Know why, know what, know how

Hugo is what I have found to be a sufficient solution to address the aforementioned needs. I migrated the content of the former site9 and added new documentation on graphics design, for exmaple, while I was recreating the color scheme, logo, and profile image. This way I can share my experiences and knowledge together with the music I am able to create absolutely independently through the people contributing to software freedom.

In the next months I will focus on my music projects, further document how I am approaching in the docs, and keep you updated via this blog.

Stay tuned.

  1. Debian Stretch release page ↩︎

  2. Tor Project website ↩︎

  3. Clearnet (networking) in the Wikipedia ↩︎

  4. Prosody website ↩︎

  5. Open Standards background page of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) ↩︎

  6. DokuWiki website ↩︎

  7. VoidLinux website ↩︎

  8. Snowflake project page ↩︎

  9. Former website in the Internet Archive wayback machine ↩︎