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roadmap

version 0.1: 2013/09/17)

Phase 1 : Feasibility study/implementation proposal

Start: as soon as possible, after the fundraising reaches target. Duration: 4 months

Goal: write down a complete, CLEAR definition of the system, including:

  • which functions it can/must realistically provide (email + blog + online storage and bookmarking, social networking )
  • what is the exact target (individual users or professionals, families , small businesses , small NGO…)
  • which existing Free Software components should be used (e.g Postfix+IMAP+Mailpile for email, apache or nginx + PHP for Web frontends, Semantic Scuttle for bookmarking, pump.io for social networking 1) )
  • how to integrate those components, that is how to package them and distribute it
  • how to implement federation/social networking, with pump.io or similar open standards, to make things like these possible:
  • Joe's percloud user panel shows when Mary mentions Johns in her user panel, which is running autonomously on another server
  • write the specifications of the user and maintenance panels
  • describe how to maintain the software bundle when updates or bug fixes are released for any of its components

This is something that I (Marco) would do by myself, posting the results here with an open license so everybody can reuse them. Why? Simply because I'm the only one who already has a clear idea of ​​what to build and what pieces of Free Software could be used. At least in this very first phase, if I had to lead a team , however small, I'd probably lose more time explaining what to do than doing it myself. Assuming I could work on it almost full time, for 3/4 months, of course. Which is why I am [raising funds|raising_funds]. In a sense, what I'm trying to say with this page and that fundraising proposal is:

Do you like the percloud idea? Would you like to have something like this for you, or to install and offer as a managed service to your customers or members of your family/organization? If yes, would you be willing to risk a few Euros to allow me to focus and seriously work on this for a few months? If I could do that, I'd be able to figure out and describe exactly if this can be already done with already existing Free Software, what pieces should be developed from scratch otherwise, and how to proceed to make it actually happen (see below)

Phase 2: implementation

  1. Implement the system as described by the output of phase 1. Hire the necessary programmers to develop the missing parts, and/ or create the online community to coordinate them.
  2. (in parallel) write and publish, with an open license, the relevant end user documentation
Phase 3: long term sustainability/maintenance

Pay programmers to release new versions of the bundle whenever new releases or bug fixes are available for any of the bundle components. A small, non-profit foundation should probably be created to oversee this activity, and raise and manage the corresponding funds.

Roadmap/project sustainability

Personally I'm worrying very little right now about Phase 2 and 3. I am sure that, once there is a detailed specification for this, it will happen. To begin with, there's too much need (and market) for this kind of tool to have nobody building it once the design is done and everybody knows how to use it and why (and even if I'm wrong yes, the funders will have lost a few Euros, but nothing else bad will happen…).

Besides, while I am raising funds because I am convinced that I can make phase 1 happen sooner than others, phases 2 and 3 are much smaller tasks than they may seem at first thought, and tasks that many other people may carry on, if I weren't available for any reason. The percloud is about integrating as much already existing, independently maintained Free Software as possible in one useful bundle. And about as many people as possible running their copy independently, on as many different computers as possible. No need for huge, very expensive data centers. And no royalties or other permissions to pay, if both the software and the specification are, as I am committing to do, available under “Free as in Freedom” licenses.

In a sense, this is like starting and maintaining another Gnu/Linux distribution, with a very small number of third party components. There already are successful projects like this that are maintained by one or very few people, sometimes even part-time. Yes, Phase 2 does require writing the panel and other parts (almost) from scratch, but I am confident that that isn't a huge project.

1) this list of applications is just an EXAMPLE! Defining it is just one of the tasks of Phase 1!
roadmap.txt · Last modified: 2013/09/17 17:36 by marco