Percloud FAQ

Welcome to the percloud proposal! To know more about its author, and how to support his current work, please click here

Please note: the one below is the original Percloud FAQ, written in 2013. By and large, it is still valid, but please also read these other percloud questions I also frequently answered.

What is a Personal Cloud or percloud? #

The integrated alternative to personal cloud computing services explained here.

Is the percloud EXACTLY as easy to use as Facebook, Dropbox, Gmail etc..? Otherwise I will NOT use it #

No. I am really, really sorry to tell you this, but “something EXACTLY, COMPLETELY as easy and mindless to join and use as Facebook etc, but without the privacy and data ownership issues of those services” is just a pipe dream. It’s like demanding a car without driver or integrated computers, but able to drive you wherever you want while you watch TV. That would be magic, not software.

People who really demand “just as easy as Facebook” and won’t settle for one bit less must stay with Facebook & C. Because the ONLY way to achieve exactly that level of integration is to let ONE organization run the whole show.

This said, the percloud is ALMOST as easy as traditional centralized cloud services. In my opinion it WILL be a perfectly acceptable solution for everybody who knows nothing about software, and does not want to really run a server, but does care just enough to ask a friend to install a percloud for them, on any of the countless web hosting services that already exist, and then just use it. See the explanation of the separated control panel in The percloud in 10 slides to know what I mean.

Is the percloud like Mailpile? #

No. First of all, the percloud provides also online storage, social networking, blogging (with WordPress) and online bookmarks, not just email. And Mailpile is a great project, which may very well be one part of the percloud. However, even if we only look at email, a completely independent, self-owned personal email service must include, at least (simplifying!):

  • SMTP server to send your email to the Internet and receive email for you from the Internet
  • anti-spam system
  • IMAP server, that “serves” mailboxes and single messages already received to the email software of the end user
  • authentication system
  • digital signature(s) and encrypted messages
  • email client, that is the local software, or remote website, in which end users actually read and write email

by their own admission, Mailpile only covers parts 5, 6 and maybe 2 of this list.

What about the FreedomBox, Diaspora… #

I already answered this question in this post on my blog.

Is the percloud like arKos, buddycloud or #

No, but it may very well be an excellent way to help and prepare average Internet users to migrate to those other services when they are ready, if they want. See here for a detailed explanation.

All right, what about Cozy Cloud then? #

Cozy Cloud does have a user interface (check it out in this demo) that is “integrated” in the sense discussed in the next FAQ. And it also seems to have the same general architecture/approach in mind: take a stripped gnu/linux distro, then add on it the right applications (eg postfix) to make a personal virtual server that may run everywhere. Phase 1 will include an analysis of Cozy Cloud and of it may handle blogging and federatin (see next FAQ).

What do you mean by “integrated alternative”? #

Two things: unified user interface and federation. Strictly speaking, all the software needed to build your very own, full-featured online home without using any centralized service already exist. In practice, this hasn’t happened yet because their management isn’t integrated, and they don’t automatically talk to each other:

  • each of those parts has to be installed, managed and used separately. This is a huge practical and psychological game stopper. Part 1 of percloud integration consists of providing one interface to use all the functions of the software programs it bundles.
  • as far as we are concerned, social networking means “being able to see what others are doing, without effort”. To make this happen, the percloud must include federation, that is the capability for different copies of the software to connect to each other through the Internet, possibly with just a one-time action by their users, and then automatically inform them whenever something interesting (e.g. somebody mentions you) happens on the other side.

Defining what parts to use and how to integrate them is part of phase 1.

Wait a second, what’s all this hype? The percloud is just another Gnu/Linux distribution, right? What’s so special about it? #

Short answer: yes, the percloud IS “just another Gnu/Linux distribution”. And that is exactly the reason why it is a good idea. I explained this in detail here.

The percloud is only software. What about the hardware? How could people who can’t have a server at home use it? #

First answer: just because the percloud is only software, you may run yours in any computer permanently connected to the Internet with a fixed IP address (and move it to a different one as soon as you don’t like the old “host” anymore, or it isn’t available). A group of friends, a family, an NGO, a Public Library, a City… could very well rent or set up one physical server to host all the perclouds of all their “members”. Traditional hosting providers may offer it as an hosted service just as they already do for traditional Web services.

Second answer: once something like the percloud is available, it will constitute another excellent justification (not that there aren’t others already…) to build local, grassroots, community owned small data centers or access networks, and one more way to make such infrastructures really valuable, that is sustainable. I’ll add links to initiatives and proposals of this type as they come.

How flexible will the percloud be? #

The percloud must be as simple as possible. Therefore, it will include and integrate only one Free Software component for each kind of online activity. For example, it is almost certain that blogging will be handled by WordPress. Why? Because the percloud is primarily for that huge majority of computer users who do not need nor want that kind of flexibility and choice: they just want to have one, as familiar as possible easy tool per task, and to remain in control of their data.

At the same time, since the percloud will be 100% Free Software, everybody will be able to make their variants. And as long as they don’t “touch” the intercommunication parts, all the percloud variants will remain able to talk to each other.

How much will it cost to use a percloud? #

In and by itself, nothing. A percloud is a bunch of Free Software. As such, besides being “Free as in Freedom”, it will also be always, legally downloadable and installable as many times you want, wherever you want and for any purpose, at no cost. This said, see next question.

How permanent is a percloud? #

If by “permanent”, you mean “you being always able to access your data”, no problem: being the percloud made of 100% Free Software, the software itself and all the data you put in it will be useable by you much longer than any proprietary software you use today, or any data you lock into centralized Web services and online social networks. In and by itself, the software will always run in the same way if you migrate it from one computer to another.

If you mean things like having permanent email addresses and/or Internet addresses for your blog posts, online bookmarks, the answer is “it depends on you”. The only way to have a permanent email or Web address is to purchase a domain name like “”, just for you. This is a general property of the current Internet, that has nothing to do with percloud.

In practice, to get a permanent domain name you need to have a credit card and to pay (NOT to me!) a few Dollars per years for it. If this is not possible, you may still use a percloud, installing it under somebody else’s domain, e.g. “[](”, and everything will still work. The only difference in this case is that if/when you’ll migrate your percloud to another domain, you’ll have to inform your contacts that your address is changed.

Not yet, because I’m unable to draw. If you are, and want to donate, with an open license, a logo that makes clear what the percloud is about, please contact me.

Who are you? Who’s behind percloud? #

Right now, this is an idea and project led all by myself, M. Fioretti.

How can I help? #

First, read the official roadmap and overview to know more. Next, if you like the idea, spread the word as much as possible and/or please fund the first phase at indiegogo.

How can I contact you? #

Send me an email.

Can I translate this and the other percloud pages? #

You are allowed and encouraged to put online integral translations in any language of this and the overview/roadmap pages, as long as you keep the same license as the original documents, and make clear that the original, up to date version is the one on this website, including a link to it.

I have other questions!!! #

Please send me an email if you think I should add another FAQ to this list.

Except where otherwise noted, content of this website is licensed under the following license: GNU Free Documentation License 1.3