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So ArkOS is no more, with a declaration that its further development is to be discontinued. ArkOS was a similar project to FreedomBox or Freedombone in that it was a server based system for self-hosting internet services. I never ran it myself, but I did look at the code to see what apps it supported and also what type of format the app installation was described within.

"back in late 2012, I was moved by the idea of creating a new and innovative software stack and operating system that could bring self-hosted server applications to a wide audience. The vision has always been the same: to give the masses the tools and education they need to properly self-host all of their software needs in one place"

So is there still a need for these self-hosting systems? Being completely biased I would say of course there is. In the longer term future, perhaps a decade or more from now, I think it will all go peer-to-peer, because that's the only type of system which scales indefinitely and can transport data in the most efficient (content addressable) way possible. But in the current world if you want to run services right now then there's a massive amount of stuff written for a client/server architecture and so you need to be running some kind of trustable server.

As time goes on the small, cheap single board computers get more powerful and hence better suited to serve data on the internet. This is especially true if the number of users on each system is small (household scale) and they then federate together.

"we have seen with the rise of projects like Indieweb, Sandstorm, Mastodon and more"

As the ArkOS blog post says, there are other options. Mastodon recently became quite popular and the common way to deploy that is via a Docker/Moby container. But that method of deployment still has issues and as one commentator on GNU Social put it, it's not so much the speed of deployment which matters as being able to maintain a server over time. Docker/Moby has a poor track record for that, and there are already reports that many of the new Mastodon deployments are hopelessly insecure. Others will likely disappear because the admin forgot to do any backups or didn't do them frequently enough.

Despite the advances made by various projects, deploying and maintaining servers is still too hard for the average user, and so there's still some way to go to make that process as simple as possible. It also appears that the level of interest in self-hosting is increasing, and that's particularly driven by the dire condition of things on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The monolithic model in which millions of users are forced together onto a single system, where they then clash and fight, together with increasingly insane levels of advertising and a continuing stream of privacy violations are making for a profoundly unpleasant user experience. Decentralised and federated systems are uniquely placed to take advantage of that disgruntlement, and can offer real community as opposed to the fake and high entropy community as mediated through the needs of advertisers.

In the case of ArkOS it sounds like the usual story of life changes making the continuation of a large and ambitious project infeasible. That happens from time to time and is completely understandable.

My own solution to the self-hosting problem is the Freedombone system which is based upon Debian GNU/Linux and supports a growing number of internet apps. It's not aimed at the average user but instead at a more technical user who might not have time or inclination to figure out how to install things on a server.