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#30DayFOSSChallenge - Reflections


[This is a series: The FOSS Challenge | Week 0 | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Reflections]

I finished my 30 Day FOSS challenge at the end of April. I've been thinking about what I want to say about it overall since that time has ended, as well as what I've been up to since then.

First, I'm really glad I did it! I learned a lot, and I got to connect with some very cool people through it. I'm hopeful to expand both this knowledge and these connections in the future.

What Went Well

I love vikunja. It has fully replaced todoist for me. Very pleased with this change. I've also grown really fond of matrix, and enjoyed using the bridge.

Another big success is just how much server side skill I gained. Learned to use dockers and nginx reverse proxies and certbot.

Also, my partner is using Linux Mint! There's still struggles here and there, but overall it's going well.

What Didn't Go Well

Collaborative file sharing. I landed on Seafile, but I'm still not fully satisfied. My partner and I have started planning out summer roadtrip and that involves coordinating on some documents. Google Drive made that extremely convenient. Seafile doesn't have synchronous editing. I know Nextcloud does, but I have trouble with getting it working exactly how I wanted, and with performance. And of course, that's not an option for the average person with no server knowledge.

I hesitate to put it in this category, because it does work mostly, but not as well as I wish: mapping and routing. I'm using Organic Maps. It's nice enough, but it lacks specifics for private addresses, and the times are frequently pretty bad. I can cope with this because I'm pretty decent at routing without a map, but I couldn't recommend it to someone that relies on them more.

Videos. I resent that Google has a monopoly on videos right now, but they do. It's an extremely hard sell to cut myself off from fantastic content (especially great video-essays).


Since the challenge ended, I eased up a bit on my self-imposed restrictions. An activist group I'm part of primarily organizes on Discord, so I'm back on that. I also have been playing an excellent solarpunk game called Terra Nil that I bought on Steam.

There's also some apps that I just can't replace for their utility, namely venmo, my credit union's app, and transit. The first two are for sending/receiving money, and the last is for routing on public transit and buying tickets. I can buy tickets with cash, but I don't have easy access to cash on a regular basis due to not having a brick-and-mortar banking location near me. These are just too important to replace right now, and honestly I'm relieved to have them back.

Next Steps

It took me longer to write this post than I expected, and I think it's because this post is much more negative than I expected. It's just become clear that, outside a handful of great options, FOSS isn't only a downgrade in many cases, but it's also just not feasible for the average person. They don't have the skill set to install linux themselves, and they definitely don't have the skill set to run Nextcloud or Vikunja on a server. And on the topic of self-hosting, there's an undeniable financial investment that's not feasible for everyone.

So how do I go somewhere from there? One option is to set up community events to introduce people to the skills and knowledge they need, and educate them on the importance of FOSS. Another is to host public services for people in my area, and encourage others to do the same. The mastodon instance I'm on is such a service, hosted by JW. Could such a concept be expanded in a coop or other donation based model, and paired with in-person meetups to educate people?

I've also been thinking about some adjacent issues and how they tie in. Self hosting means spinning up a server (either at home or VPS). That means money but it more specifically means electricity. I've been thinking about network models that reduce or eliminate this need. A couple promising projects in this realm are Solar Protocol and Scuttlebutt.

In a more direct simpler way, I've been thinking about how the ethos of degrowth can be applied to these problems. For instance, instead of Google Drive/Nextcloud/Seafile, what about just a usb drive? Anyone can use one of those, and if you're just sharing with people in the same household, it's quite convenient.


I think I leave this challenge with less practical wins and more knowledge and thoughts about which directions to head in. I think it's a good place to be tho, one where I've got much more of an idea of what avenues to explore next.

I'm also definitely planning to revisit this next year. By then I'm sure the FOSS landscape, and my needs, will have shifted slightly. Keeping updated and learning new things will be interesting.

I'm glad I did this, and thank you so much for following along or participating!

PS: Have thoughts about this post? Email me at or message me on mastodon at