How often do I access my own systems?

I was reflecting the other day how much of my computing consists of me accessing sites and services that I control.

And the answer is - directly, at least - a lot of them.

Sure, some retrieve content from sites and services that I don’t control, but my first port of call, the place I go to access it, is, in many, many cases, my own systems.

Perhaps this is odd, at this point in time, and I don’t think that ‘self host it’ is the answer for many people, but hey ho, it works for me (right up until the point I break something).

(And, yes, all I’m doing is hosting other people’s software, for the most part. Some of the stuff I use is my own, but the majority is the gratefully-received work of others.)

These days, everything I host is on Linux, pretty much always Debian, and my daily computing is done on Debian too. Sadly, I’ve yet to find a good Linux, non-Android, phone which suits my needs.

Social media

The only social media network I use these days is the fediverse, and I visit a self-hosted Mastodon instance, using the glitch-soc fork.

Because I am the only user of that instance, it would be a bit lonely if it didn’t bring it content from other people’s fediverse servers.

I control filtering, blocking, federation, UI, and so on.

Audio / video

I still buy and rip CDs and DVDs, or buy DRM-free, usually permissively-licensed, downloads, and play them back via Jellyfin (because it gives such a nice library interface, and stores playback positions across devices).

We have subscriptions to Netflix and Prime, but I don’t recall the last time I watched something on either of them - they’re more for Sandra than they are for me.

There are three or four people producing videos on YouTube that I like, and I use yt-dlp and ytdl-sub to bring them into Jellyfin.

I use ncmpcpp and mpd to play audio in the speakers in my office, and that’s either files I have stored locally, or else streaming radio - often RadioFreeFedi these days. My interface is a terminal client on my laptop, talking to a small server running in my office, connected to the speakers.


I read a lot of RSS feeds of people’s blogs, and I’m always on the lookout for other interesting blogs. I use FreshRSS as my aggregator, and either the FreshRSS web client or else FeedMe (on Android) to read them. I’m rarely short of something to read as a result.

I spend increasingly less time reading sites which are not relatively small / personal, and which don’t offer an RSS feed.

For books, I turn to my own library - Calibre - mostly through my eReader. I tend to buy DRM-free books, ideally permissively licensed, when I can, but I’ll also buy other books as long as I can get them to work on my eReader. Which I usually can.


Gaming is not a big thing for me.

At the moment, it is either Quake III Arena with Sandra, playing multiplayer by using a server running on a Raspberry Pi, or me playing through Colossal Cave on my laptop.

I’ve been meaning to build a text-game-only handheld machine for a while, but it has not made it to the top of my list yet.

Smart home

Home Assistant.

I don’t mind tinkering with smart home stuff, as long as it isn’t routing via someone else’s servers.


I talk to my own mail server, and my own XMPP server (Snikket), for the majority of my communications.

XMPP traffic is mostly with Sandra, so stays within the system, but email is primarily external.

For video conferencing, I offer Jitsi. I’ll use other people’s stuff - Teams and Zoom both work fine within Firefox - but if I have to host someone, I offer Jitsi.

I use Signal, as a least-worst alternative option.

Work-related systems

Invoicing, time recording, matter management, collaborative document editing, sharing large files - indeed, pretty much everything save for our accounting, and where clients insist on me using their own (outsourced) invoicing platforms - is done using stuff on own systems.

I still use official sites -, for example - to access official stuff.

Bookmarking, archiving, and searching

I blog - both for personal stuff and work stuff - mainly these days so that I have a record of what I’ve done, in case I need to do it again, and to help others in the same position. I write up notes on cases, and consultations, and legislative developments, because it helps me process what I’ve read, and gives me a place to go to check back if I need to. I refer to my own blogs loads.

I use a mix of Wallabag for archiving individual pages to read them later, and Nextcloud for keeping bookmarks in sync. (I use Nextcloud for other stuff too, but that’s mostly in the background; I rarely access its web interface.)

I am also experimenting with archivebox, as a self-hosted sort-of Internet Archive, but I’m not wholly convinced by it yet. More work for me to do there.

I have various site-specific search tools set up in my browser, to enable me to search within individual sites easily, rather than using an intermediary search engine.

The outcome is that I search using someone else’s search engine / index far less often that I used to - at least, at first, I reach for my own history / archive.