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What is Self-Hosting?

Software Freedom

Meet the Self-Hosters, Taking Back the Internet One Server at a Time.

Self-hosting is about taking ownership of your digital existence; however, with that ownership comes the responsibility of security and maintenance. These responsibilities are simply too burdensome, not only for the typical consumer but also for a seasoned IT professional. Our mission at Fractal Networks is to provide individuals with the tools, education and support required to make self-hosting approachable, reliable and secure.

Mosaic is a collection of next-generation free-and-open personal computing technologies designed to enable the user-owned, self-hosted Internet.

Why Self-Hosting?

Before we can answer the why, allow us to explain a little bit about how the internet works today. It's a short detour on our journey together, but you should find it interesting if you have any interest in personal privacy or personal freedom.

Online Apps and Services

In the beginning, all apps were offline. Today, the oppostie is true.

A modern software application or service typically consists of two parts:

Backend vs frontend, taken from, CC BY-SA 4.0

Backend vs Frontend, taken from , CC BY-SA 4.0
  • The frontend is the part of the application that you interact with, like an app on your phone or a website.
  • The backend is the part that runs on a server in some datacenter somwhere. It stores your data and houses the bulk of the application's logic. You never directly interact with it. Remember, the cloud is just someone else's computer, that happens to have access to all of your stuff.

Surveillance Capitalism

From the perspective of the consumer, the business model of the modern Internet is surveillance capitalism which you can learn more about from Shoshanna Zuboff's excellent book: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.

Early on, unscrupulous corporations realized they could provide online applications as "free" services in exchange for capitalizing on the user's personal data. Your data is used to improve their services (of course) but also to direct your attention towards anyone willing to pay the fair market price for it, or worse.

Cloud Services

Most application's backends are powered by Cloud services that aren't even owned or managed by the creator of the application. This may sound convenient for consumers and app developers, but it comes at the cost of having to trust the company who owns the infrastructure the backend runs on to properly secure your data or risk it being stolen and most likely sold and that is only in the best case.

The reality is that most online service providers are selling your personal information into a dark market of shadowy data brokers. Just search for yourself on -- just kidding -- don't do that, you'd be giving them another data point, like your current public IP which in turn would corroborate (or reveal) your current address.

Custodial Computing

The computing reality we've described up to this point is best described as custodial in nature. Users are entirely reliant on 3rd-party intermediaries they know nothing about. Because of the custodial nature of modern computing the individual has virtually no control or agency over their most important personal data. Custodial computing is a far cry from the personal computing future Steve Jobs envisioned with the advent of the Macintosh. Noncustodial computing is an obvious solution for returning balance to the force but doing so will require an awareness of the imbalance.


Self-hosting means that an application's backend is hosted and owned by you, usually in your possession, at home, with minimal 3rd-parties involved. Most importantly a 3rd-party cannot revoke access to your self-hosted applications or the data they contain. Thanks to the freedoms afforded to us by free and open source software, this noncustodial personal computing strategy is much more approachable than one might be led to believe. With self-hosting, your data can not be analyzed, monetized, used to weaponize an AI against you or sold. Self-hosting returns agency to the individual by giving them true ownership of their most sensitive private property. Self-hosting gives you ownership and the maximum amount of control over all things important and digital.