Cozy Cloud and percloud: a comparison

Shortly after launching my proposal for a personal, p2p replacement of Facebook, Gmail and similar services I was contacted by the developers of Cozy Cloud. We had a very interesting discussion, which ended with their proposal to write a post for their blog, to explain what similarities, differences and possible synergies I see between the two projects. Here I am, looking forward to your feedback! (this post had been sent on 2013/10/08 to the cozycloud team for immediate publication on their blog. Since that hasn’t been possible so far, and time is running out for the crowdfunding, I’m posting it here)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: we have partly different goals and focuses, but we (have to) use the same open building blocks, and this is really great!

First, for several reasons, what I call the percloud “home” and “service” panels in my percloud 10-slides summary would look more like a website than as a tablet/smartphone screen. However, I do wish to make it look and feel as easy to use as the Cozy Cloud demo.

Another difference is that Cozy lists, among the activities that could benefit from it, Quantified-Self movement and home automation. The percloud doesn’t. I can frankly assert that the Quantified Self thing never was or is in my plan. I simply didn’t think about it, and focused on something else: the percloud first/main target is social networking and “traditional” blogging, email, online storage to replace Flickr, Dropbox, online bookmarks… As far as I understand the first 2 services are not primary/initial goals of Cozy.

The percloud wants to be simple. Being 100% Free Software you may hack it as you want, but in its first/default version it will be perfect for people who just want one ready way to get things done.

The percloud is an as-turn-key-as-possible selection of software, all prepackaged, integrated and configured to make it easy to move, for all the services I listed above, from digital walled gardens to whatever physical server or server provider you want.

Cozy, instead, is not a selection of ready-to-use software: it is a platform, a kind of open and personal Google app engine, that will easily deploy the services you want on your server.

Another important difference that comes from all I’ve said so far is that Cozy must (at first at least) focus on sharing data among all the apps that each Cozy user deploys on her server. Percloud, instead, must provide from the start easy but complete blogging, and above all federation, that is interconnection of perclouds so they automatically share notification of their owners activities. It is federation that would make Joe’s percloud pop up a window saying “Mary just mentioned you in her percloud, or answered a comment you made there, click here to read it”.

That’s why, if I get funding, a crucial part of Phase 1 of the percloud would be research on how to integrate existing open standards for federation into the package.

The conclusion? We both have the same “background” goal, that is to empower the user by giving back his data and services, as well as the idea that self hosting is obviously the only way. And we have different focuses, or service priorities. As far as I’m concerned, this is great: we can each focus on different needs, knowing that other needs are being taken care of, and we are all doing it in a way that makes compatibility, reuse, integration, that is no lock-in for end users… as easy as possible.

In fact, a very quick read at how to set up your own Cozy Cloud tells me that Cozy and the Percloud (see this 10 slide summary) start from the general idea/architecture: take a stripped gnu/linux distro, add on it the right applications (eg PostFix) to make a personal virtual server that may run everywhere.So we can both freely reuse pieces and work. And we should.

Finally, to whoever may be thinking that the percloud may be an unnecessary duplicate of arKos, FreedomBox, buddycloud… please read this answer and then the relevant percloud FAQs. Thanks for your interest!

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