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The term cloud is just a new marketing term for a good old fashioned web server. Update: it has now matured to be more than that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing. In any event, there are quite a few things you can do with a web server at home or even in a small business. Everything can be accessed from any computer on the network. As long as the client computer has a web browser such as firefox or etc. I predict the web server will be the next home appliance. If you want to program your own web site, w3schools.com and http://www.htmlcodetutorial.com/ are a good place to start learning about web development. www.howtoforge.com has some excellent tutorials on setting up web servers.

Also consider reading:
http://ofps.oreilly.com/titles/9780596805784/
http://oreilly.com/catalog/0636920010067

If you want to install existing web applications, here is an introduction: http://www.instructables.com/id/Introduction-to-installing-web-apps/


The new arm based devies such as the Cisco Linksys Nslu2, Raspberry Pi, Beagleboard, and a host of other arm based systems can al be light weight web servers.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-Jack-of-all-trades/
http://www.instructables.com/id/Give-your-Cisco-Linksys-NSLU2-some-muscle-part-1/

Note:

All the screen shots are taken from an old Dell GX1 (Pentium II) which is considered outdated technology by today's standards but still works for us. This particular system is running Ubuntu 12.04 lts that was originally running 6.x that we have upgraded over several years. All the upgrades were done without having to redo the computer. We do back up the system at intervals with Clonezilla. Update: system has been upgraded to a PIII via a cpu swapout.


Cpu information :
processor	: 0
vendor_id	: GenuineIntel
cpu family	: 6
model		: 5
model name	: Pentium II (Deschutes)
stepping	: 2
cpu MHz		: 448.648

Update: I just upgraded that old machine to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS in place (ie no reformatting or complete reloading of the os). I did have to redo the mail server set up though and update some of the web applications. Most of which I would have had to do anyway.


That server has since died. I replaced it with a Dell G1 that was given to me. It has a fresh install of Ubuntu 10.04. Reinstalled most of the web apps with newer versions. It also cam with a Pentium two, but it the motherboard supports pentium III's, so the cpu was swapped out. Performance is much better now. Update: did an update to Ubuntu 12.04 in place.without having to redo the drive. Still some tweaks to do.

$ cat /proc/cpuinfo
processor : 0
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 6
model : 7
model name : Pentium III (Katmai)
stepping : 2
cpu MHz : 448.624
cache size : 512 KB
fdiv_bug : no
hlt_bug : no
f00f_bug : no
coma_bug : no
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 2
wp : yes
flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 mtrr pge mca cmov pse36 mmx fxsr sse up
bogomips : 897.24
clflush size : 32
cache_alignment : 32
address sizes : 36 bits physical, 32 bits virtual
power management:

 
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Step 1: Wanna blog?

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You can set up the web server to be sort of a diary for all too see. You can also use it like a chalk board to leave messages for the family or business employees. You could use it for an on-line company newsletter (saving paper and printing costs. You can even use it for a scrapbook. Wordpress is probably one of the most popular.

Step 2: Wanna tweet?

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Tweeting is soft of the new instant messaging. Status.net is an older version of what twitter used to be. You can add features to be like the latest Twitter.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Statusnet-the-Twitter-clone-setup/

Step 3: Media server.

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I like the media server because students can access special lectures i have recorded to fit their needs. Especially if they are laid up and can not get to class. Another benefit is that you can have all your media located in one place that anyone can access if you wish. sort of like the old Muzak with user control.  You can use xbmc (available for most platforms) to access the media server.


Step 4: School time.

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You can use you web server as a training site. Claroline, Moodle, and Drupal are a few of many programs. This gives you a chance to have on-line documentation of your training materials and you can even test the students on-line. Companies could use it to test their employees on certain subjects without using paper.

Step 5: Business tools.

You can do accounting. I originally set this up so I could go to clients and do their bookkeeping remotely. Since none of the client data sits on the machine I am using, I have no fear of it being stolen or destroyed on that system.

The web server can be a web enabled email server. Nice not to have to go back to your desk to get the latest emails.

You can have your group work together on different projects via the web in real time.

You can have the web server act like a desktop where you can do documents and spreadsheets.

You can keep up with human resourses.

Set the system up as a help desk to enter and manage issue tickets.





Step 6: Doctor's offices

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There is even as special applications for Doctor's offices and many others.  This is just one we have installed for training.

Step 7: Forums.

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You can set up community forums both private and public.

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Step 8: Biz on the web.

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Set up your own business on the web. You can even set up your own web pages about your business. You can also do a lighter version which great for garage sales.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-garage-sale-point-of-sale/

Step 9: Helpdesk ticket submission.

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Let your Web server be a point for client help desk submission point and save phone calls.

Step 10: Your stuff.

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You can even have your own bookmarks and other useful tools for around the house. You can even do home automation. Turn on and off lights, appliances, and even lock/unlock doors. Not to mention open and close things such as a garage door.

You can even create your own web pages with the important information that pertains to you. You can even have a script that updates the web page automaticcally so you do not have to rewrite the page..

Science applications such as a periodic table/

Step 11: Printer management.

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Since we pretty much use linux, we like to use cups for printer management so i can remotely control and or solve issues when they rarely occur. You can access the the printer management remotely, just did the screen dump locally for sake of time.

Step 12: Security server

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Use the web server as a security monitoring system. Though I would make it a standalone system in addition tot he regular web server. See http://www.instructables.com/id/Computerized-video-security-setup/ The Raspberry Pi can do an excellent job of this.

Step 13: Media center access.

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Access linux mthtv from the web. MythTv is a Linux based home meda center. http://www.instructables.com/id/Setting-up-a-computer-based-DVR-with-Mythtv-for-l/

Step 14: Last of all.

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I do not condone any of the products shown, though I do use them. This is just a smattering of what you can do with a web server. I may do an instructible on how to set up an application if I get enough requests. Have fun.  http://www.instructables.com/id/Introduction-to-installing-web-apps/

Note:
At the time I installed these programs they were all open source and free. Offshore Educators is a real website on a private intranet, but you will not find it on the web. We use it for our private school and for personal use.

Step 15: The server it self.

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A picture of the server that is running everything and our home made NAS sitting below it. Also pictured is a web page for controlling the lights connected to the server's parallel port with the cable from http://www.instructables.com/id/No-solder-parallel-port-break-out/ instructable.

We can even get information about the web server on a simple web page.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-linux-commands-from-a-web-page/

Afterthought:
One other feature that is nice is displaying files converted from pdf.  http://www.instructables.com/id/Display-PDF-files-with-a-linux-server/

Step 16: Play server games.

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You can do everything from playing retro games such as Zork. (http://www.instructables.com/id/Installing-Zork-and-the-zmachine-on-your-web-serve/) to all kind of graphical games such as Minecraft. Generally, you will have to know programming such as PHP or javascript if you want to develop your own games.sourceforge.net has quite a few free games you can download and then install on your server.

Step 17: Hardware.

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Talked mostly about software, but with people wanting more econimical setups, You can always get web space from a cloud vendor, but you also use the traditional computers and the new arm based devices, You will probably find most of you home applicances wiill come with mini web servers. As time goes along,. many consumer devices can be converted to local web servers. Everyone wants to see the status iof their stuff from the web. Home automation is also a big driver of web based information. We have converted the Cisco Nslu2, Pogoplug, Chumby, beaglebone, Raspberry pi, arduino, and even an android device to be a web server. Many commercial embeded devices specifically made for this type of application.

RPi:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-simple-blog-server/
http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-Jack-of-all-trades/

Nslu2:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Give-your-Cisco-Linksys-NSLU2-some-muscle-part-1/

Arduino:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Ubuntu-and-the-arduino/

Pogoplug, (E02)
Has a bassic linux install for the Pogoplug e02, but did not include web server install (to be included later)
http://www.instructables.com/id/Linux-hints/

Step 18: Network linux install from a web server.

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Step 19: In the kitchen.

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You can even access the server in the kitchen. One application I like to use is Cookdojo. It is a nice web based recipe program. All the data is saved on the server so, you do not have to worry on what computer you saved your recipes. You can also get web applications to help you with what is in the pantry and the fridge to easily make a grocery list.

Also love to have various kitchen utilities such as an on-line egg timer and recipe conversion tools.

Step 20: Virtual hosts.

You can also have several websites all from the same computer just like the pros do.

Step 21: Microcontrollers.

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With microcontollers we have a whole new aspect to web application. The Arduino and it's relatives are the biggest jumpstart of this genre of software. Mainly for home automation, you can gather data, control switches, or many other tasks all remotely.

Step 22: JScut for your 3d router.

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Not really familiar with Jscut except to say that if is web based software the will render .svg files form say Inkspot and create Gcode that can be used on a local CNC router machine.

Emonk4 years ago
I'm afraid you have not fully understood what cloud is. Your article, interesting as it is, is not cloud. Cloud is not just serving web pages, a few basic articles can be found on wikipedia, key features are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing#Key_features which I think is a reasonable description.
Computothought (author)  Emonk2 months ago

Thank you for your comment. Having been in computing since the days of
punch cards, I think I can pretty much judge what something is or is
not. Funny, Larry Ellison of Oracle (no small enterprise) agrees with
me in my view. He will tell you the same thing. in fact he goes one step
further and says that Cloud computing is just good old client server
computing. Whether a web site uses a virtual machine, a HA cluster
server system, or even a single cpu system the result is the same. If
you completely read the article you cited, that would be clear. The user
never knows the difference. Ironically Google started off with pentium
II computers. Although they have added services, it is still pretty much
the same. We could add a second machine and very easily turn our web
site in to one that was being used like a HA cluster. It is just a
matter of scaling, but still the result is the same. It disappoints me
greatly that you want to denigrate our set up. You do not always need a
sledgehammer to do what a hammer can do. One of the reasons a lot of
dotcom companies went broke. Wikipedia is not always right. I stand
behind my comments. Been there Done that.

Computothought (author)  Emonk4 years ago
With all due respect, all I have to do is open a port on the router so anyone could access that server and no one would know the difference between it and Amazon. I also know how to build high availability servers. Just have not chosen to use them here. I could easily make the server that way fairly quickly. Everything is scalable, even that small server. By the way Google started with one pentium II and grew from there.
adamazing4 years ago
A good demonstration of what is possible with a personal web server, but it's not cloud computing. Nor is "Cloud computing" just a modern marketing term for "a webserver". Though I suppose, if you mean it's similar to using a Virtual Server instance provided by a third party, you're sort of right.

E.g. The economic advantage of cloud computing is that there is no Capital Expenditure, and you only pay for what you use. E.g. if you only need a PII 300MHz machine right now, that's what you pay for. If you then get slashdotted and your website becomes the next Facebook, you can (in theory) provision more resources to cope.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing#Key_features
Computothought (author)  adamazing3 years ago
I am concluding that you think cloud computing has to be hosted.in some way. For accounting purposes (aka GAAP) , if you have a lease for an extended time, that lease is usually considered a capital expenditure for record keeping purposes. Working on an instructable now of setting up a HAV web cluster using older systems. A model T is not a Corvette, but it is still a car and will get you there.
uthus4 years ago
I've run an Apache web server for years. When the wife was deployed to Iraq, I set up pages for other soldiers' family members to view pictures, news letters, etc. It was pretty small scale, but Time Warner did not like the fact that I had several GB of traffic during any given month. (Services were not against the EULA at the time.) They eventually throttled me. I've written several web applications for my own use in php and perl. It's fantastic what you can do with a *nix box. I think the one that I was using at the time of the deployment was a P-233.
Computothought (author)  uthus4 years ago
Thanx for the comment. Our web server is internal only though it does access the net. Sometimes if you use another port than say 80 you can do a bit more. I know a lot of people who use port 8080 via http://yourwebsite.???:8080. Of course you can have the router translate that port to your local port 80 on the web server..

Ii is good that you do programming, The more you you know.... Yes, I have done a bit of php and cgi myself. Borrowed a few open source javascript apps from the web also. My big thing now is letting the web server control home automation devices. Freebasic works real well with this and can even push static data to pages.

Trying to get into bsd a little bit. After being an mswindows admin for over 10 years, I could not get away from Microsoft products fast enough at home. Your preaching to the choir about what 'nix can do. 'Nix rules.

Of course you should be able to load all these apps on most any platform that supports Apache or the like. Might work with IIs, but I would not use it. Ngnx and lightttpd have their place also.