By Ev Bogue - December 8th 2014
I wake up, roll over and there's some girl in my bed. She asks me: so what do you do anyway? You a sysadmin? Server guy? VPS pilot? Linux admin? Professional drunk?
Okay people. Let's talk about this over this french press of coffee in the early morning Mexico City smog.
I don't see myself as a server guy. I think there used to be a job called "sys admin" that people got and held and got paid to do. No longer. No one's going to pay me or you to be a sys admin. If you are a sys admin, cling to that terrible desk chair you've been sitting on in the server room for the past 20 years because someday your manager is going to figure out they're way over budget paying you $60,000 a year when they could have a VPS for $5 a month and figure it all out without you.
I see using a VPS as a pre-req for being a citizen of the Internet. If you don't know how to use a VPS then you are a user. A user is a database entry in someone else's system. "We fight for the users" from Tron doesn't exist in the real world. No one fights for users. Users are there to be used, sold, and re-programmed with complex psychological algorithms.
What I'm saying is: if you don't have a VPS, you aren't playing in the digital space anymore. Instead, you're using your thumb to type into a box and hitting 'submit'. Thumbing on a screen is user behavior. SSHing into a VPS, now, is what everyone who wants to be a player on the Internet must be doing.
Back in the day, a person who employed a computer was called an Operator. Tank in The Matrix was an Operator. So let's call a person who uses a VPS an Operator.
The difference between a user and an operator is range of expression. A person who operates a VPS using his own computer has a wider range of expression than a user.
A user is only reading web pages and typing into boxes and hitting submit.
An Operator is able to do whatever he wants with a computer, up to and sometimes even beyond his personal ability.
In the beginning of the Internet everyone was Operators. But over time things such as AOL (1990s), Google(2000s), and Fecesbook(2010s) found terrible ways to manipulate users into doing what they want them to do -- run around in digital hamster wheels clicking ads while thinking they are 'engaging'.
Back in the day, you couldn't send an email between CompuServ and AOL. Then a large group of Operators got together and programmed a distributed way to send emails to from everywhere to everywhere.
Let's talk about email. I now run my own email server. For the longest time I put off doing this, but because I see myself as an Operator now, I knew I had to start running my own email server eventually. Now I operate my own email server, so when you're sending me an email it is NOT getting dumped into Google's email poopswamp. Instead it's coming to me.
The other day I deleted an email before I read or replied to it. This email was gone. I checked my postfix logs to see if it recorded incoming emails... nope. The email was gone! That was bad because I couldn't reply to the email. But I just put a message up on my web server for the guy to email me again, and then he did.
This made me realize that by operating my own email server, my email is a lot safer than it was before. My messages aren't being stored forever in the previous-mentioned email poopswamp.
VPSes are so cheap now that's easy to both run Linux on your home machine and also operate a VPS other on the net. The benefit: you have a computer out on the Internet that is always on. VPSes are also somewhat portable, so if you want to move to another VPS provider, that's somewhat simple for an Operator to do. For example, I moved from Digital Ocean to Linode this year because Digital Ocean decided to stop supporting the best Linux distribution.
Alright, lecture over.
Go be an Operator.