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Getting Rid of Google, One Step at a Time

Facebook, Apple, and Google all got away with their monopolist power grabs because they don't have any 'S's in their names for critics to snarkily replace with '$'s. [http://xkcd.com/1118/] FIXME This is a work in progress.

Google's motto is to do no evil. Fair enough. Yet, they are getting an alarmingly large amount of the pie at the moment, and we don't want to fall into a Minitel2.0 world. So let's see how the world looks like without Google, and with a sprinkle of self-hosting (on distant-sun or a NAS-to-come), and double serving of open source and free software.

Replacing other non-Google proprietary services for open protocols is also the extended scope of this.

Search Engine

This used to be Google's main field. Ironically now, it's the easiest to replace. DuckDuckGo is a privacy-preserving search front-end using Bing for its result. I haven't noticed much change in quality of the results.

Seeks might be worth having a look for true self-hostedness at some point.

Web hosting

Dynamic DNS

I received an email from DynDNS today saying.

So I am hosting it myself too.

Email and Instant messaging


My email and Jabber accounts have always been hosted at Ssji. This is good.


Roundcube is a nice modern webmail, with IMAP support and a lot of plugins such as a CalDAV calendar client (default set) and even a Jappix integration.


Not quite there yet, but I guess my Centralised LDAP-based Authentication on OpenBSD could provide for that.

See the next section: ownCloud contacts and DavDroid, for phone sync, work nicely.

Cloud storage

The ownCloud code is getting to maturity quickly. PHP-based, it supports DAVfs mounts for files, CalDAV for calendars, CardDAV for contacs and some protocols for photos and music streaming.

It also has bookmarks support, but no nice browser integration such as Delicious' (why they actually deprecated this feature is a mistery to me, but yet another indication that free proprietary services cannot be relied on).

There also are several LDAP-backends for various data feeds such as users or contacts.

ownCloud's favourite encoding is en_US.UTF-8. This might cause some slight issues and warnings (setting locale to en_US.UTF-8/en_US.UTF8 failed. Support is probably not installed on your system ) when running from a chroot. Simply copying /usr/share/locale/en_US.UTF-8 to the chroot to make ownCloud happy.


CalDAV support is a must, as several external clients can connect and sync to it.

As hinted above, ownCloud does the trick here. Nicely.


Enters Flubbles (CM9+ on a Motorola Milestone A853) Blunch (CM10+ on a Sony-Ericsson Xperia Pro MK16a) Snibbley (CM13 on an LG Nexus 5) .

It runs CyanogenMod, without the Google apps (a bit useless, they only connect to Google…). Replicant should be the next step, but only a few devices are supported yet.

Using F-Droid instead of the MarketPlay, one has access to many an open source application, and automatic updates.

The following apps are a good starting base:

  • K-9 Mail, a fork of the stock Android emali client, with many more features,
  • aCal, a CalDAV client, DavDroid, a a CalDAV and CardDAV sync client,
  • yaxim, a reasonnable, single-account, Jabber client Xabber, Conversations a lightweight and modern IM client with native support for encryption and recent XEPs,
  • OsmAnd, an OpenStreetMap-based GPS navigator,
  • ownCloud's native app for integration with the file storage (including auto-upload of photos taken).


I'm renting a Dedibox from Online.net for 17.93€/monthKimsufi from OVH for about 12€/month. for I also have a domain name registered with Gandi (actually, I don't for my main domain, but I have others) which costs me 14.35€/year.

Getting rid of Google and other proprietary services therefore costs me, 229.51€/year157.73€/year, including taxes, but excluding labour. On the other hand, this is a flat fee, and I can run many more services there (and I do!). It might however be important to note that my machine, despite being a low end thing, is far from loaded, and could very well host one (or even two) order of magnitude more people, thus reducing the price per head by that much.

Caveat Emptor, or Where the Evil Starts to Show

Getting rid of Google also covers not accepting their cookies anymore. However, over time, not having a Google account (or not wanting to give it), nor accepting their cookies starts showing where the problem could lie.

Linking non-GMail addresses to a Google account, and subscribing to a Google Group for that non-GMail address leads Google to intercept mail from that group, and redirect it silently into the GMail inbox. Unlinking the address is not sufficient, as it seems that whatever the invited address was, this is the GMail address which was subscribed. Silently. Without warning. Of any kind.

On the cookie front, refusing these delicious delicacies has heinous impact on various Google services.

  • Google Groups archives show up empty; just the window dressing, but no content,
  • Google Custom Search on third party website does not work anymore, and hangs forever saying it is “Loading”.

In essence, if one hosts their mailing list on Google Groups, or uses Google Custom Search on their website, they effectively limit their service to Google users.

This is one step closer to a large-scale Minitel 2.0 world. It's a nice solution on Google's part to not build a walled garden for their users: let their friends build the wall around themselves.

Other things to replace or provide

projets/nogoogle.txt · Dernière modification: 2016-08-31 02:41 de shtrom