Public Lab Research note

Radical Infrastructure: Your First Physical Server

by techlearningcollective | August 06, 2019 19:01 06 Aug 19:01 | #20446 | #20446

Radical Infrastructures: Your First Physical Server


The Tech Learning Collective invites you join to us for Radical Infrastructure: Your First Physical Server, a full day intensive workshop that will get you up and running with your own server that you can administer from anywhere in the world. This one-day class combines material from several TLC courses (SYS101, NET101, and SEC101) into a single project-based exercise in which you will build, install, and configure your own server, from the ground up:

Today, the first step in effective radical organizing is often escaping from the surveillance economy by using alternatives to popular online services such as Google's GMail for email and Facebook's Messenger for instant messaging. However, simply jumping to another company's equivalent product is like moving your money out of one too-big-to-fail bank into another; it's a lateral move at best. Thankfully, it's way easier to start (or find) organizations that run alternative digital infrastructures than it is to start a new bank.

In this workshop, you'll be guided through the first steps of setting up just such an alternative infrastructure capable of providing a plethora of digital services to hundreds or even thousands of people. Since every app you use ultimately relies on a physical computer somewhere in the world offering services, that's where we'll start: plugging a server into a power outlet. From there, we'll install an Operating System, learn the basics of remote administration over SSH, and start choosing services to run on our new server. By starting at the ground level, you can see for yourself exactly how tools like Google Calendar or Signal actually work---and how easy they are to replicate for free on the scale of a community or neighborhood network.

Moreover, one of the best-kept secrets in tech is that most off-the-shelf computers can function remarkably well as servers. For example, the Raspberry Pi is one great example of such a device that cash-strapped advocacy groups can use to astonishingly powerful ends if only they had the know-how. (A single Raspberry Pi device retails for $35 USD!) This means that most small- to mid-sized organizations of a dozen to several hundred people can have their own truly self-owned and self-operated server infrastructures, completely independent from the Googles and Facebooks of the world, for only a few dozen dollars.

Whether you or your group is using messagers like WhatsApp, publishing blog posts with WordPress, or using other coordination tools like online maps, ultimately, you're using someone's computer. Do you know whose computer you're using? Do you know where your servers are? Knowing exactly where your data lives is a critical step on the path towards true autonomy, and by the end of this workshop you'll be well on your way to operating your own fleet of devices with which to replace your reliance on the corporate "cloud."

Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis and are only available via our online storefront. We are offering a 33% discounted price ticket to this class for queer-identified and femme folks to help offset systemic biases.

Class space is limited to 15 students! Purchase your ticket now to reserve your spot.

Equipment will be provided in limited quantity for demo and exercise purposes only. We will have some Raspberry Pi devices that you can practice with, but if you want to leave class with your own physical server that you can install in your home, venue, or organizing space, you will need to purchase a hardware device to keep. We recommend purchasing a Raspberry Pi from AdaFruit, along with a power supply and an 8GB or larger SD card (hard disk).

If you're not ready or able to purchase a Raspberry Pi, you can still participate with just your laptop because we will also be covering how to create virtual machines in software to simulate real hardware. This technique makes it possible to start learning the fundamentals without needing to make any additional hardware purchases. Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

As with all Tech Learning Collective events, racism, queerphobia, transphobia, sexism, "brogrammer," "manarchist," or any kind of similarly awful behavior will result in immediate removal from class without a refund. Please refer to our lightweight social rules for details on our strictly enforced no-tolerance policy against bigotry of any kind.

Much of the work we do ends up openly on AnarchoTech NYC, a great resource for people interested in these sorts of topics.


Radical Infrastructures is very useful tools. Actually the infrastructure development is complex task from planning to, drawing, estimation ad stone , brick collection etc.

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