What is the project?
The Lollipop Cloud project is an attempt to do the following:
- Self-host software and services for nomads, for those with limited internet access, and for those wanting to avoid the various corporate entities that harvest your data.
- Lower the friction of self-hosting. Preferably with a Raspberry Pi, Orange Pi, or other lean, small ARM mini-computer boards.
- Empower users to control their own destiny online.
- Use only open source software.
- Create a “cloud” in a very small box, with built-in flexibility. A cloud the size of a credit card or as big as a rack mount server? YOU decide.
What is a Lollipop Cloud?
There is a concept of a “lollipop router” (or “router on a stick,” depending on who you ask). This is a fancy way of saying “take a router (link), make it super small, give it a single ethernet (link) port, plug it into a specially configured switch (link), and give it fancy networking features”.
Basically, it’s a really small router, roughly the size of a USB thumb drive and no bigger than the size of your fist, with a network port. “Router” is a pretty broad term that covers a lot of hardware, software, and activities, which can be customized for individuals’ home networks or massive corporations’ networks.
And this is something you can use to your advantage, even if you don’t work in tech or have extensive IT knowledge.
Why call it a “Lollipop”?
We use the term “Lollipop” because we are aiming for very small, inexpensive mini-computers to deploy a personal cloud (more on this term shortly).
Lollipops are also a fun treat.
[Editor’s note: also, KemoNine used the term casually early on, and it stuck.]
ARM Mini Computer
An ARM mini computer is essentially a computer the size of a 6-inch smart phone or smaller; but a smart phone without the screen, speakers, cellular data connection, or operating system (Android or iOS).
ARM is a type of computer processor (link) (similar to “Intel Inside” your laptop) that’s commonly used in mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc).
It should also be noted that a “computer” in this sense doesn’t necessarily include a monitor, keyboard, mouse, or other things typically associated with a modern computer. The term really means the “tower” part of a desktop computer, but stripped down the absolute fundamentals like the motherboard (link) and RAM (link).
A good example of an “ARM Mini Computer” is the Raspberry Pi (link). It’s a super small computer that fits into an inexpensive case, and can be customized with additional inexpensive hardware to do perform a specific task or group of tasks: like your personal cloud device.
Self-hosting your personal cloud
Cloud computing (link) or sometimes referred to as “the cloud,” is the way most of our data is stored and processed today. A “cloud” by most definitions is actually just “someone else’s computer.” If you backup your photos from your phone to iCloud, Amazon, or Google, your photos are stored “in the cloud.” If you use Google Calendar to share your schedule with friends and family, your information is being processed by and stored in Google’s cloud.
Using “the cloud” allows you to take advantage of the convenience and security of letting someone else (or a whole company) do the technical work behind the scenes of making sure you have enough storage space, the ability to access your files whenever you want, and keeping unauthorized people from seeing your private information.
Traditional cloud computing requires us to have a stable, reliable internet connection, with unlimited or very high data plans… and a whole lot of trust in the corporations storing our data. Data breaches happen all the time, where unauthorized users gain access to personal information, and corporations rely heavily on the ability to collect, buy, and sell our data in order to generate profits.
But it is possible to create your own cloud device. You can create your own router, backup your photos, save your address book, share your calendar, and more, with a small computer and a little time. You can even host your own website, email, blog, chat rooms, and more.
Self-hosting your personal cloud is a way to take control of your data without relying on outside organizations for services in exchange for access to your data, while still allowing you to collaborate and interact with others.
The Lollipop Cloud project is just one example of a self-hosted cloud. Everything you’ll see from the Lollipop Cloud project, like our website, blog, website analytics, chat rooms, and Gitea with our source code and version control, are all self-hosted.
We control our own destiny online for the Lollipop Project, and our goal is to allow others to do the same with minimal effort.