arkOS: A Visual Gateway for Your Self-Hosted Secured Personal Cloud for Raspberry Pi

Ever since Raspberry Pi went into production, this slender piece of circuit board became a global phenomenon. The Raspberry Pi was built to teach kids to code, but the tech industry and MAKER community have also gone wild for it.

The 25 dollar, low power consumption, bare-bones computer has everything a basic computer needs–processor, graphics and memory. And because of its low cost, a huge online community has sprung up, customizing their Pis and introducing newer products to the market.

arkOS intends to make the best of that product with an integrated, functional, cloud-centric OS.

Optimizing Raspberry Pi

There are so many amazing things that you can do with a Raspberry Pi. Besides being a fully functional computer, Raspberry Pi used as the base operating system Linux as Debian, Fedora or ArchLinux and also the design of the hardware-based computer is completely free and therefore free of any patent or license, democratizing access to a device that could flood into different verticals worldwide.

Raspberry Pi supporters have harnessed the Pi to power Microwaves, voice-activated robots (the RaPiRo), Pi-controlled beer brewing (BrewPi), beaming photos back from near-space (Pi in the Sky) or play musical instruments (the BeetBox). Nathan Broadbent, the owner of the popular do-it-yourself site Made by Nathan, used Raspberry Pi micro-computer in microwaves to add functionality to respond to voice commands, read barcodes with pre-set cooking times, and even full integration with the internet.

Adafruit Industries has come up with a combination of the Raspberry Pi and Tor–a powerful Internet anonymizing network and service–in one device to build the Onion Pi, a small, low-power and portable privacy Pi.

Self-hosting system

Many of us have bothered on the issue of the lack of knowledge of hosting a site. Everybody agrees on is that they are about giving third party vendors more control over their personal data and identity online. Therefore it seems logical a system should be in place to self-host personal clouds using appropriate hardware and software at home.

The CitizenWeb Project is working on a system for securely self-hosting your online life from the comfort of your home. Designed for use on the Raspberry Pi, the system called arkOS, allows you to host your own website, email, cloud and more.

arkOS is a Linux image for the Raspberry Pi that runs on a Raspberry Pi with three important premises when hosting your own server – fast, easy and secure.

arkOS’ graphical interface makes it easy for user to interact with existing software and allows user to easily update the change settings. The system contains different inter-related components, allowing user to host website easily, email, social networking accounts, cloud services, and many other things from arkOS node.

Easy to set up

Installing arkOS is very easy. You need to download the version of the arkOS Installer based on your operating system from the download page. Once downloaded, insert a blank SD card with at least 8GB of space into your computer, and run the installer. The installer will provide the easy GUI steps of installing arkOS to the SD card, ask to choose the download server and which device corresponds to your SD card.

The next step is to connect the SD card to the Raspberry Pi, and plug the Raspberry Pi into an ethernet port on your home router. After Pi start up, you can then able to connect to arkOS using web interface.

The system has its own control panel called Genesis that will allow you to control all aspects of the operating system without having to run any command in the terminal – system monitor, users, applications with its own repository, plugins etc.

If you want to set a .com domain name, you need to purchase one for around $10/year, know how to set a static ip address, point your domain name to your ip address, forward http port 80 from your router to your Pi. Additionally, you will need to know how to generate and sign a public & private keypair and configure the certificates properly.

Your own private cloud

ArkOS is purely GUI-operated and provides easy way to install self-hosted personal cloud. It main features include file sync (similar to Dropbox, but can also mount ftp, usb drives, or dropbox folders, and can specify people to share with), CalDav Calendar server (similar to Google Calendar, can sync with android or iPhone calendar) and contact sync.

Using solutions like ownCloud, you can store and manage your calendar, contacts, files, music, photos and more. In addition, arkOS allows you to connect your node through a variety of services such as dynamic DNS and port relays.

ArkOS is still under development.  The CitizenWeb Project team will implement more features, including self-hosted email. The entirety of the project, from program source to documentation, is freely available online on GitHub.

About Saroj Kar

Saroj is a Staff Writer at SiliconANGLE covering DevOps, social, mobile and gaming news. If you have a story idea or tip, send it to @SiliconAngle on Twitter.