Can you create content just using FOSS?

Note: this “guide” may not be 100% FOSS and there may be some things in here you don’t agree with (or find to be not free or open source). I understand but I’m not going to going into the deep details of Javascript not being FOSS, or finding a company that runs everything on FOSS. I encourage you to channel any anger you may have, to write your own blog post about this (or something similar). Or don’t. That is 100% up to you.

FOSS stands for free, and open source software. If you aren’t looking for it you may not think there is any free and open source software on the internet to download and use. Or you may have seen it but decided to go with other software since you knew the brand name or it was easier for you to use. Open source software can be used in many ways, and for many things. But here is how to create content using FOSS.

First we need to know the definition of content, according to Merriam-Webster content is “the topics or matter treated in a written work” or “the principal substance (such as written matter, illustrations, or music) offered by a website“.

If we are going with the first definition then you need an FOSS operating system, Windows and Mac aren’t FOSS, so what is available? You most likely have heard of Ubuntu or Debian and while some people (the Free Software Foundation) may not consider these to be FOSS operating system they are well known enough that they could be considered FOSS (and I don’t want to go deep into the details of some drivers not being FOSS, or other related things). I’m not going to guide you through the install as every operating system is different. Once you have it installed most have some sort of text editor that you can use. If you type into there then you have created content (even if it’s just for yourself) using FOSS.

The second definition “the principal substance (such as written matter, illustrations, or music) offered by a website“, requires not only the operating system, but a server to run it on, and a website. If you don’t want to setup your own website and server then consider something like Write.as where you can have a blog / create content that is run on FOSS. In write.as’s case that FOSS is their software called WriteFreely.

If you want to setup your own website and server then you could set up your own server in your house, but if you have more money than time then you can buy a server from many companies that offer it. Many people have heard about DigitalOcean (affiliate link), however I encourage you to find a local company that have a virtual private server (VPS) you can rent and rent it from them. You may, or may not, get a choice of an operating system. Most Linux operating systems are FOSS, so choose the one that is best for you (or that the hosting company selects by default). Once you have that installed you need something to show off your content, WordPress is one of the most popular ones (and the one this website runs on), or there are so many other options based on what you want or need.

Once you have the server, you need a website. These are mostly called domain registrar’s, and there are so many available (sometimes they come free with a server). My favourite’s are Namesilo (affilate link), Gandi.net (affiliate link), Sibername (affiliate link), and GlowHost (affiliate link). You then need to attach the website to the server (ask customer support for details on how to do so as this depends on what the website company has).

The server and website are now attached, you should be able to go to your website and see something. You then need to put your content on there (how you do this depends on what you put on the server) then you have content created using FOSS that is public for others to read and enjoy.

This was inspired by Jake’s post on him going from user to contributing to FOSS. This is post number 47 as part of 100 Days To Offload.