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FREEING THE CLOUD, ONE (SMALL) SERVICE AT A TIME

Introducing a new project to provide an open and federated alternative to the centralized Gravatar avatar hosting service. As more and more computing moves into someone else's data center (i.e. the Cloud), users and companies are losing direct control over their data and processes. The risks they used to be able to mitigate by using Free and Open Source software are starting to become apparent. So what can be done to continue to enjoy the software freedom that we have come to appreciate in the desktop computing world? Just like the task of building a completely FOSS operating system in the 1980s looked like an impossible dream, having a completely free online life appears to be quite a big task. Thankfully, many people are now tackling this problem and starting to build freedom-respecting options, one service at a time. This talk will introduce Libravatar, a Django-based project to provide a federated alternative to the Gravatar profile image hosting service, a centralized web service used by a very large number of social sites around the world. While Libravatar looks like a fairly simple service, there are a number of challenges in implementing a Gravatar-compatible API in a highly scalable way. The naive webapp approach will not handle the amount of traffic that Gravatar is subject to every hour and a number of technical tricks are necessary