After I wrote my [Reclaim Update](https://darcynorman.net/2011/09/10/reclaim-update/) post, [Tony Hirst](http://blog.ouseful.info/) made a comment with tongue firmly planted in cheek:

Screen Shot 2011 09 12 at 8 33 19 AM

I mean, clearly I'm not about to get into the hosting business. I've toyed with the idea of a hosting co-operative, I believe after a suggestion planted by [Scott Leslie](http://www.edtechpost.ca/wordpress/). But that doesn't go far enough. It puts some liability on the co-operative. If stuff goes south, everybody loses everything. That's not far removed from the current corporate silo model.

But, Tony's comment got me thinking again. I wrote earlier about a [mythical server appliance](https://darcynorman.net/2011/05/27/reclaiming-ephemeral-media/) that people could just slap into the wall at home (or work or wherever) and then light up the services they want, to host their own stuff. But server-grade bandwidth to the home is still not ready for prime time.

What if there was a meta-application, that could be easily installed on a commodity hosting account (Mediatemple, Dreamhost, GoDaddy, etc…), that would then provide a person with list of services that they could activate? This meta-application could then download the software, configure the database, and set it up.

There are existing models for how this could work. WordPress now has a [great plugin installer](http://codex.wordpress.org/Plugins_Add_New_Screen) built in. Gallery has a similar one. List the plugins (software), select the ones you want, and let them download. Activate the ones you want when you're ready, and they Just Workâ„¢.

This would go a LONG way toward getting people set up to self-host. One thing I've learned through my version of [Boone's Reclaim Project](http://teleogistic.net/2011/05/kicking-the-twitpic-habit-with-wordpress/) is that it's sometimes non-trivial to fart around with this stuff. You have to grok subdomains, databases, PHP, config files, htaccess, log files, etc…

But if there was an application that could be easily installed that abstracted the complexity away. Something like a CPanel, or MediaTemple's 1-Click Installer:

Screen Shot 2011 09 12 at 8 42 27 AM

combined with the Gallery module selector:

Screen Shot 2011 09 12 at 8 47 04 AM

or, and this will likely set off some purists, something like the App Store:

Screen Shot 2011 09 12 at 8 51 04 AM

So, some form of meta-app that acts a bit like a web-based front end for an `apt-get` like process, downloading software on demand and installing it in the appropriate location before configuring and activating it for the user. All apps could share a single MySQL database on the server, reducing the headaches there, and use unique table prefixes for each application or service. It could also be set up to add applications as subdomains or directories, depending on how people want things to run (blog.mydomain.net or mydomain.net/blog etc…)

This could make the difference for a whole bunch of people wanting to get into hosting their own stuff, but who are held back by the arcane complexities of hosting software on the web.