Brandon Rozek

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PhD Student @ RPI studying Automated Reasoning in AI and Linux Enthusiast.


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When I attended my undergraduate institution every student in the computer science department had an opportunity to create a personal website. To do this you logged onto a specific server, create a public_html folder and drop HTML files within it. They even had support for PHP!

Now why would I create this personal website on another server when I already have my own website that I’ve been maintaining for the past eight years? Honestly it’s a great place for experimentation. This website used to be Wordpress driven. During my undergrad, I played around with Pico CMS on the school server’s to serve Markdown files via PHP. This inspired this current version of my website which uses Hugo on the backend to compile Markdown to HTML.

Websites created in this way were called Tildespaces. This is named after the fact that in Unix/Linux you can refer to a user’s home directory by prefixing their username with a tilde (~). A consequence of this, is that often you would refer to the website as http://example.com/~username.

Now it wasn’t only universities that were offering this service. Communities popped up offering free public ways to create websites and other services. These were referred to as Pubnixes or public unixes. Over time this concept became less prominent as the web became a platform for commercialization. Luckily, there are others like me that have been exposed to this in the past and wanted to keep the idea alive. That’s where the Tildeverse comes in.

The Tildeverse is an informal association of communities that provide people access to create accounts on servers to host websites and other services. On that website you can find many different servers and I encourage you to check each out to see if one calls to you. Similar to trying out various Mastodon servers.

Personally, I created an account on Tilde.club which hosts my Web and Gemini pages. I even discovered a way of creating a tildespace at my current university which you can see here.

One benefit that this approach gives versus say a GitHub pages implementation is that you get access to a whole Linux environment. Even if you don’t use it to make a webpage, it can give valuable experience in interacting with Linux systems.

Also if you create HTML pages on the server, migrating to a different server is as easy as moving the files. No lock-in!

I hope this inspires you to try it out. For another old Internet reference, also check out Neocities. That website tries to emulate the Yahoo owned Geocities website that was active between 1994-2009.

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