The start.

Why They Fight began as a band I played in with my friends and a space to express my ideas and feelings. We've written multiple EPs over the years and several members branch out to other music projects as well (False Report, Relate, Truth & Happiness). While I felt our music was pretty decent, we weren't receiving much exposure or recognition for our efforts. This felt disheartening as an artist and led into periods of questioning why we're even doing any of this (this is one interpretation of "Why They Fight"). I could see that my friends in other music projects inevitably fell into the same pit. I decided if nobody was going to sign us and support us, I would learn what it took to start my own label to help my friends out.

WTFxUS was originally intended to be an independent music label and clothing brand but has since transitioned into so much more. I wanted to make my own label to release my personal music through and help my friends publish their work as well. I originally started with a Squarespace website but had no idea how to integrate some of the other ideas I had. I felt very limited and Squarespace relies on Google G Suite for administration and email. I have personal issues with handing over data needlessly to big data companies like Google and Facebook and decided if I was going to do this and launch Why They Fight as a website, I would learn how to do it myself.

Thus, I began learning how to code and self-host.

As I started learning about what goes into actually building a website from scratch, I quickly found out how complex the internet actually is. I took the wonders of the internet for granted and never realized how much goes into having your own server and setting everything up. I started with a 2012 Mac Mini as a test server to start trying to host my own content. The Mac Mini worked well with the other Apple devices on my network and I was able to screen share with my Macbook; so it felt like a natural starting point. I started with a basic Apache stack, transferred the domain from Squarespace to Gandi.net, and was able to put up my first very basic static website. There were many guides available to learn from, but the deeper I got, the more they were written for Linux webservers. As I was on Mac OS, I found it difficult to implement some of the ideas I had without just wiping the drive and putting Linux on it. Instead, I wanted to learn what it took to actually build a server to host all of my content from.

After research through /r/homelab, I felt like a Dell r710 would be a good starting place to continue learning with. I switched to Linux, learned how to use Docker, and started hacking away at it. As I was learning Linux, I started to hear about the positives of free and open source software and felt they aligned with my own values of privacy. It felt like something clicked for me. I had always hated that companies like Google collect our data and sell it to third parties. I hated how our search results were manipulated to show us what they wanted us to see and hid the important things. I had always hated that businesses could monopolize and lock in consumers to subscriptions. I hated that everything I uploaded or posted technically belonged to someone else and they could decide what constitutes as open speech and could de-platform people that don't agree with their views. I hated how companies like this treat people like numbers. Even if I don't agree with something someone posts, leaving it up and open for discussion allows others to chime in and help shape the original idea. We can't change peoples opinions or views by removing them. We have to take the time to discuss and educate each other as a community. Through this, we help mold each others ideas and come to new conclusions and this is one of the basic tenants of how open source functions.

At this point, I felt like I needed to share what I was learning with the rest of my friends. One way to solve for this, is to document what I learn in an openly available public format.

That is what this blog intends to be.

I would like to share any information I gather in building up this website with anybody who cares to listen. If you see what I'm doing here and want to try to attempt it yourself, I hope to be able to provide you the means to do so. This also helps me go back to my own material a couple years down the road when I no longer remember how I set something up. I will also be including any links I used from other sites as reference.

Eventually, I would like to start offering services for musicians that can help collaboration between artists and a platform to help release from. I don't want to get into the details of it in this post but eventually, I would like to offer $100 worth of connected services for $15 a month. The only reason why I'm choosing to disclose this in this post, is to share that even when the business transitions into that model, all of the guides I wrote on how I set my server and everything up will be posted here for you to be able to do the same; if you so please.

This blog will be divided into different sections. The initial groupings will be Music, Gaming, Technology, and Spirituality. Music will be used to host music related blog posts including music news, release announcements, and tour announcements. Gaming will be used for our budding gaming community and will include game related news and maybe even a podcast. Technology will be where I post all of my web guides for system administration.

Spirituality.

I haven't really thought about what I will be posting in here but wanted to include it as it's own category because I feel like it's become an important part of my growth. I hope to be able to provide self-help links and information on how to feel better internally. I have an extensive background in psychology from the patient side of therapy and my own research. I see how some of my friends and people I love the most struggle with some of the hard feelings I've had to go through. I hope to be able to use this space to help relieve some of that and share some of the resources that have helped me.

I've spent weeks in anxiety about this post and trying to come up with something to say that helps define this all a little more for everyone else who isn't me. So I hope this post was able to accomplish that. My goal is to help shape it out over time. If anyone reading this is interested in blogging about one of these topics, feel free to drop a comment below or send an email to me at [email protected]

If you made it all the way to here, thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you have a wonderful day. :)

Max

Maxwell Barksdale

Maxwell Barksdale

Musician turned self hosted sys admin.