Open source web apps exist. If you look hard enough, you can find open source online document editors, RSS readers, and even a few social networks. But even among techies, hardly anyone seems to use these, probably because they all require running your own server, and few people have the time, patience, and expertise for that. And sometimes it’s hard to build a business case around a niche purpose.
Little apps written by random authors in their spare time are abundant on desktop and mobile. But on the web, it doesn’t seem to work this way. Any significant service with a server-side component can really only be run by a funded corporation. For open source software to make sense, the user has to be running their own instance. Software-as-a-Service and open source web apps just don’t make sense together: it’s not really open source if you can’t run modified code, and the high barrier to entry shuts out hobby projects or anything unwilling to be monetized.
The only solution is to make sure everyone has a server where they can install any software they want. They don’t necessarily have to administer that server – it could be run by a friend, or a service – but each user must be able to install arbitrary software. And that software must be securely sandboxed to prevent buggy or malicious software from harming the rest of the server.
Today, Sandstorm enables non-technical end users to install and run arbitrary software on servers they control. Apps may be downloaded from an app store and installed with one click, like installing apps on your phone. Each app runs in a secure sandbox, where it cannot interfere with other apps without permission.
But there's still much to be done. Find out how to get involved »
More about Sandstorm's mission »