The term cloud is just a new marketing term for a good old fashioned web server. Update: it has now matured to be more than that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing. In any event, there are quite a few things you can do with a web server at home or even in a small business. Everything can be accessed from any computer on the network. As long as the client computer has a web browser such as firefox or etc. I predict the web server will be the next home appliance. If you want to program your own web site, w3schools.com and http://www.htmlcodetutorial.com/ are a good place to start learning about web development. www.howtoforge.com has some excellent tutorials on setting up web servers.
Also consider reading:
If you want to install existing web applications, here is an introduction: http://www.instructables.com/id/Introduction-to-installing-web-apps/
The new arm based devies such as the Cisco Linksys Nslu2, Raspberry Pi, Beagleboard, and a host of other arm based systems can al be light weight web servers.
All the screen shots are taken from an old Dell GX1 (Pentium II) which is considered outdated technology by today's standards but still works for us. This particular system is running Ubuntu 12.04 lts that was originally running 6.x that we have upgraded over several years. All the upgrades were done without having to redo the computer. We do back up the system at intervals with Clonezilla. Update: system has been upgraded to a PIII via a cpu swapout.
Cpu information : processor : 0 vendor_id : GenuineIntel cpu family : 6 model : 5 model name : Pentium II (Deschutes) stepping : 2 cpu MHz : 448.648
Update: I just upgraded that old machine to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS in place (ie no reformatting or complete reloading of the os). I did have to redo the mail server set up though and update some of the web applications. Most of which I would have had to do anyway.
That server has since died. I replaced it with a Dell G1 that was given to me. It has a fresh install of Ubuntu 10.04. Reinstalled most of the web apps with newer versions. It also cam with a Pentium two, but it the motherboard supports pentium III's, so the cpu was swapped out. Performance is much better now. Update: did an update to Ubuntu 12.04 in place.without having to redo the drive. Still some tweaks to do.
$ cat /proc/cpuinfo
processor : 0
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 6
model : 7
model name : Pentium III (Katmai)
stepping : 2
cpu MHz : 448.624
cache size : 512 KB
fdiv_bug : no
hlt_bug : no
f00f_bug : no
coma_bug : no
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 2
wp : yes
flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 mtrr pge mca cmov pse36 mmx fxsr sse up
bogomips : 897.24
clflush size : 32
cache_alignment : 32
address sizes : 36 bits physical, 32 bits virtual
Step 1: Wanna blog?
Step 2: Wanna tweet?
Step 3: Media server.
Step 4: School time.
Step 5: Business tools.
You can do accounting. I originally set this up so I could go to clients and do their bookkeeping remotely. Since none of the client data sits on the machine I am using, I have no fear of it being stolen or destroyed on that system.
The web server can be a web enabled email server. Nice not to have to go back to your desk to get the latest emails.
You can have your group work together on different projects via the web in real time.
You can have the web server act like a desktop where you can do documents and spreadsheets.
You can keep up with human resourses.
Set the system up as a help desk to enter and manage issue tickets.
Step 6: Doctor's offices
Step 7: Forums.
Step 8: Biz on the web.
Step 9: Helpdesk ticket submission.
Step 10: Your stuff.
You can even have your own bookmarks and other useful tools for around the house. You can even do home automation. Turn on and off lights, appliances, and even lock/unlock doors. Not to mention open and close things such as a garage door.
You can even create your own web pages with the important information that pertains to you. You can even have a script that updates the web page automaticcally so you do not have to rewrite the page..
Science applications such as a periodic table/
Step 11: Printer management.
Step 12: Security server
Step 13: Media center access.
Step 14: Last of all.
At the time I installed these programs they were all open source and free. Offshore Educators is a real website on a private intranet, but you will not find it on the web. We use it for our private school and for personal use.
Step 15: The server it self.
We can even get information about the web server on a simple web page.
One other feature that is nice is displaying files converted from pdf. http://www.instructables.com/id/Display-PDF-files-with-a-linux-server/
Step 16: Play server games.
Step 17: Hardware.
Has a bassic linux install for the Pogoplug e02, but did not include web server install (to be included later)
Step 18: Network linux install from a web server.
More details here.
Step 19: In the kitchen.
You can even access the server in the kitchen. One application I like to use is Cookdojo. It is a nice web based recipe program. All the data is saved on the server so, you do not have to worry on what computer you saved your recipes. You can also get web applications to help you with what is in the pantry and the fridge to easily make a grocery list.
Also love to have various kitchen utilities such as an on-line egg timer and recipe conversion tools.