Business Opportunities Using Solid Pod Servers Without Using Advertising

Big businesses use the data that we currently install on their centralised servers, and either make money by directly selling that information, or by directing personalised advertising based upon its content.

Solid is completely different and is not centralised. I am currently running a Solid Pod Server, and my own POD, at home on a Raspberry Pi that cost less than £50.00, and which has 64GB of storage (far more than the 15GB included as standard in Google Drive) which doesn’t overheat, is not noisy, and uses less electric than a standard lightbulb.

The front page of the solid.inrupt site says that Solid

‘opens brand new avenues for creativity, problem solving, and commerce

but doesn’t speculate on what these ‘commerce’ opportunities would be.

Here is my suggestion for when Solid is ‘finished’:

I envisage a business selling Rasperry Pi’s complete with a 64GB or a 128GB SD card and a pre-purchased URL. The SD card would come pre-loaded not only with the Raspberry Pi software, but also pre-installed with both Certbot and a Solid POD Server that used the pre-purchased URL.

The whole thing could be sold complete, in the same way that phones come already installed with Android. When the buyer logs into Raspberry for the first time, this creates not only the first user for the Raspberry, but also creates the first WebID. In short, the purchaser gets a Raspberry Pi complete with their own Solid Server, their own Solid POD, and their own WebID, all without having to understand any code.

The business would sell a single user Raspberry Pi and POD at one price, a multi-user (family) POD at a higher price, and there would be different prices based on the size of the SD card.

As more people access the internet these days by phone rather than by computer, there would also need to be an app that allows access between a phone and a POD,

Well, that’s my idea. Something like that could encourage the uptake of Solid devices because it is both easy to manufacture, easy for consumers to use, cheap to buy, and cheap to run.

I am in my seventies and no longer need the hassle of creating another company, so if anyone wants to take this idea forward they are welcome to do so.

It would be interesting to know what ‘commerce opportunities’ other forum members can think of other than the obvious one of selling Solid hosting on large servers in the same way that website hosting is currently sold.

I will add suggestions to the bottom of this initial post.


My own suggestion: Raspberry Pi’s, or any other hardware, could be sold complete with pre-installed Solid Servers, URL’s and Certificates. Since first writing this post there has been at least one company providing pre-installed Pod servers.

@adventure’s suggestion: PODS could be used to advertise keywords.

  • Solid Servers could be used within organisations to advertise their presence without direct advertising. For example, a local council, or any other organisation, could host their own Solid POD server and allow anyone with an address in their area to register and get an address like richard.manchester. org or surname.organisation. com

  • The first part of a name, such as could be used to advertise services within an area.


Wow, talk about timing. I just joined this forum a few minutes ago, just as your post popped up. I’ve been interesting in doing almost exactly what you proposed. I was eyeing the Pi ZeroW - - Has Wifi, and costs $10 retail. Slot for a 128G SD card. I was thinking of selling whole “mini-pod” for $50us.

My real passion is for a distributed Social Network - Like Diaspora, but truly distributed and easier for non-technies (like the 500 million trapped on Facebook) to use.

Disclaimers: I’ve started 3 software companies previously, but none selling hardware. I’m also new to the Solid technology - have compiled NO code yet.

But I’m very glad to see others thinking this idea is useful. Would you be willing to share your build?


There is no build worth sharing yet as Solid is no at production stage yet, but I basically followed the information from and I’ve put additional details on my own website at

The thing is, if you get to the part where you have installed Solid and installed a certificate, but before you have actually run it and logged in to create a WebID, everything you need is already on the SD card and can be copied to any other SD Card.

The only ‘new’ thing you would need with each card, would be to somehow change the URL that the certificate was linked to, but that shouldn’t be too difficult.

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Thanks Richard, great web site. I’ll be following those instructions. I guess my next step is order a couple of Pi boards :slight_smile:

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Richard, John,

I’m very interested in this topic also. I’m supporting a large co-operative organisation (UK) to explore how Solid / POD might usefully support the development of co-operatives and community focused support… and how the co-operative can support the further development of Solid / POD adoption.

There is a strong values alignment between Solid and the co-operative movement (from what I’ve seen and read) and hence it feels like a great starting point for understanding what future “Commercial Opportunities” and business models might look like.

Happy to contribute what we find, and learn from you all.



@richard after learning solid pods are only 25mb, I think i might have a go at setting up my own pod; I do like the lower energy footprint of the pi.

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That is almost right, but not quite. It is the Inrupt Pod’s that restrict storage to 25MB under their terms and conditions. That is because they are test Pod’s as the current Solid release is not a production release.

If you host your own Pod, then the size of the Pod is down to you. My own Pod is hosted on a Raspberry Pi with a 64GB SD card. Assuming the software takes, say 6GB, then my Pod will accept 58GB data if it is the only Pod on the server, and if I had no other software installed on it.

You can of course use a smaller 32GB card, but you could also use a larger 128GB card. So the Pod can be any size, provided you have the spare space. It is only if you use a hosting company, that hosting company will have it’s own terms which will constrict the space you have.

Whatever size of card you have in the latest Raspberry Pi the energy footprint itself is small.


Regarding the certificate setup, it shouldn’t be to hard to embed letsencrypt inside solid, for automatic certificate requests - plenty of other server solutions got this embedded already, and it works pretty well. Then all you have to do is to power it up and enter the domain name. Pretty sure some domain sellers would love to support automatic domain registration for these pods as well.

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Oh and just read your pod creation page @richard , and see you have it pretty much covered already. Nice guide! :slight_smile:


It’s a nice concept indeed, but it gets complicated when you consider interactions with the outside world (home routers config, access from friends/family to your pod’s data, etc) vs non-fixed IPs.

A plug and play solution would need to take those issues and make them disappear :wink:

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I share your concerns about that. I really love the concept of Solid and decentralized networks/storage and so, but I must admit I’m a little bit worried about home hosting - even if my home network today is a lot more stable than it was some years ago, there’s still a difference between real servers on fixed networks, compared to home servers on dynamic networks.

If I may share a story with you, about a similar concept that was published about 10 years ago - Opera Unite. Some of you probably remember it, but Unite was a product developed by Opera Software (the browser maker), and the idea was to embed a small web server inside the browser itself, including an app platform where everyone could make web apps that would let you share content from your computer or run services, directly from the browser. A client based hosting network, eliminating the need for server hosting - pretty much the same goal as Solid, but implemented a bit differently. It also depended on a centralized service to connect all the “client hosts” together - this was mainly the MyOpera community where users could create accounts and connect with others, but also a proxy service to let the clients connect to the other “hosts”.

Now the idea itself was pretty cool as a concept for it’s time, but the product itself flopped completely on release - and the whole thing was discontinued some years after. And it wasn’t because of the apps or product quality itself, we had lot of nice apps prepared, tons of servers and network to handle the proxy hub and connections, and a lot of MyOpera users who where eager to use it. The really big problem - IMHO - was to find content and use the app services in the browsers - while they where actually online. Because the moment the hoster closed his/her browser - poof - and it was unreachable. I remember so well, in the weeks after it was released, checking my friends status on MyOpera to see if they hosted something, trying to connect if they did, but no - in most cases, it was too late to connect, they’ve gone offline.

Now this isn’t directly comparable with the way Solid works, and it’s much easier to host home services these days, but still - people of today expect a certain uptime when they surf around for content, and every dead link, or slow response time, will be disappointing.

So I’ve been thinking a lot on how this can be done better with Solid and other decentralized services. One thing I think could have “saved” Opera Unite, was some kind of caching service for the browser - so the moment the “source” itself went oflline, the content and apps could still live on a server somewhere.

I don’t yet understand all of the concepts and capabilities of the Solid platform and the W3C specs it’s based on, but I’m wondering - is there some way we could define alternative mirror resources for the WebIDs and pods, so that even if a pod goes offline, the profile and pod data can still be found elsewhere? Like using several WebIDs (from different providers) which provides the same data - but still being in full control by a single user/WebID, and without depending on a centralized service either.
Like the owl:sameAs attribute - would that work for this purpose?

I think, that if it is possible to both host your own “master” pod wherever you want, but still be able to have a backup solution somewhere else, it would make it a lot more interesting for people to host their own pods - and also open up a big market for independent mirror providers. As long as the user still have total control, and can easily replace or cancel a backup provider without risking any loss of neither data or identity.

Well sorry if that got a bit long, but I really want Solid to be a success - and solve the practical challenges of decentralized hosting :slight_smile:


I think the DAT project is quite close to what you describe (MyOpera), and then IPFS which is trying to solve the availability issue with filecoin. Another is SAFE Network.

I don’t know the first two that well, but am very familiar with SAFE and it will solve this issues and a lot more, which is why I advocate for Solid on SAFE both here and in the SAFE community - which has become very enthusiastic over this in the last year because the two projects have very similar values and goals.

Server based systems, cloud or home, come with a lot of disadvantages. They become centralised due to cost efficiencies, complexity and the desire for capture and control, and are increasingly vulnerable as value becomes concentrated. Spread about they are more costly (overall) and, as you point out less reliable.

SAFE eliminates servers as we understand them to avoid those issues, but that also makes it a bigger leap in philosophy and practice given Solid is conceived around the assumption that it will run on servers (of one kind or another) rather than a system which has no servers but can emulate the Solid protocol, which is the focus of my work in trying to put Solid on SAFE, as demonstrated here (link is to SAFE forum). People are gradually seeing the value and opportunities in this, which include entirely new and democratising business models (that eliminate the costs of scaling for example).

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@ztein great story! I didn’t know about Opera Unite, nice idea! it might have been a different story if they had fixed the “offline” issue before they launched; who knows!

It would be nice to have a solution that allowed people to use a baseline free Solid pod but store more data, without ads and without any extra fees; in my head i’ve gone from hosting a pi, to having a decent router with a usb stick setup with FTP; but JS client can’t do ftp, so you’d have to include a 3rd party service, which is out. It would be interesting to look at a simple device that plugs into a standard router that acts like mini server / ftp to store more data for Solid apps.

I wouldn’t mind if some services would fund their operation by displaying ads. As an option to paying a small fee I would rather see the ads. The big difference is that no one will be collecting your data for the advertisers to make targeted ads.


I think that Solid Pods with certain keyword usernames, in various industries can be used for advertising. People will generically search for products and services by keyword such as;,,, travel, vacations, shoes, putters, golfclubs, guitars and so on.

Thanks for getting us back on track! :smile:

The subject was ‘Business Opportunities Using Solid Pod Servers Without Using Advertising’ but we got sidetracked by dissecting my first suggestion. The first suggestion was not supposed to be a full blown business plan, just an idea of how businesses could make money from Solid.

Your idea is great. Part of the User URL will always contain the name of the server, so this is something that may be of interest to @rob If his cooperative organisation hosted its own Solid POD Server, then the individual POD addresses would always contain the name of the cooperative. Advertising without advertising!

I’m going to edit my first post and add your idea to it, and I’ll add new ideas from time to time as they are submitted.


The website is down?
Is there a mirror of the site somewhere else I can read?

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