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"With TappIn, I have the convenience of my personal cloud service and I can continue to confidently refer to myself as Future Man from the Future Living in Cloud City."

John LeBoeuf-Little
Future Man and TappIn User

How to Build Your Personal Cloud Server with TappIn


My name is John LeBoeuf-Little and I'm a TappIn user. I like to think of myself as "Future Man from the Future Living in Cloud City." I was curious if TappIn would fit my needs with my motley pile of random gear—I use a work laptop, a personal laptop, an Android tablet and Android phone. My situation is unique as none of these devices are really a "primary" device. After the release of the new beta Linux agent and some spirited DIY assembly, I'm a TappIn believer.

I revisited TappIn with the intention of creating a cloud server and installing TappIn on it as a way to centralize data—some photographs, music and PDFs— so that I wouldn't have to store the same data on four different devices. I used Rackspace to start up the cloud computer, threw the agent on it and started sharing some data. Here's how you can do the same:

Step 0: Sign up to the Future!

Obviously, if you're going to be spinning up cloud computers or throwing TappIn on anything, you'll need to sign up for the relevant services. In this case, signing up for Rackspace requires that you have a credit card and a phone number. (Despite their warnings, setup usually takes about five minutes.) Signing up with TappIn is super easy and free.

Step 1: Create a Cloud Server

The next step is to create a cloud server with the Rackspace Cloud Control Panel. It takes a few clicks: Hosting > Cloud Servers > Add Server and then we have to pick an image. For this example, I'm using Ubuntu 10.04 TLS. We also have to pick a server size. In my case, the minimum size is quite sufficient. Then, in literally a minute or two, a new server is created with a distinct IP and its own root user. Rackspace emails you the root user password.

Step 2: Log in to the new box and set up basic security

Using the IP, the root credentials and an SSH client like PuTTY, connect to the new box. As a matter of general principle, you don't really want the TappIn agent to run as root—we need to create a TappIn user by executing:
useradd TappIn -d /home/TappIn -m TappIn

Step 3: Download and configure the TappIn agent

From the /home/TappIn directory, we need to fetch the latest version of the TappIn agent:
wget https://comm.tappin.com/HomePipe/Download/TappIn_x86_64.tar.gz
chown -hR TappIn:TappIn TappIn

This will create a TappIn directory that has what we came for—the agent. In a typical Ubuntu install, we would be done, but there's a minor issue with the builds of Ubuntu that Rackspace uses. They've stripped the systems down to their core, which means they've removed certain pieces that normally get shipped with the OS, specifically the Mono .NET interpreter that TappIn relies on. We can reinstall it with:
sudo apt-get install libmono* libgdiplus cli-common libglitz-glx1 libglitz1
We can now go to /home/TappIn/TappIn and execute this:
sudo -u TappIn ./TappInAgent

The agent will ask us for a user name and password, which are your TappIn credentials. Enter your credentials and you should now see your cloud server on the web interface!

Step 4: Optional. Install the agent as a Ubuntu Service

Currently, the TappIn Agent will run until you press Ctrl-C to break out of the program. However, it's not too hard to set up TappIn to run as an Upstart service. We simply copy the script below into /etc/init and from then on, starting TappIn is as easy as "start TappIn." description "TappIn daemon"
author "jwll"
start on started mountall
stop on shutdown
script
chdir /home/TappIn/TappIn
exec sudo -u TappIn /home/TappIn/TappIn/TappInAgent -start 2>&1 >> /var/log/
TappIn.log
end script

With a cloud server connected to your personal network with TappIn, you can store music, documents, videos, and more directly in the cloud. Next time, making the most of our new TappIn server! With TappIn, I have the convenience of my personal cloud server and I can continue to confidently refer to myself as "Future Man from the Future Living in Cloud City."