[Article Proposal] Manage your fleet of computers with Cockpit via ZeroTierOne network

Article Summary:
Picture this: you have your Fedora Workstation Laptop with you, your NAS with Fedora Server and/or trusty Raspberry Pi with Fedora and HomeAssistant on it at home, RHEL web server VPS in the cloud, maybe a couple other computers scattered here and there, how do you securely connect to all/any of them? Via SSH or Cockpit over VPN some shout immediately! But what if you don’t want to tinker with network settings, set-up and maintain a VPN server as well as configure and maintain the VPN client configs themselves? What if you could just quickly and securely connect all those computers to a virtual network switch without having to install and configure it? You can quickly and easily achieve that with ZeroTier One - no additional network configuration (NAT, port-forwarding, etc) needed!

Article Description:
Article would cover:

  • Quick comparison between some VPN solutions (IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard, hosted VPN services like ProtonVPN) and their pros/cons without going into painful details about VPNs and privacy (there are enough articles out there about protecting network privacy and what VPNs offer in general, if anyone wants - it could be a seperate article on the subject alone)
  • Description of ZeroTier One Free service (what does it offer, what’s included in the free tier and when paid tier might be required, how does it work, links to website and GitHub repos)
  • Registration for an account (links to registration) on ZeroTier One website
  • New ZeroTier One network creation and brief description of available configuration options
  • installation of ZeroTier One CLI client and instructions how to connect to the network created in the previous step
  • Testing connectivity between connected machines
  • Installation and set-up of Cockpit (in case it hasn’t been installed, configured or previously used … probably just links to previous Fedora Magazine articles which reference different functionality of Cockpit) as well as necessary configuration for connecting and authenticating to other machines via Cockpit

OPTIONAL:

  • Other potential uses for ZeroTier One, such as connecting to podman containers, hosting virtual gaming LAN parties among friends

Hi Karlis. Thanks for proposing this article.

ZeroTier sounds really cool. However, I’m not sure that promoting this software fits with Fedora’s (and by extension Fedora Magazine’s) mission of promoting free software. Below is Fedora’s mission statement excerpted from their documentation.

Our Mission

Fedora creates an innovative platform for hardware, clouds, and containers that enables software developers and community members to build tailored solutions for their users.

At the operating system level, we don’t just integrate. We do new things — we build a platform , not just a distribution. The Features and First foundations drive us to innovate. We do all of this as a transparent, collaborative community of Friends , and entirely as open source and free software — Freedom .

Since ZeroTier does not appear to be FOSS, I don’t think it would be a good candidate for promotion on Fedora Magazine. That said a few exceptions have been made in the past for software that is either essential for many users and which has no FOSS equivalent (e.g. the nVidia driver) or that has a FOSS version that people can fall back to in case need to be able to inspect or customize the software (e.g. chrome/chromium).

So I’m leaning “no” to this proposal, but if you can make a good case for it, it might be possible to get it added to the exception list. Convenience isn’t really enough. It needs to do something that FOSS cannot do and that user’s cannot do without.

Thanks!

You’re right - I got carried away, ZeroTier is not FOSS. It’s licensed under “Business Source License” as of 2019. Even tho full source is available and ZeroTier One can be built from source and entirely self-hosted, it does not really promote freedom. I’m scrapping the ZeroTier One part of the pitch, will take it back to the thinking board. Will come back with an alternate more extensive spin on this.

Just so you know, there have been a number of articles on Cockpit in the past (You searched for cockpit - Fedora Magazine) so a new or different spin might be good if Cockpit is your point of interest.

Yeah, I know - I actually wrote some of them. I’ve just been inactive for a while.