Cloud services, winter 2017


If you’ve come to this page already knowing what you want, skip straight past this introductory prose. I arrive at sites like that all the time.

Let’s take a look at some cloud services that you can get for free. Each one has some important shortcomings, which I’ll compare in this post. It’s understandable—the companies that provide these services want to encourage users to upgrade to paid offerings. As you read, think about how to use these services together to complement a single one’s limitations. Also think about those spikes and armrest-like things you see on benches to keep people from sleeping on them.

To be more specific, this post is about getting someone else’s computer to do what you want. You’re gonna need your own computer to communicate with that someone else’s computer, and your own computer is probably capable of anything you want, but there are still reasons to use somoene else’s computer. Your computer might not have the right operating system to do what you want. Or it doesn’t have the right software installed. Or it’s just not on all the time when you want something done. Yeah, there are lots of benefits using a cloud service.

You can use most of the ones in this post right now, but I’ve also included Koding Solo, which is now defunct, for comparison.



This is my current choice for free web application hosting.

Koding Solo (defunct)

I used this for development when it was still offered. I was impressed with how generous the offering was. They had a problem with abuse, and had to shut it down. One weird thing about it was that every time you turned on your VM, you could get a different CPU. For a while I couldn’t figure out why something I compiled one day wouldn’t run the next day.


This is my current choice for free development environment. There are a few limitations with the size of the disk, the HTTP-only inbound connections, and the use of containers, so I can’t do everything on it. But it’s still sufficient for a lot of things I do.

Dply (beta)

This is a new service. They give you a VM that you can use for 2 hours. You can immediately get a new one after your current one expires, but you’ll lose any work that you didn’t save outside the VM. This is good, because it somehow feels unwholesome to “break in” to CI servers. I use this to do things that don’t fit on Codeanywhere’s disk, or that needs weird kernel stuff, or that needs non-HTTP incoming connections.

Gomix (beta)

I only recently signed up for this. I actually had a whole thing written up about how impressive the underlying offering was, despite how absolutely everything human-facing about the service was terrible. But now that I think about it, I figure that my discoveries about the flexibility of the service could be unwelcome. It could be that the flexibility is temporary, unintentional even. For now, I’ll take it as an online Node.js development environment with some incidental philosophy on how developers learn. I’m keeping an eye on this though.

Special mention: Teleconsole

You download a tarball, there’s a static binary inside, you run it, it prints a URL, and you get a terminal running in your browser. Now you can interactively control the computer where you ran that binary. They proxy the connection so that you don’t need to set up any port forwarding. With that, you can get your precious shell without root (don’t use their entire install script), without any incoming network connections.

My last post was about either Ambient display or Disposable garbage cans. Find out which.