Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What you can do with ownCloud today

In the last couple of weeks work on ownCloud has really started to pick up. There are some amazing new features and people coming to ownCloud and I can't wait to see the fruits of their labors. Today, though, I'm going to talk about things that are already done and ready to be used today. I'm going to start with just the basics today but hopefully this will be a series I'll add to as new features are completed. Todays topic is:

File storage
This is the basic feature without which ownCloud isn't particularly useful. Luckily, it's also the feature that works best and has had the most testing. Here's a screenshot of the web interface, which is the first method most people will use to add files. Notice the upload and new folder buttons.

Once you have some files there you'll probably want to able to get to them without having to go through the web interface, maybe on multiple platforms.
Access from dolphin

Access from Finder on OS X
Once you can access them you might want to do more with them.

Make the desktop point to owncloud
These things also work on Windows, I just didn't have a computer here to take screenshots with. Hopefully this will give you an idea of some of the things that are possible. I hope I never have to email myself another file again.

Again, everything I've shown here is done and works as advertised. There might be a few bugs left to be squashed but that's what bugs.kde.org is for. If you find them, please report them. Also, please start using ownCloud. There are some amazing features in the pipeline but we need more users and developers to make sure they all get completed. I'll leave you with a final screenshot of a feature that still needs a lot of work.

P.S. If you're going to try ownCloud, please install from git. Master is very stable and easy to install. The owncloud wiki has lots of info on how to get it. Also, the number of people in #owncloud on freenode is growing quickly and it's a great place to get some help.


  1. Is there a NAS device where I can install owncloud and access files from anywhere using dydns ?

  2. @its me!!

    I've done exactly that with the pogoplug pro. It runs arch linux and a full lamp stack (or sqlite) and you can attach up to 4 hard drives to it. There's been a tiny bit of talk about preparing some of those devices for people but nothing anywhere near concrete yet. http://plugapps.com/index.php5/Main_Page is the place to get started with that particular device. If you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask.

  3. Aaron,

    I'm a huge fan of ownCloud, and I'm very happy to see all the hard and wonderful work that you guys are doing on it. But I would like to give you my perspective on the project as an end user (I can't write code to save my life).

    When I first heard about ownCloud, I thought it was an amazing idea and I couldn't wait to try it. Yet the problem for me was figuring out where to install it. Like most end users, I don't have a server, and I don't even have a desktop (I am an academic who uses his laptop all day long at the university and at home). From my perspective, even Amazon S3 seemed complicated and I had uncertainty about how much it would end up costing me. So I only managed to try ownCloud when I read about the Package Cloud option. That was quick, easy, and free to try. I am seriously considering the possibility of getting a subscription and using ownCloud to back up my system there. The only doubt that I have about them now is how good they will be at keeping ownCloud up to date and maintained. I can't wait to try 2.0, but they still have 1.1 and I have no idea when or even if they are planning to update it. Do you happen to know?

    In any case, my larger point is that, from a technically-illiterate end user perspective the best way to promote further use of ownCloud is by making sure that it is offered in services like Package Cloud, and by having some assurance that these providers will maintain it an keep it up to date. I do not know if this is something that the ownCloud developers can work on, or even something that somebody in the KDE Promo team could get involved in, but when there are options out there like iCloud or Ubuntu One it would be great if KDE software users could easily find ways of running ownCloud without hassle or uncertainty. And if there are any ideas that I could help with I would be more than happy to chip in!

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  4. what about Dlink NAS 323 which lets you install linux. there should be a easy way of deploying this. Most people have dynamic IP address and are behind a firewall.
    can there be a one click deployment of owncloud for those scenarios ?
    I feel that is the biggest stumbling block for people who want to deploy it as a server.

    P.S i am being a dumb user who does not understand NAT, firewall, ports, IP address , apache etc etc.
    I hope you understand

  5. @Oriol & its me!!

    You seem to have similar concerns so I'll address them both here. Also, this comment is only my own opinion and doesn't represent ownCloud at all. That being said:

    I agree with you both but I'm not sure what to do about it. My feeling is that a small plug computer (like a NAS or pogoplug that runs linux), preinstalled with owncloud is a really good idea. You plug in power, plug in ethernet and start adding files to it. Unfortunately, those things aren't free. Even if I bought a few and set them up I certainly don't have the funds to give them away. Maybe we could do it as a fundraiser for ownCloud? I don't know how it would work. As far as offering it as a free service, I can talk to hosting providers but I don't know what incentive I can offer them. Maybe a small amount of storage free with paid upgrades for more storage? There are options but it'll take some time and some creative thinking to make it happen. If you have other thoughts on how to do it I'd be very interested to hear them. I'm areichman on #owncloud if you want to talk.

  6. I have another question. Can you access the files if you have no internet? As in, are they cached locally and synced again once you go online? I share files between my laptop and desktop via DropBox now and I work in a plane or train on the files. Once there's network, they get synced again and I get notified of conflicts. I understood from someone that this doesn't work with ownCloud?

  7. @areichman. How about a USB image ot a fun plug extension, the new NAS equipments come with enough storage to run a linux install, isnt owncloud just a package?
    Also why is hosting necessary? I thought the hard drives are what you host your files on. which is available thought internet anywhere using services like http://www.dyndns.com/

    But I agree with you there needs to be some fund raiser if owncloud devs needs NAS equipments to test etc. There really needs to be a plug and play implementation of owncloud service

  8. @jospoortvliet

    Right now we don't have a desktop client to do those things because webdav is already integrated. If you want local caching I believe it has to be done in the kio webdav slave. I don't know about other people but the idea of rewriting a webdav library when we already have a great one in kio doesn't sound very appealing.

    On the flip side, for those systems that don't have native webdav support (usually mobile platforms like Android, webOS, etc.) it's on our list of things to do. As soon as those apps make it into a more usable state I'll write another blog post about them.

  9. @its me!!

    A USB image is a good idea but the process of putting it on a NAS is still pretty technical. It would lower the barrier to entry somewhat but I think to truly make it easy for everybody we need either a device that people just plug in and start using with minimal setup or a free hosting service. There's a thread right now on the mailing list about a hosting company that might be interested in doing ownCloud hosting but we need to figure out what sort of bandwith/memory requirements we have first and even then, there are no guarantees it will happen. Feel free to chime in on the mailing list (owncloud @ the standard kde mailing list domain).

  10. Thanks for the info, Aaron! Let's see if KIO can be a solution at some point...

  11. Super exciting. I have looked at owncloud 1.0, and then installed 1.1 i believe, however it was still not in a useful enough state to be better than simply ftp'ing or ssh'ing or fish'ing to my directory and working from there. However, with the inclusion of a word processor -- everything changes! I hope this helps me when traveling, which is always.


  12. please please please can you integrate some sort of music player? like google music or a (very simplier) kind of ampache

  13. @Andrea

    Check out the media_player branch of ownCloud. Or wait a few weeks until it gets merged into master and read the blog about it. There are some great things coming very soon for media players and ownCloud.

  14. sounds interesting. Waiting until its a good dropbox replacement (local cache under linux/windows, server side encryption etc).
    Looking forward to it! With all those security problems dropbox has, i can't wait to move away from it

  15. OwnCloud can scale to various PC ?

  16. @Lorie

    I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're asking. You can use ownCloud on multiple computers or have multiple different users on one ownCloud installation. But ownCloud itself only runs on one computer (unless you have a special setup of some kind that does load sharing). Let me know if that answers your question or if I missed something.

  17. @areichman
    I am interested in a service like owncloud but for a network with up to 1000 users. Where users can share information easily.
    Some time ago I'm thinking about doing something similar but scaling storage service to several machines. This could distribute the load to so many requests.
    I have studied XtreemFS (xtreemfs.org) and I think a good way.
    I wrote some of my ideas (in Spanish) if you are interested I can send to you.

    Sorry for my english...

  18. @Lorie

    We've never tested anything like that so I have no idea how it would work. Theoretically, 1000+ users will work but it might slow everything down dramatically. Maybe you could install ownCloud and create 1000 users and tell us how it goes? As far as sharing the load between multiple computers we've never tested that, either. I don't have any experience with it but there are ways to make apache use the resources of multiple computers, I think. So, what you're talking about sounds possible but somebody would need to test it and fix any issues that come up in that scenario. Would you like to be that person?

  19. I'm thinking of implementing a distributed file system to balance the load among 1000 + users.
    I have some ideas to do it efficiently.

  20. @Lorie

    I believe we have a way of using different file systems in ownCloud. Talk to icewind and MTGap in #owncloud, they're the ones working on it as part of GSoC, I think. I'd be very excited if that was possible.

  21. Just a passing user. I've had a dabble, and free sync software for windows seems to do the trick. Similar stuff is out there for Android, but it's non-free so far.

    Still, as soon as encryption is implemented, and the EC2 image has a how-to, it's bye-bye dropbox.

  22. Hmm syncany (http://www.syncany.org/) works on an open source desktop client which tries to replace dropbox. And it can use e.g. WebDAV as a backend / file store. Perhaps you should get in contact with them because in combination with ownCloud that might be a perfect service.

  23. its a start but just about it, as a developer i have my own server which runs a bounce of needed services. I can upload files using sftp better yet i would use git and browse the git repo by using the web server and so on. So why should i use owncloud?
    Idea akonadi integration, i dont have any proper way of sharing kjots notes for instance.
    so for now (sadly) but useless to me but in the future who knows (hope you will be there my cloud)

  24. I'd really love if OwnCloud could be an effective alternative to Dropbox for me and my friends.

    I think we really need a local sync feature, I feel more relaxed knowing that there are copies of my files in different places (at home at work, ...) and not only on my OwnCloud server, and this way I could also work offline on my laptop, as jospoortvliet said.

    Caching is not the same thing, obviously: you know, Murphi is always out there looking at us ;-) and if our OwnCloud servers disks are crashing, we can't restore everything from our cache, but we could if we had a local synced dir.

    Maybe a collaboration with Syncany as Steffen said could be useful!

  25. I'd really love if OwnCloud could be an effective alternative to Dropbox for my company.

    We are a small printing company and we want to be able to set up our dropbox where clients can drop files for us to pick up or we live files for our suppliers to pick up. - all username and password protected. is this possible?

  26. I tried to set as the owncloud2 data folder of a folder mounted with s3fs (for amazon s3) ownCloud but fails. OwnCloud can 'write to a partition mounted with s3fs (s3 bucket)?

    Sorry for bad English !

  27. Thanks for sharing very informative post.DXM Abuse.

  28. Hi,

    have a good wekk-end.

    Perhaps a stupid question: i have installed ownCloud on my MAC using MAMP.

    I have subscribed an account to NO-IP.

    I'm not an ingenier in networks, and i should want to know how to link ownCloud to internet.

    In fact what to do in my router (or box, in France which is the same).

    Thank's to answer me.

    Have a good week.

  29. We are in the midst of an iPad initiative and using OwnCloud+built-in WebDav to share student work from iPads. One of the requests is how to email files to an OwnCloud account, similar to "Send to Dropbox."

    Is this something that you could elaborate on how to accomplish, if it's even possible?

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