Early this month we finished migration of all Portknox clouds to Nextcloud 13 and with it nearly all apps have got an update. As you can see in our applist, Portknox now offers 41 supported apps.
One of the biggest enhancements is Nextcloud Talk which adds video & audio-conferencing to Nextcloud.
Please note that you will need a TURN server to communicate with users behind routers or firewalls. We offer an addon which is easy to setup.
Nextcloud 13 also adds a feature for client side encryption as a tech preview. We will test and follow the progress closely. Right now we don't ship this app to our customers, but it looks as if we will soon.
Whats next at Portknox?
Right now we are migrating clouds to our improved infrastructure. As every Portknox cloud is self-contained and isolated this needs to be done from time to time. We have done this in past, too.
Get your Nextcloud free for 14 days
If you want to test your own up2date Nextcloud you can now try Portknox.net for 14 days.
One of the most requested addons is the advanced API for QOwnNotes. As soon as you enable the API in your Portknox cloud, you are able to use versioning and access to your trashed notes. Here is a screenshot of the QOwnNotes desktop app (it works on all plattforms):
This minor update fixes bugs with timezones, UI and the sharing. Here is the full changelog.
Deck update to 1.2.4
Another minor update with UI and bug fixes.
Nextcloud update 12.0.3
All clouds will get the update to the most recent maintenance release.
Please note that we update customer clouds in batches, if your cloud does not have the new apps yet, give us some more days :)
Always up2date applist
At our applist you can see which app in which version is installed on Portknox. We have now automated the way our applist is generated, after every Nextcloud or app update the list gets regenerated. Right now it's possible to activate 43 apps!
Support for a automatically generated default account
Better loading/error/retry views
Local attachment support
Shortcut c to compose a new message
php5.6 to php 7.1 are supported
No longer stack Aw, Wg, Fwd
App store now lists the app in 'Social & Communication'
Improved message synchronization
Use IDBConnection instead of removed IDb
Missing files in release package
Loading messages with undisclosed recipients
Problems with UTF8 encoding
Account color dot on Safari
Database column width for long passwords
Error when adding a new account
Undefined index warning
Do not show 'noSelect' folders
Selected account when composing a reply
Remove noreferrer from HTML messages
Some issues with drafts
Whoever wants to join the Mail app team is welcome, and the best is: you don’t have to be a developer. We need people for translating, testing etc. Don’t hesitate to contact us on IRC or jump in and clone the repository.
As promised in the first blog post about the Nextcloud App Ecosystem, here comes the second one about all the official Nextcloud Apps that are disabled by default.
To understand the different types of apps better, I would categorize them as following so far:
Official Nextcloud app:
A Nextcloud app is called official when it’s developed/maintained by Nextcloud GmbH and shipped in the Nextcloud server package. Some official apps are enabled.
Approved Nextcloud app
A Nextcloud App is called approved when it comes from a third party entity and is shipped in the Nextcloud server package.
Apps from the Nextcloud app store.
In Nextcloud version 11, an app store will be integrated. I don’t know yet how these apps will be called in the future.
This blog post covers official Nextcloud apps which are disabled by default:
Default encryption module
External storage support
External user support
File access control
Files automated tagging
LDAP user and group backend
If you just read the names and you are not familiar with the Nextcloud project you might struggling to understand what these apps are for, why they are not enabled and whether it is a good or a bad idea to enable them. I’ll go through these apps, provide a short description and, if possible a common use case and some screenshots.
Default encryption module
I’m not sure why this package is called a module, it should be called an app, an official app!
As you may assume this app is about security. After enabling the app and server-side encryption in the administration settings, all your new uploaded files will be encrypted based on AES 256 keys (How secure are AES-256 encrypted files?), the app won’t touch existing files. Attention: It is not possible to disable the encryption again and switch back to an unencrypted system!
Please read the documentation to know all implications before you decide to enable server-side encryption.
This app allows an administrator to add links in the Nextcloud web interface apps menu that points to an external website. For a user, the external site appears in an iframe as if it’s part of the Nextcoud installation.
External storage support
The external storage support app enables administrators to configure connections to external storage providers (FTP , Amazon S3, SWIFT object stores, Google Drive, Dropbox, other Nextcloud servers, WebDAV servers, and more). Administrators can choose which types of storage to enable and can mount these storage locations for a user, a group, or the entire system. The screenshot shows an example with external storage via SFTP.
Users will see a new folder appearing in their root Nextcloud directory, which they can access and use it like any other Nextcloud folder.
External user support
This app authenticates user login against FTP, IMAP or SMB. Passwords are not stored locally and authentication always happens against the remote server. There is no graphical user interface for configuration. You have to add parameters to the configuration file config.php.
Have a look at the documentation.
File access control
This app controls the access to files. It can be used e.g. in relationship with the two factor authentication app (an approved app – TOTP TwoFactor (Google Authenticator)) because it’s necessary to protect the keys. I’ll cover this topic in a separate blog post.
Meanwhile, have a look at Joas blog post on Nextcloud.com – File Access Control – A firewall for your private files in Nextcloud.
Files automated tagging
The app automatically assigns tags to newly uploaded files based on conditions. Combined with Files Access Control App and Retention App it’s possible to create workflows like
converting document file types to PDF upon upload by members of a specified group
emailing files put in a specified folder with a given tag to a given mail address.
The official but not enabled apps are often covering special use cases like the whole authentication and workflow handling. Even if these are not “main stream use cases” it’s important and crucial to know that these solutions exist for using Nextcloud efficiently in your company!
tl;dr: The Nextcloud 10 server package comes with several official apps that are not all enabled by default but awesome!
Last Saturday at Nextcloud conference in Berlin the Nextcloud Box was announced. Frank said it’s a part of his promise/desire to make the world a better place by bringing your data home.
How can the world be a better place with Nextcloud Box?
What is Nextcloud Box?
Nextcloud Box is a project between Western Digital Labs, Ubuntu/Canonical and Nextcloud GmbH. It gives you the possibility to store your data (files, documents, photos, calendars, notes, newsfeed, contacts, music files, video files and everything the can be stored in a file) in your own Nextcloud Box. There is no need anymore to upload your data to proprietary cloud services like Dropbox, Google Cloud, Microsoft Cloud, Apple Cloud, Amazon Cloud, and many other! It will be even possible in the next release to make encrypted phone calls via your Nextcloud Box.
The complete Nextcloud Box contains a hard disk, an operating system, and open source software:
a hard disk from Western Digital (1TB = a lot for me)
a Raspberry Pi computer (at the moment model 2). The Raspberry Pi is so far not included in the box you can buy.
a 4GB storage card with a preinstalled Linux System (Snappy Ubuntu Core)
the Nextcloud software (Version 9.53)
a software environment that connects the box automatically to your (local) network via ethernet cable and offers the Nextcloud services to all users.
A complete Nextcloud Box looks like this and costs 70 Euro in Europe (buy here).
Why is it sold without the Raspberry Pi?
Nextcloud box should be as open as possible so the partners decided for the start not to deliver the Raspberry Pi. If you already own one you can connect your Raspberry Pi 2 to the box. There is a screw driver, four screws, all necessary connection cables and a power supply in the box. If not, you have to buy it somewhere. Frank announced that there are working on a possibility to sell complete packages in the future.
Putting everything together is easy and doable for everyone. If you search for the card slot at the Raspberry Pi – It’s a bit hidden “below” it and luckily it’s not possible to insert the card in the wrong way.
This it how it looks if everything is connected
The last task is to close the box with the cover and your done.
How to install Nextcloud Box
Well, just connect it to your network, provide electricity and wait 8-10 minutes. Open your browser and point to http://ubuntu-standard.local. The start screen asks to set a user name and a password for the administrator account. Enter na nice name and secure password and click the Finish setup button.
That’s it! Nextcloud Box is ready to use and lots like this:
It works of course too on iOS and Android devices.
Allow access from outside your home and become a cloud hoster
If you have a fairly fast internet connection at home and a possibility to configure your router, you can enable the access to your Nextcloud Box from outside of your home. E.g. here in France it’s possible to get your own IP-address for free (free.fr). As this IP-address is static it’s possible to connect it to a domain name (mydomainname.tld) and you suddenly become a cloud hosting entity.
Why is Nextcloud Box important?
It’s another try to help people to understand how easy it is to store your own data at home or in your own company in an environment as open as possible. Even the plan of the box is available for free, so that you are able to start your own project!
There is no cloud, just other people’s computer!
The familiar you become with your own data, the better it will be for the world too!
At Nextcloud conference 50 Nextcloud boxes were available.
Today the contributor conference started. Yesterday was more business oriented, today the “get things done phase” starts.
Jos opened the conference with a few words, Frank, Joe and Jane repeated their announcements of the Nextcloud box and 50 boxes are available to buy here at the conference for 70 Euro. The missing RaspberryPi is provided for free. Frank said, that he’s looking for a possibility to sell Nextcloud Box as a complete package.
Some lightning talks were held to introduce Nextcloud people, their responsibilities and offer possibilities to contribute (Lukas Reschke , Morris Jobke, Bjoern Schiessle). Bjoern did an additional and inspiring talk about “what’s special in Nextcloud”.
Michael Meeks gave answers to very detailed questions from the audience. I didn’t understood everything but the way collabora office suite works is now a bit clearer for me. There was a longer discussion how to integrate Collabora in Nextcloud in a “better, easier and faster” way.
Fair web services – Cornelius Schumacher
Fair web services was the last workshop I attend and the topic reminded me why I’m at this conference. Years ago I wanted to backup my photos on Flickr. Backup in the sense of keeping album structures and EXIF data. I tried OwnCloud but it didn’t work. I discovered that OwnCloud was a perfect solution for other projects of mine and so I used it until June. The Flickr backup problem is still unsolved. It’s possible to access my data via API but so far I found nothing that really works for me (may be time to write a Flickr import app for Nextcloud). Today there is also an additional “iTunes Cloud Match” problem. But back to the talk.
There are a number of attempts to solve the problems of freedom of web services. This is a list of relevant references.
None of the solutions is complete yet or has enough traction to serve as a widely accepted solution … The idea is to create criteria for a certification of services. The certification would allow providers to show that they respect the freedom of users and give users a guideline about what services to use.
“I have read and agree to the Terms” is the biggest lie on the web. We aim to fix that. https://tosdr.org
In the workshop I met Marcos Garcia Pedraza, Co-Founder of Patria Digitalis. He wants to offer “fair” services, so it starts and I have a good ok feeling!
At the airport
As I mentioned above I’m not able to attend the whole week, so meanwhile I’m at the airport Berlin Schoenefeld, my Laptop was scanned for drugs, I had to show every piece of my Nextcloud box to the border police. The boarding pass that I printed out in France had the wrong “format” and the plane has a delay. The good news is that Dennis and his friends will come next week to Fitou for a short vacation.
Now I have a little bit time to think about this project that started 6 years ago to make the world a better place.
So far it was an interesting journey!
I had no idea what to expect from this conference but something inside said to me
Go to Berlin, it’s important!
So I went to Berlin to attend at least two days of the conference at Technische Universität. The Berlin Technische Universität is one of the largest and most prestigious research and education institutions in Germany and for a whole week the center of the growing Nextcloud community.
The future of Nextcloud
In Frank Karlitscheks talk about the future of Nextcloud he also talked about sustainability and the way how Nextcloud will develop in the next 20! years:
During the talk, he showed Nextcloud 10 features und someone from the audience asked when this version with all these nice features will be released (easy answer, it was released a few weeks ago). In the meantime Klaas tweeted two feature request
Lukas Reschke talked about Nextcloud security architecture. I liked the idea that the same developers who wrote the code are responsible for fixing their own bugs.
Bjoern Schiessle is working since four years on the federation subject and showed an overview of the ideas behind the concept and it’s future.
In Nextcloud, it’s possible to share your files with a remote user. A remote user is a user in another personal cloud installation that supports the federation concept (e.g. Nextcloud, OwnCloud, Pydio). To share a file you have to insert the cloud ID of that user [username]@[domain] and Nextcloud sends a notification to the remote user. The remote user can decide whether he wants to accept the share.
You find your own Cloud ID in your Nextcloud profile page. Share it!
Oli Sennhauser (FromDual) gave a talk about MySQL database scalability. The interesting thing for me was that he was not familiar with the Nextcloud software. So he asked users and developers in the audience questions how Nextcloud is handling this and that. Based on the answers he described possible problems and solutions.
After the lunch break I missed half of Artur Schiwons talk about User Management in Nextcloud. Nextcloud has a variety of authentication mechanisms needed to fit comfortably in the diverse enterprise authentication landscape. I learned some new abbreviations: LDAP, SAML, ODP, ….
Nextcloud Scalability with a concept design for 10.000 users
This talk was interesting too because Dennis Pennings (360ict.nl) is planning to set up a huge Nextcloud installation. He researched a lot about possible solutions and he had plenty of question that were discussed at the end together with Frank and the audience.
If you are in Berlin this weekend use the opportunity to join us (Straße des 17. Juni 135)! Don’t miss Friday 6pm – We’ll gather in the main room for the announcement of… well, a surprise!
After that: free drinks and snacks!
So I installed Nextcloud Server and the Nextcloud iOS App and the OS X desktop client. I’m syncing my photos and other files and I’m so happy that everything works. I mean, not in the way “Yeah, it works somehow and I like it because it’s open source software and they are the good ones”. No, it’s more like
It works fine awesome, the data is were I need it! I don’t have to think about!
But the best thing is …
There is more to discover and there will be much more in the near future!
I discovered Nextcloud Apps! They are hidden behind the little + in this popup.
I didn’t know, that there is a whole ecosystem behind that little +. Beside the shipped apps there will be a whole new App Store created by Bernhard Posselt and many other contributors. As far as I know the Nextcloud App Store will be fully operational from the Nextcloud version 11 release (will be in 2016) on. The beta version is already online and it looks promising (https://apps.nextcloud.com/).
Before we talk about the future let’s have a look what is already available. The core nextcloud server package comes with official apps, which are developed by Nextcloud directly and with approved apps. Approved apps are developed and supported by the community and approved by Nextcloud as “so good” to ship them with the core package.
Official Apps – Enabled by Default
The following Apps are official and enabled. They are the real core package of your Nextcloud Server. Because they are necessary and simply working I didn’t pay a lot attention when I installed Nextcloud for the first time but it’s worth to have a look what the whole core system is about.
Activity is a kind of Facebook timeline. You can see, ordered by date, all your shares, comments, favourites, uploads and the activities of remote users who are connected to you via the federation system.
Auditing / Logging
Logging is necessary and in this case it’s about PHP. You can choose what to log and you can download the log file to look for the reason of the entries.
Every user can tag files. The tags are stored and offered to all the users. It’s a great feature for your personal cloud or for teams. If you run a bigger installation with plenty of users that didn’t know each other you should disable this app to avoid confusion.
Yeah, it’s possible to comment on files
This app enables users to restore files that were deleted from the system. Restoring a file also restores related file versions (versions app has to be enabled).
Federation allows you to connect with other trusted servers.
The file sharing app implements the whole process of sharing files within Nextcloud server.
First run wizard
This app enables the popup that appears when a user logs in for the first time.
The app send notifications for example when you receive a remote share.
I uploaded most of my books to have enough to read …
Enables external systems to communicate via API with Nextcloud. For example the url http://admin:email@example.com/ocs/v1.php/cloud/users-duserid="joecool"-dpassword="secret" creates the user joecool with the password secret.
Information about current CPU load, memory usage and active users.
Create a new file online and write something! The screenshot is a gif animation including a problem that is solved by Nextcloud itself … have a look!
You are already wondering about the nice orange color on top of the screenshots?
Now I’ll start to play around with the “not enabled” official apps and will come back soon with a new blog post.
tl;dr: The Nextcloud ecosystem is an amazing collection of useful apps and it’s growing and improving every day. Have a look at it!