Next week I’m going to CloudFest. CloudFest itself is hard to describe. It is an Event and the successor of World Hosting Days. So a large part of the worlds hosting industry will be “there”. The first time I was there was in 2016. I’m writing a weekly blog post for NovaTrend, a hosting company from …
Beside my Drupal work at artus.com I attended the Mobile Users FFM monthly meeting on Wednesday. The group exists since 13 years and it started as the “Palm user group, Frankfurt”. Do you remember Palm? During the last 13 years the world changed and it was interesting for me me to hear stories about different types of smartphones, smartwatches, phone contracts and gadget like the Yota Phone 2.
A member of the group (@android_oma) is developing an interesting Drupal/Android/open data project. The basic idea is to collect photos from German railway stations (bike stations, elevators, facilities inside and outside of railway stations). She pulls open data from the German Deutsche Bahn with longitude, latitude and unique id numbers of German railway stations. These data should be imported/synced to a Drupal site (http://www.deutschlands-bahnhoefe.de).
With an already existing Android App, people can see railway stations where photos are missing. So far the project is in early stage, the app is not in the app store but available via in this Google+ group.
Later on the app should post the photos directly to the Drupal website by using web services. So far people are just tweeting photos (it’s easy to participate ) (https://twitter.com/hashtag/bahnhofsfotos. Railway fans are unique, so the project is getting attention and they are planning an international version starting with Switzerland.
The summer was wonderful. We finished the restoration of a house in the middle of July and we wanted to enjoy some weeks at the beach. As you know, we are Germans and there seems to be some truth in all these stereotypes about Germans, they always make plans So we did, we made a list about how we wanted to spend our “free” time. The plan was to work a few hours on projects that should be finally finished, like the green roof project in the garden, the Cave in 22 Grand’ Rue, some “little” things in our house … and spend the rest of the time at beaches, in art galleries, antique markets, reading books, … well … it worked somehow – I was everyday at a beach for these 8 weeks and now I’m the mayor
Nextcloud appeared in June and I’m very interested in the project. I went to Stuttgart in August for a Hackweek and to Berlin in September for the first conference. I wrote some blog posts about Nextcloud box and other aspects of the project.
While working on our summer projects we discussed how we will earn money in the future. Usually we do that regularly at Dec 31th but this time we planned in July at the beach. We came to the conclusion that we renovated more or less enough houses for us (You can buy one btw.). There is still one house project left together with our daughter and her husband but I thought
May be I can work on a nice software project.
Something related to Nextcloud, RaspberryPi, internet of things, Drupal 8. All these “new” stuff hat appeared while I was renovating
I applied officially at certain companies (my first applications since nearly 20 years) and I learned a lot about LinkedIn, Xing, Monster, writing a good CV and all those things where I’m still not good in (Help me to become better). A company in Frankfurt hired me as a Drupal developer. It’s a “digital interactive agency” called artus.com and their mission is:
We plan, create, develop and implement anything digital that builds our clients brand and business.
“Anything digital” sounded good and I never worked in an agency like that! They are using Drupal 8 for bigger projects, e.g. worldvision.de. They are planning to use it in more projects. The only problem is that they wanted to have me in their office in Frankfurt, Germany. We agreed on a kind of testing for six weeks and then
– I hope to continue with remote work from Fitou and
– they hope that I will move to Frankfurt.
I’m curious how we’ll figure that out – stay tuned!
Living in Frankfurt is ridiculous expensive, so I tried to find a place via Twitter and Facebook.
Hilfe: Suche Schlafplatz in/um Frankfurt/Main vom 3.10-31.10
WiFi + Parkmöglichkeit oder Anbindung an ÖPNV wären gut.
At the moment I live in Bad Homburg and commute with my bike to Frankfurt. Well, it’s actually not my bike, it’s a super posh electrical bike that I’m allowed the use (a blog post on that is coming soon). Each day I drive 40 km. I track the tours with an App, so if you want to follow me, become my friend on Strava. First week 200km!
I have no time anymore!
I start at 7:30am with my bike and I come back at 8pm with my bike. Additionally, this country is so cold, windy and mostly dark when I’m driving! It’s nice sometimes, you see
The work itself is interesting: The dev team works with PHPStorm, Vagrant, Bitbucket, Slack, several servers and is trying to organise everything as easy and smooth as possible. I’m curious to learn everything and it was for sure a good idea to be six weeks physically here! Last Friday, we had a so called Quarterly, followed by a workshop with all employees (37), very interesting! Later on there was a great dinner and we ended up with a little group in a kind of club in Frankfurt (Pik Dame).
The last days I heard so many opinions about work, controlling, planning, project management, creativity, brand management, mismanagement, open source software, closed source software, company culture, employee driven companies and the future in general that my daily commuting on the bike is a good way to reflect on that. Since that workshop I’m a proud member of a new team and I’m partly responsible for a handbook, that will help newbies like me to understand processes in this company.
I want to write about my experiences as often as possible but as I already said in the headline – I have not that much time anymore
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.
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!
After installing Nextcloud Server und Nextcloud iOS app last week, I noticed that there was no Nextcloud desktop client for OS X available on their website. One of the most important things in my personal cloud is the synchronisation between my Nextcloud server and my desktop. The reason for the missing desktop client was simple. The existing OwnCloud client worked perfectly together with Nextcloud 9.x and it was not an easy for the Nextcloud team to fork the desktop client.
After the upgrade to Nextcloud 10 I noticed that Nextcloud desktop clients for Windows and OS X were available and I was quite happy.
In this blog post I’ll show the installation and configuration of the Nextcloud OS X client.
The downloaded file is called Nextcloud-220.127.116.11.pkg. With a double click on the name you start the installer.
Just click the Continue button and go through the Installation. You can accept the default values.
After the Installer finished the installation you can start the Nextcloud desktop client by searching the app in Spotlight Search,
or click on the Nextcloud icon in Launcher,
or click on the app in the Applications directory in a Finder window.
Nextcloud Connection Wizard
When you start the app for the first time Nextcloud Connection Wizard will help to setup the connection between your server and your desktop client. First insert your Nextcloud server address and click the Next button.
Next question are user credentials. Insert your username and password and click the Next button.
These values are enough to connect and the connection wizard asks what you want to synchronise and where your local folder should be. I want to synchronise everything and the folder name is ok.
Click the Connect button.
Everything is set up now and you are asked where to go now. Access your Nextcloud Server in a browser window or open a local Finder window with your synced data.
Depending on the amount of data you are syncing it might take some time until all files are downloaded. A good possibility to have a look at your desktop. You probably see your new Nextcloud folder with plenty of green sync symbols and the Nextcloud icon in your menu bar on top of the screen. If you click the blue Nextcloud icon, a menu opens and beside other options you see how long syncing will take and how much data is involved.
That’s it! My data will be synchronised between Nextcloud Server, the iOS app and my Desktop!
You can add as many user accounts as you wish. They will be all synchronised!
My personal cloud consists for now of the Nextcloud server, the iOS App and the OS X client. All my photos and other files are now synchronised.
What has changed is the version of Nextcloud server. The iOS app works with both versions well (9.x and 10.0).
So how to upgrade the server?
A first look in the admin dashboard tells me, that there is no update available and my version is up to date.
I know it better because I read the release announcement and they say there is a new version! The sad truth is that the Updater in Nextcloud 9.53 doesn’t work. Unfortunately it is not possible to upgrade to the next version via a button click! The Updater will be fixed as soon as possible and I know it is a lot of work but for me and my personal cloud it will be a challenge.
Upgrade on shared hosting
As you know, I’m running my Nextcloud on a shared host and I installed it via the amazing web installer. Because of the broken Updater I have to do the Manual Nextcloud Upgrade as described in the documentation. The general workflow is the following:
Backup files and the database is in general a very good idea!
Move all Nextcloud files to a backup directory or simply rename the Nextcloud directory to [name]_old.
Download and unpack the new Nextcloud files in the [name] folder.
Copy the /config/config.php file from your saved version to the new version
Depending on you hosting environment you can copy the files via command line, FTP or a tool like cPanel.
Now access your Nextcloud in a browser. The installer will show the database update screen. Click the Start Update button.
Plenty of update steps will be shown
and … your done! That’s it! You will be redirected to the login screen.
Have you noticed? The form fields are shaking if you try to login with wrong credentials
In the admin area you can check the Nextcloud version … and … it’s Nextcloud 10 – congrats!
Don’t forget to delete the old files and hopefully this was the last time that we have to do an upgrade like this