More official Nextcloud Apps

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 sites
  • External storage support
  • External user support
  • File access control
  • Files automated tagging
  • Gallery
  • LDAP user and group backend
  • Retention
  • SAML authentication

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.

Enable server-side encryption
Enable server-side encryption

External sites

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 Sites - Configuration
External Sites – Configuration
External website in an iframe
External website in an iframe

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.

External Storage Configuration
External Storage Configuration

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 Storage in Files
External Storage in Files

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.

Have a look at https://nextcloud.com/workflow/.

Gallery

Hey, the Gallery app is the awesome photo gallery that you see, after you uploaded some images. It creates automatically mosaic pictures for folders and hopefully it’s soon possible to see EXIF Tags.

Gallery
Gallery

LDAP user and group backend

The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) app allows LDAP users (including Microsoft Active Directory) to appear in your Nextcloud user listings!
Have a look at User Authentication with LDAP.

Retention

This is for automatic deletion of files after a given time. Files have to have a “delete” tag. It is configured in the administration area.

Retention App
Retention App

SAML authentication

The app authenticates users against a Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) backend, such as Shibboleth which allows people to sign in using just one identity to various systems run by federations of different organisations or institutions.

Conclusion

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!

Save

Save

Save

The post More official Nextcloud Apps appeared first on Hagen Graf.

First setup of my Nextcloud Box

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).

Open Nextcloud Box
Open Nextcloud Box

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.

All parts of Nextcloud Box
All parts of Nextcloud Box

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.

Card Slot - Raspberry Pi
Card Slot – Raspberry Pi

This it how it looks if everything is connected

connected Nextcloud Box
connected Nextcloud Box

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.

Nextcloud Box - set administrator account
Nextcloud Box – create an administrator account

That’s it! Nextcloud Box is ready to use and lots like this:

Next steps

Depending on your goal and situation you can e.g.

connect Nextcloud Box to your clients

This is an example of the OS X Nextcloud client

Nextcloud OSX Client with Nextcloud Box folder
Nextcloud OSX Client with Nextcloud Box folder

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!

Remember …

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.

Links

https://nextcloud.com/box/


tl;dr: Nextcloud Box will make the world a better place and will bring you data home!

The post First setup of my Nextcloud Box appeared first on Hagen Graf.

Nextcloud Photo management and sharing

As promised in my last blog post I’m back with a few experiences concerning Nextcloud Server, the Nextcloud iOS App, managing photos and of course the whole sharing thing.

Nextcloud iOS App

Over the last days I took some photos with my mobile. The upload to my personal cloud (Nextcloud) works perfect. Inside the iOS app is an area for photos where you can see them ordered by date. You can touch, swipe through, favorite and do basically everything that you expect on a mobile.

Nextcloud iOS App - Photos
Nextcloud iOS App – Photos

If your iPhone is low on space it’s possible to optimise the situation by removing the photos after upload and store just optimised versions inside the iOS app. I can confirm, that it saves space (of course I have the “cheap” 16GB version).

Nextcloud iOS App - Optimizations
Nextcloud iOS App – Optimizations

Managing and sharing Photos in the Browser

So far I have no Nextcloud client on my MacBook. At the moment I only use Nextcloud in my browser. When the iOS app uploads the photos, they are all stored in one folder (photos). In Nextcloud core is an app called gallery and an app called gallery+. Gallery+ is a fork of gallery and seems to be more modern.

Gallerie+ provides a dedicated view of all images in a grid, adds image viewing capabilities to the files app and adds a gallery view to public links. Compatible with Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer 10+

To be honest I don’t understand why they are delivering two gallery apps in core. Just enabled gallery+!

Nextcloud - Enable Gallery+
Nextcloud – Enable Gallery+

Features of Gallery+

  • Upload and organise images and albums straight from the app
  • Large, zoomable previews which can be shown in fullscreen mode
  • Sort images by name or date
  • Per album design, description and copyright statement
  • Image download straight from the slideshow or the gallery
  • Switch to Gallery+ from any folder in files and vice-versa
  • Ignore folders containing a “.nomedia” file
  • Browser rendering of SVG images (disabled by default)
  • Mobile support

Meanwhile I have a few more photos and it’s easy to create additional folders and drag the photos into these folders.

Nextcloud - Move files
Nextcloud – Move files

You can switch at any time between the gallery and the file view.

Nextcloud - Switch to gallery
Nextcloud – Switch to gallery

Tags, Comments and Favorites

It’s possible to add tags and  comments to a photo and mark it as favorite. All favorites are behind the Favorites link.

Nextcloud - Tags, Comments and Favorites
Nextcloud – Tags, Comments and Favorites

Of course you can also rename, download and delete photos.

Sharing photos

After organising my new photos I want to share them.

This is in general possible by creating a share link and send it to your friends. The interesting thing for me was the amount of possibilities to share in the share dialog.

Nextcloud - Share dialog

Sharing with other personal cloud users

It’s possible to share your photos with a user or a group in your Nextcloud installation. Depending on your environment this could be for example your family, your friends or a project group. We haven’t talked so far about a federation of clouds (a topic for another blog entry) so just accept the fact that it’s possible too to share your photos with a remote user. A remote user is a user in another personal cloud. There is a standard for that so it doesn’t have to be Nextcloud. In this case you have to insert the [username]@[domain] and Nextcloud sends a notification to the remote user.

Nextcloud - Notification
Nextcloud – Notification

The remote user has the choice to accept or decline. If your share is accepted you get an email notification (if it’s configured in the admin area and if you provide your email address).

Nextcloud - Email notification
Nextcloud – Email notification

All shared items are visible behind the links Shared with you, Shared with others and Shared by link.

Nextcloud - Shared with you

I noticed that remote users cannot see comments, tags and favourites.

Share with the public via link

The other possibility to share photos is via a public link. You can create the link in the share dialog. If it is super secret, you can set up a password and if if it should be a temporary link you can setup an expiration date.

This is the link to the bicycle photo on top … try it! https://cloud.cocoate.com/index.php/s/n9Qfef5giu4chp1

Administrator Settings

It might be necessary to configure some settings in your admin dashboard to allow all those features.

Nextcloud - Sharing settings
Nextcloud – Sharing settings

Summary

Since a few days I use the Nextcloud iOS App, Nextcloud Server and the Gallery+ App to manage my photos. So far it works well. Next step will be to install a client on my MacBook to sync all the photos.


tl;dr: You can manage and share your photos via Nextcloud

The post Nextcloud Photo management and sharing appeared first on Hagen Graf.

Nextcloud – Installation on shared hosting & first steps

back to A Personal Cloud – But How and Why

To run your own personal cloud you have to install the server component somewhere. After that you can access it from everywhere in the world with every suitable device. The best and most personal scenario would be to do that on your own machine in the place where you live. It is possible to do it on a PC or even a Raspberry Pi but unfortunately the upload speed of many internet connections is not high, so often this option isn’t an option. For example in the little village in France where I live the upload speed is 0.8 Mbps 🙁

Internet connection speed
Internet connection speed in Fitou, France 🙁

The second best choice is a shared hosting environment. You have to pay for it (<10€ per month), it’s easy to handle and managed by the hosting company. Usually you can create databases, FTP users and more features.
You could also go for a cloud or a dedicated server but then you have to deal with server updates and configurations and it’s probably more expensive.

The easiest way to set up your personal cloud in a shared hosting environment is the Nextcloud web installer.

Installation

The Nextcloud web installer checks the dependencies, downloads the Nextcloud files from the official server, unpacks it with the right permissions and the right user account. Finally, you will be redirected to the Nextcloud installer.
You’ll find it in the download area (https://nextcloud.com/install/#instructions-server).

Nextcloud - Webinstaller
Nextcloud – Webinstaller

Download the file setup_nextcoud.php, upload it to your shared hosting environment and point your web browser to http://[your_domainname]/setup-nextcloud.php.

The Nextcloud Setup Wizard appears. Click the Next button.

Nextcloud - Setup Wizard
Nextcloud – Setup Wizard

Now you have to decide if you want to install Nextcloud in the current directory (enter a single “.” to install ), or in a subdirectory (default name is nextcloud).

I want to have my personal cloud in the current directory so I enter a dot.

Nextcloud Setup Wizard - Directory
Nextcloud Setup Wizard – Directory

Now the web installer loads all the necessary files from the Nextcloud servers and tells you that Nextcloud is installed. Click the Next button.

Nextcloud - Web Installer - Success
Nextcloud – Web Installer – Success

Next step is to decide whether you want to use SQLite as a database or MySQL/MariaDB. The advantage of SQLite is that it is inbuilt in PHP and if you have a shared hosting without a database SQLite would be the way to go. But for performance reasons, especially when using the desktop client for file syncing the use of SQLite is discouraged.

Because I want to do exactly this I decided to create a database and a database user in cPanel (administration tool of my provider) and use it for my personal cloud. Fill the fields with the db credentials and choose a username and a password for the admin account. Click the Finish setup button.

Nextcloud - database configuration
Nextcloud – database configuration

Your database will be used and configured by the Nextcloud setup wizard and after that you see the big welcome screen.

Nextcloud - First Login
Nextcloud – First Login

Your Nextcloud server is now ready to use. You can use apps to sync your data from your mobile and your desktop.

But before we install clients, have a look around. Behind the link with you name in the right top corner are most options to configure your personal cloud. In the left top corner are the active apps. You can add more apps by clicking the +. In the middle of the screen are the default folders Documents and Photos with some example files. In the left bottom corner is a settings link which displays the possible settings depending on the page you are. Remember that you are now connected as the godfather of users with all possible administration rights.

Nextcloud - Dashboard
Nextcloud – Dashboard

It’s a good idea to create a user account for each “real” user in your cloud and leave the admin account for administration purpose.

Create a user

Creating a user is simple. Click on your user name -> users and add the desired person. You just need a name and a password. Then you can logout and login again as a “real” user. When you click the same menus as before you’ll notice that it’s not possible anymore to add apps or configure your personal cloud.

Nextcloud - Create User Account
Nextcloud – Create User Account

Even if we haven’t configured anything else, it’s possible to use your personal cloud. You can play around and upload a file via your browser.

iOS Client

I’m using an iPhone, so I install the Nextcloud App (0.99 Euro) to sync my files and automatically upload my photos from my mobile to my shiny new personal cloud. In the app you can just enable the camera upload.

Nextcloud iOS App
Nextcloud iOS App

BTW – this is the first photo I took after activating the photo upload and it simply worked 🙂 #mehappy

Wohoo! The first photo in my personal cloud ;)
Wohoo! The first photo in my personal cloud 😉

What have I achieved so far?

I was able to setup the Nextcloud server on my shared hosting space. I installed the iOS app on my mobile and configured the automatic camera upload.

My photos are now in my personal cloud!

For today it’s enough, I’ll take a few photos in the next days and come back soon with my experiences.

The post Nextcloud – Installation on shared hosting & first steps appeared first on Hagen Graf.