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SDB:OwnCloud

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This article describes how to use ownCloud with openSUSE: Setup and configuration.

Situation

ownCloud calendar integrates in your desktop!

Today computer work is not limited to a single machine any more. People have the urgent need to share their data over various computers, ie. desktop computers, laptops and such. For that a so called cloud-solution is very helpful.

Many people use tools or sites like Dropbox, Ubuntu One, Facebook, twitter etcetera. These solutions however are not good for your privacy and you lose control over your own data.

openSUSE believes it is important to protect your privacy and security and the solution for that is Free software. Something which protects both your content and is trust-worthy (source is available and can be modified).

ownCloud is a slim yet powerful private cloud software. It runs on your computer, in your home network or on your web space with minimal requirements. First and foremost it allows you to store files on it and access it from everywhere you have access to the web. It is compatible with most platforms (Win/Mac/Linux/most mobile phones) without requiring you to install anything.

But there are more features: ownCloud provides you with a media player, calendaring and contact management and with a desktop client you can automate your file backups.

mirall making ownCloud easy

openSUSE special: mirall

ownCloud has currently two downsides:

  • it takes some skill to install and get it running, especially on the web space of a provider
  • it cannot keep the files persistently on your computer, so they are only available when you are on-line.

openSUSE has the mirall tool which solves these problems. It makes deployment of ownCloud as easy as a few clicks and creates a local folder from which it mirrors the files available to your ownCloud.


ownCloud Setup

There are several options to easily set up and integrate ownCloud with openSUSE distributions.

Install the ownCloud package

The first option is to install an ownCloud rpm package. There is one available in the openSUSE Build Service in the project isv:ownCloud:community. The downside is that you need root access to install rpm packages on the machine which might not be the case for a web space.

Install from Source

On the homepage of the ownCloud project there are tarballs of the latest stable version available for download. Basically they must be extracted in a directory that is accessible for the web server. Please refer to the upstream install instructions for detailed information about installation and configuration.

Run from the ownCloud-in-a-box image

On the SUSE Gallery site you can find ownCloud-in-a-box, a pre-build and configured appliance. You can install this on hardware or run it in a VM, even deploy it directly to Amazon EC2 if you want. Visit the ownCloud-in-a-box page for more information.

Install through Mirall

Mirall can install ownCloud either locally on the computer its running on or on a webspace that is accessible via ftp. That is what most cheap, ie. non-root or virtual server hosting sites offer.

Refer to the next chapter about details.

Mirall Desktop Client

Mirall was started by Duncan Mac Vicar and was later extended by Klaas Freitag in a SUSE hackweeks to implement the described vision. The first and foremost target with Mirall is to provide a very easy to use tool for unexperienced users. It should be fun to use and hide the complex client/server issues from its users completely.

Mirall in the system tray

Mirall starts in the system tray on your desktop and if you click on it, it checks if your system is already connected to an ownCloud. If not, it offers you to either connect to an existing ownCloud or to install a new one.

Mirall Installation

Mirall is of course Free Software and available as rpm package for your openSUSE installation. openSUSE 12.1 users can use the following one-click-install:

Oneclick.png

Users of openSUSE versions earlier than 12.1 have to get their package from the network repository as well as a rubygem needed for mirall which is part of the devel:languages:ruby:extensions repository. Both one-click-installs are below. First install the ruby-gem by clicking the one-click-install link and giving your password etc; then proceed with the mirall one.

Ruby Gem:

Oneclick.png

mirall:

Oneclick.png

at time of writing, mirall was only being build for openSUSE 11.4 and 12.1


After installation you can start Mirall (found in Accessories) from the start menu. A new icon will appear in your system tray.

Connect to an ownCloud

New oc connect.png

If you click on the tray icon and have no ownCloud configured yet, a dialog wizard will show up and offer you two options:

  1. connect my ownCloud
  2. create a new ownCloud

If you pick the first option, connect my ownCloud you have to enter the valid ownCloud url into the text field and hit Next. The next dialog asks you for username and password to connect to the ownCloud. After hitting on Next again, a summary page displays the result of the operation.

ownCloud Installation

If you choose to create a new ownCloud on the first dialog page, the next wizard page asks you if you want to create it on the local computer or on an internet domain you control. In both cases Mirall downloads latest stable sources of ownCloud from the ownCloud project page, extracts it on the local machine and copies it to the target system.

If you go for the installation on the local machine, Mirall will ask you for the root password to be able to copy files into the webservers application directory.

If you choose to install on your ftp accessible site, enter a domain name into the text field. On the next wizard page, a FTP-Url and credentials for FTP need to be provided.

Mirall uses FTP to access the webspace and creates a directory called ownCloud on the ftp site and copies the files there.

On the next wizard page, you need to provide credentials for the admin user of your new ownCloud instance.

mirall now downloads the latest stable release from the official ownCloud page and installs it on the target machine. It creates an auto config setup for ownCloud so that you do not have to do the initial setup step on first login, as you already provided the data through mirall. Your ownCloud is configured completely with that, and the ownCloud gets connected to your machine as described above. after the installation finished you can use the credentials to log in.

Finally the ownCloud is configured as your connected cloud. After a successful installation, Mirall tries to create an express upload folder in your home directory named Mirall. It is automatically mirrored to the cloud. This step is skipped for security reasons if the folder already exists in your home dir.

Express Upload Directories

Mirall can create so called Express Upload Directories for you.

They basically connect a local directory with a directory on the ownCloud. Whatever changes you do in the local directory, either connected to a network or not, is going to be mirrored to the ownCloud right away or as soon as you go online again. No matter if change, add or delete files or directories, the changes go into the cloud.

The local directory is the master. Always keep that in mind!

What happens if changes are made to one of your Express Upload Directories on the ownCloud? Well, the local directory is the master. That means, the changes to files on the cloud are going to be overwritten with the next syncing Mirall performs.

If new files are added on the ownCloud, Mirall disables the Express Upload Folder for you in order to not delete files on the cloud, because, remember, local is the master, and if remote are more files than local, following the logic, they need to be deleted. However, Mirall tries to avoid that and disables the folder and you have the chance to fetch from the cloud directory, ie. get the contents of the remote dir to local.

Warning This contains a risk: If you use the same ownCloud with more than one user or from more than one device at the same time, make sure to not lose data.

Taking this into consideration, Mirall already solves a lot of the "where are my files" problems people have when they move around a lot...

Check the Status

Statusdialog.png

Mirall opens a status dialog if you click on the tray icon and if there are express upload directories configured. The dialog gives information if the directories are in good status, ie. synced correctly, or they are disabled.

If they are disabled, the button fetch lets you pull the data from the ownCloud to your local directory. With that, local files can be deleted!

Calendaring and Contact Management

... TODO ...

External links