ownCloud Planet

Adam Pigg
Kexi High-DPI Report Printouts
November 27, 2014

Kexi currently generates report prinouts (and pdfs) using the screen resolution.
This is fine for general text, but if you have a database full of images it is less than ideal.

I think this looks better:

I'll keep comments open for a few days, but I get a lot of spam so generally theyre disabled on my blog until I can stop the spam, neither Captcha or Mollom have worked out, so comments to adam_at_piggz_dot_co_dot_uk after that!

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Klaas Freitag
Workshop at CERN
November 27, 2014

cern_logoLast week, Thomas, Christian and myself were attending a workshop in CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneve, Switzerland.

CERN is a very inspiring place, attracting intelligent people from all over the world to get behind the secrets of our being. I felt honored to be at the place where for example the world wide web was invented.

The event was called Workshop on Cloud Services for File Synchronisation and Sharing and was hosted by CERN IT department. There have been around 100 attendees.

I was giving a talk called The File Sync Algorithm of the ownCloud Desktop Clients, which was very well received. If you happen to be interested in the sync algorithm we’re using, the slides are a nice starting point.

What amazed me most was the great atmosphere and the very positive attitude towards ownCloud. Many representatives of edu organizations that use ownCloud to which I talked were very happy with the product (even though there are problems here and there) from the technical POV. A lot of interesting setups and environments were explained and also showcased ownCloud’s flexibility to integrate into existing structures.

What also was pointed out by the attendees of the workshop was the importance of the fact that ownCloud is open source. Non free software does not have a chance at all in that market. That was the very clear statement in the final discussion session of the workshop.

The keynote was given by Prof. Benjamin Pierce from Pennsylvania with the title Principles of Synchronization. He is the lead author of
the project Unison which is another opensource sync project. It’s sync engine marks very high quality, but is not “up-to-date software” any more as he said.

I had the pleasure to spend quite some time with him to discuss syncing in general and our sync algorithms in particular, amongst other interesting things.

Atlas Detectors

Atlas Detectors

As part of his work, he works with a tool called QuickCheck to do very enhanced testing. One night we were sitting in the cantina there hacking to adopt the testing to ownCloud client and server. The first results were very promising, for example we revealed a “problem” in our sync core that I knew of, which formally is a sync error, yet very very unlikely to happen and thus accepted for the sake of an easier algorithm. It was impressive how fast the testing method was identifying that problem.
I like to follow up with the testing method.

Furthermore we met with a whole variety of other interesting people, backend developers, operators of the huge datasets (100 Peta-Byte), the director of CERN IT, a maintainer of the Scientific Linux and others.

Also we had the chance to visit the Atlas experiment, it is 100 meter underneath the surface and huge. That is where the particles are accelerated, and it was great to have the chance to visit that.

The trip was a great experience and very motivating for me, and I think it should be for all of us all doing ownCloud. Frank was really hitting a nerv when he was seeding the idea, and we all were doing a nice product of it so far.

Lets do more of this cool stuff!


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ownCloud
ownCloud development in the second half of October
November 26, 2014

Welcome to the ownCloud development update from the second half of October! This overview is put together from activities on github, the mailing lists, blogs and whatever else is shared in the ownCloud community. Tips are welcome, ping Jos with your input!

The biggest items these two weeks were lots of low-level core improvements, a new sidebar in Core, lots of new features in the Android app, XMPP support in the Chat app and much activity on apps.owncloud.com! Interesting blogs and announcements include the debate around ownCloud in Ubuntu, ownCloud at LinuxCon and the announcement of ownCloud in Bountysource.

You can read a report on the first half of October here.

Core news

As always, we start with the development progress in core. There has been some low-level clean-up work and improvements as well as updates to 3rd-party functionality included in ownCloud and the usual fixes and features in various areas.

admin_sidebar

Design

Some of the core improvements are design related, including these:

If you want to get involved in ownCloud, check out our contribute page! If you are interested in design specifically, check out the design page on owncloud.org.

Apps

ownCloud heavily relies on apps for its functionality. The mobile and desktop sync apps bring your files to various devices and the server apps bring extensive functionality like chat, contacts, audio streaming or a password manager.

sorting

Mobile/desktop apps

Server app improvements

Activity in the ownCloud app store has been frantic:

  • The oclife app, bringing tagging to ownCloud, received a major update, bringing compatibility for ownCloud 7, tag ownership and permissions, preview for images on the tag page, EXIF data tab on extended info and Spanish translations
  • The user_sql app introduces a new Admin interface with the 0.9.1 release. This app allows authentication against an arbitrary SQL database, including sharing support between users in the DB
  • An update to the storage charts app fixes some minor issues and introduces French translations
  • The Shorty Tracking app was updated with ownCloud 7 support
  • The standalone XMPP chat Jappix is new in the ownCloud App store
  • The ownCloud ebook Reader app version 0.4.4 fixes some small issues
  • The Tomboy sync server app 0.4.0 update introduces note preview, search, download, and shows custom icons, highlighting of current notebook and note modification display in the list
  • The unix user backend updated to version 2.2 with a minor fix to the mail setting form
  • And last but not least, the SMS app made it to version 1.3.0, introducing smarter phone number handling, ordering of conversations, automatic refreshing and desktop notifications

If you’re interested in working on or building ownCloud apps, see the documentation for server side apps. Desktop client fans can get started here and you can find the iOS developer documentation here and the Android documentation here. Both latter links also cover the iOS and Android libraries, important if you want to integrate ownCloud in your own application!

Community Conversationsimage tagging

On Planet ownCloud you can find blogs from ownCloud contributors and advocates. The last two weeks of October saw the following posts published:

Please note that if you’re an ownCloud contributor, you should get your blog aggregated on owncloud.org/news! Ping Jos with your RSS feed.

The mailing lists featured some technical discussions, as well as the following calls for help and announcements:

You can join the discussions on this page.

As always, we can only ever cover a small part of what is going on in ownCloud. If you want to follow things more closely, follow our twitter account, Facebook page or our G+ page. We are now also active again on Diaspora!

Events

Monday, we published a blog about ownCloud events. Find a calendar of ownCloud events on owncloud.org/events. If you would love to meet and discuss ownCloud with likeminded people but nothing is happening close by, consider organizing an ownCloud meetup! Check out this page on how to get started.

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Jos Poortvliet
What's Holding ownCloud Back?
November 25, 2014

In the recent article about the ownCloud event program, I pointed out that while ownCloud has 2.5 million users, it is a drop in the ocean looking at the number of Internet users (a little over 4 billion today). The announcement of the "Let's Encrypt" initiative from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla and others prompted me to write this: it is one step in the direction of removing the limitations holding back wider ownCloud adoption. What does the future hold?

Easy ownCloud

As Frank pointed out in his blog on the future of PHP, ownCloud has ease of use as an explicit and very important goal. And while the technological choices made aren't always so exciting and bleeding edge, they do result in ownCloud being very easy to deploy on a very wide range of devices. Plenty of tutorials exist showing it running on everything from Rasberry Pi devices to big iron at organizations like CERN, where physicists looking for the origins of the universe are routing hundreds of terrabytes of data through their CernBOX build on ownCloud, sharing and collaborating on the data analysis.

Limitations

Unfortunately, there are limitations outside of what ownCloud can directly control.

In the database area, SQLite is default because it requires no manual setup whatsoever. But performance suffers when an installation has more than a trivial amount of data. When sharing with more than 15 users or indexing your mp3 connection, SQLite usage leads to frequent time-outs and other issues!

Another, more serious issue, is the architecture of the current internet. Most users are set up at home behind a firewall provided by their internet router. While this provides some additional security, it is mainly because the limited number of unique addresses available in the still widely-used 'IPv4' protocol. It simply is impossible to assign a unique address to each device connected to your internet at home. But this means your server will not be reachable when you're not home, unless you adjust some settings on your router. While we can configure some routers automatically, most we can't and as every router is different, an easy 'generic' how-to can't be provided either.

A third issue is that an ideal ownCloud platform would be small and cheap devices like the Raspberry Pi, but these are almost all based on 32bit CPU's. Due to technical limitations in the platform ownCloud builds on, this means you won't be able to have it handle files bigger than about 4 gigabyte! That is a big limitation if you'd like to store your virtual machine or Blue Ray collection on your ownCloud.

The fourth issue I see is security. While not the biggest problem of the three, setting up a server to be secure, including a decent SSL certificate, is not easy. I personally couldn't figure it out and while I'm new to server things, I am not a technology hater by any means. My parents wouldn't ever be able to figure it out and more importantly, they wouldn't want to!

Solutions

These four issues to wider ownCloud adoption aren't the only ones, but as far as I can tell, the biggest. So how do we deal with it?

There are several routes to an even easier ownCloud installation. Having a pre-setup operating system in the form of a container (Docker?) or a virtual machine can take care of much of the trouble around database setup and help a lot with the security issue. However, it can't run on light hardware like a Raspberry Pi and doesn't deal with the file size problem.

When it comes to the address limitations, the internet is slowly transitioning to IPv6 which will provide more unique addresses for each person than IPv4 offered in total (see here how Google explains IPv6). So, essentially, we just have to wait for this problem to be solved.

The hardware problem is also working on solving itself: the upcoming new swath of ARM CPU's (and Intel CPU's targeting the embedded market) are fully 64 capable so while current-gen Raspberry Pi devices (and other embedded devices like routers!) aren't perfect for ownCloud, a year from now many new devices will be perfectly capable of providing a great ownCloud experience.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Let's Encrypt" initiative offers a (partial) solution for the security issue. Without it, a pre-configured ownCloud system will most likely be set up to use a self-signed certificate. While secure in principle, it always warns visitors of the self-signed state and thus isn't ideal. Let's Encrypt provides an automated and more importantly free (in terms of cost) solution for this.

And now

While I'd love for all these changes to be implemented yesterday, in reality we simply have to wait for the transitioning to IPv6 and 64bit CPU's. In the mean time, we can already start working on integrating Let's Encrypt into virtual machine and Docker images with a pre-configured MySQL (or MariaDB) and perhaps recommend people to run them on a 64bit capable system like a modern NAS or a NUC. The ownCloud-in-a-Box image on SUSE Studio is a great start!

Meanwhile, getting ownCloud ready to run on a wider range of devices and perform a wider range of 'cloudy' functions like running as backend of the Chromebook devices (see this page and ping me if you want to get involved) should be on the agenda as well. I personally look forward to more 'social' integration in ownCloud, like the ability to comment on images or other data and share these with the people you share files with. We're on it, tags sharing is integrated for ownCloud 8 and a generic metadata repo was created (empty still). Get involved if you can!

Obviously, telling people about ownCloud is still important - which is what the ownCloud event program is all about - and help is welcome. Go to owncloud.org/promote and share the love!

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ownCloud
Help ownCloud Grow!
November 24, 2014

Morritz in action at Chemnitzer Linux TageLess than four-and-a-half years since the release of 1.0, two-and-a-half-million people took back control over their data with ownCloud. That is an immense achievement! At the same time, Terra is inhabited by well over 7 billion people, so there’s still a lot of work to do. We have been organizing meet ups and going to conferences to reach out to people, but it’s time to step up our efforts and we’re looking to you for help.

Telling people about ownCloud

Many people are concerned about the privacy implications of cloud technologies, but not aware that ownCloud is a potential solution for them. That is where you come in!

To help you share information about ownCloud, we’ve created physical and digital promo materials like flyers, posters and stickers as well as presentation templates and informational pages about running a booth, giving a talk or organizing a meetup. Find it all on our event pages.
materials overview

What we’ve got in store

In the physical and printable materials department, we’ve created and printed two brand new flyers and 4 different poster designs as well as some supporting materials, and last week, we send out the first 5 packages!

We have a flyer informing potential users about the benefits and capabilities of ownCloud; and a flyer with information for potential contributors on how to get their code, translations, design ideas or testing feedback into ownCloud. Two of our posters are focused on user benefits, while the other two aim to invite them to help make ownCloud even better for themselves and others by contributing.
assembling packages with materials to send out
You can find the materials, including print-friendly versions in our github repository. You can order these materials for an ownCloud event using this form. Note that shipping and handling takes time, so ask us well in advance! In general, count on two weeks at least and please understand that for practical reasons currently we only ship to (most countries in) Europe and North America.

Conferences and trade shows

Bringing ownCloud to people means being where people are. ownCloud advocates regularly attend meetups and events like Linux Fests and other open source conferences. In Europe, ownCloud has been represented at LinuxTag Berlin, Chemnitzer LinuxTage, FOSDEM and many other events over the years, and FOSDEM is again planning for 2015. In the US, Frank recently gave a talk at the Ohio Linux Fest and we’d like to have a presence at SCALE 13x in February! If you’re interested in joining fellow ownCloud advocates at events or somewhere else, join the events mailing list or use this contact form to volunteer. Find more conference, trade show and booth-related information here.

To help you give a talk at an event or meetup, we have an ownCloud presentation template as well as a ready-made presentation presenting ownCloud to users, administrators and developers and a presentation introducing the ownCloud 7 release features. We also have written a page with tips and tricks on creating and giving a presentation! Find the presentation materials in our github repository.
Intro slide

ownCloud meetups and booths

Meeting other ownCloud people face-to-face results in good and interesting conversation, and simply providing a space to talk is what organizing a meetup is all about. We already have regular meetups going on in Munich and Berlin and there have been ownCloud meetups in Boston a few times. If you’re interested in meeting other ownCloud folks in your area, check out our info on organizing a meet up here!

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