06 February, 2016

FOSDEM 2016 and ownCloud, Kolab, KDE and more

Devices at our booth
After rocking SCALE, FOSDEM was next and a great event. Killing, too - two days with about 8000 people, it was insane. Lots of positive people again, loads of stuff we handed out so we ran out on Sunday morning - and cool devices at the ownCloud booth.


When we still had stickers and Jan still liked me
We had quite a team at the booth, with Frank Karlitschek, Philippe Hemmel, Jan-C Borghardt, Lukas Reschke and myself. Lukas visited his first FOSDEM and even though he started to complain a bit on Sunday about having had to many social interactions, he enjoyed it. Philippe was at his first ownCloud booth but has helped out at booths before so that went entirely smooth and Jan - well, he's so popular, people were nice to me a few times thinking I was Jan. I had to disappoint them, Jan was often to be found in the Design devroom where he gave a talk about how we do design at ownCloud (see also our earlier blog about 6 ownCloud User Interaction Design Principles).

Lukas and cameras don't go together well
My experience was the usual FOSDEM rush with so many people already there at 9:30 on Saturday (even though it is supposed to start at 10:00) that you barely have time to think, eat & drink or walk around and talk to old friends. I already had a long day on Friday as I went to a community statistics workshop by Bitergia but I'd even be tired after FOSDEM if I had a week to sleep in before...


Frank pushes press away ;-)
We had lots of stuff at the booth. Our usual stickers, flyers and some posters as well as my laptop where people could see ownCloud and sign up to our newsletter (80 new readers, yay). We also had some very cool devices, 2 prototypes from our friends at Western Digital and a spreed.me box, stay tuned as we have some cool news coming from there soon ;-)

Unfortunately, I hadn't brought enough stickers and flyers, we ran out in the morning of Sunday already, as Jan couldn't help but tell me over and over again. Yes, I brought over twice as much as last year but I guess I didn't factor in the growth in popularity of ownCloud... I'll double up again next year. Maybe triple.

It was great to talk to people about ownCloud, the devices, give them stickers and, in rare cases, explain what ownCloud is. Most people who walked by the booth already used ownCloud (yeah, techie crowd!) or are planning to, just one out of 10 has not heard of it. In general, my biggest regret at FOSDEM is that there are still people walking by whom we didn't manage to talk to. Perhaps more of those don't know the awesome that is ownCloud and are put off by the busyness at our booth - at many times, there was a row of 3-4 people thick in front of the booth and three of us were each talking to several people at once. Did I mention it was insanely busy?

Other booths

I did have some time to walk around and meet people at other booths, like the KDE, openSUSE and Kolab booths close by, as well as the FSFE stand. And I will promise myself, again, that I'll walk past all booths next year. Next year... Looking forward to it already!
FSFE let you send postcards to your favorite projects! A really nice initiative.
KDE showing their 'convergence'. The had Plasma Desktop running on an oDroid C1, quite smooth, and a mobile phone running Plasma Mobile! And very nice name stickers, too.
Happy Kolab team
Selfie with Markus Feilner - now at openSUSE. Their booth was close to ours, good to see so many old friends there again, including a strong Greek delegation!

Give me a shout if you want to help out at the ownCloud booth at FOSDEM or other events as we can always use more helping hands...

03 February, 2016

Why use ZIP instead of TAR?

I've been asked recently why ownCloud zipps its files instead of tarring them. .tar preserves file permissions, for one, and with tar.gz or tar.bz2 you have compression too.

Good question. Let me start by noting that we actually have both: zip and tar.bz2. But why zip?

A long time ago and far, far away

In the beginning, we used tar.bz2. As ownCloud gained Windows Server support, we added zip. Once we dropped Windows support, we could have killed the zip files. But we had reasons not to: tar is, sadly, not perfect.

Issues with Tar

You see, tar isn't a single format or a 'real' standard. If you have a platform other than plain, modern Linux, think BSD or Solaris, or the weird things you can find on NAS devices, tar files can get you in trouble. Unlike zip, tar files also can have issues with character format support or deep folders. We've had situations where upgrades went wrong and during debugging we found that moving to zip solved the problem miraculously... And, as ownCloud, we're squarely focused on the practical user experience so we keep zip, alongside tar.bz2.

See also the GNU tar manual if you want to know more about the various tar formats and limitations.

Sadly, sometimes it is impossible to find one thing that works for everyone and in every situation.

Tarred turtle pic from wikimedia, Creative Commons license. Yes, that's a different tar, I know. But - save the turtles!

29 January, 2016

ownCloud, openSUSE and KDE in Brazil?

Hi ownCloud, KDE and openSUSE peeps!

We will soon be traveling to Brasil to visit family in various places (from Amazonia to Rio Grande do Sul). We'll land in Sao Paulo and stay there between February 9 and 11 - if you're a KDE, ownCloud or openSUSE contributor in that area and want me to try and bring some swag like flyers, stickers and posters for events, we could meet! Perhaps there's time for a lunch or dinner at some point.

Ping me, either here below in the comments or by sending me an email.

Videos from our last trips to Brasil:

28 January, 2016

SCALE14x - and 8 million users for ownCloud!

After covering openSUSE and KDE booths at SCALE in my previous blog, let's talk ownCloud. Note that, despite the awesomeness of this blog post, our biggest news right now is probably the announcement that ownCloud has an estimated 8 million users!

Our booth

So SCALE14x had an ownCloud booth staffed by the Dynamic Duo Matt McGraw and yours truly. We had the usual flyers, posters and stickers but Matt had also brought a big monitor and Mountain Dew. In case you don't know the drink, it is important to know that it is by far not as natural as the name suggests.

The Story of the Mountain Dew

The plan with the drinks was to hand them out to people who would mention Chris' hair (the Linux Action Show host) - Matt had told people to come by our booth and ask about it to get a drink. Sadly, nobody did show, either due to fear of Mountain Dew (my bet) or there were few or no Linux Action Show viewers at SCALE14x... The idea is brilliant, though, and I think we should try again next year. Perhaps with a drink that isn't fluorescent green, or make sure Chris mentions it in the Linux Action Show itself?

Latest prototype of the ownCloud WD Pi Drive

(and seriously, I had a few Moutain Dew's, nothing wrong with carbonated sugar drinks if you ask me)

Western Digital Pi Drive Kits

The monitor had another purpose: demo ownCloud, of course. That turned out real cool: upon arrival at my hotel, I had received a package with the latest prototypes of our Pi Drive kits send by Western Digital! The casings have a cool ownCloud logo on them and there was a custom, 3d-printed cover to close the thing off on the top, looking real slick with ownCloud logo cut-out.

Anyhow, we assembled one Pi kit, put ownCloud on it (duh) and ran it from the screen so we could demo ownCloud. The other kit we kept in half-assembled state for people to check out. We had a *lot* of people who were interested, we certainly sold many of the existing Pi Drive kits (you can already get them, without ownCloud though, from the WD store) while many others will wait for us to release the PiDrive with ownCloud. Maybe I'm very optimistic here but the excitement was so great I have the feeling we'll sell those 500 in no time.

On a related note, the Western Digital team working on the Pi Drive/ownCloud project came by the booth for a chat, too. It was great to meet them and shake hands in real life!

Matt explains what this 'ownCloud' thing is

Booth visitors

So we talked to people at the booth. I must've talked to about 50.000 people, my throat is soar (and you all know I have plenty experience talking as I usually can't stop - so this is saying something). Some highlights from me (I'm hoping Matt will share some of his):

  • talked to Ubuntu people about the Pi project, they love it and want to work with us on that and other things.
  • Cory Doctorow came to our booth to tell us how much he loves what we do. I asked if I could quote him but forgot to ask him for a picture.
  • A photography-loving couple came by our booth and they were super duper excited to hear about ownCloud. For them, a better way of sharing pictures, esp large amounts (dropbox ain't so good with the tens of gigabytes) was really interesting. The girl claimed that if you could see emoticons IRL she'd have hearts flying out of her head. Yeah, disturbingly geeky, but fun!
  • somebody noted that it'd be good to have had 'a marketing person' at our booth, as no 'marketing person' would've forgotten to ask Corey for a picture. I thought about new job opportunities.
  • Talked to Intel people about Minnowboard - intel Pi like board. Might be interesting for our Pi Drive project - at least it has USB 3, Sata, room for a MSATA card (!) and loads of ram. Of course, there is price but - let's see.
  • Talked to the community manager from Digital Ocean, we'll do some promo together. He also asked if we could give feedback on their ownCloud setup/one- click-install image. I've asked for a free login to check it out, I'll then ask around soon if anybody is interested in checking out what they have and giving them tips on improving it. I'll also ask how many users they approximately have, would be interesting to know!
  • Corey came by the booth again, as he wanted to tell us about XO-ware and their tech to get through firewalls. I first made him hold our poster and took a pic for on twitter.
  • Talked to CEO of XO-ware. They found a way through the firewall of routers which involves an external server but no proxy-ing. They plan on open-sourcing their stuff next month, we should look into it for ownCloud Proxy and the Pi-Drive project. Oh, and it is interesting tech in general, of course! Check it out.
  • In the plane back home I sat next to a movie music composer (you can hear him in the latest X-men, for better or worse) who was completely happy once told about ownCloud - he's now shuffling gigabytes of music files with Dropbox but not too happy with it. ownCloud might become big in Hollywood ;-)

Talked to many, many more interesting, nice, sweet, peculiar people from all over but there's one last special thing I must share: I did not hear A SINGLE COMPLAINT. None. Nada. Zilch. Sure, people were happy to hear we're working on stuff like the upgrade process, but none of them complained. Maybe it was the sunny weather but I just think you're all doing a GREAT job, because that is what people told me!!!

So a big THANK YOU relayed from SCALE14x. Hugs all around: *you all rock!*


I gave two talks, one about ownCloud scalability and Raspberry Pi. That is a weird combination indeed, it was inspired by Joas' cool BananaPi Cluster project. I couldn't use that, though, as it is a bit stuck and I myself didn't have time to experiment much either. Thus, instead, I talked about scalability, different Pi devices and the Western Digital project (again, lots of people excited about that). Find it here.

The second talk was a longer version of the lightning talk I did at the ownCloud Contributor Conference. Clearly, that was compressed too much, this one worked out far better and people said they liked it a lot. Well, hey, if I insult you and yet you come ask for more, either I do something right or you do something wrong, correct? The talk starts at about the 8th minute, enjoy.


I did also talk to some press people, spend sleepless nights due to jetlag and found decent Blueberry Pancakes. I miss good bread whenever I visit the US (and UK) but pancakes, oh boy, THAT they do right like nobody... Hmmmm.

Of course I had fun dancing the security theater at the airports I went through, with some special fun at Gatwick. Going through a very comprehensive security check right after stepping off your plane from Los Angelos seems... beyond useless. And all those comprehensive checks didn't notice there's a typo in my name on the tickets. Ahum. I'd probably be stuck half the way if they really read my email AND had the resources to actually do something with it - but we all know that they rather throw more hay on the stack than spend time finding the needle so I felt quite safe emailing a report including this note to the ownCloud mailing list from London Gatwick!

Swapnil 'praying' for his food ;-)

Well, that's it, if you read through all of it to this point I tip my hat to you for your commendable stamina enduring my writing. If you want that hat tip on camera, look me up on FOSDEM and we'll take a pic with me tipping my hat to you.

SCALE14x fun - openSUSE, KDE

Last weekend was SCALE and I had a lot of fun. Thought a report on the KDE/openSUSE presence would be good!

An impression from the trip - as in, Oslo->Los Angelos.

The event started with talks and I even managed to join the keynote by Corey Doctorow before heading to the booth!


If you didn't know it yet, now you do: both the KDE and GNOME booth are organized by openSUSE, and more precisely Booth Master Drew Adams. His energy makes, I think, openSUSE the most active community booth at FOSDEM with about a dozen volunteers (!!!). He keeps bringing in new people, amazing really. The corner booth worked out great though they wanted to try and move the openSUSE booth to be next to the SUSE one (which was sandwiched between Mageia and the FSF). Thinking about it now - it would have made SUSE pale in comparison...

Such a great presence at an event has a real impact in many ways, from introducing people to openSUSE and giving users a chance to chat about it to also showing people the Geeko matters and what it is up to. Plus, it's a great time for the team, too. So, awesome many points for Drew, really. Next time you see him: give him a hug!

The openSUSE Booth where visitors were thought about the Ways of the Geeko: Tumbling and Leaping!


I asked for volunteers in a blog some weeks ago and the good news is that people stepped up! Scarlett, who's working on becoming a Debian maintainer, as well as her Debian sponsor Diane, both stepped up to help out. Backbone of the booth this year was Barrington Daltrey who hasn't been representing KDE at SCALE for some years but decided to get back in the game again. A massive thanks to all three volunteers! I'm hoping that next year, Bert and Linda Yerke (who couldn't make it this year) are able to join again, we can have a real KDE party then! Especially as the Yerkes created some great swag last year (the awesome Konqi stickers!) and I have high expectations for what they might bring in 2017.

In any case, with these volunteers, the booth was staffed and lots of people could get their questions answered and had a place to leave their praise and thanks.

GNOME and KDE - brothers in arms!

Scarlett took a pic with me ;-)


Of course, there was also the GNOME booth, well staffed and with demo devices. Walking over the rest of the exhibition hall, I spotted other distro's and projects. Elementary looked nice (their icons seem their biggest asset, seeing how they were promoted) and I talked to people at the Ubuntu booth. Their booth had a big Dell banner and two Dell employees to talk to about the Dell Developer Edition laptops. A great project and the team is doing an amazing job! Soon, the new Dell XPS devices will become available through the program and I'm thinking about getting one.

I must admit, though, that after putting the Dell XPS 13 next to my own Samsung np900x3c, the Samsung still feels sleeker, thinner, lighter, more durable. Sadly, the Samsung was a bit ahead of its time and battery life is a serious weakness. I take battery life over performance and big screens any time (not over ram, though, I want 16GB to stop running out of ram). So I'm hoping for a premium, Core M based (passively cooled) laptop from Dell, WITH Ubuntu on it. One can dream, right?

SCALE is tiring or relaxed, you pick.

Swapnil interviewing Elementary!

Besides the booths, there were also talks and lunches and dinners and conversations with loads of people

HP had only a magician at their booth. Fun, yes. But I prefer the real stuff ;-)

I'll next do an ownCloud-at-SCALE14x blog, but separate as that's where I spend most of my time and I thus have a lot to write about it!

20 January, 2016

Patching ownCloud: get your fix NOW

you can also get quickly loading kittens!
Sometimes, there's something broken. Or, there's a feature you want in your ownCloud installation now.

Well, you can have it, if you're willing to put in a little work!

Let me show how it works.

What we want

Say, you just added 3000 holiday pictures to ownCloud. When you load the folder with the images in the web UI, it is very slow as all thumbnails have to be generated and provided to your browser! What if ownCloud could simply generate all of them during, say, tonight?

Awesome ownCloud developer Oparoz has developed code which gives the occ command the ability to run through your ownCloud, either in its entirety or per user account, and generate all thumbnails. But this code hasn't been merged: Oparoz wants to create code tests first before he merges this, to ensure the quality of the code base. Sadly, he hasn't had time to create tests and nobody else has stepped in yet...

How we get it

How to get this code? Github has this cool trick where you can add .patch behind a pull request URL, like this: https://github.com/owncloud/gallery/pull/387.patch.

Patch your ownCloud with it! This is how:

  1. log in to your server
  2. navigate to the Gallery app folder
  3. grab the patch: wget https://github.com/owncloud/gallery/pull/387.patch
  4. test patching: patch -p1 --dry-run < 387.patch
  5. If you get only a checking [filename] you're all good!
  6. If you have errors check if you are on the right ownCloud release (the patch might be for the latest master and not work on the release you have) and see if you are in the right sub folder.
  7. Now run patch -p1 < 387.patch
  8. Go and enjoy your feature...
  9. If you want to undo the change run: patch -p1 -R < 387.patch

  • be careful running random code from github in your ownCloud, just like experimental apps - this is untested by definition.
  • Also, if you go and add all kinds of patches which end up burning down your house and killing your kittens you have only yourself to blame. I gave you a knife, YOU decided to stick it in your eye.
  • Last but not least, if it works (or doesn't) report back, this is called 'testing' and very valuable to us!!! It will help get the code merged sooner.
  • Idea to blog about it came from the ownCloud meetup tonight ;-)

Get Started With ownCloud App Development in Six Steps - the Quick and Dirty Way!

ownCloud Mail, a great newcomer
What's simpler than downloading a zip file, extracting it and running a command in the resulting folder to get an ownCloud server up on localhost?

Yes, it can be that simple, though it might require a few minor tweaks and you have to make sure to have all ownCloud dependencies installed.

Note that this is useful if you want to develop an ownCloud app. If you want to develop on the ownCloud core, a git checkout is the way to go, get started here. Feedback on this process is highly appreciated, especially if it comes with a pull request for our documentation of course ;-)

Step 1 and Two: Dependencies

  • Install PHP and the modules mentioned here
    Your distro should make the installation easy. Try these:
    • openSUSE: zypper in php5 php5-ctype php5-curl php5-dom php5-fileinfo php5-gd php5-iconv php5-json php5-ldap php5-mbstring php5-openssl php5-pdo php5-pear php5-posix php5-sqlite php5-tokenizer php5-xmlreader php5-xmlwriter php5-zip php5-zlib
    • Debian: apt-get install php5 php5-json php5-gd php5-sqlite curl libcurl3 libcurl3-dev php5-curl php5-common php-xml-parser php5-ldap bzip2
  • Make ownCloud session management work under your own user account.
    Either change the path of php session files or chmod 777 the folder they are in, usually something like /var/lib/php (debian/SUSE) or /var/lib/php/session (Red Hat).

The Final Four Steps

ownCloud should present you with its installation steps! Give your username and password and you're up and running with SQLite.

Alternative with OCDev

An alternative is to use OCDev which you can grab here. After installation, you run
ocdev setup core

See the app development tutorial here.

Start with the app

Now you create a subfolder in the owncloud/apps with the name of your app and put in a skeleton. With OCDev:
ocdev startapp MyApp

By hand, you can copy an existing app and hack that up ;-)

It's probably wise to now get going with the app development tutorial here. Be sure to check out the changelog, we try to make sure the latest changes are noted there so even if we didn't manage to fully update the tutorial, you can find out what will and won't work in the changelog. Also, be sure to update the links to get the latest dev doc - this all links to 9.0, once that is out it is probably better to directly target 9.1 and so on.

Your input is very much welcome! If you run through these steps and get stuck somewhere, let me know and I'll update the documentation. Or, of course better still, do a pull request on the documentation right in github. You don't even have to do a full checkout, smaller fixes can easily be done in the web interface on github.

Thanks, good luck, and have fun building ownCloud apps!