03 May, 2016

Thursday: ownCloud at Open Tech Summit!

Coming Thursday I'll be talking and workshopping at the Open Tech Summit about getting your ownCloud up and running, either on a laptop, desktop or server or on a Pi(like) device like a Raspberry or Banana Pi. I will bring a few devices to play with, it will be fun!

If you'd like to join, there's a number of free tickets available. Go to this website to register and use the code WELOVEOWNCLOUD.

See you there!

26 March, 2016

Connect to your server in your LAN via your WAN url: an openWRT solution.

So, I run my own ownCloud. Figures, right?

Can't reach the server from the LAN

Of course, I sync files on my desktop between my laptop and phone. The desktop client is setup with the IP address of the server in my living room. But my phone and laptop, configured to connect to my public, DynDNS URL (so they work when I'm traveling), can't connect from the home network. Triple-uncool. I like my photos from my phone to by auto-uploaded when I connect to wifi at home; and more importantly my laptop should sync when I get home from travel!

Danimo blamed my router - a Cisco (Linksys) E4200. That was (once upon a time) an expensive, high-end router. Sadly, having been abandoned by its manufacturer, it has become an expensive, high-end liability. I can't even log into the administration interface, browsers tell me that the connection is insecure. There are more issues, like the slow WLAN-LAN transfer speeds I experienced and I'm not even talking about security here. Linus once eloquently expressed his feelings towards NVIDIA, a resentment I now feel towards CISCO.

openWRT to the rescue

I learned my lesson. No router not able to run an open source firmware will get in my house. While I don't feel any need whatsoever to fiddle with things that do their job, Linksys screwed up here: they left me on broken software long before I had any need for new hardware.

After some digging, I learned that TP-Link has been (mostly inadvertently) a decent citizen for OpenWRT fans. So, even if they'd abandon their router like Linksys/Cisco did, there was a future. I bought a TP-Link Archer C7. Affordable and it can run OpenWRT.

After setting it up initially, things worked. For a day. After that, no amount of fiddling could make it work again. Magic. Today I gave up on the original firmware and installed OpenWRT. It was easy - as easy as upgrading to a new TP-Link firmware: download the openWRT firmware, go to the upgrade interface, select it, hit start. A while later you ca visit the web interface. Which is a tad more complicated, but not much - and noticeably more capable. It didn't take me any longer than on the original firmware to set up my wifi and guest networks.

How to make it work

But it didn't solve the problem. I had to resort to a web search and found a neat trick, which I'm happy to share (assuming is your server on your LAN):
  • Log into your router over ssh
  • Add to your /etc/dnsmasq.conf file the following: address=/example.com/
  • Add to your /etc/hosts file: example.com
A few minutes later, things will work.

Essentially, the DNS provider in OpenWRT will provide your local server address to local clients... It thus breaks when you use another DNS than the one provided by the router via DHCP.

I'd be happy to hear from other and/or better solutions. Heck, this might only work for a day or might be horrible or maybe I changed something else which made it work. What do I know...

17 March, 2016

New ownCloud Events

I've just added some events to the ownCloud events page:
I myself will be in Chemnitz this Saturday and Sunday and in Lithuania as well, both cases I'll give a talk and in Chemnitz we'll run a booth. If you are at any of these events or were thinking about going - come say hi to the ownCloud Flag (or t-shirt) bearer!

We can use your help!

There are other events where an ownCloud presence would be awesome. For example, LinuxWochen Wien ("Linuxweeks Vienna") has no ownCloud appearance yet and the CfP closes in three days!!! If you live close there and would be up for talking about ownCloud, that would rock, please, reach out to me...

The same is true for the SouthEast LinuxFest which has it's call for papers still open. If you live in the South East of the US or were already thinking about going there, can I convince you to talk about ownCloud and perhaps help run a booth?

How to give a talk

I know, just out of the blue giving a talk about ownCloud might not be the most attractive thought you can come up with. But I've got stuff to make it easy... First of all, slides complete with notes can be found in a public github repo here. On top of that, we've got quite some information on our website about promoting ownCloud at an event, including speaking tips and tricks. And I'd be happy to give you some support in person. If you need any materials for a show you're presenting ownCloud at, we have materials available, too!

And do you know any other events ownCloud should be at?

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.