12 December, 2015

Western Digital Labs and ownCloud

We published a blog post about a collaboration between WDLabs and ownCloud. WDLabs is, in their words, "a division of Western Digital focused on accelerating new solutions". I'd take that as "they look for more ways to sell hard drives" and they have been playing with some interesting stuff. One such thing is their PiDrive Kit. This kit includes a connector cable which powers both the harddrive and the Pi from one power supply, simplifying the setup. We're now working with WD Labs to build something from this starting point.

WD Labs, meet ownCloud

When they approached us a few weeks ago, they told us they had been toying with a more complete kit with bundled operating system based on berry boot. This lets you choose an OS on first boot and they had put together an image with ownCloud as one of the options. They thought it was really cool and asked if we felt the same and had any ideas of what we could do with it. Well, sure, I wrote not too long ago about What's holding ownCloud back and being able to offer potential users a plug-and-play device with ownCloud on it is something we'd love.

So did they. We quickly received a prototype of a kit with Berryboot and ownCloud on it as well as a case and a Pi included. After some more discussions, we developed a plan with which we hope to get some community help to make this happen.

We need your help

You have to know - this is not something ownCloud, Inc. is very much involved with. It simply is not a commercial endeavor - Inc. works for enterprise customers and we haven't found any of them yet running ownCloud on a Pi. So, while WD Labs will take care of the hardware and has committed themselves to doing a serious number of ownCloud branded devices complete with pre installed OS in the first quarter of next year, it will depend on our free time and community help to develop the OS.

And there's serious work to be done. Berryboot can be configured to boot a headless ownCloud but right now, to even boot, you have to connect a keyboard and monitor. And booting isn't even the issue - finding and configuring an IP and then connecting to the Pi is. And once you've done that, the system has to be configured to be accessible from outside so you can use the ownCloud clients on your mobile phone and laptop to always find and connect to your ownCloud and give you the ability to share with friends and family.

There are folks in our community who have experience with this, building our community VM for example (hi Daniel!) and we'd like to solicit their help. We have 10 prototypes to send out to people who want to help build this ready-to-go ownCloud, the blog has more details on how to get one. And if there is a lot of interest, we'll get more prototypes put together, though I think it'll be tight to get them out before Christmas.

Note that it is totally cool, even advantageous, to send in a proposal ad a team. Together you can get more done!!!

Of course - without this kit there is still a LOT you can do to help out and there is no reason to wait for us sending out anything! Help get a discussion started about what this should look like, how to get there and who does what. Subscribe to the developer mailing list and get started!

Future

Now we know the Raspberry Pi 2 isn't the very best device to run ownCloud on, in terms of performance. It won't run with 100 users, indeed, though it isn't too bad for a few users at home. But, aside from the fact that there is a lot of room for tuning (PHP 7, for one, should help a lot, see some stats here), we're not married to the Raspberry with a single hard drive. It is a popular device and thus a great place to start but WD Labs has already shown us prototypes using a Rasberry Pi Compute device and 2 hard drives and we could work with devices like the Banana Pi or more powerful boards, too. That won't happen immediately, it simply depends on how well the first version turns out and the interest from users.

That means it matters a lot now: can we make this work? I'll sure put a portion of my free time in this as I'm quite excited about it. You too?