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?