How To Install OwnCloud and Configure OwnCloud Apps on an Ubuntu 12.04 VPS


Introduction

OwnCloud is a web application that can store and serve content from a centralized location, much like Dropbox. The difference is that ownCloud allows you to host the serving software on your own machines, taking the trust issues out of putting your personal data someone else’s server.

Although mainly used as a simple file-sharing and accessing portal, ownCloud has many other functionalities as well.

In this guide, we will install and configure an ownCloud instance on an Ubuntu 12.04 VPS. We will then discuss how to mount the ownCloud share to another VPS using WebDAV. We will also cover some other exciting options.

Install OwnCloud

The version of ownCloud available in Ubuntu 12.04’s default repositories is out of date by now. We will get the latest stable version that is built using openSUSE’s amazing build services.

We will first download the release key associated with the ownCloud software:

cd
wget http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/isv:ownCloud:community/xUbuntu_12.04/Release.key

Now add the key to apt so that it can validate the files:

sudo apt-key add - < Release.key

Add the ownCloud repositories in the openSUSE build service to apt’s source lists by typing:

echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/isv:ownCloud:community/xUbuntu_12.04/ /' | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/owncloud.list

Finally, update the package database and install ownCloud and MySQL:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install owncloud mysql-server

You will be asked to set a root password for the MySQL database admin user during installation.

MySQL Configuration

We will be configuring our ownCloud server to take advantage of the more robust MySQL database instead of the SQLite default implementation. To do so, we must configure MySQL first.

Type the following commands to initialize the database and secure the system:

sudo mysql_install_db
sudo mysql_secure_installation

You will have to enter the administration password you selected during the MySQL installation. You will then be prompted for security settings. Press “Enter” to select yes for all of the settings except the first (about changing the root password again).

Now, sign into MySQL as the root user by typing:

mysql -u root -p

Again, you will be prompted for the MySQL administration password.

Create a database with this command:

CREATE DATABASE owncloud;

Create and assign privileges to a new MySQL user to handle database operations for ownCloud:

GRANT ALL ON owncloud.* to 'owncloud'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'select_database_password';

Exit MySQL by typing:

exit

Final Configuration

Now, if you go to your IP address or domain name followed by “/owncloud” in your browser, you will see a page that looks like this:

OwnCloud error page

You can fix these errors by installing an additional package. We’ll also install the PHP curl library for later:

sudo apt-get install php5-intl php5-curl

Now, reload your page and you should be give a page that will ask you to create an administrative user:

OwnCloud create admin

Before doing so, click on the “advanced” button. Select “MySQL” from the available options. Enter the information you configured in the last step:

OwnCloud advanced setup

Create a user and password. You will be signed in and presented with a welcome message:

OwnCloud welcome page

Click the “X” in the corner to get to the main interface:

OwnCloud File Upload

Here, you can create or upload files to your personal cloud.

Mount Your OwnCloud Share to Your VPS

If you would like to be able to interact with your ownCloud instance from the command line as if it were part of your local filesystem, you can mount the file sharing directory using WebDAV.

From another Ubuntu droplet or machine, you can mount the shared region. This allows you to interact with the space in an automated way.

Install the WebDAV tools on the second Ubuntu machine by typing:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install davfs2

We will allow non-root users to mount and unmount the WebDAV shares by typing:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure davfs2
 ???????????????????????????? Configuring davfs2 ?????????????????????????????
 ?                                                                           ? 
 ? The file /sbin/mount.davfs must have the SUID bit set if you want to      ? 
 ? allow unprivileged (non-root) users to mount WebDAV resources.            ? 
 ?                                                                           ? 
 ? If you do not choose this option, only root will be allowed to mount      ? 
 ? WebDAV resources. This can later be changed by running 'dpkg-reconfigure  ? 
 ? davfs2'.                                                                  ? 
 ?                                                                           ? 
 ? Should unprivileged users be allowed to mount WebDAV resources?           ? 
 ?                                                                           ? 
 ?                    <Yes>                       <No>                       ? 
 ?                                                                           ? 
 ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? 

Select “Yes” to enable WebDAV control for users.

Next, add your Linux username to the WebDAV group:

sudo usermod -aG davfs2 username

Edit the file system table:

sudo nano /etc/fstab

Add the following line to the end of the file, substituting your server and username information:

your_IP_or_domain/owncloud/files/webdav.php /home/username/owncloud davfs user,rw,noauto 0 0

Go to your home directory and create two directories, one to mount the share, and the other to hold the WebDAV configuration details:

cd
mkdir owncloud
mkdir .davfs2

Create a file called “secrets” in your WebDAV configuration directory to store your login credentials for your ownCloud instance.

nano /home/username/.davfs2/secrets
your_IP_or_domain/owncloud/files/webdav.php OwnCloud_username OwnCloud_password

Now lock down the file, since it contains sensitive information in plain text:

chmod 600 ~/.davfs2/secrets

Finally, you’re ready to mount your share:

mount ~/owncloud

Now, change into the owncloud directory to see the content:

cd ~/owncloud
ls
error_page.png  lost+found  Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 1.03.37 PM.png

OwnCloud file comparison

You can add, remove, or edit files as if they were on your local computer, but the ownCloud you’ve set up will reflect the changes.

Use OwnCloud to Manage Bookmarks

One advantage of incorporating your web habits into ownCloud is that your information can be persistent among multiple devices and locations.

A good example of this is the ability to store your bookmarks in ownCloud. You can then access them from any computer.

To enable bookmarks, click on your username in the upper-right corner, and then click “Apps”:

OwnCloud apps

Here, you can enable modules, or “apps” to extend the functionality of your ownCloud.

Find the “Bookmarks” selection in the menu and the click the “Enable” button:

OwnCloud enable bookmarks

A button called “Bookmarks” will be added to the left-hand navigation bar. Click it.

Now drag the button from the center of the page and place it in the bookmarks bar of your browser.

OwnCloud bookmark drag

Now, you have a button in your browser that says “Read later”. On any page you wish to book mark, click that button to create a bookmark within ownCloud.

A pre-populated bookmark will open up and you can edit it with tagging information.

OwnCloud bookmark taggin

Anything you save will be available within your Bookmarks tab:

OwnCloud bookmarks tab

Use OwnCloud to Keep Track of Tasks

OwnCloud also has a fairly functional task organizer. This can be incorporated with the calendar plugin to organize and schedule activities and tasks.

Go to the apps page again (click on your username in the upper-right corner and then select “apps”). Click on “Tasks” and then the “Enable” button:

OwnCloud enable tasks

You now have a “Tasks” button on the left-hand navigation bar. Click it to see the tasks interface:

OwnCloud tasks interface

Use OwnCloud to Manage Your RSS Feeds

If you keep track of multiple sites daily, you probably are familiar with RSS feeds. These allow you to keep up-to-date on site content in a unified interface.

You can enable this functionality within ownCloud by turning on a few apps.

Again, go to the apps page (click on your username in the upper-right corner and then select “apps”).

You need to enable both “App Framework” and “News”:

OwnCloud app framework

OwnCloud news app

You will now have a “News” tab on the left-hand navigation bar. Enter your RSS feeds in upper-left corner.

OwnCloud feed enter

Your feeds will then show up on the right side. You will have a menu of feeds on the left:

OwnCloud feed example

Conclusion

OwnCloud can replicate the functionality of many popular pieces of software. The advantage of ownCloud is that the information is stored in a place that you control.

Explore the interface and try out some of the plugins. Many of the extensions have the ability to import data from the applications you are currently using.

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