I don't hate owncloud

Jeremy asked someone to start a thread about OwnCloud, so here I am!

I’ve used owncloud pretty much since it was first released, as I’ve always been of the opinion that relying on someone else to sync your data is a terrible idea.

As a web application, it’s not bad. However, the plugins (“apps”, adding stuff like calendaring, ampache media streaming etc) tend to be of dubious quality. There used to be a lot included by default, but in more recent versions it was stripped down to a bare minimum with most being optional. As a way of having a web interface to your files and allowing you to share them (either with other users, or with anonymous public links), it’s a great tool.

However, the implementation of the syncing is poor. If you try and use it for more than a couple of GB of files (e.g., my music collection), it falls over completely and fails to sync. When it does work, it’ll occasionally get confused and create a copy of every single file with “conflict” appended to the file name. For this reason I actually use BTSync (considering switching to SyncThing) for file sync and just use OwnCloud for the web interface.

Version 6 added OwnCloud Documents which is a promising alternative for collaborative editing a la Google docs. My first experiences of it were that I could successfully share a link to a document and collaboratively edit it… once. I need to re-visit it now it’s a couple of months later and see if this has improved.

In general, OwnCloud isn’t all bad, but it’s not the one-stop “self-hosted cloud” solution that it intends to be.

This. All of this is what I was saying. I couldn’t agree more.

I already posted on this subject in the show 14 thread, but as this is here now too…

My general attitude to projects like ownCloud is to support and use them where practical, I’d been using DropBox but more recently their offering (data/function wise) is less and less appealing, and IMO *doesn’t match the functionallity of OC. OC doesn’t compete well function wise with Google Drive/Docs for web interface experience, but neither are great at this anyway, both being slow, heavy and somewhat unreliable. However I have little desire to bug report for Google Drive (however open-source it may or may not be), but for OC I might, although OC actually use the freemium model, so the stuff I want or that doesn’t work in the free version, I may need to pay for…Neither are ideal…

The case for using DropBox if find hard to justify simply because “it just works”, I think it’s more that “it just works and is popular” is more like it, as I don’t find it significantly better than Drive/OC/Copy/Mega, and IMO they loose points for their data policy https://www.dropbox.com/privacy2014 where there is plenty of scope for deeming it necessary to disclose you files (and arguably even more so now Condi Rice is on-board!)

SyncThing sounds like a great idea, *if you have more than a few file store devices/locations" but the case for ussing Bittorrent for syncing between only a few machines seems a bit pointless, and I’m surprised @sil you choose an unstable beta bit of software that requires all the pissing around to install and all the bugs to suffer as your choice of (not really cloud at all) data management, when you usually state the exact opposite choice when it comes to production software! SyncThing also doesn’t look like it would be useful for quick and easy file sharing/collaboration, but rather better suited for personal data management?

Yeah. My view here is a bit nuanced.

I like decentralised things. I think they’re a good way to work, and because I am not a good sysadmin, the idea that all my “nodes” are equivalent rather than having one “server” which needs setting up and many “clients” is, to me, a good idea.

BTSync also has one massive, massive advantage: I can use it to back up my dad’s computer too. Even though he’s there, and I’m here, and we’re both behind NATs, all I need is to punch in the magic code on his machine and mine and, lo, his machine is now backed up to my server. That is easy. That’s lovely. The reason I stopped using BTSync is that it didn’t actually work for me, not because I disliked it conceptually (and because of a small tiny amount of disquiet at it being closed-source, but that was in no way a major decider). I’m using syncthing because it meets that conceptual overview that I like, and the chap is very responsive to feedback (which BTSync weren’t, either), and he values polish and design in the UI. It’s not ready for real people yet, but it feels to me like it could be, and as far as I can tell there is no more polished and accomplished alternative available.

I totally viciously disagree with you on “Dropbox is no better than the alternatives”. Here is a reason they are better: they explicitly support Ubuntu. Drive doesn’t; there’s no client at all, and it baffles me why you’d use a service who don’t want to run on your OS. Copy doesn’t; there’s a “Linux” client which arrives as a tgz.

Syncthing isn’t useful for collaboration and sharing. I don’t care about that, for the moment. We (the BV team) use Dropbox for that right now, as mentioned.

I’m seeing this discussion more now as a “Hosted cloud or self hosted cloud service”? matter, rather than which actual choice you make. Or we could do both!
Other than not having a distro packaged client(are ‘you lot’ really phased by a tar.gz client?!!), I reckon Copy gives DropBox a good run for it’s money and even offers anonymous file hosting which I hadn’t noticed! (just below main window here: https://www.copy.com/home/ ).
Google Drive is just there and gets used as I’m a long term Gmail user, it’s not something I’m happy about, but again, it just works mostly, the native client business is basically Google not wanting clever Linux people using their service with clever code to host Petabytes of pirated materials! (probably)

It’s not about me. It’s about services having respect for my choices. I run Ubuntu. My dad runs Ubuntu. Yes, I am capable of downloading a tarball, unpacking it to a folder, chmoding +x the executable, and running it. Dad isn’t. You can damned well bet that their Mac client doesn’t get installed like that. We should demand the same level of care taken for our OSes.

This seems like a pretty searing indictment, considering file sync is core functionality for the product.


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Yeeeeaaahhhh… I don’t remember you saying that.

I do recall something about “the bell end of a donkeys years with bobs yer uncle and PHP and owncloud are a couple-a tossers” or something similarly British-y and indecipherable.

If you learned to speak English as all right-thinking people do, it wouldn’t be indecipherable :smile:

Owncloud doesn’t know what it is. Each one of the things it does is a serious and complicated project in its own right – I know this from direct experience of working on Ubuntu One, at least – and getting a bunch of half-finished half-implemented things and throwing them all together into one web UI is not the approach I would recommend. Some people seem to like it; good for them. I do not.


Do you know of an existing Open Source project that focuses just on the file syncing/sharing aspect of this that passes the aq definition of “Does Not Suck™”? Or are you just waiting for the Ubuntu One code to be released as Open Source?


I think sync thing could be that project, which is why I’m using it and hoping to contribute. :slight_smile:

Should I take that to mean you have absolutely no plans to contribute to Open Source Ubuntu One after it’s released?


U1 isn’t designed for one person to run it alone. The server is specifically to cater for millions of users. If someone takes that code and sets up a service running it, I’ll happily look at being a contributor and a paying user, and I’ll happily continue to make available the set of things I’ve written or helped write for U1 – scripts to publish a folder, download a folder, access U1 via ftp, save to U1 from a webpage with a click, and the like. But I’m not going to set up a whole U1 server just for me to use; that’d be like wanting a mail client and so having your own duplicate gmail, which is nuts.

I’ve heard nothing so far that would lead me to believe you’re above doing something nuts.

I rarely do things which are nuts. I’m happy to hear what your non-nuts solution is.

@sil, you hang around this lot. That alone gives me reason to question your sanity, at least a little

Ah, @jeremy and @bryanlunduke and @jonobacon are alarmingly smart. I learn something every time we record a show.

Hmm, it’s a core functionality of the product. Owncloud was a perfectly usable product before they released the sync client. Originally, I used the WebDAV interface to copy files to/from owncloud which works very well (and is standards compliant, built in to most OSes etc).

I think Owncloud has always tried to be more of a replacement for Google than for Dropbox. With the core functionality plus the calendar, contacts and RSS app, you get a good deal of the way there. The trouble is that when they tried to add dropbox-style syncing (perhaps because that’s what people expected it would do) it didn’t work so well.

As I tried to explain in another thread, “dropbox-style syncing” is a lot harder than it looks. Dropbox’s major achievement is managing to hide all of the complexity from their users to the point at which nobody knows there even is any complexity, for which they should be hugely applauded.

I don’t use ownCloud’s sync feature for full offsite backups or anything like that, but to have a few handy files available on all my devices. For that it works just fine, and combined with the calDAV and cardDAV services suits my needs exactly.

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