Donnerstag, 20. Februar 2014

Free ownCloud mobile libraries released

Today we are happy to announce the release of the ownCloud mobile libraries for iOS and Android. ownCloud is a free file sync and share solution. The main differentiator to Dropbox, Google Drive, and others beside being free software is that you can run it yourself wherever you want. Obviously a central place to you store your files is only useful if you can access it from all devices and integrate it with all of the applications that you use.

Because of that, the ownCloud strategy is to provide as many ways as possible to access files and data stored in ownCloud. We have a strong commitment to support open protocols and formats like WebDAV, CalDAV, CardDAV, OCS, ODF and others. So you can mount your ownCloud via WebDAV easily with KDE, GNOME, Windows, Mac and so on. It's easy to integrate ownCloud with other systems by transferring files via WebDAV. This is the power of open protocols. But ownCloud provides much more than that. There are mobile applications for iOS and Android and Desktop syncing
clients that you can use to work with you files. The Desktop syncing clients runs on Mac, Windows and Linux and also ship with a command line client that can be used to automatically sync folders between desktops and the server or script it in any way. There is also a C++ library that can be used by 3rdparty clients like the KDE Plasma one. So there are a lot of options to access your ownCloud from the desktop.

On the phone and tablet side it was, until now, a bit more difficult. A user could use the official ownCloud apps, but if a 3rd party app wanted to access an ownCloud server, then the 3rd party app had to implement all of the WebDAV and REST calls needed to talk to ownCloud. 

This is why today we released free libraries for iOS and Android that can be used used by mobile developers to add ownCloud support to their apps. They provide easy to use methods to read and write files, share files and many more useful operations. To make these libraries as useful as possible to as many developers as possible, we have released them under the MIT license. 

The libraries can be download here 

The documentation how to use them can be found here:

For any developer related questions please post to the new ownCloud developer list http://mailman.owncloud.org/mailman/listinfo/devel



Mittwoch, 11. Dezember 2013

ownCloud 6 is here

I'm supper happy to announce the release of ownCloud 6 today.
ownCloud 6 is a special release in several way. The community did an incredible job with improving ownCloud in several important areas.
  • Quality. ownCloud is a very fast moving project so it is super important to balance innovative new features with rock solid stability. The ownCloud community introduced several important techniques to improve the quality. As a result we fixed a huge amount of bugs in this release. Also some very old and annoying issues are finally gone. I think this is very important for a lot of users. We will release a series of bugfix releases for in the next few month to iron out the last remaining issues. This is a big step forward.
  • Performance. The performance of ownCloud 6 improved significantly over older versions. The overall file-handling is faster and more optimized. In some areas, like the mounting of SFTP, CIFS or Dropbox servers, the performance improved over 10x. This is great for people who run their ownCloud server on a small device like a Raspberry Pi or on a big cluster to serve hundred thousands of users.
  • Innovation It was always to goal of ownCloud to deliver innovative features to our users and to be the innovation leader in our space. I don't want to repeat my previous blog posts where I announced the great new features of version 6. Just look at my posts here.  http://blog.karlitschek.de/2013/10/introducing-owncloud-6.html and http://blog.karlitschek.de/2013/10/welcome-owncloud-documents.html 
  • But I have to say that I'm especially proud about what we did with ownCloud Documents. This is a feature that doesn't exist anywhere else. Other collaborative editing solutions are 1.) proprietary or 2.) don't run on your own hardware or 3.) don't work on top of normal files that you can also sync and share or 4.) a combination of all of this. I belief that this features is super important for the future and the huge response we got from users clearly show that I'm not alone here. This is only the first version of this feature of course. We will keep on improving and polishing it in the future.

Please look at http://owncloud.org/six for more information about ownCloud 6.

ownCloud is more important now then every if you follow the latest surveillance and espionage revelations. A free and self hosted alternative to the big proprietary cloud services is essential for the future.

Thanks to the awesome ownCloud community who builds all this. Thanks a lot to everyone who contributed to this great release. And thanks to ownCloud Inc. who sponsors the development of free software.

ownCloud is built by a great community with a completely open development process. Everyone is welcome to join us and help to build software which can protect all of us from surveillance. Please join us at https://owncloud.org if you want to make the world a little bit better.



Frank

Donnerstag, 24. Oktober 2013

Welcome "ownCloud Documents"


A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the new features in ownCloud 6. I promised a special surprise in the coming weeks. And here it is. ;-)

In the past few month we have worked on a feature that will be super useful and popular. All the development happened in a public repository on github but we haven't talked about it in public and perhaps it wasn't obvious what it was for people who found it by accident.

I'm talking about collaborative editing! This feature is implemented in an app called "ownCloud Documents" and will be part of ownCloud 6. People can view and edit their ODF text documents directly in the browser, inside your ownCloud. Another cool thing is that you can invite users from the same ownCloud to work collaboratively on the same document with you. Or you can send invitation links by email to  people outside your server to collaborate with you on the document.

Several people can navigate in the same document with different  cursors at the same time and you can see the changes that are done by the different users in different colors. Every user is identified by the name and the nice avatar picture that we also introduced in ownCloud 6.


We implemented this feature together with our friends from KO GmbH. The browser part is based on WebODF with a new ownCloud backend to load, save, share documents and a system to distribute the document changes.

This feature is special in several ways:
  • It runs purely on your server. No communication with centralized services like Google -- so your data is always protected against surveillance.
  • We didn't introduce any new server requirements here. Just take  ownCloud and put it into your web server document root and you have your own collaborative editing server. This is far easier to install and run than for example Etherpad.
  • All the documents are based on ODT files that live in your ownCloud. This means that you can sync your documents to your desktop and open them with LibreOffice, Calligra, OpenOffice or MS Office 2013 in parallel. Or you can access them via WebDAV if you want. You also get all the other ownCloud features like versioning, encryption, undelete and so on. This is very unique I think.
  • All the code is completely free software. The PHP and the JS components are released under the AGPL license. This is different than most other solutions. Some of them claim to be open source but use creative commons as a code license which is not free software.
Please note that this is only the first version of this great feature. Not every ODT element is supported but we are working on improving this considerably in the future. We will invest significantly in this because we think that this is a very important feature that is useful for people.

More information about this feature including a demo video and all the other new ownCloud 6 features can be found here:

ownCloud Documents is part of the ownCloud 6 beta 1 that you can download here: 

Thanks to the awesome ownCloud community who implemented this innovative feature. Special thanks to our friends from KO GmbH. It's great to work with you. And thanks to ownCloud Inc. who sponsors the development of free software.

ownCloud is built by a great community with a completely open  development process. Everyone is welcome to join us and help to build software which can protect all of us from surveillance. Please join us at https://owncloud.org if you want to make the world a little bit better.


Mittwoch, 9. Oktober 2013

Introducing ownCloud 6

Today we release the first Alpha of the latest (ownCloud 6) Community Edition and I'm extremely excited by the latest features. ownCloud 6 is the fastest, best looking, easiest to use ownCloud yet. Oh, and it has a ton of cool, new features that the community can use to safely and privately sync and share files. We also spend a lot of energy on stabilizing and fixing bugs and we will keep on doing this in the future.
The brave at heart can take a look at the Alpha 1 now (warning, may kill your hamster). I've listed some of the top features below (more detail to come), and there may be a surprise or two added in the coming weeks.
A new era has begun at ownCloud, ownCloud 6 -- thanks to all who helped virtually and in-person in Berlin.
  • Activity feed. See what is going on in your ownCloud
  • Improved design. Less visual clutter and more space for better focus
  • Performance. Improved performance across the board.
  • Avatars. People can upload pictures of themselves that augment their interactions, so users are easily recognized by others.
  • Previews. Thumbnails for filetypes are shown in the interface.
  • Conflict handling. A new web conflict dialog if a file is uploaded that already exists.
  • ownCloud App API. Easier development of 3rd party apps, easier access to core functions for app development.
  • Share file notification. Send an email if sharing a file or folder.
  • Example files for new users. Load new user's with files, such as a tutorial on how to use ownCloud, which appears when they first log in.
  • Sharing REST API. Control sharing from mobile apps and desktop clients
  • App management. Improved management of 3rd party apps.
  • Bug fixes. A ton of bugfixes went into this release
  • Many smaller improvements



Thanks a lot to everyone in the community who contributed and made ownCloud possible. ownCloud is an open free software community project. Everyone who wants to contribute is welcome. So join us.



Freitag, 2. August 2013

Introducing CONTRIBOOK

I wan't to introduce a small side project of me today that we needed for ownCloud but could be useful for other too. It's call CONTRIBOOK and I planed to do this for many years. Lately I was sitting in planes and trains a lot so I have some time to finally do the version 1.0 It's a tool that can be used for community building and showing community activity as we wanted to do on ownCloud.org but it's very generic and can be used by other open source projects tool.

Many years ago when we rebranded KDE from KDE the software to KDE the community the question came up how this should be reflected on the KDE.org website. It was clear that we should show the KDE community on the website in parallel to the software that we do. So I hacked together a few PHP scripts that show the latest blog posts, the latest forum posts and the latest applications on the homepage. This was always planed as a first step but somehow I never found the time to improve it.
Today at ownCloud we are facing the same problem. We want to show the activity of our awesome community on the homepage and invite new contributors but this is not very easy. We are even struggling with our ownCloud blog planet on the homepage. We used a Wordpress plugin for that but we had to shut it down because of serious bugs that are not fixed by upstream.
We could just install one of the existing planet software modules that are used by other free software communities but I always found the functionality very limited and I wanted to do something more.

So today I want to announce 1.0 of CONTRIBOOK. It is only the first version but it can already do a lot. I hope that a lot of people use it and contribute to it. It is a tool that can be used for community building. It replaces a normal planet software and adds a few tweaks like responsive design and endless scrolling. But it does a lot more. It collects all kinds of social media information like Twitter posts, Blog posts, forum posts, github commits, RSS feeds and more and shows them in a nice way. You can have a nice feed with the latest activities of your community on a page like the homepage for example. A list of the latest commits, bugs or twitter posts or content entries from an OCS server. Every user can have a profile page with a nice description, a photo, links to other sites with more information and also the latest activities like blog posts, commits and so on.
All the user data is stored in a database. So to add or edit user accounts you have to change it in the database. In the future a user should be able to keep the own information up to date with an html form. This is planed for the next version.

We currently used it on ownCloud.org for the planet page to show the blog posts with nice endless scrolling (http://owncloud.org/news), the contacts page for a list of core contributors and links to profile pages (http://owncloud.org/about/contact), the new apps page (http://owncloud.org/about/apps/) and the homepage (http://owncloud.org) I plan to extend it with more features over time but I also hope that other contribute and that it will be used by other free software projects like KDE or GNOME too.
It's AGPL licensed and lives here: https://github.com/contribook

Feedback, help and pull requests are very welcome.

Frank

Dienstag, 30. Juli 2013

Thoughts on privacy

There is currently a huge public discussion going on about privacy, what it means in the Internet age, is it important or an outdated concept? Are there exceptions allowed? Does the government have special rights to see private documents and communication of the people? Does the government have the right to keep information about what it is doing private or should the government be 100% transparent? Is security more important than privacy?

In the good old days, and I mean 20 years ago, we had very clear regulations and laws about what the government and the police were allowed to do and in what way. I talk mainly about Germany here but I believe this is true for most democratic countries. The content of letters is protected by a special law in Germany called “Briefgeheimnis". The post office and the police are not allowed to open letters unless there is a strong suspicion that the sender or receiver is a criminal and the letter contains some important evidence. Opening and reading a letter also requires approval from an independent judge. The same is true for telephone calls. It is possible to wiretap it but only in limited cases and after a judge's approval.  A house search to look at private documents is even more difficult and is not possible even with very strong evidence and after a major crime.

There is a strong protection of the privacy in the offline world.

In the online world of the internet accessing private data is very easy from a technology standpoint. You don't need a police force to break down your door. You just flip a bit on a server and suddenly someone has full access to all the personal communications and documents of a person.

Some people think that violating the privacy of people is not a problem in the digital world because it is so much cheaper and somehow 'natural'. It seems to be so easy and built into the technology that all data flows freely without borders and rules.

There is a movement called 'post privacy’. Some people think that in a post-privacy world everybody loses control over their personal data anyway so we should just live with it and make the best out of it. Think about all the bank robbers we can catch if everyone has access to all phone calls, personal computers and emails. Privacy is a concept of the past and the digital world and the concept of privacy is incompatible by nature.

We don’t control our data anyway. So get over it and stop caring.

A live stream of me sitting on the toilet? A webcam in my bedroom? All my phone calls and all my 1x1 conversations are recorded, public, indexed with voice recognition and searchable? Maybe this is the future? I don’t know. Currently I can’t imagine a world like that and I don’t like the idea for sure. Do you close the door if you sit on a public toilet? If yes, than you agree with me that we all have the need for privacy.

I think the right of privacy is something that has its roots deep in human nature. It’s part of the International Bill of Human Rights of the United Nations and part of the constitution of most democratic countries in the world. Some politicians say that security is more important than privacy. So it is O.K. to violate the privacy of all people because this is needed to fight terrorism.

This is a difficult statement for several reasons. First of all there is not a direct connection between surveillance and security. So a society with total surveillance is not necessarily safe. And a society with strong privacy laws is not necessarily insecure. Examples of countries with strong surveillance are East Germany, Nazi Germany, Cuba or Iran. Examples of countries with low surveillance but still low crime rates and no terrorism are the Scandinavian countries or Spain. Another problem is that surveillance might help the police catch a bank robber but a suicide bomber doesn’t care if you have a video of the terrorist act.

Another fundamental issue with surveillance of people is that the secret services who do the surveillance live basically in the shadow and are not democratically controlled. This makes sense because who would vote for a government that spies on the own people? There must be a reason why secret services are secret and I bet it has something to do with a special interpretation of some laws.

If I would plan a criminal act than I would encrypt my communication and data of course. Only stupid terrorists wouldn’t use strong cryptography or steganography for their communication. So you only hit the “normal" people or the stupid criminals with massive surveillance of everybody.

Another problem is that people behave differently if they know that someone is watching them. This is described in a good way here. (http://www.surveillance-and-society.org/Articles4(1)/student.pdf). So massive surveillance changes the society fundamentally.

Massive surveillance of the people by the society also raises serious democratic concerns. One of the most basic democratic principals is that people vote and control the government based on the actions the politicians are doing and how well they represent the will of the people. This principalv doesn’t work anymore if you have a society with secret laws, secret courts, secret court rulings and secret government organizations in general.

I’m using services like Facebook, Google, 500px.com and others that are known for violating my rights for privacy. Why do I do that? Isn't this strange for someone who is concerned about privacy rights? I thought about this a lot. Why I was sort of OK with these services in the past? The reason is probably that I only have personal information on these websites that I consider public anyway. Because of that I basically disabled the privacy settings completely and everything about me on this sites is completely public. I don't trust them to protect my private data like email, documents, address book and so on. Because of that I'm running my own mail server  forever and my ownCloud of course. This works for me but could be a different decision for everyone else.

So the conclusion here is that it is all my choice what I expose to the public and what not.

In Germany we had a ruling of the Bundesverfassungsgericht in the 80s which is the highest court about a principal called “Informationelle Selbstbestimmung“. The english translation could be “informational self-determination”. It means that it is the right of every person to decide what information is private and what is exposed to the public. It defines the rights of every person to control their own data and the privacy. Very similar to the user data manifesto from me. (http://userdatamanifesto.org/)

But has the government the right to override my choice?

I think the government has the right to restrict my personal freedoms and rights if it is important for the well being of the general public. So the state has the right to arrest criminals for example. But has the state the right to violate my personal privacy and to spy on my personal communication without any evidence? To practice complete surveillance on one person? Absolutely not!

Am I a criminal or terrorist or do I have something to hide from the government?
NO!

Do I still have the right to keep my privacy and do want to keep things to myself?
Hell, YES



Freitag, 15. März 2013

The new ownCloud 5 features!

Yesterday I blogged about the ownCloud 5 release in general and I promised to blog today about all the features that are new and improved in ownCloud 5


New design
In ownCloud 5, the main navigation was redesigned to clearly differentiate it from the in-app navigations. This also allows the app more room and thus a better focus on the content of your ownCloud directories. Settings and Log-out menus were combined into a user menu on the top right, which also shows the currently logged in user and makes it more intuitive to use. The settings are further simplified and app-specific settings are moved from personal settings into the relevant apps. To help people get their data synchronized, there is a new first run page linking the desktop & mobile apps as well as documentation how to sync contacts and calendars. This information is also displayed in the personal settings – and makes getting started with ownCloud much easier for a user.

Essentially, the new design helps to concentrate more on the content and makes it easier to navigate and setup the Desktop and Mobile syncing clients.

New Antivirus App
The new antivirus system scans uploaded files for viruses. The admin can choose if infected files should be deleted automatically and/or logged/reported in the log file.

New Files Undelete feature
Now users can undelete a file that was accidentally deleted through the web interface. Simply select the files in the files undelete section and they are returned to where they were deleted, with versions maintained.

New REST APIs
A new Open Collaboration Services (OCS)-based REST API is added to access and control ownCloud remotely. The newly released OCS 1.7 spec is supported. Main feature is a new capabilities API for closer communication with the Desktop and Mobile clients. It is now very easy for ownCloud apps to provide an REST API so more API features will be added in the future.

Display names
In the interface and share dialog, display names are shown instead of the login names. The display names are easier to understand for users and can be changed by the admin. The admin can configure the display names and they can be changed by the users themselves. The display names can also be fetched from an LDAP or AD server for bigger installations. This makes it much easier to work with ownCloud, as users are identified separately from their system-generated IDs

New search engine
A new Lucene-based full text search engine app is added. People can use the search to not only find files by name but also by content. Scanning is done in the background to ensure a responsive user experience for the users.

New photo gallery
ownCloud 5 contains an improved and rewritten photo gallery. It has an improved and streamlined user interface with a slideshow feature. Photo galleries can also be shared with others.

New documentation system
There is completely new user, admin and developer documentation. The user and administrator documentation is shipped with ownCloud and available in the help menu. The developer documentation is available online.

LDAP / AD enhancements
LDAP can now search in attributes, not only in the ownCloud username. The search attributes can be configured. Multiple User/Group bases can be configured in the LDAP backend. LDAP backend supports paged results for better performance if the server offers it (requires PHP 5.4) An LDAP/AD backup resp. replica host can be configured for HA environment. Multiple LDAP / AD servers can be configured.

Enhanced external storage app
Increase performance of integrated secondary storage, including Dropbox, Swift, FTP, Google Docs, S3, WebDAV and external ownCloud servers, with a significantly faster, more efficient and easier external storage app. This is the fastest way to a personal hybrid cloud.

Improved Versioning
The versioning support for files is improved with an intelligent algorithm that automatically expires old versions if running out of space. The versioning keeps revisions every 2 seconds for the first 10 seconds, every 10 seconds for the next minute, every minute for the next hour, every hour for the next 24 hours and one revision per day until running out of space or quota.

Expanded file cache
The file cache was rebuilt in ownCloud 4.5, and underwent a minor facelift in ownCloud 5.0 to improve speed, performance of external files, and scalability of sharing. The system is also a little faster with the new file cache, and less prone to corruption in production.

Improved apps management
The management of the shipped and the 3rd-party apps in ownCloud is improved. 3rd-party apps can be easily installed from the central apps repository (apps.owncloud.com) and are automatically removed from the server if disabled. If a new version of an 3rd party app is published by the author then an update button appears on the apps page inside ownCloud and he app can easily updated with just one click. More feedback is now given to the user during long running installation and updating operations. Recommended apps are shown in the apps list with a "recommended" label so that users can find high quality apps better.

Improved bookmarks
The user interface of the bookmarks app is improved and a lot easier to use.

Improved contacts
Contacts are now organized by groups (categories) instead of address books giving more intuitive access to Friends, Coworkers, Family etc. The main view shows an overview of the most relevant fields and the amount of info adjusts automatically depending the size of the browser window or device. The web UI is now written entirely in javascript giving a more responsive user experience.

Improved syncing
The desktop syncing clients and the mobile clients have improved communication with the server and can sync faster with lower server load.

Improved calendar
The calendar has now support for classed and the option to declare events as confidential or public. The sharing is improved and compatibility with clients also extended.

General fixes
In general, there were a number of bug fixes, UI enhancements, and improvements in performance.  Most notably a 5x improvement in disk write actions, as well as better overall scalability of ownCloud across the board.


  • Windows Server support extended
  • PDF viewer is updated for improved performance and compatibility
  • Improved media player
  • Improved overall performance
  • Improved download performance
  • Show file size and progress during downloading

More information here: http://owncloud.org/features

Thanks a lot to everybody who made this release possible. You guys rock.




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