A week with ownCloud

Last week I installed “ownCloud”, a Dropbox like file sharer where you run the server so nobody you don’t want gets control over your files. It also provides calendar and contact sharing, as well as supposedly providing an rss reader/aggregator to replace Google Reader, although I haven’t figured out how to implement that yet.

Installing it was pretty easy – I used the Debian packages hosted on opensuse for both the server and my linux box, and a more direct install on my MacBook. It took a bit of messing around to get ssl working on my web server because my sites-enabled config files were a mess that just barely worked in the past.

I added the documents folder on my MacBook to the ownCloud, and it synced. I could see all the files on the web interface. Then I moved the Documents dir on my Linux box out of the way, and added the ownCloud Documents dir to it. A little while later, all the documents from the Mac were now there on my Linux box. Then I moved all the docs that had been on the Linux box’s Document dir back into the dir, and watched as they appeared on the web interface and on my Mac. The very next day, the server was reporting that ownCloud version 5.0 was now out, and so I upgraded.

The upgrade didn’t go 100% smoothly. At one point in the web interface part of the upgrade, it appeared to stop doing anything, and so I reloaded the page. I’m not sure if that’s the cause of all my future problems, or just another symptom. At a later time I noticed an error appearing in the web admin page mentioning a duplicate key in an index. That probably isn’t good.

I didn’t run the old 4.7 version long enough to tell if it happened there, but this week I’ve noticed the following big problems:

  • frequently throughout the day, the “dock icon” on Linux or the toolbar icon on the Mac will indicate a problem, but it will go away on its own. The error mentions something about being unable to find a sync file.
  • the linux client crashes almost every night, and sometimes during the day
  • this morning, the linux client hadn’t crashed, but it was consuming 150% of a CPU
  • the number of requests to my apache server has gone up astronomically, mostly “PROPFIND” requests on ownCloud.
  • when I noticed a dozen or so directories in Documents that I don’t need any more and attempted to remove them on the linux box, 3 of them came back. One of them came back seven or eight times, as I removed it on Linux box and then the web interface, and finally on the Mac

I also tried installing the client on a 32 bit Linux virtualbox vm, and was able to get it to sync the default “ownCloud” directory, but I couldn’t get it to sync “Documents”.

In spite of these problems, as a file sharer I think it’s an awesome idea. I might try blowing the installation away and recreating it to see if that clears some of the annoyances.

Having a central store for my calendar is pretty nice, and I can use caldav to add that calendar to my iPad calendar and others. I exported my whole google calendar and imported it into e owncloud calendar without too much trouble. The drawback is I don’t see any easy way to allow Vicki to copy things onto my calendar like she does with my google calendar. Also, their web interface is pretty basic, but like I say you can just point other calendar programs like the iOS and KDE ones at it.

So if you’re like me and wish Dropbox gave you more disk space, and you just happen to have a spare 20 or 30 gig of unused space on a server somewhere, give ownCloud a try.