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Another DIY Net Player

August 5, 2017 2 comments

Following up on my first DIY Net Player Post on this blog, I like to present another player that I recently built.

teakear_sunf1

TeakEar media player

This is a Raspberry Pi based audiophile net player that decodes my mp3 collection and net radio to my Linn amplifier. It is called TeakEar, because it’s main corpus is made from teak wood. Obviously I do not want to waste rain forest trees just because of my funny ideas, the teak wood used here has been a table from the 1970ies, back when nobody cared about rainforests. I had the chance to safe parts of the table when it was sorted out, and now use it’s valuable wood for special things.

Upcycling is the idea here, and the central iron part has been a drawbar part from an old hay cart. The black central stone piece is schist, which I found outside in the fields, probably a roofer material.

teak_ear_back1

Backside view

I wanted to combine these interesting and unique materials to something that stands for it’s own. And even though it covers a high tech sound device, I decided against any displays, lights or switches to not taint the warm and natural vibes of the heavy, dark and structured exotic wood, the rusty iron part, which obviously is the hand work of a blacksmith many years ago, and the black stone. Placed on my old school Linn Classic amplifier, it is an interesting object in my living room.

On it’s backside it has a steel sheet fitted into the wood body, held in place by two magnets to allow it to be quickly detached. On that, a Raspberry Pi 2 with a Hifiberry DAC is mounted. The Hifiberry DAC has a chinch output which is connected to the AUX input of the Linn Classic Amplifier. The energy supply is an ordinary external plug in power supply, something that could be improved.

On the software side, I use Volumio, the open audiophile music player. The Volumio project could not amaze me more. After a big redesign and -implementation last year, it is back with higher quality than before but still the same clear focus on music playing. It does nothing else, but with all features and extension points that are useful and needed.

I enjoy the hours in my workshop building these kind of devices, and I am sure this wont be the last one. Maybe next time with a bit more visible tech stuff.

Categories: DIY, Volumio Tags: , , ,

SMB on openSUSE Conference

May 21, 2017 1 comment

The annual openSUSE Conference 2017 is upcoming! osc17finalNext weekend it will be again in the Z-Bau in Nuremberg, Germany.

The conference program is impressive and if you can make it, you should consider stopping by.

Stefan Schäfer from the Invis server project and me will organize a workshop about openSUSE for Small and Medium Business (SMB).

SMB is a long running concern of the heart of the two of us: Both Stefan, who even does it for living, and me have both used openSUSE in the area of SMB for long and we know how well it serves there. Stefan has even initiated the Invis Server Project, which is completely free software and builds on top of the openSUSE distributions. The Invis Server adds a whole bunch of extra functionality to openSUSE that is extremely useful in the special SMB usecase. It came a long way starting as Stefans own project long years ago, evolving as proper maintained openSUSE Spin in OBS with a small, but active community.

The interesting question is how openSUSE, Invis Server and other smaller projects like for example Kraft can unite and offer a reliable maintained and comprehensive solution for this huge group of potential users, that is now locked in to proprietary technologies mainly while FOSS can really make a difference here.

In the workshop we first will introduce the existing projects briefly, maybe discuss some technical questions like integration of new packages in the openSUSE distributions and such, and also touch organizational question like how we want to setup and market openSUSE SMB.

Participants in the workshop should not expect too much presentation. We rather hope for a lively discussion with many people bringing in their projects that might fit, their experiences and ideas. Don’t be shy 🙂

 

 

Raspberry based Private Cloud?

December 11, 2016 15 comments

Here is something that might be a little outdated already, but I hope it still adds some interesting thoughts. The rainy Sunday afternoon today finally gives the opportunity to write this little blog.

Recently an ownCloud fork was coming up with a little shiny box with one harddisk, that can be complemented with a Rapsberry Pi and their software, promoting that as your private cloud.

While I like the idea of building a private cloud for everybody (I started to work on ownCloud because of that idea back in the days), I do not think that this example of gear is a good solution for private cloud.

In fact I believe that throwing this kind of implementations on the table is especially unfortunate because if we come up with too many not optimal proposals, we waste the  willingness of users to try it. This idea should not target geeks who might be willing to try ideas on and on. The idea of the private cloud needs to target at every computer user who wants to store data safely, but does not want to care about longer than ever necessary. And with them I fear we only have very little chances, if one at all, to introduce them to a private cloud solution before they go back to something that simply works.

Here are some points why I think solutions like the proposed one are not good enough:

Hardware

That is nothing new: The hardware of the Raspberry Pi was not designed for this kind of usecases. It is simply too weak to drive ownCloud, which is an PHP app plus database server that has some requirements on the servers power. Even with PHP7, which is faster, and the latest revisions of the mini computer, it might look ok in the beginning, but after all the neccessary bells and whistles were added to the installation and data run in, it will turn out that the CPU power is simply not enough. Similar weaknesses are also true for the networking capabilities for example.

A user that finds that out after a couple of weeks after she worked with the system will remain angry and probably go (back) to solutions that we do not fancy.

One Disk Setup

The solution comes as one disk setup: How secure can data be that is on one single hardisk? A seriously engineered solution should at least recommend a way to store the data more securely and/or backup, like on an at homes NAS for example.
That can be done, but requires manual work and might require more network capabilities and CPU power.

Advanced Networking

Last, but for me the most important point: Having such a box in the private network requires to drill a whole in the firewall, to allow port forwarding. I know, that is nothing unusual for experienced people, and in theory little problem.

But for people who are not so interested, that means they need to click in the interface of their router on a button that they do not understand what it does, and maybe even insert data by following an documentation that they have to believe. (That is not very much different from downloading a script from somewhere letting it do the changes which I would not recommend as well).
Doing mistakes here could potentially have a huge impact for the network behind the router, without that the person who did it even has an understanding for.

Also DynDNS is needed: That is also not a big problem in theory and for geeks, but in practice it is nothing easily done.

With a good solution for private cloud, it should not be necessary to ask for that kind of setups.

Where to go from here?

There should be better ways to solve this problems with ownCloud, and I am sure ownCloud is the right tool to solve that problem. I will share some thought experiments that we were doing some time back to foster discussion on how we can use the Raspberry Pi with ownCloud (because it is a very attractive piece of hardware) and solve the problems.

This will be subject of an upcoming blog here, please stay tuned.

 

Categories: FOSS, Opinion, ownCloud Tags: ,

Recent ownCloud Releases

October 4, 2016 4 comments

Even though we just had the nice and successful ownCloud Contributor Conference there have quite some ownCloud releases happened recently. I like to draw your attention to this for a moment, because some people seem to fail to see how active the ownCloud community actually is at the moment.

There has been the big enterprise release 9.1 on September 20th, but that of course came along with community releases which are in the focus here.

We had server release 8.0.15, server release 8.1.10, server release 8.2.8 and release 9.0.5. There are maintenance releases for the older major versions, needed to fix bugs on installations that still run on these older versions. We deliver them following this plan.

The latest and greatest server release is release 9.1.1 that has all the hardening that also went into the enterprise releases.

Aside a ton of bugfixes that you find listed in the changelog there have also been interesting changes which drive innovation. To pick just one example: The data fingerprint property. It enables the clients to detect if the server got a backup restored, and saves changes on the clients to conflict files if needed. This is a nice example of solutions which are based on feedback from enterprise customers community running ownCloud, who help with reporting problems and proposing solutions.

Talking about professional usage of ownCloud: Of course also all the server release are available as linux packages for various distributions, for example the ownCloud server 9.1.1 packages. We think that our users should not be forced to deploy from tarballs, which is error prone and not native to Linux, but have the choice to use linux packages through the distributions package management.

There also have been client releases recently: The Android client versions 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 were released with important changes for Android 7 and much more fixes, as well as iOS client versions 3.5.0 and 3.5.1. The desktop client 2.2.4 also got a regular bug fix update (Changelog).

I guess you agree that is a lot of activity shown in the ownCloud project, making sure to get the best ownCloud experience out there for the users, driven by passion for the project and professional usage in focus.

If you are interested and want to join in and make ownCloud better, jump in on ownCloud Central or Github. It’s fun!

Categories: FOSS, ownCloud, Release Tags: ,

More Hiring: Qt Hacker!

September 16, 2016 2 comments

ownCloud is even more hiring. In my last post I wrote that we need PHP developers, a security engineer and a system administrator.
For all positions we got interesting inquiries already. That’s great, but should not hinder you from sending your CV in case you are still interested. We have multiple positions!

But there is even more opportunity: Additionally we are looking for an ownCloud Desktop Client developer. That would be somebody fluid in C++ and Qt who likes to pick up responsibility for our desktop client together with the other guys on the team. Shifted responsibilities have created this space, and it is your chance to
jump into the desktop sync topic which makes ownCloud really unique.

The role includes working with the team to plan and roll out releases, coordinate with the server- and mobile client colleagues, nail out future developments, engage with community hackers and help with difficult support cases. And last but not least there is hacking fun on remarkable nice Qt based C++ code of our desktop client, together with high profile C++ hackers to learn from.

It is an ideal opportunity for a carer type of personality, to whom it is not enough to sit in the basement and only hack, but also to talk to people, organize, and become visible. Having a Qt- and/or KDE background is a great benefit. You would work from where you feel comfortable with as ownCloud is a distributed company.

The ownCloud Client is a very successful part of the ownCloud platform, it has millions of installations out there, and is released under GPL.

If you want to do something that matters, here you are! Send your CV today and do not forget to mention your github account 🙂

Categories: ownCloud, Qt, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

ownCloud is hiring!

August 3, 2016 3 comments

Come join us!

Come join us!

After the recent news, we are now back on stage and with this blog we want to point you to our open positions. Yes, we are hiring people to work on ownCloud. ownCloud is an open source project, yes, but ownCloud GmbH, the company behind the project, provides significant people’s power to expand the project to serve the needs for both the community and ownCloud GmbH’s customers. So if you ever dreamed of getting paid for work on open source, read on.

What we do – what you will work on

The call is for people who understand the vision of bringing the idea ownCloud to an enterprise ready level: ownCloud is not only running on individual open source enthusiasts hardware, but also on sites with huge amounts of data like CERN or the Sciebo project, and at large companies who want to work with their data in a secure way.

To provide the best solution for all of them we are looking for:

A System Administrator

In this role, you make sure that the infrastructure that we use in ownCloud is up and running. That involves troubleshooting and streamlining existing infrastructure, but also designing new services. If you love virtualization of all kinds and have an eye for security, this position is for you. Of course all this does not only happen behind closed doors, but you will be in contact with the open source community around ownCloud.

The Application Security Engineer

For security professionals who would like to take on a high profile open source project. As security is one of the core values of ownCloud, we are looking for somebody who constantly monitors the code flowing in for security problems, is able to find glitches in existing code and handle the bug bounty program. That and more is the task of this high profile position.

A Software Engineer PHP

For engineers with a passion for good software design and a love for writing code without being code monkeys: In this role you iron the server part of our platform, build new features, work on fixing bugs with the support colleagues and bother the architect with new ideas how to make the thing even better. For this you need to urge to get down and dirty with code, feel yourself comfortable in a team of high profile developers who can teach you things and learn from you.

PHP or what?

Yes, ownCloud is written in PHP, and PHP is the most important, but by far not the only language that we use for the ownCloud platform.

Before you turn your back because of PHP, please think twice. There are a lot of good reasons why we are going with PHP, some of them are named in this blog, but there is more: For example PHP7: With PHP 7 (which can be used with ownCloud) the language has caught up with many criticism it faced before and has done a big leap.

And anyway, the language of a system is not the only thing that is important in a developers life. It is rather how many people use, love and recommend the project and the development processes the team lives. And in all that points, ownCloud is already awesome, and will become even more with your help.

Send your resume in to work@owncloud.com so we can get talking!

Categories: ownCloud Tags: , , ,

ownCloud Client 2.2.x

June 24, 2016 13 comments

A couple of weeks ago we released another significant milestone of the ownCloud Client, called version 2.2.0, followed by two small maintenance releases. (download). I’d like to highlight some of the new features and the changes that we have made to improve the user experience:

Overlay Icons

Overlay icons for the various file managers on our three platforms already exist for quite some time, but it has turned out that the performance was not up to the mark for big sync folders. The reason was mainly that too much communication between the file manager plugin and the client was happening. Once asked about the sync state of a single file, the client had to jump through quite some hoops in order to retrieve the required information. That involved not only database access to the sqlite-based sync journal, but also file system interaction to gather file information. Not a big deal if it’s only a few, but if the user syncs huge amounts, these efforts do sum up.

This becomes especially tricky for the propagation of changes upwards the file tree. Imagine there is a sync error happening in the foo/bar/baz/myfile. What should happen is that a warning icon appears on the icon for foo in the file manager, telling that within this directory, a problem exists. The complexity of the existing implementation was already high and adding this extra functionality would have reduced the reliability of the code lower than it already was.

Jocelyn was keen enough to do a refactoring of the underlying code which we call the SocketApi. Starting from the basic assumption that all files are in sync, and the code has just to care for these files that are new or changed, erroneous or ignored or similar, the amount of data to keep is very much reduced, which makes processing way faster.

Server Notifications

On the ownCloud server, there are situation where notifications are created which make the user aware of things that happened.

An example are federated shares:

If somebody shares a folder with you, you previously had to acknowledge it through the web interface. This explicit step is a safety net to avoid people sharing tons of Gigabytes of content, filling up your disk.

notifications

With 2.2.x, you can acknowledge the share right from the client, saving you the round trip to the web interface to check for new shares.

Keeping an Eye on Word & Friends

Microsoft Word and other office tools are rather hard to deal with in syncing, because they do very strict file locking of the files that are worked on. So strict that the subsequent sync app is not even allowed to open the file, not even for reading. That would be required to be able to sync the file.

As a result the sync client needs to wait until word unlocks the file, and then continue syncing.

For previous version of the client, this was hard to detect and worked only if other changes happened in the same directory where the file in question resides.

With 2.2.0 we added a special watcher that keeps an eye on the office docs Word and friends are blocking. And once the files are unlocked, the watcher starts a sync run to get the files to the server, or down from the server.

Advances on Desktop Sharing

The sharing has been further integrated and received several UX- and bugfixes. There is more feedback when performing actions so you know when your client is waiting for a response from the server. The client now also respect more data returned from the server if you have apps enabled on the server that for example
limit the expiration date.

Further more we better respect the share permissions granted. This means that if
somebody shared a folder without create permissions with you and you want to reshare
this folder in the client you won’t get the option to share with delete permissions. This avoids errors when sharing and is more in line with how the whole ownCloud platform handles re-sharing. We also adjusted the behavior for federated reshares with the server.

Please note to take full advantage of all improvements you will need to run at least
server version 9.0.

Have fun!