Archive

Archive for the ‘FOSS’ Category

Eighty Percent ownCloud

December 23, 2018 23 comments

Recently the German computer magazin C’t posted an article about file sync solutions (“Unter eigener Regie”, C’t 23, 2018) with native sync clients. The article was pretty positive about the FOSS solution of… Nextcloud! I was wondering why they had not choosen ownCloud’s client as my feeling is that ownCloud is way more busy and innovative developing the desktop client for file synchronization together with community.

lines_changed

Code lines changed as of Nov. 10, 2018

That motivated me to do some investigation what the Nextcloud client actually consists of (at due date Nov. 10, 2018). I was looking into the NC desktop client git repoository grouped the numbers of commits of people that can be associated clearly to either the ownCloud- or Nextcloud project, or to “other communities” or machine commits. Since the number of commits could be misleading (maybe some commits are huge?) I did the same exercise with numbers of changed lines of code.

When looking on the changed lines, the first top six contributors to the Nextcloud desktop client are only active in the ownCloud project. Number seven is an “other community” contributor whos project the client was based on in the beginning. Number eight to eleven go to Nextcloud, with a low percentage figure.

commits

# of commits to the Nextcloud Desktop repository as of Nov. 10, 2018

As a result, far more than 80% of the changed lines of the Nextcloud client is actually work that ownClouders did (not considering the machine commits). In the past, and also today. The number would be even higher if it considered all the commits that go into the NC repo with an NC author, but are actually ownCloud patches where the original author got lost on the way by merging them through a NC branch. It looks like the Nextcloud developers were actually adding less commits to their client than all “other community” developers so far.

No wonder, it is a fork, you might think, and that is of course true. However, to my taste these numbers are not reflecting a “constructive” fork driving things forward when we talk about sync technology.

That is all fine, and I am proud that the work we do in ownCloud is actually stimulating two projects, with different focus areas nowadays. On the other hand, I would appreciate if the users of the technology would take a closer look to understand who really innovates, drives things forward and also fixes the nasty bugs in the stack. As a matter of fairness, that should be acknowledged. That is the motivation that keeps free software contributors busy and communities proud.

Change in Professional Life

November 23, 2018 2 comments

This November was very exciting for me so far, as I was starting a new job at a company called Heidolph. I left SUSE after working there for another two years. My role there that was pretty far away from interesting technical work, which I missed more and more, so I decided to grab the opportunity to join in a new adventure.

Heidolph is a mature German engineering company building premium laboratory equipment. It is based in Schwabach, Germany. For me it is the first time that I am working in company that doesn’t do only software. At Heidolph, software is just one building block besides mechanical and electronic parts and tons of special know how. That is a very different situation and a lot to learn for me, but in a small, co-located team of great engineers, I am able to catch up fast in this interesting area.

We build software for the next generation Heidolph devices based on Linux and C++/Qt. Both technologies are in the center of my interest, over the years it has become more than clear for me that I want to continue with that and deepen my knowledge even more.

Since the meaning of open source has changed a lot since I started to contribute to free software and KDE in particular, it was a noticeable but not difficult step for me to take and move away from a self-proclaimed open source company towards a company that is using open source technologies as one part of their tooling and is
interested in learning about the processes we do in open source to build great products. An exciting move for me where I will learn a lot but also benefit from my experience. This of course that does not mean that I will stop to contribute to open source projects.

We are still building up the team and look for a Software Quality Engineer. If you are interested in working with us in an exciting environment, you might wanna get in touch.

Categories: FOSS, KDE, Opinion, Qt Tags: ,

Kraft Version 0.82

October 19, 2018 5 comments

A new release of Kraft, the Qt- and KDE based software to help to organize business docs in small companies, has arrived.

A couple of days ago version 0.82 was released. It mainly is a bugfix release, but it also comes with a few new features. Users were asking for some new functions that they needed to switch to Kraft with their business communication, and I am always trying to make that a priority.

The most visible feature is a light rework of the calculation dialog that allows users to do price calculations for templates. It was cleared up, superflous elements were finally removed and the remaining ones now work as expected. The distinction between manual price and calculated price should be even more clear now. Time calculations can now not only done in the granularity of minutes, as this was to coarse for certain usecases. The unit for a time slice can now be either seconds, minutes or hours.

Kraft 0.82

New calculation dialog in 0.82

Apart from that, for example sending documents per email was fixed, and in addition to doing it through thunderbird, Kraft can now also utilize the xdg-email tool to work with the desktop standard mail client, such as KMail.

Quite a few more bugfixes make this a nice release. Check the full Changelog! Update is recommended.

Thanks for your comments or suggestions about Kraft!

Categories: FOSS, KDE, Kraft, Release Tags: , , ,

Kraft out of KDE

March 22, 2018 13 comments

Following my last blog about Krafts upcoming release 0.80 I got a lot of positive reactions.

There was one reaction however, that puzzles me a bit and I want to share my thoughts here. It is about a comment about my announcement that I prefer to continue to develop Kraft on Github. The commenter reminded my friendly that there is still Kraft code on KDE infrastructure, and that switching to a different repository might waste peoples time when they work with the KDE repo.

That is a fair statement, of course I don’t want to waste peoples time. What sounds a bit strange to me is the second paragraph, that says that if I decide to stay with Github, I should let KDE people know that I wish Kraft to not be a KDE project anymore.

But … I never felt that Kraft should not be a KDE project any more.

A little History

Kraft has come a long way together with KDE. I started Kraft in (probably) 2004, gave a talk about Kraft at the Akademy Dublin 2006, maintained it with the best effort I could contribute until today. There is a small but loyal community around Kraft.

During all the time I got little substancial contribution to the code directly, with the exception of one cool developer who got interested for some time and made some very interesting contributions.

When I asked a for the subdomain http://kraft.kde.org long time ago I got the reply that it is not in the interest of KDE to give every little project a subdomain. As a result I reserved http://volle-kraft-voraus.de and run it since then, happily showing a “Part of the KDE family” logo on it.

Beside the indirect contributions to libraries that Kraft uses, I shipped Kraft with the translations made by the KDE i18n team, for which I always was very grateful. Otherwise I got no other services from KDE.

Why Github?

Githubs workflow serves me well in my day job, and since I have only little time for Kraft, I like to use the tools that I know best and give me the most efficiency.

I know that Github is not free software and I am sceptical about that. But Github also does not lock in, as we still are on git. We all know the arguments that usually come on the table at this point, so I am not elaborating here. One thing I want to mention though is that since I moved to Github publically I already got two little pull requests with code contributions. That is a lot compared to what came in the last twelfe years when living on KDE infrastructure only.

Summary

Kraft is a small project, driven by me alone. My development turnaround is good with Github as I am used to it. Even if no KDE developer would ever look at Github (which I know is not true) I have to say with heavy heart that Kraft would not take big harm by leaving KDEs infra, based on the experience of the last 12 years.

If the KDE translation teams do not want to work with Github, I am fine to accept that, and wonder if there could be a solution rather than switching to Transifex.

One point however I like to make very clear: I did not wish to leave KDE, nor aimed to move Kraft out.
I still have friends in the KDE community, I am still very interested in free software on desktop and elsewhere, and my opinion is still that KDE is the best around.

If the KDE community feels that Kraft must not be a KDE project any longer because it is on Github, ok. I asked KDE Sysadmins to remove Kraft from the KDE git, and it is already done.

Kraft now lifes on on Github.

Categories: FOSS, KDE, Kraft, Opinion, Qt 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: ,