How to Install and Configure ownCloud

It is difficult to read any tech news and not see something about “the cloud”, cloud computing, cloud hosting, or at least something that mentions the word “cloud”. Many businesses have moved their entire software operations into the cloud, and many individual users rely on cloud service providers for email, documents, and file storage.

There are a plethora of file storage and file sharing services available on the web. Many of them are free for a limited amount of space (often around 2 to 5 GB). For a lot of people, this type of service is sufficient, but if you want your own file storage system, need a lot more space, do not want to pay a third party service, and already have your own web hosting account for your website, ownCloud is a free and open source option you should definitely consider.

Note: For Windows users, you can install Owncloud in Windows as well.

ownCloud is a simple PHP web application that will work on most Linux and Unix servers. A typical installation server will have Apache HTTP Server and MySQL or SQLite (if you do not want to use a database server). If you are running your own dedicated server or VPS, your Linux distribution may already have the ownCloud packages in its default repository. For example, to install on an Ubuntu server, simple type:

sudo apt-get install owncloud

It will automatically install dependencies, such as Apache, PHP, and MySQL. Once the installation is complete, you can point your browser to http://yourdomain/owncloud and start the “First Run Wizard”.

ownCloud First Run Wizard

To install ownCloud manually, do the following:

  1. Go to owncloud.org and download the latest version
  2. Extract the contents of the archive to your computer. If you have SSH access to your server, you can upload the archive first and extract with
    tar -xjvf owncloud-2.x.tar.bz2
  3. Copy the extracted files to the directory of your choice within the web-accessible documents directory of your server (i.e. public_html, htdocs, etc.)
  4. Set the permissions. If you have a shared hosting account, use FTP or SFTP to create a directory called “data” and set the permissions to “750”. Then, set the permissions of the “config” directory to “777”. If you have root access, you can use this command:
    chown -R www-data:www-data owncloud/

    Replace “www-data” with whatever the name of your Apache user is.

  5. Point your browser to http://yourdomain/owncloud to complete the installation
  6. Enter a username and password for your administrative account
  7. If SQLite is detected, ownCloud will use it by default. Alternatively, you can enter your MySQL database information in the “Advanced” section.

ownCloud login page

ownCloud browser file manager

The software for ownCloud was developed by some of the developers of KDE and is designed to work with free and open source operating systems, unlike some proprietary cloud storage services. You can use your web browser to upload and manage files, but you can also use WebDav to connect to your files directly from your desktop file manager.

In Dolphin, follow these steps:

  1. Click the “Network” option in “Places” or go to “remote:/”
  2. Click the “Add Network Folder” button
  3. Keep the first option, WebFolder (webdav), selected and click Next
  4. Give the connection a name and enter your ownCloud username
  5. In the “Server” box, type your full domain name
  6. In the “Folder” box, type the relative path to your owncloud installation (i.e. /owncloud/webdav/owncloud.php)
  7. Check the box next to “Create an icon for this remote folder”
  8. Click Save and Connect.

After entering your password, it should connect to your ownCloud folder. You can now drag and drop files just as you would with a folder on your computer. Moreover, KDE apps are all integrated and should be able to use the folder as well.

ownCloud gives you the freedom to use the cloud on your terms however you want. You can access your files from anywhere, just as you would with a proprietary cloud service, but the files and software are yours. You will not have to worry about privacy or the safety of your data. For more information about ownCloud in general, visit the project’s website. For more detailed install instructions, including those for other operating systems and web servers, see this page.