What is ONLYOFFICE I hear you ask?  Well, it’s a very good question and one I wouldn’t have known the answer to until today!  

I only found out myself today as I decided to upgrade my ownCloud server from 9.1.5 to 10.0.2.  ownCloud 10 (or X as some have been referring to it) has been out for a good few months, but as it sounded like a fairly major upgrade and my ownCloud server was running quite happily on one of the last 9 instances, I thought I’d stay clear for a while and wait for a few point releases before upgrading.  I received an e-mail this morning saying the beta for 10.0.3 had been released, so thought it might be time to take a look.

As with any service update running on my FreeNAS server, the first step was to snapshot the relevant datasets so it could be easily recovered.  For ownCloud, that’s the jail and both database and file locations.  Updating ownCloud has always been a little bit of a manual process, as the built-in updater very rarely works, but it’s pretty straight forward with just the following steps:

mv /usr/local/www/owncloud /usr/local/www/owncloud-915
fetch “
tar jxf owncloud-10.0.2.tar.bz2 -C /usr/local/www
rm owncloud-10.0.2.tar.bz2
cp /usr/local/www/owncloud-915/config/config.php /usr/local/www/owncloud/config
chown -R www:www /usr/local/www/owncloud
chsh -s /bin/sh www
su www
php /usr/local/www/owncloud/occ upgrade

Well, it wasn’t quite as straight forward this time as it threw an error about one of the apps being incompatible, so I copied things back and then opened ownCloud to take a look.  I don’t have many apps running, but use the Calendar, Contacts, Documents, Gallery and 2FA apps so though it just easier to disable them all.  At the 2nd attempt, everything worked fine, and ownCloud 10.0.2 was up and running.

It doesn’t look that different, although the user and admin settings have been combined, and there’s a whole new way to install Apps, through a new Marketplace like feature.  Adding Calendar, Contacts, Gallery and 2FA back wasn’t a problem, but where had the Documents app gone?  Well, I soon discovered that it was incompatible with the 10 branch, and had effectively been dropped from further development.  While it wasn’t the greatest software in the world and was pretty slow with limited functionality, it did allow me to collaborate on Microsoft documents with other people in real-time.  Now I know I can do that using Office 365 (which I have a subscription for) or Google Apps (which I don’t) but I liked the ability to do it using my own technology and file storage solution.

So what was in the Marketplace to replace it?  Well, a couple of things as it happens.  The first one was Collabora Online which I’d heard about before but requires you to set-up another server running Collabora.  The second one was ONLYOFFICE, which at first glance looked like it connected to an online service for opening and editing documents.  So off I went and created a trial account, but it turns out this can’t be used in the way I wanted, and this can only be achieved using the open source ONLYOFFICE Document Server, which like Collabora requires another server running.

Ok, so I had some time to play so first checked Freshports to see if either were available as packages in FreeBSD.  I wasn’t surprised to find they weren’t, so after a little Googling decided I’d have a go at setting up ONLYOFFICE in a Ubuntu Server running as in FreeNAS using a VirtualBox VM.  Sounds complicated, and for the next 4 hours it pretty much was, although most of that was down to the way my FreeNAS server is configured, and precisely how I manage my SSL certificates which I’ve posted about a few times before (like here and here and here) and still haven’t reached a perfect solution!

Getting ONLYOFFICE up and running in the Ubuntu VM wasn’t that difficult, and the help documentation is pretty good.  Creating the VM, installing the dependencies and packages probably only took about an hour.  But ONLYOFFICE will only work with ownCloud using the same HTTP protocol, and as I use SSL for my ownCloud server, I needed to get an SSL certificate working for ONLYOFFICE.  I won’t go into all the details of that here, as this is already longer than I’d expected, but I eventually got a Letsencrypt certificate working through my reverse-proxy server, and everything seems to be working well together.  From first impressions, it’s a much better solution than the old Documents app in ownCloud 9, and maybe I’ll use it a little more given the effort involved.

As ever, it’s always a useful learning experience and something I enjoy attempting when I have some free time.  Even better when it all works at the end of it!

Now if only I could simplify my SSL process.  Hopefully, wildcard certificates from Letsencrypt in 2018 will help….