Better Cloud Storage with ownCloud 9.1

A new version of ownCloud community edition has been released, and it brings a number of important updates, new features and security improvements. The result is a more useful and safe environment for collaboration and cloud storage.

OwnCloud is an open-source alternative to commercial services like Dropbox and Google Drive. It offers complete control over the environment, and the only storage limit is the physical size your hard disk.

It's extremely useful to organizations and individuals. Some people use it to manage files on their home network, but it scales effortlessly to handle large collaborative projects.

Security has been beefed up in the new release thanks to input from PrivacyIDEA. You can use token-based authentication, with full support for device specific tokens. Time-based one-time passwords also are available for even tighter security. Administrators can integrate ownCloud with the Google Authenticator or choose another service.

Users can get real-time updates of all the devices accessing their storage. If they don't like what they see, they can invalidate the session instantly, blocking unauthorized access.

Tighter security makes ownCloud a more attractive solution for organizations that must share documents over the internet. But, that's not the only improvement this new version brings.

The Federation feature has been improved, making it easier for distributed teams to collaborate. Federation is a feature that allows users to share files even if they are using different ownCloud installations. For instance, freelance workers with their own installations can share documents hosted on their employer's server. They can do this through their own interface, which reduces some of the headaches that come with remote work.

Although it always has been possible to share files, it was a little more complex in the past. You had to know the full email address of the file's owner. Now you can configure ownCloud installations to communicate with each other. You need to know only the owner's name—the interface will autocomplete the full ID.

OwnCloud's built-in applications have been upgraded, so users can enjoy new versions of Mail, Calendar and Contacts.

Perhaps the biggest news though is the integration of Collabora Online. Collabora brings the full power of LibreOffice to the web. Users can create and edit documents and spreadsheets in all the usual formats in their web browser (much like Google Docs).

Instead of re-inventing the wheel, Collabora leverages the existing LibreOffice codebase. It runs this code inside a Docker container. Putting the code in a container guarantees it will run (all the dependencies are included in the image). It also simplifies updates.

I've covered only a few of the highlights in this post. You can see the full list of updates here.