CoTech Nextcloud Server?

We have been using a Google calender for events, Google spreadsheets for booking for Wortley Hall in 2017, people keep creating documents on Google Docs rather than our wiki… so perhaps we should face up to the fact that if we want to practice what we preach we need our own office application server?

A Nextcloud server at could provide:

  • WebDAV access to a shared filesystem for CoTech members for private document storage and editing
  • Browser based WYSIWYG word processing and spreadsheet editing
  • Shared address books
  • Shared calender
  • Other cool stuff…

Spinning up a VPS and installing Nexcloud wouldn’t take very long since we have Ansible playbooks for this — would anyone be interested in testing the suitability of this idea if I set it up?


Great idea.

We use over at Autonomic and I’m not sure we’d
want to split our brains over to a NextCloud instance, BUT, I would
definitely be up for QA testing what you deploy and helping getting it
into a working state.

Might even be able to lend a hand on the Ansible side if needed.



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@decentral1se thanks for the offer, if there are one or two more volunteers I’ll set it up :slight_smile:

The idea wouldn’t be for co-ops that are members of CoTech to use a CoTech Nextcloud server for their own co-ops internal documents etc, rather it would be for documents etc that we want to share between CoTech members, for example a draft joint quote for a job.

Hi Chris,

I’d totally be up for testing stability, we already use a a couple
nextcloud servers and I even have a personal one for myself, it’s such a
great piece of software!! Let me know how I can help


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Cheers for the offer @liam, it’s not so much the server stability I was thinking of — I was thinking more of testers who use word processors and spreadsheets on a daily basis – I do all my editing in Vim, I try and avoid anything that isn’t plain text based at all costs, a CoTech Nextcloud server wouldn’t be of much direct use to me other than saving me from having to visiting Google Docs so often :wink: .

I would expect that the main testing work would involve setting up accounts for CoTech members when they request them and creating documents and editing them to see if the user experience is good enough for Nextcloud to be used in place of Google services.

I’d be happy to document, on our wiki, with screenshots, the steps to install the Nextcloud GUI client on Linux (I expect it is more-or-less the same on OSX and Windows?), how to mount the WebDAV file system on Linux via the command line and how to install the various Android Nextcloud apps that are available, help with OSX, iOS and Windows for this documentation would be appreciated.

If we do agree to have a play with Nextcloud I would anticipate that a smallish team of testers could have it ready for a roll out to the rest of the network in time for Wortley Hall.

I am happy to test usability and comparing to google’s docs, sheets etc


While I applaud your efforts and certainly don’t want to discourage you to set anything up, if your aim is to get everyone in CoTech to use this system to collaborate on documents, I think you might not succeed. Personally, I tend to use Google docs because a) I already have an account and b) I’m familiar with it. The barrier to entry for collaborating is therefore low, and I can spend my limited CoTech time on the task at hand rather than learning a new tool. Considerations about the openness of the software are pretty secondary to me in this circumstance.

While I’d strongly advocate for any new software we develop as CoTech to be as “free” as possible I’m a lot less concerned for these kind of collaboration tools. I’m assuming that any docs we collaborate on are published in their final form in plain text / HTML somewhere if they are useful outside the network.

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Up for testing these Ansible playbooks. I’d like to personally move off so much dependence on Google services so will be looking to spin up my own version of NextCloud somewhere, probably Digital Ocean.

Will let you know how I get on.

It will be a massive contribution to the wider community if CoTech provides a set of easy to use Ansible provisioning scripts for this. The difficulty in setup is always blocker for a lot of people including people like me who technically know what they are doing in the devops space.

Ideally eventually you’d just be able to plug in your cloud provider keys and have the whole thing roll out end to end. And eventually on the CoTech Cloud. :slight_smile:

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+1 for nextcloud from GreenNet, we’ve been using it (& Owncloud) for a few years. We have many happy organisation and individual users
For me it’s much easier to use than Google docs, & they seem to be releasing useful add-ons frequently. There are ways to federate it so that a CoTech instance could share an interface with your organisation’s or personal cloud.

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Cheers for all the positive feedback, the server is up and running:

I’ll add some user accounts and write some documentation on the wiki in the next few hours, when I get a chance :slight_smile:

I have created accounts for everybody in this thread who expressed an interest in testing Nextcloud and if anyone else would like an account, especially non-technical people, please just ask :slight_smile: .

I have made @alex and myself admins for the whole server, I have created a cotech group and made people who are in CoTech co-ops admins of this group, people who are not in co-ops that are CoTech members (@decentral1se and @edmaw) I have made regular members of the group (this is a test server, we can start again if people like it so these settings can all be changed).

I have created a CoTech folder which is shared with the cotech group — this is where people should put files they want to share.

I have enabled quite a few plugins — please test away (especially the web based WISIWYG document editing perhaps?)!

I have written some Linux documentation on the wiki, if you used another OS please add some as well, when I have a chance I can add some screenshots and also do the Android documentation.

Let’s have a good play with this, as and when we have time, to see if it is a viable option for an internal CoTech office server :slight_smile:

Great work!

I get this internal error when creating then clicking on a document.


Cheers for having a play with it, the issue is with the Collabora Docker container, it is only generating 503 errors, I’m not sure why, it is up to date and running, I’ll look into that further when I get a chance, for now if you could test everything apart from the WYSIWYG web based document editing that would be appreciated, things like the desktop and mobile clients :slight_smile:

So there were some bugs in my Ansible code (1, 2) and Collabora Online Development Edition isn’t the easiest things to get up and running as you can see from the Nextcloud Discourse forum’s Collabora tag:

But it appears to be OK now — I edited some test documents, looking forward to hearing some more feedback :slight_smile:

Cool! Will have a go.

There is a native Docker module in Ansible that would do that docker run command for you in a more idiomatic way (i.e. it won’t re-do docker run if you run the playbook twice).

As I said, if we made a consistent Ansible setup for the whole suite this would really smooth the edges and be useful for others.

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Cheers @alex, I’m aware that I should be using the Ansible Docker module, I even noted that in the Playbook, your help on this would be greatly appreciated :slight_smile:

This might amuse @alex — I just found a thread of sysadmin who have all written their own Ansible playbooks to install Nextcloud :roll_eyes:

More co-operation needed :wink:

Well done @chris. If you could furnish me with an account I’d be interested to take a look-see.

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No problem, done :slight_smile:

I don’t use Google docs or have a G-mail account so you can totally flip your logic the other way there.

I personally feel we should commit to setting up as much of our own infrastructure as possible. So far this strategy is working great (thanks Chris and others! :heart_eyes:).

By using a Google apps, our labour is being turned into fictitious data capital for Alphabet Inc. This relationship is not one I think we should willingly enter in to for the sake of convenience or habit when we can be exploring and improving the free software ecosystem for the good of everyone.