I think I may have a solution to my user file repository problem in OwnCloud. For many moons I have tried to find a solution, WordPress or otherwise, to allow users the ability to control all aspects of their own files. I wanted users to be able to upload, download, make public, keep private, share via ftp or http, etc. While there are plenty of solutions available, anything I found so far lacked in some way by not offering one of the afore mentioned features or was so deficient in design that I felt it was counterintuitive.
One of the reasons why I’ve wanted to built this kind of site is because I realized all of the tools I use as a Systems Admin are scattered amongst various NAS shares, Sharepoint pages, ftp accounts, my desktop folder on my laptop and desktop, my Google docs, and a number of test vm’s. Could I simply migrate everything to one external device and rest easy? Sure, I guess, but it’s a lot more fun to set it up how you want it rather than be restricted by someone else’s solution.
To give you an idea of how I think, I’ll give you a little back story. A long time ago my girlfriend mentioned how fun it would be to have her own review site. Naturally I got excited and started searching for the perfect solution to put together a site for her. Soon after she found Yelp and for some reason that took the wind out of her sails for running her own.
Step forward to a few weeks ago when we had a rather sub par dining experience that we chatted about the whole ride home. At one point I interjected to say it’s too bad we never started that review site as this would be a good one to record. She responded by saying that she could just put it on Yelp. I replied that Yelp was someone else’s creation that you’re helping to build, to which she answered that sometimes it’s nice to just be a customer. I had no response. I just tilted my head in bewilderment, unable to fully comprehend her point.
Unfortunately that’s not how my brain works. If I’m going to be contributing to a web community on a regular basis, I want to own that community (if possible) instead of building value in someone else’s property. A good analogy is a bar I know of in southern Rhode Island called The Mews. All over the bar there are dollar bills taped or stapled to the walls and ceiling with private messages people left on them. At the end of the night when everyone goes home, those tens of thousands of dollar bills (messages) remain in the possession of the owner. When people come back to see their old messages, read other peoples messages, or leave new ones, they’re coming back to that same place, and that’s why I like to implement these new ideas myself instead of adding to existing ones that someone else built.
Anyway, back to the point of this post. I stumbled upon OwnCloud the other day which appears to be an open source type of drop box solution. I was pretty excited as it seems to have everything I need. I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and install it on CentOS and learn a little Linux which is something I definitely need to do. Well, I got it installed and OwnCloud is functional in my local environment, but progress is slow with everything else because every little change I need to make (in Linux) requires some research and trial and error.
I want the end solution to be on Linux, but for the sake of speed, I’m going to also install it on a Windows 2008 R2 server while I learn. I even have a domain name purchased for the idea and I can’t wait to get it up and running to roll out to my former co-workers to give it a shot. I know a number of them have left jobs not thinking about the cache of tools they had at their disposal that they no longer can access in one place. I’m hoping OwnCloud will be that place where I can store all the tools I’ve ever used in one place and will be accessible to be no matter where I go at a moments notice.
Since I’ve spent most of my time blabbing about myself and my ideas for this software instead of the actual product itself, be sure to go check out the OwnCloud features yourself. If and when I get my own solution up and running, I’ll be sure to post the link for you all the check it out.
Here’s the OwnCloud demo if anyone is interested in taking it for a quick test drive.