Cloud Sovereignty
Linux Format|February 2022
Jonni Bidwell reveals how Nextcloud has become the poster-child not just for self-hosting, but for how to be a sustainable, successful FOSS project.
By Jonni Bidwell

One of the joys of Linux is that it enables users to run all kinds of services, which they might otherwise rely on some giant internet company to do. Said internet companies might not charge for these services, in which case you’re probably paying with your privacy.

Self-hosting, as well as cheap VPSes (although they tend to be run by giant internet companies too), has given millions of open source fans peace of mind, as well as a rewarding hobby. And leading the self-hosted charge is Nextcloud, the open source groupware, productivity and communications developer.

Nextcloud (so good it was named it after the company!) continues to go from strength to strength. In its 23rd iteration it now includes a collaborative office suite, video chats, synchronised calendars and much more. And it’s not just for home users, Nextcloud Enterprise enables organisations to host their sensitive data at scale. And, unhappy with public or private cloud offerings from the usual suspects, many enterprises have embraced Nextcloud.

Nextcloud began life as ownCloud back in 2010, and was introduced by Frank Karlitschek (current CEO of Nextcloud) at a KDE conference. Back then people didn’t have any firm ideas about what ‘cloud computing’ might mean, but there was a sense that it was going to be big.

That first version of ownCloud might seem underwhelming now, being little more than a personal storage solution, but it generated a huge amount of interest because it competed directly with the popular (but proprietary) Dropbox. Whose Linux client is still terrible, by the way.

A March 2010 post on Karlitschek’s blog explains his motivation for creating a free tool: “This trend is problematic and we have to make sure that free desktop applications don’t get replaced by web-based apps and become irrelevant in the next 10 years. It is also important that we still own our data and don’t [lose] control over our personal files.”

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