Deploying Nextcloud on an instance

This tutorial assumes that you have the following prepared:

  • An SSH key.

  • A domain name.

You may also need the following depending on your preference:

  • Knowledge of how to create and use volumes (if you are using your own volume).

  • A volume created for storing Nextcloud data (if you are using terraform).

Introduction

Nextcloud is a free and open source suite of client-server software which manages the creation and hosting of files. It is becoming a popular alternative to similar software such as Dropbox and Google Drive. This tutorial will guide you through the process of setting up a Nextcloud instance on the Catalyst Cloud.

Creating a Nextcloud instance using Heat

Instructions

  1. Navigate to the Launch a stack 1 section of the dashboard.

  2. Select “URL” from the “Template Source” drop down menu.

  3. Copy and paste the following address in the “Template URL” box:

https://raw.githubusercontent.com/catalyst-cloud/catalystcloud-orchestration/master/nextcloud/heat/nextcloud-combined.yaml
  1. Click “Next”

  2. Fill out the fields here as required. You will need to include your domain-name and hostname at this stage.

  3. Click “Launch”

It will take roughly 5 - 6 minutes for the instance to configure. After which, putting the domain name into your browser will take you to your Nextcloud instance.

Launching with Terraform

Note

This requires knowledge of the Linux command line and how to use terraform templates.

Installing Terraform

First, before we jump in to creating any resources using terraform, we’ll need to prepare all of the tools that we’re going to use in this tutorial. For that we can use the following code snippets:

$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y gnupg software-properties-common curl
$ curl -fsSL https://apt.releases.hashicorp.com/gpg | sudo apt-key add -
$ sudo apt-add-repository "deb [arch=amd64] https://apt.releases.hashicorp.com $(lsb_release -cs) main"
$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install terraform

Downloading template files from Github

Our next step is to gather a set of terraform template files, from which we can create our resources. For this example, we will be downloading a set of template files from the Catalyst Cloud github found at catalyst cloud orchestration 2. Open up a terminal and run the following:

$ sudo su
$ mkdir /nextcloud-terraform
$ cd /nextcloud-terraform
$ wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/yvonnewat/catalystcloud-orchestration/new/add-systemd-services/nextcloud/terraform/nextcloud.tf
$ wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/yvonnewat/catalystcloud-orchestration/new/add-systemd-services/nextcloud/terraform/cloud-init-nextcloud.tpl

Using a terraform configuration file

A template file should describe all the aspects of your system that you want to be constructed by Terraform. These aspects are resources such as the network, subnet, router, ssh key, and of course your instance itself. It is recommended to use the template provided above as it contains all of the necessary resources you will need for this tutorial.

Before using the template, you will only need to make sure to change the following to your own so that the template functions on your project:

  • key name,

  • domain name,

  • host name

  • and ddns password

The terraform guide to writing your own configuration files, such as the one used for this template can be found at

Terraform documentation 3

The user_data section should also be changed so the the template file contains the file path of the cloud-init configuration file you intend to use.

Using a cloud init file

The cloud init 4 file configures the software on an instance when it boots for the first time. In our case we want to install Nextcloud at runtime, so our cloud init file is set up to install docker and write systemd services to the instance. This is because we will be using a containerized version of Nextcloud.

The containers started in the setup script are Nextcloud, NGINX 5 and the NGINX_proxy_acme_companion 6. The NGINX container is a reverse proxy for Nextcloud, and ensures communication with the Nextcloud server is encrypted. The acme companion automatically configures some letsencrypt certificates for the server using the ACME protocol.

Creating your stack using terraform

Now that we have all of the required software installed and our resources defined in our template files, we can use Terraform to construct our resources on the cloud.

$ cd nextcloud-terraform
$ terraform init
$ terraform plan
$ terraform apply --var domain_name="<your-domain-name>" --var host_name="<your-host-name>" --var ddns_password="<your-ddns-password>" --var file_upload_size="<size in mega-bytes>m" --var keyname="<your-key-name>" --var volume_uuid="<volume id>" --var image_type="<preferred-image-type>" --var flavor_type="<preferred-flavor-type>"

Note

  1. If you choose to use an existing volume, replace volume id with the id of your previously created volume for the Nextcloud database.

  2. Only change the file_upload_size if you require more than the default (1024MB).

  3. A floating IP should be generated and printed after this step, it is recommended you take note of this as you may need it later.

Check that Nextcloud has finished installing (Optional)

Open a terminal and type,

$ ssh ubuntu@<floating-ip-address>

When prompted if you’d like to connect to this ip address, answer yes.

When this is finished you should find yourself accessing the server remotely. Next type,

$ test -f /deploy-complete && echo "OK"

If the terminal prints, “OK” Nextcloud is installed. Otherwise you may have to wait a few more minutes until it is finished.

Access your Nextcloud instance

After waiting around 5-10 minutes, you can now access Nextcloud by typing the domain name into a browser!

Configuring Nextcloud

Upon first accessing Nextcloud, you will find it asks for an admin to sign up. Please choose the appropriate person in your organisation to complete this step. The admin role can add and remove users as well as enable and disable services.

Services that the Nextcloud container installs with:

  • Dashboard

  • Files

  • Photos

  • Activity

  • Talk

  • Mail

  • Contacts

  • Calendar

For a complete view of all the services Nextcloud offers, visit Nextcloud apps 7.

How to configure each service:

  • Dashboard

    • The dashboard can be changed to show updates on services you are interested in via the customise button at the bottom of the screen.

  • Files

    • Files can be added by pressing the plus in the upper left hand corner, these files can be up to 100MB in size.

  • Mail

  • Calendar

    • You can import a calendar as a file or synchronize the Nextcloud calendar with one of your own.

    • If you want to synch it with a Thunderbird calendar, see the Thunderbird documentation 8 for setting up Thunderbird mail.

  • Contacts

    • You can import a vCard file or add your contacts manually.

    • Contacts are added automatically when you send emails.

Nextcloud Mobile

If you would like to use Nextcloud on your phone, there is an app available for Android and iOS. It is recommended you set this up by scanning the QR code which can be found by going into Settings -> Security -> Create new app password -> Show QR code for mobile apps.

The Nextcloud mobile application is primarily for accessing files and does not have the same tools as the desktop version. There is also a Nextcloud Talk application available.

Further Reading

Nextcloud Manual 9