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Exclusive Interview With ownCloud Founder Frank Karlitschek

ownCloud is one of the most promising and important projects as we are heading towards  cloud-centric computing. Free Software users fought a long battle to keep control over their computing, and cloud poses a threat to both — the control over your computing and data. Projects like ownCloud ensure that users can still have control over their data and computer yet reap the benefits of cloud. We have been covering ownCloud for a while now. We met Frank Karlitschek, the founder of ownCloud, at FOSDEM 2012 and talked more about ownCloud. Here is an interview…

Swapnil: Can you tell us more about ownCloud?
Frank:
ownCloud is a really new project, about two years old now. It’s basically a personal cloud storage solution, so if you know DropBox, it’s really comparable from the features. The good thing about ownCloud is that it is Open Source of course, completely free software, so you can put it on your own hardware.

You you can have all the cool features from solutions like DropBox, or some Google services like synching files, sharing files, like have versions and having nice web interface. so you have everything, but it runs on your own hardware, on your own server. You don’t have to give up control of your data. You don’t have to upload all of your stuff to DropBox or Google or Facebook or Flickr. You can have the features without losing the freedom.

There are a lot of different ways to use ownCloud, if you have your own server and you know how to set it up, you can put it on your own server.  You can also rent it from some providers.  We have on our website a list of providers so you an get ownCloud services. In the future, we will build appliances, like small block computers which you can plug into your power plug in your wall, and you can have your own small server at home with your ownCloud on it.

ownCloud is also used in companies, so if your company or university or organization can run an ownCloud oservice for all the people. It is possible to rent a really cheap webspace somewhere, or if you have a website at your university – just copy ownCloud in it and it works.  You don’t need administrative skills, you don’t need root access, you just need some web server to put it in and it works.

Swapnil: ownCloud 3 was released a few days ago, what are the new features in the latest version?
Frank:
ownCloud 3 was released last week, so just a few days ago. We have a release cycle of three months, so we release a new major version every three months so really fast.  With version 3 we have an online editor, you can edit your text files directly in the browser, you can sync it and access it from your laptop or desktop, but you can also edit it directly in the browser from your tablet for example.  We also have a photogallery, so you can look at all your holiday pictures and show it to your family without uploading them to Facebook and Flickr. It still stays on your own server, but everybody can look at them and have access.

We have a greatly improved calendar and address book application, so you can sync all your calendar and addressbook data with your phone for example, or with KDE or Gnome application or Thunderbird.

We also have an App store, which is an easy way to download and new add ons and new plug-ins or OwnCloud. So a lot of users write extensions for new features like syncing bookmarks or RSS feeds, so you can easily download it and install it and use it.

Swapnil: ownCloud is now a company, what kind of services will it offer?
Frank:
ownCloud was started by me 2 years ago mainly for home users and for people who can set up their own servers and want to use their own hardware, but it seems the idea behind ownCloud is also very interesting for companies. So we got a lot of requests from enterprises who want to offer ownCloud services for their employees and share data and synch data.

Of course they could just use the existing free and open source version, but some companies need help, they want support, services, release cycles, patches, custom extensions with existing servers, this is what we want to offer with our company.

So the software is completely free software, and we just offer hardened versions and support and installation support for companies.

Swapnil: Is ownCloud hiring, are you expanding?
Frank:
It’s moving faster forward than expected, we started last year with a small team of just a CEO , Marcus Rex, the former CEO of Open Suse, a really experienced open source guy, me doing the technical part, and we have a marketing person too.

We have a few developers, most of them are from the community, so its really cool for the community to have a job of course, to work in ownCloud now, but it seems like we got far more interest from companies than expected, so we are still hiring. So if you like the idea behind ownCloud and you have experience in PhP or other web technologies, just send us a message because we are growing fast and we really need more people.

Swapnil: Do you want to say anything to the community?
Frank:
Thanks to all the contributors, it is really amazing to be part of this growing and fun community, and I think we can build something great together.

We are looking for aspiring bloggers and journalists for The Mukt. If you are interested, apply now!

– Transcribed by Jennifer Bhartiya

Slideshow Image:
Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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