From Nextcloud 12 to 13: A One Year Review

A couple years ago I heard about Owncloud in Bellingham, WA at LinuxFest NW from founder Frank’s talk on Crushing data silos with ownCloud, but was disinterested upon learning it was partially closed source… that was until the forking/open sourcing of all existing code to Nextcloud; I decided I’d like to try it for myself. Difficulty of installation and other life priorities held me back until the release of Nextcloud 12… I found out about the ownyourbits website and community-based NextcloudPi project, which aims to simplify deployment and maintenance of Nextcloud for not only the Raspberry Pi, but all existing platform architectures (Arm devices, x86-64 bit systems, VPS, etc.) as a standard ISO image or curl script or docker file. I’m happy to see the project has officially become a part of Nextcloud core family.

The thought of a community alternative to the commercial Nextcloud Box interested me greatly so I grabbed a Pi 2 and had a very simple time running NextcloudPi due to it’s very useful NextcloudPi-config tool, which is now also available from the browser as ncp-web. All of these things just worked:

  • Let’s Encrypt SSL
  • Setting up a Static IP
  • DNS Setup
  • Adding External USB Drive Storage
  • Exporting/Backing up/Recovering configuration data
  • Diagnostic tools for fixing a busted Nextcloud Setup
  • Responsive community!

NextcloudPi worked fine on a Pi 2, but became notably more responsive once the image was copied to a Pi 3… even for one user. The ideas of Nextcloud are really exciting, but right away I grew confused about how all of the included features could be used. In the end, it is really up to you to read all of the documentation in order to understand how Nextcloud works, especially since I’m coming from years of relying on the typical proprietary solutions: Google Suite, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud, Doodle, Trello, Skype, etc.

What worked well?

  • Nextcloud is really fun to use on a Raspberry Pi, and includes a nice web interface!
  • Nextcloudpi-config allows for flawless updates from version 12 to current version 13.0.1 stable.
  • Tasks show up as iOS Reminders.
  • Calendars show up no problem.
  • Desktop client makes it easy to manage multiple Nextcloud instances.
  • Federation and Circles app make it easy to extend your file storage to other Nextcloud installations!
  • Extremely responsive online community via Github, Discourse Help Forum, Telegram and Reddit’s Nextcloud & larger Selfhosted communities.
  • Lots of very useful security features, including 2-factor Authentication.

What didn’t work so well?

Conclusion on Nextcloud for Localhosting

Nextcloud is a very interesting application that has a long life ahead of it. You can actually control your own data! Development is rapid and community focused, but the overall system can quickly feel like a jack-of-all trades and master of none when your primary need is to share files with only yourself or a home network. Even with the current 13.0.1 release it is difficult to say whether specific apps will work as expected until you test them out individually. Getting setup requires commitment in terms of time and easing users into a new system that gives them (and you) a lot of control.


hey just,

i couldn’t agree more on your comments about nextcloud, owncloud and nextcloudpi (though i even managed to setup my own owncloud-instance before the fork but then let it go b/c of several other things - i just came back with NC 11)

but there was one point that i need to pick out

well of course there has been several obstacles to get sorted out before you could connect to dropbox and google-drive but i managed to do both. even successfully. it got completely removed in NC 13, only. and there are rumours that there is an app (or two) doing that from now on. i haven’t tried it myself since i have emptied my google and dropbox long time ago because why would i need to have files outside of my own cloud at home? storing data in external clouds totally contradicts the basic idea of nextcloud. but nevertheless i agree there should be an option to connect to both. and - as just metioned - there is such option.

regarding your conclusion i just wanted to add one very special point.
if i remember it correctly it was said when the fork for NC was done that you can easily setup your own theming (which was and maybe still is a paid extra in OC). and now it turns out that NC as well is slowly getting rid of the easy individual theming setup? i guess that’s the wrong way. i see the point of putting theming stuff (like individualizing mail templates, etc …) into an app. but this should be a “featured” app, meaning it should be taken care of by the core-devs. since it was promised by NC to have an easy way of controlling your individual theming, at least.



i was referring to this

but now that i digged deeper into it it shows me that this app is meant for OC only. so it would need some porting to NC, still

anyways… you have been right. sorry.

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