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How to set up end-to-end-encryption with Cryptomator
June 23, 2017

On Tuesday, we interviewed Christian Schmickler – his software Crpytomator offers an easy and open source way for ownCloud users to end-to-end-encrypt their files client-side. We show how to set this up with your ownCloud sync client. Both cryptomator and our sync client are available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android and iOS, of course.

If you have questions, what end-to-end-encryption is, and why it’s so important: since Edward Snowden revealed the NSA mass surveillance of the whole internet (i.e. everything) in 2013, we all have to protect us against espionage. Other threats against the secrecy of your data are hackers and admins, which you maybe don’t want to trust with all of your data.

End-to-end encryption protects you against some of these threats; especially against admins. Your data is then stored encrypted in the ownCloud and gets only decrypted on your client devices, i.e. your phone or PC. This does not protect you, if someone hacks your client device – then they may be able to intercept your passphrase too. But it is already a big step towards protection of your data.

If you want more advice how to protect your privacy, let Snowden explain it himself. It is not rocket science!



Here is a short and easy to follow step-by-step guide to set up cryptomator:

  1. (If you have not done it yet) install and set up the ownCloud sync client.
    1. Choose a folder, which will contain your synced cloud data.
  2. Download Cryptomator.
  3. Create an encrypted vault:
    1. Click on the + to create a vault,
    2. Choose a location inside your sync folder to save it and
    3. Pick a nice passphrase.
  4. Unlock your encrypted vault:
    1. Enter your passphrase
    2. The vault is now mounted via webdav, you can access it in your file manager. All data you put in there is safe!

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Product Management in Open Source Projects – Need, Pain or Useless?
June 20, 2017

Some weeks ago Holger Dyroff (COO at ownCloud) and Patrick Maier (Product Manager at ownCloud) gave a talk about the role of product management between open source projects and derived products at openSUSE Conference 2017 at Z-Bau, Nuremberg. As this topic obviously is a very important one around ownCloud we’d also like to share our thoughts in a blog post.

Product Management in Open Source Projects – Need, Pain or Useless?

When preparing for our talk we did research, read some articles, had discussions and quickly realized that even though we might be talking about one and the same software it’s inevitable to differentiate between open source projects and products as those are in fact two separate things with different stakeholders and goals. Therefore we took a look at both to discover their goals and where they might differ.

A look at open source projects

So, what are open source projects? How are they characterized? What are the goals and typical outcomes?

First, they typically consist of volunteers that have some interest in the topic and therefore engage with it. There’s a lot of enthusiasm that you can feel when attending conferences around FOSS.
People are creative, they want to expand their horizons, think around the corner.
It’s also a lot about learning and fun as everybody can join no matter on their qualification or skill level which is great as it brings people together and provides a platform for mutual inspiration and exchange. So it’s about ‘doing things together’ with flat hierarchies and rather quick decision-making.

In comparison with closed-source projects it’s also based on the belief that the involvement of many people drives the project in the right direction – this is can be described with the term ‘law of large numbers’ that actually originates from statistics and describes the result of performing an experiment a large number of times. If you do this the average of the results will be close to the expectation. Paired with the diversity in opinions and characteristics of participants the assumption is that this leads to great software that fulfills the expectations of at least the largest part of users sooner or later.

Putting this together the project drives innovation by uniting various kinds of views and opinions and as a result produces a common good from people for people – Awesome so far!

Let’s get a bit of hard reality into this: A motivated start of such projects is many times followed by difficult decisions where people might get disappointed. And as time is scarce and people need to pay their bills many promising projects experience stagnation at some point. At this point the ‘product’ comes into play as a possible solution to turn the corner and bring movement back to the project.

A look at products

So, products always depend on their ability to attract customers and to prevail in competition.

Customers put up certain requirements to the software. They need good and intuitive usability even for less experienced users. Stability is at the heart of a customers’ expectation of a good product. Therefore it is inevitable to maintain excellent QA. Furthermore customers demand professional support and maintenance should be as easy as possible.

Knowing this it should be easy to see that the ones who derive the product from an open source project experience pressure from customers and the markets. This pressure naturally brings movement into the product as bills may only be paid when customers are happy. To make customers happy the product needs to fulfill requirements in a certain quality within a certain time frame.

The relation between Project and Product

In the best case the project is a basis for the product and both profit from each other in a balanced way. For this you take the project at some point in time and professionalize it to meet the requirements of a product as discussed before.

You attract customers with marketing efforts, sell the product and build up a standing in the market. If this works out nicely the product generates revenue which can then be used to reinvest into the product and project, respectively.

This drives momentum back to the project as contributions are made and issues that in the project would not have been touched get solved as a need for the product. This might open up new ways in the project.

Also as stability is a key criteria for products these efforts go back to the project which benefits as contributors might not have the highest priority on stability but users of course like it when a service works seamlessly out-of-the-box.

The project again enjoys freedom in two ways:
– People can use the software for free and do whatever they want with it
– People should also be free in their way of thinking of the future of the software, which again drives innovation and incubation that comes back to the product where it’s really needed because there’s competition and other products improve as well.

This again attracts more customers and stabilizes or in the best case even increases revenue and the circle starts from the beginning. So, from iteration to iteration the product and also the project improve steadily which creates value for all parties involved.



What we explained above obviously is a model that works in a perfect world. In reality there are obstacles that both the project and the product need to consider. When we thought and discussed about it many questions came up to our minds. We were not able to answer all of them conclusively but we discussed some in our talk that you can watch here in full length.


This is what we’ve learned from our experience and research about the need of product management in open source projects:

– Open Source projects need freedom – not management

To be able to prosper and develop great ideas that lead to innovation open source projects need enough space and freedom. It’s very inhibiting if you put constraints on projects as people might not be able to evolve and have fun with their contributions.

– Product Management is a need for Products

On the other hand product management – as the name says – is a real need for products as you have many different stakeholders and interests that need to be balanced in order to come to something like a win-win situation for all involved parties.

– Projects need Community Management and Community Marketing

For projects it should be best to establish proper community management and marketing to socialize the roadmap and connect the various parties, attract others and get movement into the thing. Remember it’s not only code that is a contribution. Word of mouth has value as well and you need a lot more than only code to get an open source project rolling.


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Cryptomator: we talked to Christian Schmickler
June 20, 2017

Emil: Who are you and what do you do?

Christian Schmickler: We are Skymatic, a German startup with a founding team of four privacy-passionate enthusiasts. We develop Cryptomator, the open source software that helps everyone protect their files and privacy in cloud storages. You can follow our development activities via our GitHub repository at https://github.com/cryptomator/cryptomator.

What is Cryptomator and how can I install and use it?

Cryptomator is a client-side (end-to-end) encryption software optimized for cloud storage. It encrypts files locally on the user’s computer or smartphone before they are uploaded to a cloud storage – such as ownCloud. The software (for Win, Mac, Linux) and apps (for iOS, Android) can be downloaded from our website https://cryptomator.org, the App Store, and Google Play.

Against which threat model does Cryptomator protect me?

Client-side encryption is the best way to ensure the protection of confidentiality of files in any cloud storage. Without client-side encryption, it is often not clear a) who (e.g., administrators of the cloud provider) has access to your files, and b) whether your files are sufficiently protected against outside attackers. If a Cryptomator-encrypted file fell into an attacker’s hands, it would be virtually impossible to decrypt it without knowing the password chosen by the owner of the file.

How is Cryptomator different than other encryption tools?

Cryptomator is the first software of its kind that is both open source and easy to use. It encrypts every file individually (no containers!) to retain the benefits of a cloud storage. Besides, it is available for all major operating systems to provide access to your encrypted files from every device.

In which direction do you want the internet to evolve?

We want to contribute to the internet being a secure network in which personal rights – such as the right to privacy – are protected. We believe that the opportunities provided by digitalization can only be harnessed if people and companies have a justified trust in the confidentiality of their data. Since transparency fosters trust, we believe in the idea of open source and would like to encourage others to pursue open source business models as well.

Nice, do you have something else to say to the community?

The protection of privacy and data security is a collective challenge and it needs everyone’s commitment. Thus, everybody should be aware of their responsibility not only for their privacy protection and security but also for everybody else’s. Happy crypting with Cryptomator! 🙂


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We’re coming to windows 10 mobile devices – with the new universal client, directly from the community!
June 12, 2017

As ownCloud is an open source project, the community is contributing important work to the software you all use and love. New features, and sometimes whole new software is made directly by the people who use ownCloud – from the community, for the community. All of this is only possible because unlike with proprietary software, the source code is open – and everyone gives away his creation for free.

In this case, Adrian Gebhart built an ownCloud client for all Windows 10 devices: Windows phones, tablets, and PCs. So even where we our windows client didn’t work on windows phones, people who can’t make the move to use Linux everywhere can still use open source software in proprietary environments. So if you have a Windows phone, give it a a shot!

You can download and try out the client here, at the appstore. Note that the client is not a replacement for the original ownCloud client. Still, if you want to contribute or report issues, here is the github repository.

Get it from Microsoft

Also consider helping with the translation! You can join this project on transifex. Every help counts to make open source a force to be reckoned with!



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Stay up to date – get rid of your old version!
June 1, 2017

Some people are still running an ownCloud 8.2 – and we can’t blame the nostalgia. Version 8.2 marked a big step in user experience. Maybe you can still remember how it was released more than one and a half years ago.

But all good things come to an end – when the newer, better stuff is on the table! So when we released ownCloud X a month ago, it was time to say good bye to 8.2.

Now is the time to upgrade. The 10.0.2 version is already out, it is pretty fresh and from today; so maybe it is the version for you. Note that a direct upgrade is not recommended – you will have to take a few minor steps. First upgrade to 9.0.9+ from there upgrade to 10.0.2.

A direct upgrade from 8.2 to 9.1 or above is not supported.

So go with the flow and ready yourself for a new dawn! There is no reason to linger around with old versions.

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