For over a year, I’ve been using a self hosted, home based server to replace Google services. I have used it to sync family phones, backup data, be a web server and a gallery or photo server, as well as be a location tracker. All the while, this worked pretty well, but it became a little tedious as I added new features. Pretty soon I was trying to maintain an FTP server, photo server, file server, ssh, location, and more. From the server side, this was not too bad to maintain, but with every update I had to check all of my components to make sure they worked. Further, it took about 8 different apps on my phones to maintain all of the services I needed.

So, I decided it was time for a change. I wanted something that was a little bit simpler. It’s okay to have multiple apps on the phones, but it would be nice not to have to maintain 8 different logins for each family members 8 different apps. I got a new phone and it took days to set it all up, which is a lot of hassle. It would also be nice if the services were a bit more integrated with each-other server side, so I didn’t have to use cron jobs and self made scripts to organize all the data that was sent back to the server.

Thus, I am giving NextCloud a try. It is open source, of course, and can be hosted on your own server. I’ve only been using it about a week, and so far, I have to say I’m impressed. The different server apps and phone apps all easily integrate to each-other. I only need one password for each family member, yet I can track location when desired, sync files as needed, automatically backup photos, contacts, and calendars, and even do video chats with my own family members on my own server. Using the app, my wife can send me a picture of her drivers license or social security card, and I don’t have to worry about anyone else seeing it. It’s great. At least so far.

This blog being more of a scratchpad for myself, I plan to document my setup here. Mainly for myself, but perhaps others who are looking to do the same thing may benefit as well.

I’ll start by saying that I’ve ditched CentOS. It was reliable, but not as easy to work with. Instead I backed up all of my photos and wiped the server. I’m still using a Dell PowerEdge 1950 with 24 GB of ram, with a 4 TB mirrored raid array. The main difference is I’ve decided to go with Ubuntu 20 as my server operating system. Ubuntu is much handier when it comes to hardware working right out of the box, as I didn’t need to do anything to setup my UPS battery backup, and several other pieces of hardware that took a small amount of time and effort with CentOS. This is also helpful as I use my server to run my 3D printer, which has much better out of the box support on Ubuntu.

I’m just happy because I can go back to good old “apt-get”.

Linux – keep it simple.

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