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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Mon, 27 Apr 2015

The Latvian-coded ONLYOFFICE adds document server for Linux

The new onlyoffice.org page for the self-hosted version of the software

In my first entry about ONLYOFFICE, which is both a software-as-a-service offering you can purchase for individuals or teams and software you can install on your Linux system via traditional package or Docker containers, a key piece of the puzzle was missing.

That piece was the "document server," which allows users to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations through the web browser in real time.

As of April 20, ONLYOFFICE is offering Document Server 3.0 to make that happen.

And to separate out the hosted service from the community edition, there are now separate web sites at http://onlyoffice.com and http://onlyoffice.org

Also announced that day are Mail Server 1.0, and Community Server 8.5.0.

And according to the blog post, you can get it all in one bundle.


While there are traditional Windows-, .deb- and .rpm-packaged binaries for the Community Server portion of ONLYOFFICE (which I think is mostly file-sharing), getting the whole thing -- including the key Document Server component -- means going to GitHub and dealing with Docker.

While I've read plenty about Docker, I've never actually used it. So I'm wary about actually installing this software. What would work for me is getting it going on Red Hat's OpenShift service. You can find prepackaged "QuickStarts" for many frameworks and full applications for OpenShift at the OpenShift Hub, where I do see an OwnCloud QuickStart, but nothing yet for ONLYOFFICE.

The fine print on ONLYOFFICE

  • The ONLYOFFICE project is based in Latvia, and somewhere buried on the not-terribly-organized Web site, it says that there is also development going on in Russia. The company developing ONLYOFFICE is called Ascensio System SIA.

  • ONLYOFFICE used to be called Teamlab.

  • When installing it on your own server, ONLYOFFICE requires mono, nginx and mysql-server. Since the nginx web server is a Russia-based project, I can understand the Latvia-based ONLYOFFICE going for it. That nginx is super-fast is a huge bonus.

  • The project is coded in Microsoft's C# language, which means that you need Mono to make it run. I'm no Microsoft partisan, and I have never coded in C#, but looking at the code on GitHub, I've seen way worse things than C# code.

  • Looking at the code on GitHub, there is also a lot of Javascript in there. That the code lives on GitHub and that the developers are all about Docker are both good things.

  • A "one-click" installer is available on a web form that requires you to enter your IP address or domain, user name, path to SSH key and password. I'm more than a little wary about that.

  • It's very early days for ONLYOFFICE. As far as I'm concerned, it's still early days for OwnCloud, and that project has been kicking out releases for a few years now. The ONLYOFFICE repos are quite active. There is a lot of code being pumped into them.

  • I'm writing about ONLYOFFICE in a bit of a vacuum. I hear about things happening in the project/at the company, but I'm not hearing anything from outside. Is anybody using the SaaS version, and has anybody successfully installed and deployed this on their own server?

  • Using the ONLYOFFICE hosted (aka SaaS) service costs money. Google Apps is a free service for individual users and -100 per user per year for business users. ONLYOFFICE is about per user per year.

Why am I writing about this? Communication and collaboration in the workplace is huge and not just the wave of the future. It is the wave of the present. Google and Microsoft shouldn't own the entire space.

And the applications that allow workers to collaborate and communicate in the ways they've grown accustomed shouldn't be available only in hosted, software as a service (SaaS) environments. Individuals, groups and companies should be able to run these services on their own bare-metal servers, virtual private servers, cloud-based environments and even shared-hosting environments.

What's next? My next move is going to be opening an account on the ONLYOFFICE servers and giving the software a try in their hosted environment. I'll get back to you on how that goes.