How to use the Nextcloud Ubuntu Appliance with Collabora Online on an Intel NUC

Overview

In this tutorial, we walk you through the process of installing the Nextcloud Ubuntu Appliance image on an Intel NUC, getting set up and being fully productive with Nextcloud.

You’ll be able to have video calls, share documents, and edit with others using Collabora Online. All on your own infrastructure with nothing leaving your control. For installation instructions on Windows, macOS, a Linux VM or on the Raspberry Pi, follow the instructions on our website and come back for step 7. Let’s start!

What you’ll learn

  • How to create a Nextcloud Ubuntu Appliance
  • How to set up Nextcloud
  • How to start using Nextcloud with Collabora Online

What you’ll need

  • Two USB 2.0 or 3.0 flash drives (2GB minimum)
  • An Intel NUC with BIOS updated to the latest version (update instructions)
  • A Mini HDMI to HDMI cable
  • A monitor with VGA or HDMI interface
  • A VGA or HDMI cable
  • A USB keyboard and mouse
  • A network connection with Internet access
  • An Ubuntu 20.04 LTS desktop image

Generate Secure Shell (SSH) keys

The ‘Secure Shell’ protocol provides access to your Ubuntu Appliance and uses cryptographic keys to authenticate you to the device. You need SSH software and keys.

To generate them run the following command in the terminal:

ssh-keygen -t rsa

This starts the key generation process.

When you execute this command, the ssh-keygen utility prompts you to indicate where to store the key, press ENTER to accept the default location.

When the ssh-keygen utility prompts you for a passphrase. Type in a passphrase.

You now have a public and private key that you can use to authenticate.

Create an Ubuntu SSO account

Your Ubuntu Appliance will be added to your Ubuntu cloud account and use your SSH keys to identify you. Add your keys to your account at https://login.ubuntu.com/ssh-keys by running the following command in your terminal:

cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub

Copy the result into the text field on the website. Click import and you will have the key set up.

Flash the USBs

Download and copy the Ubuntu Desktop 20.04 LTS image on the first USB flash drive by following the live USB Ubuntu Desktop tutorial for Ubuntu.

Copy the Nextcloud Ubuntu Appliance image you downloaded on to the second USB flash drive.

Install your appliance image

  1. Connect your USB hub, keyboard, mouse and monitor to the NUC
  2. Insert the first USB flash drive, containing Ubuntu Desktop 20.04 LTS
  3. Start the NUC and push F10 to enter the boot menu
  4. Select the USB flash drive as a boot option
  5. Select Try Ubuntu without installing
  6. Once the Ubuntu session has started, insert the second USB flash drive containing the appliance image file
  7. Open a terminal and use the following command to find out the target disk device to install the appliance to: sudo fdisk -l
  8. Run the following command, where disk label is the label of the second USB flash drive:
    xzcat /media/ubuntu/<disk label>/dawson-uc18-m7-20190122-10.img.xz | sudo dd of=/dev/<target disk device> bs=32M status=progress; sync
  9. Reboot the system and remove the flash drives when prompted. It will then boot from the internal memory where your appliance image has been flashed.

First boot

The system will boot and become ready to configure. The device will display a prompt to configure. Press ENTER and select “Start” to begin configuring your network and admin account. Follow the instructions on the screen.

At the end of the process, you will see your credentials to access your device:
This device is registered to <Ubuntu SSO email address>.

Once setup is done, you can login to a machine on the same network with SSH:

ssh <Ubuntu SSO user name>@<device IP address>

Your user name is your Ubuntu SSO user name.

Get Going with Nextcloud

When you start Nextcloud for the first time, you’ll make an account and go through some initial configuration. To do so, open a browser on a computer on the same network as your appliance device and go to:

http://<IP-of-your-appliance>

Where the IP of your appliance is the same numbers you use to ssh.

  1. Create your admin account in the browser

  2. Wait while Nextcloud downloads and installs the recommended apps for your appliance. These include:

    a. Nextcloud Talk for video calls and chat
    b. Nextcloud Groupware with calendar, mail and contacts
    c. Collabora Online for editing documents

Note that these take a while to download and install.

  1. Move through the initial setup wizard and follow the instructions on screen to familiarise yourself with Nextcloud

Enabling HTTPS

You’ll need to SSH into the device in order to enable HTTPS. If you have a domain name for your appliance and have any necessary port forwarding setup (e.g. ports 80 and 443 for that domain name should be going to the appliance), simply run the following command to retrieve a certificate from Let’s Encrypt:

sudo nextcloud.enable-https lets-encrypt

That will ask you a few questions required by Let’s Encrypt (e.g. the domain in question, etc.). Once complete, Nextcloud will be protected with HTTPS, and that certificate will automatically be kept updated.

If you don’t happen to have a domain name, or are otherwise unable to use Let’s Encrypt, run the following command to use a self-signed certificate:

sudo nextcloud.enable-https self-signed

That’s it

Now you can get to work with your Nextcloud Ubuntu Appliance using Collabora online.

Using Nextcloud

Nextcloud brings together universal access to data through mobile, desktop, and web interfaces with next-generation, on-premise secure communication and collaboration features. Real-time document editing and chat and video calls put users in direct control of IT integration with existing infrastructure. Here’s a quick overview of our basic apps, Files, Groupware and Talk.

Nextcloud Files lets users store all their documents, photos, music and more. Endless sharing options are available to friends, family and co-workers internally and externally with collaboration options like commenting on each file or leaving an extra note on a share.

Nextcloud Groupware comes with an address book, calendar, email and some task management tools like Notes and the Kanban app Deck to organize private or work life easier.

With Nextcloud Talk users can chat or have video calls with other users on the server or with guests in any number of chat rooms. It is possible to share an image or office document in a chat room and even edit it directly in Collabora Online during a call with the other participants in the room.

Nextcloud comes with clients for Android, iOS, Windows, Linux and Mac, allowing users to sync and share files. For mobile devices, a series of other apps can help users access their bookmarks, notes or chat and video calls from Nextcloud on their phone or tablet. You can even edit documents with Collabora Online.

Nextcloud can be extended from our app store with over 200 apps like Maps, Music, phone sync (sync your SMS messages with your phone), a cookbook app, password managers and many, many more. Just a single click is needed to enable each of these apps!

Using Collabora

One of the coolest things in Nextcloud is the direct integration of Collabora Online. This allows you to open and edit office documents like DOCX, PPTX or the open standards ODT and ODP.

Collabora Online goes beyond just editing documents and provides support for collaborative editing with multiple people. You can easily share a document with other users on your Nextcloud server, or even using a public link, and give the recipients write access so they can join you in writing and editing. Deep integration in Nextcloud means you can drop a document in a video chat window and edit it right there and then with all other participants in the call.

In summary, with Collabora Online enabled you can do most, if not all, all of the things you’ve come to expect from the likes of Google’s G-suite or Microsoft office. For example, collaborative editing; detailed handling of images, columns, page formatting, indices. In spreadsheets complex formula wizards, the grouping of columns and rows, chart editing, sorting.

For presentations: master slides, animations, handy editing of tables. Supported by a powerful sidebar and dialogues, detailed colour management, rich copy and paste. And you can do it all in the Open Document Format with expert interoperability for Microsoft formats DOCX, XLSX, PPTX and many legacy formats.