The self hosting file sharing solution ownCloud is becoming increasingly popular, even in companies you regularly come across installations. To make auto setup of ownCloud easier the following howto shows the steps to automatically connect it to a LDAP server.
File exchange services like Dropbox or Google Drive offer a neat and quick way to exchange even large amounts of data. However, they only work because the data are uploaded to the servers of such corporations in the first hand, which is in times a bit questionable when you deal with sensitive data.
Here ownCloud comes into play: it offers the possibility to self host a file sharing service on infrastructure you trust. Additionally it is Open Source, thus providing at least a minimum amount of trust. And it is not anymore a solution only used by few people for their private servers: these days ownCloud is used in the public sector, universities and companies of all sizes. For example the sciebo project offers ownCloud based file exchange services for 300k students with 5 PB of storage.
It is thus no wonder that the interest in hosting ownCloud services is unbroken. Here at credativ we often see corresponding requests from customers who want support in setting up such installations.
Among the challenges to setup ownCloud in a business environment, two of the biggest ones are the connection to the central authentication service like LDAP and unattended installation. The first task is important to fully integrate ownCloud into the existing user space and make it a first class citizen in the existing infrastrucutre. The second task is especially relevant if you want to easily deploy the service reproducible: Think of containers, docker, VMs, etc. here.
especially the combination of both tasks is challenging: usually ownCloud expects the admin to follow through several steps manually which involve a lot of clicking and entering data until it is up, running and connected to the LDAP. But it is possible to avoid these point-and-click-adventures: Configuration templates can help pre-configuring the ownCloud service, and the setup of the LDAP connection can be automated using ownCloud’s configuration command line tool
So let’s go through the process step by step: At first, ownCloud has to be installed – that can usually be done by the usual package management tools like yum, apt, etc. After the installation, the ownCloud URL is usually opened via browser to start the first run wizard. This can be automated by providing the configuration template
$owncloud/config/autoconfig.php which contains all necessary information usually queried in the first run wizard: admin user, pwd, db type, db user, db password, etc. ownCloud checks at start if the file is present and if, omits the first run wizard. Here is an example of such a autoconfig template:
$AUTOCONFIG = array (
'directory' => '/var/www/html/owncloud/data',
'adminlogin' => 'mmu',
'adminpass' => '123456',
'dbtype' => 'pgsql',
'dbname' => 'owncloud',
'dbuser' => 'postgres',
'dbpass' => '123456',
'dbhost' => '192.168.123.45',
'dbtableprefix' => 'oc_',
Note that further configuration of your ownCloud can also be placed int the usual
config.php file: the values of the autoconfig file will be merged into the existing configuration file. This way you can pre-configure most parts of your entire server. More details can be found in the admin documentation.
To actually start the processing of the autoconfig file the ownCloud URL must be called at least once. This can be done from the server itself via the help of
curl -s -k 127.0.0.1/owncloud/ > /dev/null.
When the basic configuration is done, the next step is to connect the server to LDAP. This would usually be done by opening the ownCloud URL, activating the LDAP app and configuring it. Instead of clicking through the web page, these tasks can be accomplished with the help of the
occ tool. It can be used to activate the app, write and an empty configuration (thanks mark0n for this) and also to set the basic LDAP data. Make sure to call all commands as the user the webserver is called at – otherwise you might get all kinds of problems. The individual steps are:
php -f $ocpath/occ app:enable user_ldap
php -f $ocpath/occ ldap:create-empty-config
php -f $ocpath/occ ldap:set-config "" ldapHost 192.168.123.45
php -f $ocpath/occ ldap:set-config "" ldapPort 389
php -f $ocpath/occ ldap:set-config "" ldapBase \"dc=example,dc=net\"
php -f $ocpath/occ ldap:set-config "" ldapConfigurationActive 1
In case you are debugging problems, check the configuration of the ownCloud server via
php -f $ocpath/occ ldap:show-config.
And that’s it already – your ownCloud should be connected to your LDAP server now. If you script all commands for example in Ansible or write a Puppet module it is even easily reproducible.
In case you are interested, I also wrote a German blog article about the problem on credativ’s blog: Owncloud Auto-Setup mit LDAP-Anbindung.