12 June 2013

Note: This post is kind of a hybrid between a how-to and a story, about how I have it done. You probably won’t need to do it all stop by step. If you are reading this, because you actually want to install ownCloud with PostgreSQL on CentOS, read the text first and try it after you’ve read it all.


You can skip this part, if you just want the how-to.

At our 3D printing lab at the university, we share 3D models and G-codes a lot. G-codes for 3D printing are usually to large for e-mail attachments, so it basically always ends up with USB stick. This drives me crazy, because we are the Faculty of Information Technology and we are unable to bring a long term solution to a simple problem.

Once, we had a server with SSH (ant therefore SFTP) access - but it was a mess and we always got some problems with permissions. We can also use some ready-to-use solution, such as Dropbox, but I don’t like it - I can either synchronize the files, or use web interface. I would prefer a tool, that also allows me to simply connect the storage, let’s say via WebDAV.

That’s bring me to ownCloud, that supports all this - syncing files, mounting the storage and web interface. And speaking about Dropbox, ownCloud should be able to connect Dropbox as an external storage. I’ve heard a lot about this tool and I want to give it a try for a long time.

In our lab, we have several old computers and at least one of them should serve as a server just fine. e also have a lot of hard drives that should serve as RAID pool. It has been ages since I installed a server for some service and in that times, I used Debian stable. Right now, when I am Fedorian and Red Hatter, I’ve decided for CentOS. I have never tried it yet but what the hell, it has yum. At least I can recall ownCloud is a feature for Fedora 19 and the packages are available for EPEL (therefore for CentOS).


Yes, you can skip this part too :)

I decided to try the thing first in the virtual machine in VirtualBox, so I don’t screw anything up. I use VirtualBox a lot for trying several desktops, but I never used it to virtualise a server. The only thing that is important is to set the network mode to Bridged networking, so you can get an real IP address that is available from your local network.

Getting started with CentOS

And finally, if your CentOS server already works, you can skip this too.

I’ve installed CentOS from the minimal installation media. The installation was really fast and I believe the only thing I got was kernel, networking and yum. First, you have to run dhclient to get an IP address. It is really a good idea to enable automatic connecting on boot, or you’ll need physical access to the machine after each reboot (not a big issue when running the server from VirtualBox, but in production). You’ll do that by enabling it in /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0 (or similar) - set ONBOOT option to yes.

SSH server was already installed, I recommend to use only keys to log in, by using this config in /etc/ssh/sshd_config:

PermitRootLogin no
PubkeyAuthentication yes
AuthorizedKeysFile .ssh/authorized_keys
RSAAuthentication no
PasswordAuthentication no
UsePAM no
KerberosAuthentication no
GSSAPIAuthentication no

Be sure to create an user and to have key authorization working for him before you disable root access and password logins. Simple copying my public key to the server’s user’s .ssh/authorized_keys didn’t work, CentOS needs you to set permissions correctly:

chmod 700 ~/.ssh
chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

Also, I’ve run yum update to get the updates.

Adding EPEL

To install ownCloud form EPEL repository, you need to have EPEL installed and enabled in your system. Get the link for the latest version of epel-release and install it with yum.

yum install http://.../pub/linux/fedora/epel/6/i386/epel-release-6-8.noarch.rpm

I also recommend to install the package bash-completion from EPEL - otherwise the work with yum and other tools is pain.

Installing ownCloud

Fedora ownCloud feature page says:

No manual configuration should be required and if, make sure all steps are correctly described in a README.Fedora

So I’ve installed the owncloud package and looked in README.Fedora.

yum install owncloud
cat /usr/share/doc/owncloud-4.5.11/README.fedora

This README says several things:

After installation you should be able to access the login/configuration page
on following url:

http://localhost/owncloud/ or http://localhost/

And yes indeed (not sure but probably after starting the server with service httpd start) it servers something, but only from local connection:

yum install lynx
lynx http://localhost/owncloud/

That works, but accessing ownCloud from my host didn’t work.

Currently ownCloud in Fedora supports following webserver: httpd and nginx.
You must install at least on webserver subpackage (owncloud-webserver). These
packages include additional configuration files for the webservers. Note that
these files are just samples. For production setup you should adjust them to
your needs. Also remote access is disabled by default.

Yes, exactly. I’ve observed, that owncloud-httpd package was installed with owncloud. As I have no experience with nginx configuration, I decided to keep it that way. I’ve looked to /etc/httpd/conf.d/owncloud.conf and changed this part:

    <IfModule mod_authz_core.c>
    # Apache 2.4
    Require local
    <IfModule !mod_authz_core.c>
    # Apache 2.2
    Order Deny,Allow
    Deny from all
    Allow from
    Allow from ::1


    Order Allow,Deny
    Allow from all

And restarted Apache with service httpd restart. To allow remote access. Sadly, it wan’t enough. Iptables are running be default on CentOS and I had to enable TCP traffic on ports 80 and 443.

iptables -I INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 80 -j ACCEPT
iptables -I INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 443 -j ACCEPT
service iptables save

After that, I was able to visit ownCloud page from remote computer (in this case, the virtualization host).

Configuring PostgreSQL

You can choose between 3 databases: MySQL, Postgresql and SQLite.
For each of them exists a corresponding owncloud subpackage (owncloud-database).
You are required to install at least one of them.

For larger installs you should use MySQL or PostgreSQL.

If you choose MySQL or PostgreSQL, keep in mind that you must create a database and user
for owncloud manually, before you can finish the setup process.

For specific instructions, please refer to the documentation in the database subpackages.

Together with owncloud-httpd I’ve also got owncloud-mysql. But my personal preferences are for PostgreSQL, so I wanted owncloud-postgresql instead. I didn’t want anything from MySQL to be left behind, so I undid the installation of ownCloud with yum history undo X and installed again yum install owncloud-postgresql. After that, I’ve looked to the documentation in the database subpackage.

cat /usr/share/doc/owncloud-postgresql-4.5.11/README.postgresql 
Configure PostgreSQL for ownCloud
Before you can use PostgreSQL as database backend, you need to follow a couple of steps:

1. make sure that your PostgreSQL service is configured and running properly
2. log in to PostgreSQL as system user to create the database and a dedicated user account for ownCloud:
su - -c "psql" postgres
 CREATE USER username WITH PASSWORD 'password';
 ALTER DATABASE owncloud OWNER TO username;

Choose identifier and password accordingly.

Now you can launch the ownCloud setup screen, select PostgreSQL in the advanced settings and fill in your credentials.

On CentOS, to configure and run PostgreSQL you have to do:

service postgresql initdb # initialize
service postgresql start  # start it now
chkconfig postgresql on   # start it always

After that, you can run su - -c "psql" postgres and create the database and user with commands in README.postgresql. The only problem is, you won’t be able to connect to PostgreSQL form ownCloud, unless you enable password anesthetization in /var/lib/pgsql/data/pg_hba.conf:


# "local" is for Unix domain socket connections only
local   all         all                               ident
# IPv4 local connections:
host    all         all          md5
# IPv6 local connections:
host    all         all         ::1/128               md5

Changed thing is in last column - for connection form localhost (both IPv4 and IPv6) it now uses md5 hashes of passwords to authenticate the user. After the change, restart PostgreSQL with service postgresql restart.

That should be it, but SELinux protects you and therefor you cannot connect to the PostgreSQL database from ownCloud. The following command should enable it:

setsebool -P httpd_can_network_connect_db 1

Disabling SELinux enables it as well. To disable it now (until reboot), run echo 0 >/selinux/enforce, to disable it forever after next reboot, set SELINUX option to disabled in /etc/selinux/config. Disabling SELinux should be the last option (but it usually helps with a lot of things).

Custom ownCloud data directory

The default data directory is '/var/lib/owncloud/data'. Every file that is uploaded
by your users to ownCloud gets saved into this folder. Consider doing a backup of this
directory, together with the database and the main configuration.

As I intend to keep user data in /home, I wanted to change this. It is not very difficult, you are asked for the directory on the ownCloud setup page.

First, you have to create the directory and set the permissions correctly:

[[email protected] ~]# mkdir -p /home/owncloud/
[[email protected] ~]# ls -ld /var/lib/owncloud/data/
drwxr-x---. 2 apache apache 4096 Jun 10 20:12 /var/lib/owncloud/data/
[[email protected] ~]# chown apache:apache /home/owncloud/
[[email protected] ~]# chmod 750 /home/owncloud/
[[email protected] ~]# ls -ld /home/owncloud/
drwxr-x---. 3 apache apache 4096 Jun 10 20:57 /home/owncloud/

But, ownCloud would keep telling you it cannot writes to that directory. If you don’t know, what’s causing the problem, blame SELinux :) And again, it protects you and it doesn’t allow ownCloud to write anywhere it thinks it should. Sou you have to allow it (or disable SELinux).

chcon -t httpd_sys_rw_content_t /home/owncloud

After that, I was able to fill the setup page of ownCloud and it worked. Sadly, I was not able to make the Dropbox sync working (yet).

That’s it, as said before No manual configuration should be required :D

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