NextCloud 19 “Home Office”: new features

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NextCloud is a Dropbox-like software that enables you to store and sync your files originally forked from the popular cloud-building software OwnCloud. After surpassing OwnCloud it is now the de-facto selfhosted solution for file sharing. NextCloud 19 brings the office to your home during one of the hardest times in recent history.

At a glance

COVID has accelerated a trend already visible in many businesses, forcing them to provide a secure remote collaboration solution to their employees. We named our release “home office” as it provides a large productivity boost for organizations employing many home office workers, like we do ourselves.Frank Karlitschek, CEO of Nextcloud GmbH

Password-less authentication and improved security

This release of NextCloud focuses on productivity by reducing the times one needs to get to work. By allowing password-less authentication via hardware keys workers can log in faster into NextCoud. Also passwords are often times forgotten, lost or worse reused and stolen. NextCloud 19 uses WebAuthn a new W3C standard for authentication.

On the other hand, passwords are not entirely neglected by this update. Password policies can now be enforced allowing administrator to set password expiration, automatic account locks and automatic logouts.

Talk 9 and high-performance backend

Talk 9 has seen enormous improvements in applications for Android and iOS. What’s most important, however, is that NextCloud open-sourced their high-performance backend for NextCloud Talk. This backend enables instances to be scaled supporting calls with 10-50 participants. The source for the standalone signaling server developed by NextCloud partner Struktur AG can be found here.

Talk 9 collaboration: document editing

A screen showing Talk 9 live document editing capabilities

While NextCloud 18 packed OnlyOffice as the default document editor, in this version Collabora (LibreOffice) gains a new feature that allows participants to a Talk call to live-edit documents during the call. Collabora online will be shipped along NextCloud 19 with a streamlined installation (no Docker required), much like OnlyOffice in NextCloud 18.

NextCloud 19 minor improvements

The newer version of NextCloud emphasizes the need for speed when searching files, and claims to have achieved the following improvements in regard to searches and external filesystems:

  • an up to 5x reading improvement for integrated external SFTP storage
  • An up to 2.5x faster file scanning
  • 25-50% faster generation of image thumbnails and use of embedded thumbnail images in OpenDocument files and Krita files
  • Ability to use ‘fseek’ in S3 storage. This allows to, for example, start playing a video file without first downloading the entire file.
  • Brought OpenStack Swift performance to the same level of S3 by enabling ‘streaming’ file. This means the Nextcloud server doesn’t first download the file from the Swift storage and then sends it to the user, but starts sending the data already while receiving. Swift was also updated to be able to deal with larger objects than 5Gb.
  • NFS file storage reads data in larger chunks, improving bandwidth and performance significantly.
  • SMB storage was enhanced with better ACL support, hiding folders that users have no access too, reducing both the browser load and the number of folders users might have to search through to find their files.

The “Deck” application provides users with Kanban boards. This release adds CalDAV/CardDAV support.

NextCloud 19 also brings easier guests management by providing administrators and groups administrators the possibility to automatically assign guests to predefined groups.

Images courtesy of mark | marksei and NextCloud

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