Self-hosting websites and services on a Raspberry Pi at home is a great hobby and reduces your reliance on surveillance advertising companies like Google and Facebook. If you work from home or run a business, Nextcloud and its app integrations provide almost everything you need to completely retire from big tech.
What is Nextcloud and why install it on your Raspberry Pi?
At its core, Nextcloud is a self-hosted free and open-source replacement for cloud storage providers. It has similar functionality to Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive. One of the main differences is that you can host it on your own hardware, keeping it safe from prying eyes, content policies, trackers and advertisers.
Nextcloud is easy to install and works on very low-end systems. On a Raspberry Pi 4B, even compute-intensive processes run well, although if you have more than a handful of users you should probably consider more powerful hardware. You can access your Nextcloud instance on your desktop via WebDAV, via a browser or with dedicated mobile applications.
The beauty of Nextcloud is in its extensibility. You can extend its functions through built-in apps that can add everything from streaming music players and radio station managers to social networks and shared budget managers. All applications can be installed in your own instance. Here are some of the best…
1. Collabora Online Office Suite
Collaborative document creation has been revolutionary for freelancers and remote workers. You can write an article, write a spreadsheet or prepare a presentation, then ask others – in different parts of the world – to see it, edit it and publish it.
Google Docs has dominated in this area since its launch in 2006, but the Collabora Online app in Nextcloud is just as good. Any user on your Nextcloud instance can work together on documents and presentations, and you can also share links with non-users. Installing the package requires you to install both the Collabora Online application itself and the ARM64 version of the CODE server.
You can also edit your documents on the go with the Collabora Office application from the android and iOS shop.
Everyone loves food, but finding recipes is a chore, and wading through a 3,000-word essay before you even get to the ingredients is a pain.
Cookbook is Nextcloud’s recipe manager and helps you store and directly access your recipes, with a brief description, ingredients, step-by-step instructions and cooking time. Even better, if you enter the URL of a recipe page written in the nearly ubiquitous recipe schema markup, Cookbook will grab all the necessary information and format it for you. Nextcloud Cookbook is an essential for any kitchen tablet; all you have to do is find good recipes!
3. Nextcloud Talk for chats and video conferences
Video conferencing has become increasingly essential over the past few years and has almost entirely eliminated the need to physically travel to an office. The big players in video conferencing have been Skype, Zoom and Google, but Nextcloud Talk on Raspberry Pi lets you run your own in-house video conferencing platform.
In addition to supporting multiple concurrent users, you can share screens, pass notes to other attendees, and invite people outside your Nextcloud instance.
4. Nextcloud News
Keeping up with the news is an essential part of the workday, and one of the best ways to do this is via RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Nextcloud News is an RSS application that can fetch standard RSS feeds and in many cases pull the full article from the original site without additional configuration by the user. It’s not as comprehensive as FreshRSS on Raspberry Pi, but it’s very easy to use and has a sensible layout.
5. Deck for project management
Working in a distributed organization can be challenging. You can’t just shout across the office to find out who’s supposed to do what, and when it’s due. Deck is a Kanban-style application, with which you can create boards and lists. Assign tagged tasks to people and set due dates.
Deck is a worthy alternative to hosted project management services like Monday and Asana, and should be in every company’s toolbox. If you only use Nextcloud at home, Nextcloud Deck can be useful for assigning and tracking tasks.
6. Webmail Front Ends
Whether you use Gmail, a work email address, or have set up your own Raspberry Pi mail server, you can use multiple accounts without ever leaving your Nextcloud instance.
Rainloop is a simple, modern, and fast webmail client with a nice look, while Nextcloud Mail integrates extremely well with other Nextcloud apps, such as Contacts, Calendar, and Files. Both support spam filtering and multiple email accounts.
Maps are fun and useful. They fuel the imagination and inspire you to travel. But reliance on Google’s location services is anathema to people struggling to break free from big tech. Nextcloud Maps gives you the world, or at least a map of it. Route generation requires binding a separate Open Source Routing Machine (OSRM) server. Don’t worry, you can also install it on your Raspberry Pi.
Nextcloud Maps does exactly what you expect and will even track your phone if the Nextcloud mobile app is installed. The latest version of Maps offers collaborative route planning between users.
Other great Nextcloud map-related apps include GpxPod (which lets you view, analyze, compare, and share GPS track files), GPXedit, and GPXmotion.
Who doesn’t like to relax with a good book? Nobody, who is it. Nextcloud Reader lets you access your library anywhere, with support for the common EPUB standard as well as PDF, and both CBR and CBZ for comics. You can navigate books with the keyboard as well as mouse or touch navigation. Reader will also generate a visual index of all pages.
Nextcloud on a Raspberry Pi can be anything you want it to be
These apps only showcase a small portion of what Nextcloud can do, and there’s a good reason why Nextcloud is the first (and sometimes only) thing Raspberry Pi self-hosts install. It’s the perfect companion for small businesses and for privacy-conscious people. Think about all the online services you use: whatever they are, chances are a Nextcloud app can replace it.