Open source runs from behind proprietary software. Except for exceptions such as Apache, the early days of Firefox or Blender are few exceptions. One of them is Nextcloud Hub 4 that combines Artificial Intelligence and ethics.
There was absolutely no reason for Firefox, Brave or Vivaldi or for that matter LibreOffice to integrate Artificial Intelligence tools before Microsoft or Adobe. Most of the artificial intelligence libraries are open source. Unfortunately the Linux, Mozilla and similar foundations are more interested in being "inclusive" than in promoting progress. Luckily we have NextCloud
Ya we had commented that the OnlyOffice office suite (in its Cloud version) included integration with ChatGPT. However, NextCloud goes one step further.
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What is NextCloud Hub 4
NextCloud started out as software to sync and share files between devices and people. Over time it became an online collaborative productivity platform that includes office, communication and group management applications among others. We are talking about a self-hosted solution (you install it on your own server) which is equivalent to having your own Microsoft 365, Google Drive and WhatsApp.
The arrival of Hub 4 reconciles those of us who privilege benefits with those who privilege the principles of free and open source software or privacy since the Artificial Intelligence tools that are integrated into your productivity applications are qualified on criteria such as model availability, original code and training data.
To facilitate the use of the new tools, a new application called Smart Picke is introduced.r that, regardless of which application we are using to enter text, allows us to generate a text with ChatGPT, an image with Stable Diffusion or text converted from a voice file with the help of Whisper. Also, we can translate texts with DeepL, insert Giphy Gifs, OpenStreetMaps maps, PeerTube video links or Mastodon content.
Functions that use artificial intelligence
Voice to text
If you are familiar with the tool that converts speech to text on Android phones you will understand how this works. Using the models created by OpenAI (The creators of ChatGPT) the program converts what you say into the microphone into a text that you can send by mail or message or modify later with the word processor.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The truth is that if you are writing a text such as a blog post or an article, we recommend that you include them. In the old days we would Google or take a screenshot. I, whenever I can, use an Artificial Intelligence tool that generates them.
It doesn't always turn out well, particularly humans get an extra leg or arm, but the results can be interesting.
NextCloud Hub 4 gives you two possibilities for imaging; one of them is Stable Diffusion that is hosted on your own server (I didn't try it, but it occurs to me that depending on the hardware it can take a long time) and Dall-E 2 that is a cloud service.
Possibly the service with which the general public is most familiar. It is based on version 3 of ChatGPT and the way it works is what we all know. You ask him what he has to write and he does it.
An interesting addition is Tables, described in its own words as "An alternative to Microsoft SharePoint" It allows you to work with data structures and share them with the rest of the NextCloud components.
The file manager now allows you to assign names to different versions of a file facilitating its location and preventing its automatic deletion.
If you are familiar with Zoom or another video conferencing application you will know the concept of "rooms". They are basically used to subdivide a meeting. That feature is now available in Talk, NextCloud's messaging and video conferencing application. Talk also incorporates the ability to record calls, share the recording with others, and time the duration.
I have no idea if a local install on a Raspberry Pi will support all of these features. But, if you are an SME you can hire a server in the cloud and install NextCloud. It is undoubtedly a great alternative.
A comment, leave yours
First of all, congratulations to the 2-3 writers in this medium. I've been following you for years, and I really don't know why there aren't usually comments on your posts like the ones that always appear on phoronix, for example.
So I have encouraged myself to put a comment here. I own a small environmental consultancy. Approximately 20 years ago I started working with thunderbird, thanks to the fact that I worked in the Andalusian administration. About 7 years later I started with libreoffice, always on windows. When I became a freelancer, I started to play around with linux first with dual boot, and when the windows partition stopped working, well, I threw the blanket over my head and started working with this OS.
What I thought was going to be a nightmare turned out to be a minor transition. The worst thing was switching from Arcgis to QGIS, but now we are delighted with the change. Another problem was the autocad, which in the end we solved with virtual machines.
Around those years I started with ubuntu. Now I have a company and the people I employ all use linux.
As for cloud storage, we started a few years ago with dropbox, which had a client for linux and it worked fine, so we stuck with it. We've always run away from microsoft and google, and dropbox was doing great.
Although dropbox worked for us, I already started to take my first steps with nextcloud. I'm not very good at it, but I was able to get it running in a virtual machine, and I began to see that it was much better to have the data ourselves. However, I realized that updating the server and nextcloud required time. I also considered the idea of buying a server, but at the cost of this, I also had to acquire a fixed IP or work with other payment alternatives, so I kept postponing the idea, until one day suddenly, dropbox stopped giving support for the file system of our hard drives, and we look for alternatives. Of course, the first alternative we looked for was owncloud and then its derivative nextcloud.
And that's how our company found these Germans called owncube. We liked it because they are in Germany, not the US, and are therefore subject to European legislation, not the US. We start with their “nextlcloud Single” service, which costs 1.5 euros/month, just for testing. We fell in love, nextcloud was much more than dropbox. It had things that didn't quite work well, like collaborative document editing or video calls, but in general everything was much easier, the permissions were more granular. You have a much more powerful calendar than the google calendar, a service to view your emails on the web, a task service with Kanban methodology (Deck) that has helped us to plan the tasks of the day in 15-minute meetings in the morning. It has so many add-ons in its store, that you can do whatever you want, more than any other google drive or whatever microsoft has and that data IS YOURS!
After a year we already had the #1 admin service, which is the one I recommend to start with. It costs 2 euros/month. All this without having to worry about physical machines, electricity, fixed IP, maintenance, PHP updates, Mariadb, etc! It is ideal for any SME like ours that does not want to complicate life with hardware and well, the cost is... how to say, ridiculous? You will never amortize your own server at that cost.
Once you enter here you start in the loop. At first you update the nextcloud service yourself (they take care of the servers), and after a couple of years we said, well, for 50 euros, a single payment they take care of this task. With the issue of backups the same. At first we did daily backup of our data, but it failed sometimes, so we started paying for the backup service. By this I mean that you try, with them or with anyone else, but try.
Nextcloud is made by and for companies like ours, and it is already on another level. And it's also private. You decide what you share and how. If one day I get tired of this company, I can migrate my nextcloud instance to my own server or to another company. You are free to do with your data whatever you like.
The other day a client sent me a large file via sharepoint and in order to download it, Microsoft asked me to verify that the email was correct by sending a code. In this way, with the help of my client, Microsoft knew my email and verified it with his message. Why this step if the info download email has already arrived at my email? Control.
Well, sorry for this long post. Just saying that these tools are available for free so that companies like ours can move forward and work. The whole team has been working with Linux, libreoffice, thunderbird, QGIS and others and Nextcloud for 10 years now… and we are happy.
It's true that we don't have CHATGPT from microsoft, but I'm sure that one day something will come out in linux as well so we can self-host it, which is the key.
I feel the rambling. Today I wanted to write about Nextcloud and this owncube service. If they could read Spanish, they would surely love this post. There is nothing like a client speaking well of you ;-)