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How to deploy a cloud-based office suite to your home network

In our quest to bring a number of services to our home network, it's now time to add an in-house, cloud-based office suite.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Min Shin
A woman looking at her laptop
Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Welcome back to this Linux in your home series, which started out with "The most important reason you should be using Linux at home". The gist is that with this open-source operating system at work on your home network, you can migrate a lot of the services you are used to working with into your home. Imagine having your own in-house cloud service with Nextcloud. You no longer have to deal with Google Drive, OneCloud, or iCloud for storing your more sensitive information. 

Personally, I have documents and other files I don't mind housing on Google Drive. At the same time, I have documents and files I'd rather keep in-house. At the same time, I need to be able to access those files from anywhere on my home network. To that end, I use Nextcloud.

Also: Linux desktop powers consider uniting for an app store

But what if you want a cloud-based office suite to use on your network, one that anyone in your house or small business could use? There's a solution for that as well, and it's called OnlyOffice, which includes Projects, CRM, Mail, Contacts, and Documents.

Now, I know you're not an IT person. But if you can copy and paste a few commands into a terminal, you can do this. Besides, it would be a fun weekend project for you to take on.

If you're even a little bit curious, read on.

How to install Docker


Before you get started with this, you'll need an instance of Ubuntu Server up and running. 

If you've not done that, there's no need to get cold feet now, as I've outlined the process such that anyone can follow it and get Ubuntu Server up and running in less than 30 minutes. That's all you need. 

One thing to keep in mind is that you'll need over 40 GB of free space on your server, so make sure you have plenty of internal storage available before you begin.

Also: 8 things you can do with Linux that you can't do with MacOS or Windows

Are you ready to start copying and pasting commands? Good, let's get busy. 

1. Log in to Ubuntu Server

The first thing you'll need to do is log in to your instance of Ubuntu Server.

2. Install the dependencies

Install the necessary dependencies by pasting the following command into the terminal and hitting Enter on your keyboard:

sudo apt-get install ca-certificates curl gnupg lsb-release -y

3. Add the GPG key

GPG keys ensure the software you are going to install is signed by the developing entity (in this case, Docker).

Also: How to choose the right Linux desktop distribution

For that, you need to add Docker's official GPG key by pasting the following command into your terminal and hitting Enter on your keyboard:

curl -fsSL https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/gpg | sudo gpg --dearmor -o /usr/share/keyrings/docker-archive-keyring.gpg

4. Add the Docker repository

To install Docker, we must now copy and paste the command to install the official repository. That command is:

echo "deb [arch=$(dpkg --print-architecture) signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/docker-archive-keyring.gpg] https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu $(lsb_release -cs) stable" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/docker.list > /dev/null

5. Install Docker

You can now install Docker with the following command:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install docker-ce docker-ce-cli containerd.io -y

6. Add your user to the Docker group

The final step to installing Docker is adding your user to the Docker group, so you can run Docker commands without root privileges (which would be a security issue). 

Also: Docker 101: Why you should be using containers

For that, issue the command below. Then, log out and log back into the server for the changes to take effect.

sudo usermod -aG docker $USER

Deploying OnlyOffice

We're now ready to deploy the OnlyOffice office suite. Fortunately, there's a handy script that will take care of this. Download the script with the command:

wget https://download.onlyoffice.com/install/workspace-install.sh

Run the script with the command:

sudo bash workspace-install.sh

The script takes considerable time to finish. When it does finish, give the containers enough time to settle (five or so minutes), and then open a web browser and point it to http://SERVER (where SERVER is the IP address of your Ubuntu Server). If you don't know the IP address of the server, you can locate it with the command:

ip a

You'll be greeted by a progress indicator for the installation. This phase of the process can take up to 30 minutes to complete. When it finishes, you'll be presented with the setup window, where you must create an admin password, register an email address for OnlyOffice, and select a language and time zone. 

Also: How to add an email account to your OnlyOffice deployment

Once you've done that, agree to the licensing terms and click Continue.

The OnlyOffice web-based installer.

Make sure to use a strong and unique password for the admin user.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

You will then find yourself on the main OnlyOffice screen, where you can start working.

The OnlyOffice main window.

The OnlyOffice interface is very simple to use.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Congratulations, you did it! You now have a cloud-based office tool you can use within the privacy of your own home network.

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