A library may make use of the Internet in a number of ways, from creating their own library of websites to making the contents of its catalogs searchable online. Some specialized search engines such as Google Scholar offer a way to facilitate searching for academic resources such as journal articles and research papers. The Online Computer Library Center allows anyone to search the world's largest repository of library records through its WorldCat online database. Websites such as LibraryThing and Amazon provide abstracts, reviews, and recommendations of books. Libraries provide computers and Internet access to allow people to search for information online. Online information access is particularly attractive to younger library users.

Digitization of books, particularly those that are out-of-print, in projects such as Google Books provide resources for libraries and other online users. Due to their holdings of valuable material, some libraries are important partners for search engines such as Google in realizing the potential of such projects and have received reciprocal benefits in cases where they have negotiated effectively. As the prominence of and reliance on the Internet has grown, library services have moved the emphasis from mainly providing print resources to providing more computers and more Internet access. Libraries face a number of challenges in adapting to new ways of information seeking that may stress convenience over quality, reducing the priority of information literacy skills. The potential decline in library usage, particularly reference services, puts the necessity for these services in doubt.

Library scholars have acknowledged that libraries need to address the ways that they market their services if they are to compete with the Internet and mitigate the risk of losing users. This includes promoting the information literacy skills training considered vital across the library profession. However, marketing of services has been adequately supported financially in order to be successful. This can be problematic for library services that are publicly funded and find it difficult to justify diverting tight funds to apparently peripheral areas such as branding and marketing.

The privacy aspect of library usage in the Internet age is a matter of growing concern and advocacy; privacy workshops are run by the Library Freedom Project which teaches librarians about digital tools (such as the Tor Project) to the quarter mass surveillance.

1. Owncloud

ownCloud is a suite of client–server software for creating and using file hosting services. ownCloud functionally has similarities to the widely used Dropbox. The primary functional difference between ownCloud and Dropbox is that ownCloud does not offer data centre capacity to host stored files. The Server Edition of ownCloud is free and open-source, thereby allowing anyone to install and operate it without charge on their own private server.
ownCloud supports extensions that allow it to work like Google Drive, with online document editing, calendar and contact synchronization, and more. Its openness avoids enforced quotas on storage space or the number of connected clients, instead having hard limits (like on storage space or number of users) defined only by the physical capabilities of the server.

For desktop machines to synchronize files with their ownCloud server, desktop clients are available for PCs running Windows, macOS, FreeBSD or Linux. Mobile clients exist for iOS and Android devices. Files and other data (such as calendars, contacts or bookmarks) can also be accessed, managed, and uploaded using a web browser without any additional software. Any updates to the file system are pushed to all computers and mobile devices connected to a user's account. Encryption of files may be enforced by the server administrator.

The ownCloud server is written in the PHP and JavaScript scripting languages. For remote access, it employs sabre/dav, an open-source WebDAV server. ownCloud is designed to work with several database management systems, including SQLite, MariaDB, MySQL, Oracle Database, and PostgreSQL.

owncloud is a software only product. owncloud does not offer off-premises storage capacity. This is in contrast to the likes of Dropbox that offers both software and off-premises storage capacity. owncloud storage capacity has to be provided on user owned devices.

ownCloud files are stored in conventional directory structures, and can be accessed via WebDAV if necessary. User files are encrypted both at rest and during transit. ownCloud can synchronise with local clients running Windows (Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8), macOS (10.6 or later), or various Linux distributions. ownCloud users can manage calendars (CalDAV), contacts (CardDAV) scheduled tasks and streaming media (Ampache) from within the platform.

From the administration perspective, ownCloud permits user and group administration (via OpenID or LDAP). Content can be shared by defining granular read/write permissions between users and/or groups. Alternatively, ownCloud users can create public URLs when sharing files. Logging of file-related actions is available in the Enterprise and Education service offerings.

Furthermore, users can interact with the browser-based ODF-format word processor, bookmarking service, URL shortening suite, gallery, RSS feed reader and document viewer tools from within ownCloud. For additional extensibility, ownCloud can be augmented with "one-click" applications and connection to Dropbox, Google Drive and Amazon S3. All ownCloud clients (Desktop, iOS, Android) support the OAuth 2 standard for Client Authentication.

Enterprise Features
For Enterprise customers, ownCloud GmbH offers apps with additional functionality. They are mainly useful for large organizations with more than 500 users. An Enterprise subscription includes support services. Commercial features include End-to-end encryption, Ransomware and Antivirus protection, Branding, Document Classification, Single-Sign-On via Shibboleth/SAML.

2. NextCloud

Nextcloud is a suite of client-server software for creating and using file hosting services. Nextcloud is free and open-source, which means that anyone is allowed to install and operate it on their own private server devices.
Nextcloud application functionally is similar to Dropbox, Office 365 or Google Drive, but can be used on home-local computers or for off-premises file storage hosting. Office functionality is limited to x86/x64 based servers as OnlyOffice does not support ARM processors. In contrast to proprietary services the open architecture enables users to have full control of their data. The original ownCloud developer Frank Karlitschek forked ownCloud and created Nextcloud, which continues to be actively developed by Karlitschek and other members of the original ownCloud team.

On January 17, 2020, version 18 was presented in Berlin under the product name Nextcloud Hub. For the first time, an office package (here OnlyOffice) was directly integrated here and Nextcloud announced as its goal direct competition with Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs. Furthermore, a partnership with Ionos was announced at this date.

Nextcloud files are stored in conventional directory structures, accessible via WebDAV if necessary. User files are encrypted during transit and optionally at rest. Nextcloud can synchronise with local clients running Windows (Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10), macOS (10.6 or later), or various Linux distributions.

Nextcloud permits user and group administration (via OpenID or LDAP). Content can be shared by defining granular read/write permissions between users and groups. Alternatively, Nextcloud users can create public URLs when sharing files. Logging of file-related actions, as well as disallowing access based on file access rules is also available.

Nextcloud is introducing new features such as monitoring capabilities, full-text search and Kerberos authentication, as well as audio/video conferencing, expanded federation and smaller user interface improvements.

Since the software is modular, it can be extended with plugins to implement extra functionality. Developers can offer their extensions to other users for installation via a manufacturer-operated platform. This platform communicates with the Nextcloud instances via an open protocol. The App Store already contains over 200 extensions. With the help of these extensions, many functionalities can be added, including:
  • calendars (CalDAV)
  • contacts (CardDAV)
  • streaming media (Ampache)
  • browser-based text editor
  • bookmarking service
  • URL shortening suite
  • gallery
  • RSS feed reader
  • document viewer tools from within Nextcloud
  • connection to Dropbox, Google Drive and Amazon S3
  • Web analytics (Use of Matomo (software))
  • Integration of Content management systems e.g. Pico CMS
  • Viewer for Weather forecasting
  • Viewer for DICOM
  • Viewer for Maps
  • Managing of Cooking recipes

3. Seafiles

Seafile is an open-source, cross-platform file-hosting software system. Files are stored on a central server and can be synchronized with personal computers and mobile devices through apps. Files on the Seafile server can also be accessed directly via the server's web interface. Seafile's functionality is similar to other popular file hosting services such as Dropbox and Google Drive.
The primary difference between Seafile and Dropbox/Google Drive is that Seafile is a self-hosted file sharing solution for private cloud applications. In private clouds, storage space and client connection limits are determined exclusively by the users' own infrastructure and settings rather than the terms and conditions of a cloud service provider. Additionally, organizations, whose data privacy policies bar them from using public cloud services can draw on Seafile to build a file sharing system of their own.

The feature set of the community and professional edition vary. Both editions share these features:
  • Multi-platform file synchronisation
  • Public link sharing (upload and download)
  • Client-side encryption
  • Per-folder access control
  • Version control
  • Two-factor authentication
The additional features of the professional edition include:
  • File locking
  • Full text search
  • MS Office document preview and office web app integration
  • Activity logging
  • Distributed storage
  • Antivirus integration
Seafile Server Community Edition can be installed on various Linux platforms. Seafile Ltd. maintains installation packages for Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Additionally, the developer provides a Docker container. A Seafile Server for Windows has been discontinued with version 6.0.7, though it is still available for download on the developer's download site. Users interested in installing Seafile on a Windows computer are referred to Docker. FreeBSD and Raspbian are two more supported platforms. Their install packages are community maintained.

Seafile Server Professional Edition is available for Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS and RHEL. A Docker image is available too. For Seafile Professional's proprietary nature, they are all maintained by Seafile Ltd. Both servers offers a choice of MySQL/MariaDB or SQLite for database and supports file system or distributed storage as data storage.

Desktop clients are available for personal computers running on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Mobile clients are available for iOS, Windows Phone 8 and Android. Files can also be viewed, downloaded from and uploaded to the Seafile Server without the client via Seafile's web interface.

Seafile Ltd and Seafile GmbH
In July 2016 a dispute came to light between Seafile Ltd. (the original company, from China) and Seafile GmbH (a German company established from JacksonIT by Silja Jackson and Alexander Jackson in 2015).

Seafile Ltd. had funded Seafile GmbH to be a European partner. They then agreed to merge the main operations and license the cloud provision to a new company, but an agreement could not be reached on the number of shares to be allocated. Seafile Ltd. alleges that Seafile GmbH and its predecessors had attempted to register its trademark in the US and had taken steps to present itself in place of Seafile Ltd. Seafile Ltd. also alleges that Seafile GmbH had abused the sourcecode and were committing copyright infringements.

Seafile GmbH stated it would fork based upon the most recent professional version and continue developing the file sharing software independently under the brand name Seafile, for which the company claims it hold the intellectual property rights in Europe and North America.[5] Seafile GmbH has not released a new Seafile server version since the announcement.

In March 2017, it was announced that an amicable resolution to the dispute between Seafile Ltd. and Seafile GmbH had been reached. All Seafile trademarks held by Seafile GmbH and the domain “seafile.de” will be transferred to Seafile Ltd.. Seafile GmbH will continue to do business and change its name to Syncwerk GmbH. Syncwerk GmbH will continue to provide software updates and support, as well as SaaS services to their existing customers, based on Seafile Professional Edition 5.1.8. New customers who are interested in purchasing Seafile Professional Edition need to contact Seafile Ltd.. Seafile GmbH / Syncwerk GmbH will no longer offer the Seafile Professional Edition (or software derived from it) to new customers who first contacted them after March, 10th 2017.

4. Pydio

Pydio, formerly known as AjaXplorer, is an open-source file-sharing and synchronisation software that runs on the user's own server or in the cloud.

The project was created by musician Charles Du Jeu (current CEO and CTO) in 2007 under the name AjaXplorer. The name was changed in 2013 and became Pydio (an acronym for Put Your Data in Orbit). In May 2018, Pydio switched from PHP to Go with the release of Pydio Cells. PHP version reached end-of-life state on 31 December, 2019. Pydio runs on any server supporting a recent Go version.

The current offering of Pydio, known as Pydio Cells, has been developed from scratch using the Go programming language. Nevertheless, the web-based interface of Cells is very similar to the one from Pydio 8 (in PHP), and it successfully replicates most of the features, while adding a few more. There is also a new synchronisation client (also written in Go). The PHP version is being phased out as the company's focus is moving to Pydio Cells, with community feedback on the new features. According to the company, the switch to the new environment was made "to overcome inherent PHP limitations and provide you with a future-proof and modern solution for collaborating on documents".

From a technical point of view, Pydio differs from solutions such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Pydio is not based on a public cloud,[14] the software indeed connects to the user's existing storages (SAN / Local FS, SAMBA / CIFS, (s)FTP, NFS, etc...) as well as to the existing user directories (LDAP / AD, SAML, Radius, Shibboleth...), which allows companies to keep their data inside their infrastructure, according to their data security policy and user rights management.

The software is built in a modular perspective; various plugins allow administrators to implement extra features. Pydio is available either through a community distribution, or an Enterprise Distribution.

  • File sharing between different internal users and across other Pydio instances
  • SSL/TLS Encryption
  • WebDAV file server
  • Creation of dedicated workspaces, for each line of business / project / client, with a dedicated user rights management for each workspace.
  • File-sharing with external users (private links, public links, password protection, download limitation, etc.)
  • Online viewing and editing of documents with Collabora Office
  • Preview and editing of image files
  • Integrated audio and video reader
Client applications are available for all major desktop and mobile platforms.


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