Media Server SFTP & FTP support ending the first week of January, 2015

We will be turning SFTP access to media.lanecc.edu files off the first week of January, 2015. After the first week of January, 2015, all media.lanecc.edu files must be managed through Filehost.

The only change to media.lanecc.edu files is that you will add, delete, and update them through Filehost instead of through a ftp client. Everything else stays the same.

To manage your media.lanecc.edu files through Filehost, just navigate into your ‘mediaserver’ folder. That folder is the root of your media.lanecc.edu/users/username account. So a mediaserver/foo.txt file can be viewed at media.lanecc.edu/users/username/foo.txt.

This also applies to media.lanecc.edu/courses/acctname and media.lanecc.edu/acctname accounts. The username/password for these accounts should be the same as when you used to use SFTP.

Remember that there are several ways to manage files. See http://doc.owncloud.org/server/7.0/user_manual/#file-access-and-management

The web interface at https://filehost.lanecc.edu is great for single files or deleting a folder. WebDAV and the sync client are best when dealing with many files.

For more information, see: https://blogs.lanecc.edu/webteam/2014/05/19/announcing-filehost-lanes-very-own-internal-cloud-storage

As with the Media Server, support is provided by the ATC. If you need help, just ask. http://www.lanecc.edu/atc

Filehost has been upgraded to OwnCloud 7

Filehost has been upgraded to the latest version of OwnCloud. Here’s a very brief overview of some of the changes:

  • Responsive UI. Now it won’t look so bad when you are browsing the web ui on your phone or tablet.
  • The left nav bar is now a drop down that appears when you click the menu to the right of the OwnCloud cloud icon.
  • There is now a sidebar on the left that makes it much easier to figure out the status of your shared files.
  • To find the webdav link, just click the gear icon in the bottom left corner.
  • There are now limited odt and doc editing capabilities. Very limited. Just select Documents in the nav menu.

I’d also encourage you to check and update your sync clients if there’s an update available.

New Changes to the Employee Directory

This is just a quick post to point you to the new changes available when you edit your employee directory profile.

First, the office hours field has received a WYSIWYG editor. That should make it much easier to format your hours.

Second, we have added a new Professional Biography field. Basically, it’s a place where you can add extra information about yourself that will help students and your fellow employees accomplish what they need to here at Lane Community College.

I’d also like to note that a most people have no picture in the directory. It’s really easy to add a picture, so I’d encourage you to do so!

In case you’ve forgotten, the link to log into the directory is in the footer of every directory page. It’s labeled “Edit/View your Directory Profile.” Only employees who are in the directory can log in.

Announcing Filehost: Lane’s very own internal cloud storage!

As of right now, every single active Lane Community College employee has access to their own https://filehost.lanecc.edu account. They just have to log in with their normal L# and passphrase combination.

What is it?

Filehost is a Lane specific file syncing and sharing service, running on an application called OwnCloud. It is a service very similar to Dropbox, you could almost call it a clone. OwnCloud is an open source application that we manage ourselves, on our own hardware.

OwnCloud’s sync apps keep your files synced across almost any device you have, Mac, Windows, Android, or iOS. To manage sharing files, and single file uploads, there is a web interface accessible from any modern browser.

Details about the service

Log in information:

Filehost log in screen

Other information:

  • How much you can store: 10GB
  • If you need more storage, contact the ATC.
  • If you had more than that in your current Media Server account, your space should already have been expanded.
  • Filehost internally saves deleted files for a time. Don’t rely on it, though.
  • Backups are completed daily and stored for 14 days. If you need something restored that is not in your deleted files section, contact the ATC with the path to your file, and your L-Number.

How could you use it?

Screenshot of Filehost share dialog

  • Share a folder with contents from a project between everyone who is working on that project.
  • Embed an image, mp3, or video in a Moodle course.
  • Share a password protected directory with your students.
  • Keep your Lane related projects synced between your home computer and your work computer, all without involving third party services like Dropbox or Google.

Wait a sec, what about the Media Server?

Embedding media in Moodle courses and sharing folders with students is something already provided by the media.lanecc.edu server. Thus, a really good question arises. Why not just use the Media Server?

The answer: As soon as we can do so without causing instructors and students a lot of problems, we will be retiring the Media Server from service. Don’t panic, you will not be losing any data, and we will make sure to let you know of any major changes before the changes actually occur.

Why retire the Media Server?

The main reason we are retiring it, boils down to security. The Media Server runs on software that is not easily upgraded. Thus, when that software releases a security update, it can take a while for us to get that update applied to the Media Server.

So far we have not had any problems. But, prevention is a much better method than having to fix things after we’ve been hit. So, what we need to do is move the Media Server to a platform that is easily updated. That platform is Filehost.

We also want to provide a better user experience. The Media Server is only accessible with a FTP client. FTP clients are not all that easy to use. The ATC frequently has to help users with them.

Even just the initial set up of a Media Server account is a bad experience on both sides of the system. The user has to talk to the ATC, the ATC has to talk to the sysadmin, the sysadmin has to set the account up, and then the ATC has to talk to the user again. The way Filehost just lets you log in if you’re an active employee, is much better.

Password protecting files on the Media Server is so painful, we stopped telling people we could do it.

All in all, retiring the Media Server will give users a better experience, and make maintenance issues simpler. It’s a win-win for both users and supporters.

What about my Media Server account?

File access

If you have a current Media Server account, you can already access and manage your files through Filehost. If you log into Filehost, you will see a directory call “mediaserver”. That directory contains the exact same content as you would see in your ftp client. Uploading/deleting files via Filehost does exactly the same thing as if you did so via your FTP client.

At this point in time, you are strongly urged to use Filehost for all Media Server file management. If you have issues, contact the ATC.

Eventually we will turn off FTP client access to Media Server files. Of course, we’ll give you plenty of notice beforehand, and you will always be able to manage your files via Filehost.

media.lanecc.edu urls

We currently plan on keeping your media.lanecc.edu urls working, even after FTP client access is turned off. The complicated part is that we would like to eventually retire the media.lanecc.edu urls and free up media.lanecc.edu for other uses.

Of course, that would mean a bunch of your links would stop working. So we have to figure out how to turn off the urls without causing you a lot of problems. We’re still figuring that out.

Rest assured, if we ever do figure it out, we will give you plenty of notice.

For now, your URLs will keep working the way they always have.

All that said, it would be awesome if you’d start switching all your links to Media Server files over to links from Filehost. In the long run, sharing via Filehost will provide more features than anything the Media Server urls can do.

Gotchas

If you are running a website in your Media Server account, then sharing the mediaserver folder in Filehost, could open up security issues. Specifically, the way Filehost shares folders would enable people to download your site files. Including any dynamic scripts or other files. So, if you have a website on the Media Server, do NOT share the mediaserver folder in Filehost.

If we do retire media.lanecc.edu URLs, then all sites hosted on the Media Server will cease functioning. Filehost only serves files. It cannot serve websites. If you need a website hosted on Lane servers for functionality not provided by Moodle or blogs.lanecc.edu, then come talk to us. We do have a solution for you.

Usage Guidelines

Resources at Lane are not infinite. No matter how much we try to make them so. Thus, we ask that you only store college related files on Filehost. Please do not store personal music, pictures, books, etc.

We’d also ask that you make sure to share all your files with appropriate people. In the event you are unable to work, we don’t want essential files trapped in your account when your backup person needs them.

(Side note: in development is a way to share with groups of people, it’s still buggy right now, so we aren’t releasing it, but in the future you’ll be able to share with your whole department at once, instead of selecting each individual member by name.)

Conclusion

Filehost is an awesome new service that should help increase productivity. We hope you enjoy it!

Resources