How to use the new AI-driven Nextcloud Inbox

how-to-use-the-new-ai-driven-nextcloud-inbox

Nextcloud Mail users will be thrilled with the new AI-driven inboxes. Learn the ins and outs of this new feature.

Image: Jack Wallen

Nextcloud continues to push the boundaries of what its on-premise cloud solution offers. This open source platform is a great addition to data centers large and small. With the release of Nextcloud 19 (aka Nextcloud Hub), the developers have put considerable effort into making the platform even more efficient and user-friendly. In particular, one feature that might raise some eyebrows for many admins and users is the AI-driven inbox.

The latest iteration of the Nextcloud Mail app introduces a Priority Inbox. This new machine learning-focused feature builds on the recent Nextcloud introduction of a message cache system to not only improve performance of the mail app, but to learn from your email habits. The new app can track those you frequently email  (along with other factors) to present your email as:

  • Important

  • Favorites

  • Other

You can manually classify an email as either a favorite or important and the AI will learn from those you’ve tagged. 

I want to show you how to use this new feature with Nextcloud. On the off-chance your installation doesn’t offer the feature, we’ll see to it that it does.

What you’ll need

You’ll need a Nextcloud installation, version 18 or newer. You’ll also need a Nextcloud account that has admin privileges for your deployment and an email account setup within Nextcloud.

How to upgrade the Mail app

In order to use the new AI-driven Mail app, you must upgrade it to version 1.4.0. To do that, log in to your Nextcloud instance with an admin user and then click your profile image in the top-right corner. From the popup menu, select Apps. 

In the resulting window, scroll down until you see the mail entry. If you see a blue oval, stating Update To 1.4.0, click it (Figure A). Since you just logged in as the admin user, you shouldn’t be prompted for your admin password. If you are, type that password and once you successfully authenticate, the upgrade will begin and complete.

Figure A

Upgrading the Nextcloud Mail app to the AI-driven version.

Once you’ve upgraded, there’s nothing more to configure–the AI inbox just works.

How to use the new Mail app

Again, I’ll assume you already have your email account connected to Nextcloud. If you haven’t taken care of that, read How to add email to your Nextcloud server and you shouldn’t have any problem getting your email account setup with Nextcloud.

With that taken care of, click the Mail app in the Nextcloud toolbar. Once the new mail scans through your inbox, you’ll see a different layout in the left sidebar (Figure B).

Figure B

The new Mail 1.4.0 inbox layout.

To view the AI-driven inbox, click Priority Inbox. To view only the inbox associated with the account you want to read, click Inbox. To view all inboxes for all accounts, click All Inboxes.  

How to manually tag emails

One of the best ways you can help the Nextcloud Mail AI is to manually tag emails. Yes, it will learn from those you frequently email, but you should still get in the habit of marking those contacts or companies you don’t frequently interact with. 

To do this, click on Inbox, search for an email to tag, and click the associated menu button (three horizontal dots). From the popup menu, select either Favorite or Mark Important (Figure C).

Figure C

Manually tagging an email to assist the Mail AI learning process.

How to enable the learning feature

If you find the Priority, Favorite, and Other inboxes not receiving new emails, you might have to go in and actually enable the feature. It should be enabled by default, but it could be possible that your instance failed to automatically set this feature up. 

To enable the Mail app data collection (the AI), open Mail and then click the Settings cog at the bottom-right of the app. Make sure Allow The App To Collect Data is checked (Figure D).

Figure D

Enabling the AI feature for Nextcloud Mail.

Once you’ve taken care of that, give Mail a bit of time to start learning your habits and you should see a vast improvement in the collection of mail in the Important, Favorite, and Other inboxes.

And that’s all there is to the Nextcloud Mail AI feature. For anyone who uses the email app in Nextcloud this new addition should go a long way to keep your inbox organized and efficient.

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How to install Nextcloud 19 on Ubuntu Server 20.04

how-to-install-nextcloud-19-on-ubuntu-server-20.04

The latest iteration of Nextcloud is out and Jack Wallen walks you through installing this on-premises cloud platform on Ubuntu Server 20.04.

Image: Jack Wallen

With more and more people having to work from home, there’s a growing need for cloud technology deployed on home local area networks (LANs) and, of course, on small to large business networks. For that, you need a platform that’s not only free to use, but easy to work with. That’s where Nextcloud comes into play.

The developers of Nextcloud continue to up the ante for on-premises cloud server technology. Already, this open source cloud option is one of the best on the market, but with the release of version 19, it gets even better. 

New features include:

  • Automatic logout (optional)

  • Password reuse limitations

  • Automatic account lock after X number of failed logins

  • Password expiration options

  • Ability to play video before download completes

  • SMB storage enhanced with better Access Control List support

  • Collabora Online ready to use out of the box

  • Edit office documents during video calls from within a chat room

  • FIDO2 compliant

  • FTP is up to 500% faster

  • File scan is 2.5x faster

Add all of those new features in with the usual bug fixes and performance enhancements, and Nextcloud 19 is a must have.

I want to walk you through the process of installing Nextcloud 19. This time, however, we’re going to install the software on Ubuntu Server 20.04.


SEE: Serverless computing: A guide for IT leaders (TechRepublic Premium)

What you’ll need

  • A running instance of Ubuntu 20.04

  • A user with sudo privileges

How to install the dependencies

The first thing we must do is take care of the necessary dependencies. If you don’t already have the LAMP stack up and running, log in to your Ubuntu 20.04 server and install Apache and MySQL with the command:

sudo apt-get install apache2 mysql-server -y

Once that installation completes, install the remaining dependencies with the command:

sudo apt-get install php zip libapache2-mod-php php-gd php-json php-mysql php-curl php-mbstring php-intl php-imagick php-xml php-zip php-mysql php-bcmath php-gmp -y

How to take care of the database

Next, we’ll take care of the MySQL database. Before we can create the new database, we must secure the installation with the command:

sudo mysql_secure_installation

Answer the questions and create a MySQL admin password.

Log in to the MySQL prompt with the command:

sudo mysql -u root -p

At the prompt, create the database with the command:

CREATE DATABASE nextcloud;

Now we’re going to create a new user and give that user the proper permissions with the following commands:

CREATE USER 'nextcloud'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'PASSWORD';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON nextcloud.TO 'nextcloud'@'localhost';

Where PASSWORD is a strong, unique password.

Finish up the database with the following commands:

FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
exit

How to download and unpack Nextcloud

To download the latest version of Nextloud, change into the /tmp directory (with cd /tmp) and  issue the following command:

wget https://download.nextcloud.com/server/releases/nextcloud-19.0.0.zip

Once that download completes, unzip the file with the command:

unzip nextcloud-19.0.0.zip

Move the newly created directory into the Apache document root with the command:

sudo mv nextcloud /var/www/html/

Give the newly-moved directory the proper permissions with the command:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/nextcloud

How to configure Apache

It’s time to let Apache know about the Nextcloud instance. Create a new configuration file with the command:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/nextcloud.conf

In that file, paste the following:

Alias /nextcloud "https://www.techrepublic.com/var/www/html/nextcloud/"

    Options +FollowSymlinks
    AllowOverride All
      
        Dav off
      
     
     SetEnv HOME /var/www/html/nextcloud
    SetEnv HTTP_HOME /var/www/html/nextcloud

Save and close the file. 

Enable the new site with the command:

sudo a2ensite nextcloud

Next, enable the necessary Apache modules with the command:

sudo a2enmod rewrite headers env dir mime

The php.ini file can be edited for Nextcloud with a single command:

sudo sed -i '/^memory_limit =/s/=.*/= 512M/' /etc/php/7.4/apache2/php.ini

Finally, restart Apache with the command:

sudo systemctl restart apache2

How to complete the installation

Open a browser on a machine connected to your LAN and point it to http://SERVER_IP/nextcloud (where SERVER_IP is the IP address of the server hosting Nextcloud). In the resulting window, fill out the necessary information for both the new admin user and the database (Figure A). 

Figure A

The Nextcloud web-based installer is simple and quick to use.

The database information will be:

  • User – nextcloud

  • Password – password associated with the new MySQL user created earlier.

  • Database – nextcloud

Leave everything else as is.

Once you’ve filled out the necessary information, click Finish Setup and, once the installation completes, you’ll find yourself on the Nextcloud main page, logged in as your newly-created admin user (Figure B).

Figure B

The Nextcloud 19 main window.

And that’s all there is to installing Nextcloud 19 on Ubuntu Server 20.04. You can now start customizing your cloud server to perfectly meet your needs.

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