Have you ever wanted your own in-house, cloud-based office suite alternative but didn’t want to go through the hassle of installing all of the necessary moving parts to get it up and running? Sure, you could install Linux, then install ownCloud, and then install OnlyOffice on top of that. Get it right, and you’d have a pretty sweet on-premises solution. Get it wrong, and you’ll have wasted a few precious hours (or days) of your time.

Fortunately, there’s a much easier solution: Run the ownCloud/OnlyOffice combination (brought together by Univention) as a virtual machine in Vmware, KVM, or VirtualBox. This solution makes it exponentially easier to get that cloud-based suite of tools working.

SEE: Vendor comparison: Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud (Tech Pro Research)

I want to walk you through the steps of getting ownCloud and OnlyOffice up and running, as a virtual machine, using VirtualBox. You’ll be surprised at how easy this is to do.

What you need

You only need two things to make this work:

Make sure to download the appliance for VirtualBox from the download page (the file extension will end in .ova).

Importing the appliance

Once you download the appliance file, open VirtualBox and click File | Import Appliance. In the resulting window (Figure A), click the folder icon to the right of the text area.

Navigate to the directory housing the downloaded appliance and select the .ova file. Click Next and review the appliance settings (Figure B).

If everything looks okay, click Import. You will be prompted to agree to the EULA, so click Agree (when prompted), and the import will begin. The import should take one to two minutes tops. When it completes the appliance is almost ready to go.


Although the appliance comes pre-configured, it still needs a bit of tweaking. The network is already set in Bridged mode, so there nothing to take care of there. I tend to always disable audio (especially for server virtual machines). To do that select the new UCS entry in the VirtualBox left navigation and click Settings. In the Audio tab, uncheck Enable Audio. If needed, go to the USB tab and click to enable the USB Controller. Make sure to select, which USB controller to enable (Figure C).

Click OK, and you’re ready to start the appliance. Click the Start button and wait for the boot process to complete. Once the boot completes, you’ll need to walk through the OnlyOffice setup (Figure D).

When you hit the network settings, chances are DHCP query will fail. That’s fine, as we want to set OnlyOffice up with a static IP address (Figure E).

In the next screen (Figure F), you can select if you want to join OnlyOffice to a Microsoft domain, a UCS domain, or manage users/permissions locally. Select the option that best suits your needs and click Next.

You’ll then be required to fill out account information (name of your organization, email address to activate the OnlyOffice Document Server & ownCloud appliance, and a password for the root user and the domain administrator user account). Click Next and create a hostname and LDAP base for the appliance. Click Next and then, when prompted, confirm your settings. If everything looks good, click CONFIGURE SYSTEM. This will finalize the installation (and will take anywhere between two to 15 minutes, depending on your hardware).

When the installation completes, click FINISH, and you’re ready to enjoy your ownCloud/OnlyOffice cloud-based office suite of tools. Point a browser to the IP address you configured for the server and follow the final steps for activating your license. Once you upload the license file, which will be sent to the address you provide, log in as Administrator (using the password you configured during installation), and you can begin managing your OnlyOffice environment.

Congratulations, you now have your own on-premises, cloud-based office suite of tools, ready for use. Head over to ownCloud Files, click the + button, and create your first document.