Have you ever wanted to roll out a cloud-based office solution for your business? If so, you’re in luck. OnlyOffice has finally made the dream of bringing an alternative online office suite a reality–plus, it’s easy to set up.

There are a couple of ways you can spin up the free OnlyOffice Community Edition: by installing it on an available server, or by running it as a virtual machine. In order to test drive this platform, let’s run it as a virtual machine within VirtualBox.

(If you want to support more than 20 active users and gain space, look at the OnlyOffice Enterprise options. If you prefer a cloud-based solution, you can opt for the OnlyOffice Cloud.)

In case there are readers who have never worked with a pre-existing virtual machine in VirtualBox, I’ll walk through the process of setting one up. Once the VM is created, we’ll run it and then get OnlyOffice ready to use. I’ll use an elementary OS Freya host to run the OnlyOffice guest.

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Creating the virtual machine

The first thing you must do is download the OnlyOffice virtual machine file. Then, save the file into a directory that houses your usual virtual machines (I store mine on a separate, internal drive) and extract the zip file there. In the newly created folder, you’ll find a .vbox file and a .vdi file. The .vdi file is what we’ll attach to the virtual machine.

Fire up VirtualBox and click the New button. In the first window, you’ll enter/select the following:

  • Name: OnlyOffice
  • Type: Linux
  • Version: Ubuntu (64-bit)

Click Next. In the following window, you’ll set the memory size–this will vary depending upon your host machine and needs (I set the memory to 2048 MB). After you set the size, click Next.

In the Hard Drive window (Figure A), select Use An Existing Virtual Hard Drive File, click the Folder button, navigate to the OnlyOffice .vdi file, select it, and click Open. Click Create, and you’re almost ready to fire up the machine.

Figure A

Adjusting the network setting

Before you start up the virtual machine, you need to change the network setting.

By default, the network will be set to NAT; chances are, you won’t be able to reach that from your network. To make the OnlyOffice server reachable from your network, you need to do the following.

  1. Select the OnlyOffice server from the left pane of the VirtualBox main window.
  2. Click the Settings button.
  3. Select Network from the left pane.
  4. From the Attached To drop-down, select Bridged Adapter (Figure B).
  5. Click OK.
  6. Click the Start button to fire up the OnlyOffice virtual machine.

Figure B

Logging in

Once the OnlyOffice server has booted, you’ll see a text-based login. The default credentials are:

  • Username: onlyoffice
  • Password: onlyoffice

After you log in, you’ll be prompted to change that password (the username will remain the same). Upon logging in, issue the command ifconfig | less and then locate the IP address of your server. Go to a browser and point it to that IP address. You’ll be prompted to create a password associated with an email address (Figure C). Click Continue.

Figure C

Now you should be on the OnlyOffice Community Edition main page, where you can create documents, invite users into the portal, and so much more.

It’s worth a go

The OnlyOffice Cloud-based Community Edition server is quite powerful and ready to serve small businesses. If you’re looking for an in-house solution to replace the likes of Office 365 or Google Docs, OnlyOffice is certainly worth a look.