How to synchronize against a home Linux server

Setting up a home Linux server to synchronize calendar, contacts and various files (images, music...) is easy. Just install ownCloud which has everything needed for the server, including a Web interface to manage calendar and contacts.

For mail, any IMAP server from the Linux distribution (UW-imapd, dovecot, cyrus...) will do. You probably already know them if you run your own mail server.

Android apps for synchronization

Out-of-the-box Android lacks the capability to synchronize against WebDAV, CalDAV and CardDAV servers (this is what ownCloud provides). So you have to install the following free apps to get this capability:
  1. Blaucloud.de allows to synchronize files in your ownCloud file store with your Android device and upload any photos and videos taken with your camera automatically.
  2. EasyDAV for OwnCloud sets up synchronization accounts for calendar and contacts.

Android apps for mail

You can use the pre-installed GMail app or the feature-rich K-9 Mail to access an IMAP server.

Note that after setting that all up, you will have several different accounts on your Android device: one for mail, calendar and contacts each, as well as one for file transfer. This may look confusing compared to the Google account which has all services under one umbrella, but it really doesn't matter.

Integration with Thunderbird

Thunderbird with the Lightning add-on can synchronize against a CalDAV calendar. Just set up a calendar in Lightning using the URL found on the Calendar page of your ownCloud server. If your ownCloud account provides more than one calendar (e.g. to separate work and private items), you have to set up separate URLs in Lightning.

Discontinue using the standard "local" calendar which you got when first installing Thunderbird/Lightning. To migrate your existing local Thunderbird/Lightning calendar to ownCloud:

  1. Export the whole calendar into an .ICS file
  2. Upload that file to ownCloud
  3. Doubleclick the .ICS file on the ownCloud page - this will import the contents into the ownCloud calendar

For synchronizing the address book, Thunderbird needs the SOGo Connector extension (only the Connector, not the Integrator). Setup is similar to the calendar. To migrate, use the MoreFunctionsForAddressBook extension which allows to export an address book as .VCF file (use VCF version 2.1 and UTF-8 character set).