Freedom and Privacy Technology Tutorial Ubuntu

How to Privatize Your Calendar with Owncloud, Thunderbird, and Lightning

Edit 151224: I had accidentally selected ‘ics’ format instead of caldav.  Sorry about that. Now it works!

Getting your calendar off other  people’s servers should be a priority.  It’s bad enough that you’re being tracked unwillingly but throwing your daily calendar out there to be viewed is borderline twisted.

I needed a solution where the sync was happening on a machine in my house, not outside.  This tutorial got it done for me.  I refuse to say anything good about fruit phones or the fruit company, but I will say that if you are temporarily stuck with one that oddly it quite easily syncs with this tutorial as well giving you the very useful access on your mobile complete with alerts.  I have not yet figured out Android and rest assured I’ve spent many, many hours trying.  My main goal is to focus all my attention on Ubuntu for Devices (Ubuntu Touch/Mobile) but sometimes you just have to survive today…

Before beginning, you will need:

1. an Ubuntu server in your house with owncloud installed on it (that’s a separate tutorial)

2. a static IP address for that server, or at least a dyn dns service (some domain hosts offer it for free) so that when you are outside of your house you can tunnel back in.

*note: you only need one person running the items above if you trust them dearly because you could just set your calendar up on their server.  You could put countless thousands on one machine I bet.  I’m going to set up my family on mine, for example

3. A computer (preferably Ubuntu) running Thunderbird as your email client.

4. The plugin Lightning installed into Thunderbird.

5. a valid and functional email working in Thunderbird (you could use a free webmail email here but that kind of defeats our purpose of freeing ourselves from these gaffers)

Assuming all of the above is set up and ready, here is what you do:

In Thunderbird/Lightning

1. create a new calendar in Thunderbird/Lightning by going to file/new/calendar in the menu options at the top.  Don’t worry about too much and at this point we’ll choose ‘on our computer’ when you get to that point.  We will delete this calendar later anyways so don’t get too attached


2. from the left pane, export the calendar as .ics file to somewhere you will remember it.  We will come back to this file in a bit


Inside Owncloud logged in as Admin User

1. Make sure that the calendar app is showing up in the list of icons when you hit the top left part of the screen.  If it’s not, click the plus sign and search for it and ‘enable’ it.


2. Click the home button top left and make sure the calendar icon is showing in the drop down as per the screenshot below


3. Go to ‘user’ under the option list on top right and add a new ‘user’ for yourself.


Note: if you are like me and want a very secure password for the storage of files on your owncloud server, than what I have done is created another user *just* for my calendar.  I won’t be using this ID to sync files or store them. The reason is that I found having a super strong password with lots of randomness is very difficult to deal with on a daily basis as you’ll be using it on a variety of different devices and possibly viewing it on a variety of different computers.  It’s up to you.


4. Log in as your new ‘calendar user’ account and you will see an upload icon at the top.  Upload your .ics file that you made above (the one I said you’d be coming back to in a bit..)


5. You will see your .ics file appear with a nifty little calendar icon as well


6. Click the name part (not icon) of your .ics file as per screenshot above and an import dialogue will start


7. Go ahead and click that bad boy called ‘import’.  Something will start.  Or does it? Or does it not? I keep getting this long pause while it seems like it’s frozen and hooped like this:


8. Joy o’ Rapture!  It eventually ends and things resume normally and give a message of success and victory


9. Close that bad boy.  Now you will be able to go to the top left again to your new calendar.  If it was blank, don’t be surprised it’s blank… duh.



10. Now you will get to see a share link associated with this on the left.  Click that, highlight it, and copy it to your clipboard.


Back in Thunderbird/Lightning

1. Go and create a new calendar yet again.  There may be a way to avoid this but I find it faster just to create a new one and delete the old one.



2. As the dialogue starts, choose ‘on the network’ as the option


3. Next. Now you’ll be given a place to paste in your owncloud shared link that you copied into your clipboard above.  Paste that in there.  Change the radio dial from iCalendar to CalDav


4. Name your precious new calendar.


5. You’re done!



Now you have a calendar based on your owncloud server which syncs up with your Lightning running on Thunderbird.  I’ve found it to work perfectly so far.

I hope this helps you.

Perhaps if someone chides me I’ll write a blog about whether I ever find an Android option.  So far so bad. 🙁


How to Make Your Big External Drive an Ubuntu Studio computer With a Big Storage Drive Accessible by Any Ubuntu Computer

I was given a big hard drive by my friend so that I could start using Ubuntu Studio (‘USTUD’ from hereon in) and working on some audio. The challenge was that when I installed USTUD on the drive it could only really be used as a self contained computer. I thought it would be useful to have the option of using the drive as an external hard drive that for file transferring or backing up…or whatever the need between any of my regular Ubuntu machines and USTUD. One use case example was if I was exporting a big audio project and wanted to immediately transfer it to my friend’s USTUD machine for immediate and further editing or publishing. The way it was now, if he wanted to access that big file it could either a) have issues mounting or accessing (rights and all that) or b) be so many directories deep even if it was accessible that it would be annoying to browse for it.

So, I found a few tutorials about partitioning and here is a summary of how to make a 500 some-odd gig USTUD computer with a 500 some odd ‘secondary drive’ out of the same 1 TB external USB drive. Hope it helps you. *Disclaimer: You are messing with partitioning here and it’s always possible to forever wipe a drive you weren’t intending to. **Disclaimer Summary: Always be careful and don’t blame me for anything.
We assume the following for this tutorial:

  1. You already have an Ubuntu Studio installation usb drive or CD already created. This is not a tutorial about creating a bootable install CD so look that up on your own. I use either the built in Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator or a program called Unetbootin to get this done.
  2. You understand that when I say “Ubuntu Studio” or “USTUD” you can replace this with whatever distribution you are working with and it should work the same for this process
  3. You have an external hard drive of 1TB. If you don’t, adjust this tutorial accordingly
  4. You are an Ubuntu (the Ubuntu) fan already.  If not, go get excited and come back.

Let’s begin

  1. Make sure your main big drive to which you will be installing USTUD and the storage partition is wiped and doesn’t have anything you want on it. It’s going to get forever wiped.
  2. Plug in your install usb flash drive or CD and start up your computer. You will have to make sure your computer BIOS is set to boot up the right order. Look that up if you don’t know how. It’s usually by pressing something like F12 when the screen is black at startup.
  3. When USTUD install shows up go through all the steps until you reach step 5 of this tutorial. Please note that every screen will not look exactly like this especially the ‘something else’ screen. I found that I did not need to go through all the steps of creating the /home and /var etc diretories manually. I just stopped after creating the SWAP partition (I used 512) and the / step (step 5). In step 5 I choose 450,000 MB (450Gigs) for my USTUD drive. Then I pressed ‘install’.*Note. I’m sure that if you are advanced and fearless than you could accomplish the entire goal of this tutorial during this process but I wanted to make sure that USTUD was working perfectly before proceeded to create the storage partition out of my disk.
  4. Once USTUD is installed and updated, shut computer down and turn on regular Ubuntu machine and wait until it’s booted.
  5. Plug in your USTUD drive
  6. Press the super key and type ‘disk’ and open the program called ‘disk utility’. You should see your big drive listed.
  7. Click on that drive once and you will see its attributes populate the screen. You should now see your Ubuntu installation about 450GiGs and a bunch of free ‘unallocated’ space.
  8. Click on the unallocated space and then the plus sign ‘create partition’. Choose ext4 (assuming you are using Ubuntu like a good citizen) and let the default number stay in the size field unless you want to repeat this process and make more drives out of it.*Note: in all these partitioning steps I always make easy to remember labels like “UstudOS” and “UstudHD”
  9. Wait.
  10. Done.

Now if you plug this same external hard drive into any Ubuntu machine you should see a big drive appear (In my case labelled ‘UstudHD’) that you can use just for just storage and the other drive which will have your install which can remain dedicated to its purpose. This gives lots of space for running USTUD and lots of space for a nice backup drive.

Hope this helps.