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Developer(s)Seafile Ltd.
Stable release10.0.1 (11 April 2023; 5 months ago (2023-04-11)[1]) [±]
Written inC, Python
Operating systemCross-platform
TypeCloud storage
Data synchronization
LicenseGPLv2[2] (Community Edition)

Seafile is an open-source, cross-platform file-hosting software system. Files are stored on a central server and can be synchronized with personal computers and mobile devices through apps. Files on the Seafile server can also be accessed directly via the server's web interface. Seafile's functionality is similar to other popular file hosting services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. The primary difference between Seafile and Dropbox/Google Drive is that Seafile is a self-hosted file sharing solution for private cloud applications. In private clouds, storage space and client connection limits are determined exclusively by the users' own infrastructure and settings rather than the terms and conditions of a cloud service provider. Additionally, organizations, whose data privacy policies bar them from using public cloud services can draw on Seafile to build a file sharing system of their own.


In 2009, Daniel Pan and other former students of Tsinghua University, Beijing embarked on a project aiming at building a peer-to-peer file sharing software, hence a system that does not rely on a centralized server. Seafile was the name chosen for their software project. The development team decided in 2010 to abandon this initial goal and refocussed on building a file syncing software with a more traditional client-server architecture – the architecture also used by Dropbox and other file hosting service providers.

In 2012, Daniel Pan, Jonathan Xu and other key developers of the project established Seafile Ltd. with the objective to develop and distribute the file hosting software.[3]

At the beginning of 2015, the distribution company Seafile GmbH was founded by Silja and Alexander Jackson to promote Seafile in Germany. Seafile Ltd., which did not take an equity stake in Seafile GmbH, granted usage rights for the Seafile brand and provided funding in the form of an interest free loan to the new company. The partnership was abruptly terminated in July 2016 due to disagreements between the two companies over, among other things, product development and intellectual property rights.[4][5] An amicable resolution to the dispute was reached in March 2017.[6] The Mainz-based company datamate GmbH & Co. KG has since taken over distribution and support in Europe.

Editions and versions[edit]

Seafile has two editions: a free community edition and a professional edition with additional features for enterprise environments.[7]

The community edition is released under the terms of the GNU Affero General Public License v3. The professional edition is released under a proprietary license.

Most Seafile installations – community as well as enterprise – are private cloud installations and service a clearly defined user group, i.e., the members of an organisation. There are also some public file hosting services based on Seafile.


The feature set of the community and professional edition vary. Both editions share these features:[8]

The additional features of the professional edition include:


Seafile Server Community Edition can be installed on various Linux platforms. Seafile Ltd. maintains installation packages for Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Additionally, the developer provides a Docker container. A Seafile Server for Windows has been discontinued with version 6.0.7, though it is still available for download on the developer's download site. Users interested in installing Seafile on a Windows computer are referred to Docker. FreeBSD and Raspbian are two more supported platforms. Their install packages are community maintained.

Seafile Server Professional Edition is available for Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS and RHEL. A Docker image is available too. For Seafile Professional's proprietary nature, they are all maintained by Seafile Ltd.

Both servers offers a choice of MySQL/MariaDB or SQLite for database and supports file system or distributed storage as data storage.[7]

Desktop clients are available for personal computers running on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Mobile clients are available for iOS, Windows Phone 8 and Android. Files can also be viewed, downloaded from and uploaded to the Seafile Server without the client via Seafile's web interface.


Seafile Ltd and Seafile GmbH[edit]

In July 2016 a dispute came to light between Seafile Ltd. (the original company, from China) and Seafile GmbH (a German company established from JacksonIT by Silja Jackson and Alexander Jackson in 2015).

Seafile Ltd. had funded Seafile GmbH to be a European partner. They then agreed to merge the main operations and license the cloud provision to a new company, but an agreement could not be reached on the number of shares to be allocated.[4]

Seafile Ltd. alleges that Seafile GmbH and its predecessors had attempted to register its trademark in the US and had taken steps to present itself in place of Seafile Ltd. Seafile Ltd. also alleges that Seafile GmbH had abused the sourcecode and were committing copyright infringements.

Seafile GmbH stated it would fork based upon the most recent professional version and continue developing the file sharing software independently under the brand name Seafile, for which the company claims it hold the intellectual property rights in Europe and North America.[5] Seafile GmbH has not released a new Seafile server version since the announcement.

In March 2017, it was announced that an amicable resolution to the dispute between Seafile Ltd. and Seafile GmbH had been reached. All Seafile trademarks held by Seafile GmbH and the domain “” will be transferred to Seafile Ltd.. Seafile GmbH will continue to do business and change its name to Syncwerk GmbH. Syncwerk GmbH will continue to provide software updates and support, as well as SaaS services to their existing customers, based on Seafile Professional Edition 5.1.8. New customers who are interested in purchasing Seafile Professional Edition need to contact Seafile Ltd.. Seafile GmbH / Syncwerk GmbH will no longer offer the Seafile Professional Edition (or software derived from it) to new customers who first contacted them after March, 10th 2017.[6]


In June 2016 Seafile GmbH had its payment services from PayPal removed. PayPal had accused Seafile of facilitating the illegal sharing of files and demanded that they monitor file transfers and provide statistical information to PayPal, which Seafile refused to do. Some days later, PayPal reverted its decision and apologised to Seafile, but Seafile said they would drop PayPal in favour of other payment options.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Releases". Github. Retrieved 2022-11-03.
  2. ^ "LICENSE". Github. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  3. ^ Swapnil Bhartiya (2015-02-06). "Exclusive: Seafile Founder Daniel Pan Talks About His Open Source Cloud Software". Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  4. ^ a b "Statement about Stopping Cooperation with Seafile GmbH". Seafile Official Blog. 2016-07-22. Archived from the original on 2016-10-25. Retrieved 2016-10-14.
  5. ^ a b "Zur Zukunft von Seafile | About the future of Seafile". Seafile Forum. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  6. ^ a b "Seafile Ltd. and Seafile GmbH end the dispute". Seafile Official Forum. 2017-03-02. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  7. ^ a b Swapnil Bhartiya (May 2015). "Sea Treasure". Linux Magazine. Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  8. ^ Jack Wallen (2016-07-11). "How to install the Seafile file and sync system on Ubuntu". TechRepublic. Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  9. ^ David Meyer (2016-06-22). "PayPal Restores Account of Dropbox Rival After File-Monitoring Row". Fortune. Retrieved 2016-09-21.

External links[edit]