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Sun, 26 Dec 2010

File synchronisation

If anyone mentions Dropbox to me one more time, I will scream. I'm sure it's a wonderful solution, but I have deep misgivings about handing my data over to someone I don't trust.

Besides, my synchronisation needs are not that complicated. Here are my high-level requirements:

  1. Two way synchronisation between multiple clients and a central server.
  2. Automatic syncs - no requirement for manual triggering.
  3. Graceful handling of network outages, suspends, etc.
  4. If using ssh, running from within my X session (so that it can access my ssh-agent)
  5. Some assurance that my data will not be passed to other people (e.g. by running everything on servers I control, or encrypting all the data with keys only I hold)
  6. Regular backups of the central data.

I've been playing about with several ideas - I know some people try to do this sort of thing with git, but I don't have a need for version control right at the moment, and merging conflicts could be far too complicated.

I did hack together a script involving lsyncd and NetworkManager's dbus signals, but then realised that synchronising in the other direction would need something quite different, and it was getting a bit out of hand by that point.

So my current favourite is actually GNOME's Conduit project. It ticks almost all of the boxes (apart from the backups, which should be simple to put together). There are some rough edges - the author has tried to delegate the minor detail that it's accessing an SFTP share entirely to GIO. But GVFS shares are not mounted automatically by Conduit - so I would have to browse to the remote folder in Nautilus before any synching would happen in each session. Bad.

But looking at how Conduit is used, I don't agree with hiding the nature of the remote folder from the user. By all means use GIO to perform the mechanics of SSH and so on, but the user surely thinks of the remote server as something different to a local folder? So from a UI perspective, this should be made explicit. After all, the user has to deal with it at some level by switching to Nautilus to set up the connection.

And since I cannot find an SFTP plugin for Conduit anywhere, this still leaves me in the unfortunate position of having to write code if I want a nice solution. Bah, humbug.

Posted: 26 Dec 2010 22:04 | Tags: ,

Mon, 22 Feb 2010

Plugging the Debian GNOME bug weekend

This weekend I've been messing about with gstreamer pipelines so that I can spam the world with YouTube videos. Go me! Let's see if it shows up on Planet Debian.

Next weekend I'll be teaching my brother how to triage Debian GNOME bugs. :)

Posted: 22 Feb 2010 01:19 | Tags: , , , , ,

Fri, 23 Jan 2009

Emacs and Epiphany

It turns out to be possible to persuade emacs and epiphany to play nicely together.

Opening URLs in Epiphany from Emacs

Sometimes Emacs presents you with clickable hyperlinks (in info documentation, perhaps).

To customize the browser in which these are opened, I am using the following in .emacs:

(setq browse-url-browser-function 'browse-url-generic
      browse-url-generic-program "gnome-open")

There are also specific epiphany-related functions, but I'm using the default gnome program for the moment. This can be configured via the default applications dialog.

Opening text files in Emacs from Epiphany

When you download a text file, or use 'View > Page Source' in the menus, epiphany uses the gnome desktop's handler for the 'text/plain' mime type.

The simplest way of configuring this is to run nautilus, right-click on a text file and choose 'Properties'. Then the 'Open With' tab lets you select an application. Emacs should already be listed, or you can add it if not.

Further ideas

Posted: 23 Jan 2009 00:00 | Tags: , , , ,

Tue, 22 Apr 2008

GNOME Bugzilla edit rights

Last night, I was granted permission to edit/close bugs on GNOME's bugzilla. Because of the logarithmic way in which the points system works, I now have three more bugzilla points than I did this morning. :)

Posted: 22 Apr 2008 00:00 | Tags: , ,

Fri, 07 Dec 2007

Emacs keybindings for GTK text fields

My attempt to learn to use emacs continues. Today's discovery: I can enable emacs-like keybindings in GTK text fields (well, Readline-like) - this includes form fields in Epiphany.

I have remapped C-w to backward-kill-word, to be more like Readline. I'm working up to writing some lisp to make common tasks easier... like writing blog entries, perhaps. I'll need to synchronize my .emacs files somehow... but I need to make more of an effort to use emacs over vim at work.

Posted: 07 Dec 2007 00:00 | Tags: , , , ,

Thu, 27 Sep 2007


Oh Pete, I deliberately didn't use your name because I wasn't attacking you in particular; I was aiming at the completely misleading article whose pagerank you (and Digg) increased to the point where it achieves higher results in searches for "XDS drag and drop" than the XDS specification itself. Please don't take it personally.

Of course, you still fail utterly for not providing any explanation of why you were so pleased to have this feature in your original post, and for not linking to, say, the GNOME 2.20 release notes, the relevant bug, or just writing something that won't feed anti-GNOME trolls for the next five years. But I'm glad to see that I've at least provoked the former, even if you also called me an ass at the same time. :)

Also, note that the bug in Nautilus is still open - there are still patches for the list view to test/improve, and other opportunities to extend XDS support to the rest of GNOME.

Posted: 27 Sep 2007 00:00 | Tags: , , ,

Tue, 25 Sep 2007


Recently, people linked to a random news site claiming GNOME has added "XDS support" in 2.20. XDS is an extension to the XDND drag-and-drop protocol.

This is very misleading. The headline reads as if GNOME has not had any drag-and-drop support until now, which is ridiculous. The Digg headline was even worse: "GNOME Gets Real Drag n' Drop Support with XDS". Bullshit.

What actually happened is that Nautilus (the GNOME file manager) has received a patch to support this extension in the main window bit. It will probably help File Roller act more intuitively with respect to dragging files to Nautilus windows, and it is a good thing. It won't work with Nautilus's list view, yet. It is also possibly the least interesting of the new features in GNOME 2.20. It deserved one sentence tagged on to the File Roller bit of the release notes. I am not going to "scream with joy".

Incidentally, GNOME 2.20 is a fantastic release, and has caught me by surprise. EOG (the image viewer) has been almost completely rewritten. Evolution now has several small new features that I've been wanting - new mail notifications, and warnings about missing attachments. There's some nice GNOME Keyring integration going on... even the default theme looks shinier. So, there are plenty of other, better features to say "finally" about.

Posted: 25 Sep 2007 00:00 | Tags: , ,

Wed, 22 Aug 2007

Bring on GVFS

This evening, I have been made acutely aware that the gnomevfs Python bindings lack up-to-date documentation. Gnome-VFS is a pain to use anyway, but not having a complete reference manual is a bit of a problem.

One of the projects with quite a bit of buzz at GUADEC this year was GVFS. It's going to fix all the bugs in Gnome-VFS, and make our lives much happier. It'll be based upon FUSE... so, a very Hurdish approach. In fact, it will probably get ported to Hurd translators, which will be quite fun.

Meanwhile, I'll struggle on with gnomevfs, using whatever example code I can find, by trial and error.

Posted: 22 Aug 2007 00:00 | Tags: , , , , ,


Tim Retout tim@retout.co.uk
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