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Re: Directory synchronization packages

On 01/11/2011 06:31 PM, John A. Sullivan III wrote:
On Tue, 2011-01-11 at 17:37 -0500, John A. Sullivan III wrote:
Hello, all.  We are looking for a Lenny/Squeeze package to synchronize
directories between our physical desktops and our X2Go (www.x2go.org) /
Trinity (KDE3 - trinity.pearsoncomputing.net) based virtual desktops via
sshfs and have had difficulty finding an acceptable package that is
friendly for all levels of users to use within a GUI.  Any suggestions?

We noticed that there is a package for unison-gtk but have some
reservations.  As powerful as unison is, it is no longer maintained.
The GUI seemed intuitive to a developer but not to an average office
user.  There was no way to browse hidden directories other than entering
them by hand.  So our search began especially for something that would
work well on KDE3/Trinity.

Finding software to synchronize desktops that is powerful enough and flexible enough to get synchronization done exactly the way you need it while still allowing non-techies to use it is a real challenge. Unison-gtk is the only (nearly) satisfactory FOSS solution I've found so far. It has required considerable effort to train some of my more hapless users to keep it from becoming a weapon of mass data destruction in their hands.

As I understand it, unison-gtk is still being maintained but isn't being developed. I think its maintainers still act on critical bugs and security issues (if any are being reported) or it wouldn't still be in the Squeeze repos.

But you're right -- the writing is on the wall. I writing this response more to commiserate with you than to provide information that could be useful.

Sorry about that.

We looked at Krusader and were very impressed but it appears to be a
simple copy rather than an rsync style differential block

We look at Komparator but it is KDE4 based, has a UI that seems
overwhelming to an average office user, and seems more oriented toward
search and compare than sync.

Yeah, no KDE here (all Xfce), so I'm unfamiliar with these options.


We are considering DirSyncPro.  Again, there is no Debian package.  It
is Java based which concerns us regarding memory and CPU consumption
when we are trying to squeeze as many virtual desktops onto a host as
possible.  It does seem to be fairly full featured and actively
developed.  Our packet traces show it does appear to do block level

I'm glad you reported this. I'm going to start looking at it as my alternative. I wonder if there will be any effort to get it into the Debian repos. I'm trying to stick exclusively with the office repositories these days.


Have we missed any options? I should mention that the synchronization is
usually bi-directional so a simple rsync front end is not a good option.
Thanks - John

I should mention that DirSyncPro does not have a way of displaying
hidden directories either - John

Hmmm. Missed options? Well...I am very familiar with an absolutely outstanding piece of software that would definitely fulfill the functions for you. I used to use it under Windows. I even used it as my desktop synchronizer and for assistance in version maintenance for various projects when I first switched from Windows to Debian. (There is a version of it that runs under Linux.)

It's called Beyond Compare. As closed source software companies go, Scooter Software (the vendor) is really the cat's pajamas. When I last dealt with them (about a year ago when I decided to go totally FOSS and switched to unison-gtk) they were still very responsive to, and accommodating with, their customers. It's the only recent closed source software that I actually miss using.

The "pro" version of the software is very powerful, extraordinarily flexible, and can have its behavior customized to within a gnat's eyelash. Were it not closed source I'm certain that it would be the perfect solution for you. If it's any help, they have very flexible licensing practices, too.

If unison-gtk gets dropped from the repos, and if I'm unable to get DirSync Pro (or some other alternative) to function to suit my needs, I'll probably be going back to Beyond Compare -- despite my intense desire to be FOSS-only. In the end, functionality is key. And, at least, using a file manager of this sort doesn't mean that I'll be storing any of my data in a proprietary format.


I look forward to seeing if you're able to find any alternatives from within the repos. My search-foo in aptitude isn't coming up with anything at all that seems useful.

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