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Ifolder Server Review

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the know-when-to-ifold-em dept.

98

liquidat writes "I wanted to have a look at the new Open Source ifolder-server and additionally at ifolder in general. ifolder is mainly supported by Novell, and Novell advertises it's Suse Linux, so I downloaded a Suse-VMware image, installed the vmware player and gave it a try. After I installed the needed software it worked pretty well and gave me a quite good impression of what ifolder is about."

cancel ×

98 comments

ichiban (0, Troll)

unicode (641705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113273)

#1 had 2 B done.

Re:ichiban (1)

carpltunl (604615) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115399)

And only the Japanese speakers on Slashdot got it.

iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (4, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113277)

I haven't used iFolder (on Windows/Novell) since 2005 but that's because of horrible locking. We were using it to share a "log file" document for keeping track of what documents were mailed from our department across two campuses.

I was the main user of this document and would add 50 to 60 entries at any one time. iFolder wouldn't let me know that someone else had the file open and if I would save it with the other person's version open, I risked losing my work (which happened twice before I scrapped the idea and moved to another solution which included using a shared e-mail folder in Groupwise).

iFolder, at the time, was insecure, slow, and problematic. Hopefully with it going out to the community these issues will be resolved.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (4, Informative)

shrapnull (780217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113443)

Maybe that would be a nice feature, but it's not what it's designed to do.

iFolder [ifolder.com]

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (1)

eht (8912) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113541)

Really? The FAQ on the page you linked to seems to indicate that collaboration is one of the main aspects of the app.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (1)

shrapnull (780217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113598)

Filesharing != Collaboration. This is just like Apple's .Mac drives. Two people work on a file at once, and he who saves last wins.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (0)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113831)

I use three computers in my office and I routinely have the same file open on at least two of the three. For this to be a viable application (even in this version's limited scope) it needs to have proper locking.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15114052)

Wow. So yah I use it on 4 computers and have it working fine. You cant have the same file open and edit it on multiple computers and expect it to work.
If you make a change and save it, the chage will be replicated to the other workstations.
You DO have a conflict bin if you save to versions either offline or at the same time. Why would you have the same file open more than once, and actively work on it? That just seems silly.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (1)

skarphace (812333) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114348)

I use an older version of this app at my office. What we use it for is single user data storage/backup. We have email boxes backed up using this and any sensitive files that only one user might need.

It's quite handy if you aren't using it for collaboration/file sharing. And quite secure.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (2, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114034)

Filesharing != Collaboration
. Bullshit [answers.com] .

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (2, Interesting)

shrapnull (780217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114223)

I can give you the definition of Troll too, but it's not literal when used in geekspeak. You can fileshare with yourself, just like this product explicitly implies on it's webpage that it is for personal files to be shared across multiple computers. Collaboration would have versioning control, multiuser (concurrent), file-locking, etc...

This just isn't that big of a product. Whether it will be or not, is up to the development team, but it does exactly what they say it does.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (2, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114341)

OK, you're right. I was too quick off the mark.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15116714)

No, No, No! If people start admitting that they made a mistake in Slashdot threads this could turn into a warm respectful community!

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (2, Funny)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118049)

All part of my evil scheme, mwa ha ha!

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125874)

Who modded me up for admiting a mistake? Kind of a waste of mod points.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (4, Informative)

baptiste (256004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113615)

I assume you were using v2. v2 had no sharing ability (so you probably used a single userid for that iFolder) and I can see why you would have had locking problems. It seems like a normal NSS folder (since you mention you had Novell) would have been MUCH better as NSS has built in version control for files.

v3 has much better sharing support in it, but even then, for the use case you describe, an NSS folder would be the way to go.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113616)

iFolder wouldn't let me know that someone else had the file open and if I would save it with the other person's version open

Do I really have to explain the differencies between a FS and a version control system on slashdot?

Damn...

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113747)

that's what the conflict bin is for. Not sure if it's been implemented in iFolder 3, but it was there in 2.1.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (1)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113882)

IIRC, file locking is a feature implemented only by Windows, and it's a major PITA... It's what forces you to reboot on every OS update, because the OS won't let you write or replace files that are open or being executed.

On UNIX file locking is implemented by the use of lockfiles... and only where it really matters. If an application needs lock on a file, it writes a .lock file to a pre-determined location, and every other instance of the aplication checks if this file exist in order to know if they can open it.

UNIX behavior is nicer, because if some random process acessing a file locks-up, or enter on an infinite-loop, or anything else... you still be able to acess, modify and remove the files...

And, as a matter of fact, if a document needs to be acessed by more than one person at once, you should implement some kind of versioning system... or use a WIKI!!!

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (1)

secolactico (519805) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114527)

What if some process that ignores .lock files tries to open/change a file?

System enforced file locking might be a necessity in some cases.

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (1)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114755)

Then you got the permissions set at filesystem level to watch your back.

I really think that if you have a common file, like a spreadsheet, shared among several users that modify it constantly, is much better to make it talk to a database backend... or replace it with a custom software.

Linux file locking (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114809)

I think this problem is why version control systems like CVS were invented. However, according to at least one document I've read, Linux does support locking at the filesystem level, both at the whole-file level and also byte ranges. But you're right, it's not rigidly enforced on applications. If you have the right permissions, you can probably clobber or change a file that's open somewhere else. I can't say I've really experimented with this heavily, myself.

According to this document [www.swb.de] , "Starting with 1.3, Linux now supports two types of file locks. One is flock locking, where a process can request to lock the entire file, and the other is POSIX locking, where it can lock specific regions of a file. ... However, these locks are only advisory. That means they're a convention, just like the lockfile-based file locking."

More interestingly is a quote (apparently a comment from the kernel source):
* NOTE:
  * I do not intend to implement mandatory locks unless demand is
  * *HUGE*. They are not in BSD, and POSIX.1 does not require them.
  * I have never seen any public code that relied on them. As Kelly
  * Carmichael suggests above, mandatory locks requires lots of changes
  * elsewhere and I am reluctant to start something so drastic for so
  * little gain.
  * Andy Walker (andy@keo.kvaerner.no), June 09, 1995
What's changed since 1995, if anything, I wonder?

At any rate, the majority of UNIX machines these days aren't used for direct shell access, but probably run filesharing protocols like CIFS/Samba or AFP/netatalk, which have their own file-locking systems on the exported volumes. (I'm not sure whether they use the Linux advisory locking to accomplish this. I also wonder what happens if you have the same volume exported by both Samba and netatalk in regards to locking when both a Samba user and a netatalk user try to modify something.)

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (1)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114828)

IIRC, file locking is a feature implemented only by Windows

BS. File-locking is an old DOS feature that's been implemented in almost every NOS used, including OS/2 and Netware.

Unix's versoin of file-locking is a kludge IMO. Not that it matters, because at this point almost every "PC" application expects it to work a certain way and it's not a philosophical question about how to implement it. (However Windows could come with better tools to deal with locked files.)

Re:iFolder for Windows -- locking issues?! (1)

Chadarius (733069) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115209)

This is so not the way to be using iFolder. What you need is a database not a file sync program.

Mistken impression (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113278)

Did anyone else read that name as "If older"?

Slow news day? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113308)

ANYTHING would have been more interesting than this... What about that new forcefield that US military is gonna be putting on its' armored vehicles? Now that is news.

slimmer alternatives ? (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113310)

i am actually looking for file synchronisation solution for linux for some time now.
i would prefer somethnig that can sync in both ways (thus rsync does not cut this time), something that requires no special server and additional software on file server (so it is able to work with plain smb/nfs shares) - thus ifolder and svn solutions fail.

to increase possibility of results, i'd like to add that windows has built-in file synchronisation mechanism that is able to sync files to simple file share (from user interface it looks like 'offline files' or something similar).

is there anything comparable for linux ?

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (2, Informative)

Woy (606550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113383)

Try unison.

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (2, Informative)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113503)

wow. from the description it really looks like it's exactly what i want.
http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~bcpierce/unison/ [upenn.edu] seems to be the offical homepage.
too bad there are no screenshots of gtk interface ;) ...and it's even in suse packman repository. and it seems to work.
thank you :)

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114540)

crap.
"Unison is no longer under active development as a research project. (Our research efforts in this area are now focused on a follow-on project called Harmonymore details are available on the Harmony home page.) At this point, there is no one whose job it is to maintain Unison, fix bugs, or answer questions.

However, the original developers are all still using Unison daily. It will continue to be maintained and supported for the foreseeable future, and we will occasionally release new versions with bug fixes, small improvements, and contributed patches."

and it seems the page is down. slashdot ?
this seems to be very valuable project, so hopefully it will survive and prosper.
unfortunately i can't get to the files to check their age, which could indicate wether it is abandoned completely or not :)

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (2, Insightful)

justasecond (789358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114964)

I dunno if it's abandoned, but it doesn't matter. Unison is *mature* -- there just aren't any lurking bugs that will never be fixed, or "coming soon" features that you really need *now*.

So don't worry about not having new versions available, or that new patches aren't forthcoming. I've been using my copy for over three years now with *one* update (and that was just because I installed a newly-downloaded version on a new machine and the new version was incompatible with the older copy).

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115091)

i understand it's mature, but that doesn't mean it can not be improved ;)
it seems that running unison with -auto -batch does what i want - it syncs the thing, then pops up a window showing the status and conflicts. nnice.

wonder why it isn't widely known...

anyway, i looked over bugs & todo lists - impressive ;)
most is in a "not so important" cathegory, a lot is about windows (that i don't care about currently) - but some things would be really nice to have.

hopefully this little publicity will atract some developers to it ;)

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15116346)

It's written in Ocaml which is not a very popular language. It would be a nice project to work on if somebody wanted to learn Ocaml though, you don't see too many projects written in that language.

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15116487)

ahh. yes, compiling instruction contain something about getting ocaml compiler and gtk libraries... too bad, probable chances of finding anybody illing to maintain it are very small.

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15128053)

I use Unison daily, but in my experience it goes crazy when the full size to be synced is more than 2 GB - it obviously uses signed 32 bit sizes.

I skip enough files to be safe and run unison again if this happens.
When a large folder appears that can only be selected as a whole, I usually scp it over and the run unison, so it lists its files individually next time. Then I can skip enough to be under 2 GB.

Peter

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (2, Informative)

justasecond (789358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114425)

I can second that. I've been using Unison to sync. my entire source directory (1000s of files) between home and work. Over at least 3 years of doing this and I've never lost a file.

Oh, yah, the best part...I've been doing this through a modem-to-modem connection running at something like 20kb (that's less than 1/2 regular dial-up speed) and I've never had to wait more than a few minutes to sync. up several 1000 files. (Unison only transfers files that have been changed, and only the *actual changed portions* of each changed file. Combine that with the fact that the program keeps directories on each end of the connection, so that there's very little time spent deciding which of those 1000s of files have been changed.)

Downsides: hmmm...If you're using Windows you need to install cygwin. I initially thought that was a royal pain-in-the-ass, but having got used to cygwin's bash shell now I love having it available. Also, (ok, my version is several years old -- since It Just Works, why update? -- so this may have changed) you need to get an cygwin SSH daemon running on the computer you're going to call in to, AKA your file server). It can also be kinda difficult to fine-tune the config. files that Unison uses to determine what directories/files to sync.

But, after you get everything running you never need to touch the thing again. Highly recommended.

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114573)

are you using gui or commandline version ?
is it possible to run commandline version to update definite changes, skip conflicts and pop up gui with conflicts only ?

i would like to automate it so that complete beginners in linux would have no difficulties using it.

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

justasecond (789358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114930)

I'm using the GUI version only (through Windows on both end, but that shouldn't matter 'cause the GUI is TK and looks the same -- crappy -- on both OSs). I've never used the command version 'cause I like how the GUI works: it nicely and very efficently shows whether your copy or the remote copy will be changed and lets you easily override its on a file-by-file basis. (I almost never override anything...I just start the GUI up, take a quick peek at the suggested changes and hit the Go button.)

Also, conflicts are non-existent for me 'cause I'm only one computer at once ;) so I don't have any feel for the conflict resolution accuracy.

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15117599)

Unison works well from the command line too. Just put in the two directories you want to sync. I use it from Windows and Linux, syncing three (sometimes four) machines and conflict resolution is certainly very impressive. I sometimes have to correct it, but only if I've done something strange.

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

justasecond (789358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114985)

Hmmm...by your description, I think you really just want rsync. Check out, for example, this nice tutorial. [mikerubel.org]

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

teknickle (812501) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113537)

rdiff is one of a number of programs (cvs could also work for you) rdiff only copies over the changes and keeps logs of the changes, so roll-backs are possible for data recovery.

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113718)

hmm. how does that differ from rsync solution ? that only provides one-way synchronisation. anyway, i'll try some more unison that somebody else suggested - it really seems nice :)

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114685)

The difference between rsync and rdiff is that rsync only keeps the most recent copy in each location (local and remote), overwriting old versions, while rdiff gives you space-efficient point-in-time snapshots. It can do what rsync does, but it can also give you incrementals.

Read below for my solution that provides bidirectional syncing with rsync.

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114658)

I wanted a similar thing a while back, I found that the easiest thing was to use a shell script:

rsync -avz /foo/ remotesystem:/bar
rsync -avz remotesystem:/bar/ /foo

You just sync from local to remote, then remote to local. Rsync is smart enough not to send anything over the wire that hasn't changed, so if someone hasn't modified anything on the remote end, then the second command will not transfer anything.

What you effectively get out of this though is a filesystem where you can't delete anything (if it's there long enough to get synced once) unless you go and delete it locally and remotely. If you let a file get sync'd to the remote server, then delete the local copy, it will reappear on the next sync. It seems to me that any bidirectional syncronization solution is going to have this issue though; otherwise it wouldn't really be bidirectional sync'ing.

Re:slimmer alternatives ? (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114768)

um. that's not both ways, actually.
to be fair, i don't see the point from the second command, except that, as you mentioned, files deleted on one of sources will reappear.

after the site is back up, check out what unison (and ifolder) provides - that is a real two-way sync which can handle deletions and multiple users making changes to their own copy of fils, then syncing it with a central repository. and always getting the latest merged version of data, except for conflicts (two users making changes to the same files) that have to be resolved manually - but that all is handled in a failsafe way and you have different options.

unison looks very, very cool - too bad it's not actively developed any more, ui could have some small improvements :)

What is ifolder? (5, Insightful)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113311)

It would be nice if you gave a quick description of what exactly iFolder is. From reading the article posting, the first few paragraphs of your blog, and the link in the first paragraph of your blog, I know it's written in GTK# and that it's from Novell, but I still have no idea what the hell it is and now I don't care anymore.

To the editors, please reject stories that don't describe what new products (or not commonly known products) are so that people can have some clue right away whether or not they want to bother reading the story.

I don't know if I want to read this because I don't know what ifolder is and I obviously can't figure it out without reading a lot more of the article than I want.

Re:What is ifolder? (3, Insightful)

Bazman (4849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113359)

Some fine stating-of-the-obvious in that article:

"If you are going to share quite a big amount of data over this server, the server itself should have enough storage since it keeps a copy of every file"

  Where else did you think it was going to keep a copy?

  I think its basically an MS Sharepoint-type document sharing solution, of which you will find umpteen other examples on freshmeat.net.

http://freshmeat.net/search/?q=document+management &section=projects&Go.x=0&Go.y=0 [freshmeat.net]

Several of them even claim to be 'Enterprise-class' or 'professional'. Now an article comparing all of these with 'iserver' and sharepoint would be worth frontpaging on slashdot..

Barry

Re:What is ifolder? (5, Informative)

soccercoach62 (882181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113406)

According to http://www.ifolder.com/ [ifolder.com] : " iFolder is a simple and secure storage solution that can increase your productivity by enabling you to back up, access and manage your personal files-from anywhere, at any time. Once you have installed iFolder, you simply save your files locally-as you have always done-and iFolder automatically updates the files on a network server and delivers them to the other machines you use. Sponsored by Novell, the iFolder project is built on the Mono/.Net framework to integrate seamlessly into existing desktop environments. "

Re:What is ifolder? (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113822)

Why do we need ifolder when a usual file server, even a good old ftp server, does all this.

How is command line access supported by iFolder?

Re:What is ifolder? (1)

olau (314197) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113933)

It transfers files automatically. So it's more convenient.

Re:What is ifolder? (2, Insightful)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114289)

it does ?
automatic file synchronisation (both ways) isn't built into ftp servers/clients, i think ;)

Re:What is ifolder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113415)

While anyone is free to make any demands they want, it's highly unlikely that anyone is going to change their behavior because you're too lazy and/or otherwise incapable of operating google. It is, however, sad that such laziness is rewarded with mod points.

Re:What is ifolder? (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113639)

"It would be nice if you gave a quick description of what exactly iFolder is. From reading the article posting, the first few paragraphs of your blog, and the link in the first paragraph of your blog, I know it's written in GTK# and that it's from Novell, but I still have no idea what the hell it is and now I don't care anymore." Dude, that's a geeks site, never EVER admit you don't know what's the article about. Just nod and agree.. just nod and agree...

I read the whole article (2, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113642)

and I still don't really know what ifolder is. From what I read, it is a folder that I can access using a special client or a web interface. There is tons of software that does something along this line, from basic FTP / Apache folder view, to NFS or Coda to all the various HTTP webdrop applications.

A more usefull article would explain how it compares to other common software, not necisarily to declare a w1nnAr but to let me know what what situations it excels in, and if it would be usefull to me.

Re:What is ifolder? (1)

bizzynut (887594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113682)

This is the problem with all of Novell's products. It is unclear what many of them do and how we are supposed to integrate them with other Novell or non-Novell offerings. Many offer overlapping functionality (I am used to reading things like, "you could use Console One. But we prefer you to use iManager. But for these 3 three things you can't use iManager, you need to use ConsoleOne. And for this one thing, use REMOTE Manager, not iManager.)

I am open to alternatives to the Windows Server with Active Directory environment. But when you can't even get a book about something like Zenworks for Desktops directly from Novell that explains it concisely, who do you think I will turn to?

Re:What is ifolder? (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114196)

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ifolder [wikipedia.org] Folder operates on the concept of shared folders, where a folder is marked as shared and the contents of the folder are then synchronized to other computers over a network, either directly between computers in a peer-to-peer fashion or through a server. This is intended to allow a single user to synchronize their files between different computers (for example between a work computer and a home computer) or share files with other users (for example a group of people who are collaborating on a project). The core of the iFolder is actually a project called Simias. It is Simias which actually monitors files for changes, synchronizes these changes and controls the access permissions on folders. The actual iFolder clients (including a graphical desktop client and a web client) are developed as separate programs that communicate with the Simias back-end.


It's a shared folder you can access from anywhere not just your network.

Re:What is ifolder? (1)

catfoo (576397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114991)

ok ive read the review (quickly) read the ifolder website and hit wikipedia. high points are; automated file synchrnization, cross platform, will be p2p soon (via gaim?).

what would be nice is a comparison of this to BitTorrent (+RSS ?) rsynch etc etc. some clues as to how to implement this in a large as well as small org. my org is all windows/novell/suse so i figure i can ifolder..

1. some desktop software as long as there arnt things like registry changes that need to go allong
2. some data files that all the users want locally like GIS files

but can the users pick and pull what they want? or do they just get the whole folder?

Why Open Source is screwed (0, Flamebait)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15116018)

OK, not completely, but it's way behind where it could be, and a great deal of that is the kind of mentality that both publishes and publicizes articles like this one.

First off, the article doesn't tell you what the heck ifolder is. 99% of those who could use knowledge about ifolder won't read the article because after 1 or 2 paragraphs, they still have no clue what it is. Most would still have to guess after reading the whole thing.

But worse, while the article does point to the ifolder pages, the main page there doesn't tell you anything useful. Either include a short description or make the big, unmissable link a "What it is" button.

DO NOT depend on /. to tell the worls what your cool project does. DO NOT depend on word of mouth. DO NOT depend on google or usenet or anything else. Put the stupid desccription right up front.

Yes, there are a lot of big bucks product pages that are just as brain-edad. If they have the market share, or ar ethe only game in town, they'll survive. But they'd do even better if they followed this rule.

But for most of you, your open source project is NOT the 500 pound gorilla. It's not even the 1 ounce mouse baby, even if it could be the 500 pound gorilla. Why make life more difficyult for the end user? That is NOT the way to market share. Open, closed, free, expensive, doesn't matter. Tell people what the heck it is they can get, even if it's free.

Re:What is ifolder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15118310)

ifolder is a method Novell has created for comparing timestamps

Re:What is ifolder? (1)

thrift24 (683443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118367)

Here's the main idea from what I've seen of it.

You have an iFolder server, you make it accessible over your corporate LAN, WLAN, and the internet. Now you install an iFolder client on your workstation, your laptop, and your home PC.

What this enables you to do is to be working on a project at work, save the file, no worries about backing it up to FTP or emailing it to yourself or what not, when you get home, your home computer has the updated version of your project anyway. You go to work the next day and your computer burnt to the ground for whatever reason, you pull out your laptop and hook it up to the WLAN, it will either already be synched to the correct version of the file or if not it will sync itself.

The idea is automated backups to a central server where you can do centralized backup and accesibility from different locations without a lot of headaches.

That's not to say I've used it really, so I have no idea if it really does anything of this well.

What is ifolder about? (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113326)

gave me a quite good impression of what ifolder is about."

neither in the blurb, nor the article, do you actually state what ifolder is or isn't.

Re:What is ifolder about? (0, Offtopic)

gregarican (694358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113355)

Sounds like this story was submitted in the true spirit of a Novell press release. Poor advertising/marketing for decades is one of the main reasons that Novell is teetering on the brink of obscurity much like its competitors back in the late 1980's, Banyan and LANtastic.

Purpose? (1)

iXiXi (659985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113345)

Don't we already have enough GUI based file tools? What does this 'truly' add? I didn't see true value described..please help me.

FTP (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113372)

How is this different/better from running an FTP (or SCP or SFTP) server?

Re:FTP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113440)

I haven't played with the open source version but the version that Novell has packaged with Netware for years works as follows. I install the iprint client on however many machines I want. I then have my data on any of those machines. If I log in at home it replicates all the data down to me. If I make a change, that is replicated back to the server and any other machine I'm logged in at, or log into later. I can also access these via a web interface. I can protect these from private eyes with a password which keeps people from reading them on the client or the server.

Re:FTP (4, Informative)

baptiste (256004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113587)

FTP/SCP requires the server be accessible via a network unless you manually keep copies locally on your laptop for instance. iFolder syncs files between a server store and your local machine (or multiple machines) so you always have a copy. Microsoft Offline Files are a similar concept though I always found the way iFolder handled the sync to be much cleaner than they way MS did it.

All syncing is done over normal SSL HTTP connections (at least in v2 it was)

So iFolder ensures you'll always have your files available, even if you have no network connection (on a plane, etc) and when you get that connection back, makes sure everything is synced.

Really cool use case? Executives with assistants. Executive is travelling - they have all their files locally and those files get 'backed up' to a server when they get connected. But if the assistant has updated a bunch of files as well, the executive will get those updates pushed to their laptop during the next background sync (say in a hotel)

Think an automated version of rsync over ssh. iFolder uses a totally different architecture and has a lot of management and sharing features, but at its simplest use, syncing two folders between a PC and a server, it accomplishes what rsync over ssh would.

Re:FTP (1)

msh104 (620136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113710)

and what happens if person 1 copies the data to his laptop and boards the plane
person 2 changes files on the server using his desktop that are synced back
person 1 changes some files (or even worse.. those same files person 2 changed) while he is on the plane.
and he gets back to work and tries to synchonize his data back to the server.

what does ifolder do in such cases?

Re:FTP (1)

baptiste (256004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113819)

It raises a conflict and provides the user with a variety of options based on the files in question (who changed them last, when they were changed, etc) You choose how to handle it.

Again - iFolder is not meant as a file sharing replacement where files are locked and only one user at a time can change a file. Just like in SVN or CVS, conflicts will arise that you have to deal with. But they are recognized and they give you a variety of ways to handle it (in the end choosing which file 'wins') and, of course, contacting other users to see who made what changes to ensure non are lost (I believe on outcome you are presented with is to save copies of the files to preserve all changes)

Re:FTP (1)

G Money (12364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113989)

I've only used v2 so far but I use it pretty extensively. It actually has a conflict bin so that if there is some type of conflict it wil prompt you for what to do. I haven't had one in a long time so I don't remember exactly how it behaves but it won't just overwrite everything. It additionally had basic versioning support so that you can specify on the server side how many versions of a file to keep. This comes in pretty handy when a user gets a virus that wipes out their data as you can roll back whatever they had in ifolder to a previous version.

Re:FTP (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113845)

Now, it seems to me that iFolder equivalents can be created by just combining existing standard tools. The dependency on mono is certainly no good sign and could be a security risk.

Re:FTP (1)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113656)

How is this different/better from running an FTP (or SCP or SFTP) server?

You have to log into an FTP server and send/receive files. Basically, it has all sorts of security, access, and automation features you don't get with FTP because FTP is just a file transfer protocol.

Re:FTP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113685)

How is this different/better from running an FTP (or SCP or SFTP) server?

It's iFolder, dude!!! iFOLDER!!! If you don't need it.. you're screwed!!!

running iFolder on FreeBSD (1)

fak3r (917687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113424)

I've looked at iFolder and sort of understand its use, my query is, how do I install it on FreeBSD, which is my server. I want to have all my documents on the server shared on my home network via iFolder to all clients, since we're moving more and more to laptops. How does this work, and what are the advantages of this over something like NFS?

I need this to work with Linux, OS X and XP clients (my wife needs XP for online classes, thus that support option ;))

Re:running iFolder on FreeBSD (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113891)

From your description of what you want, you may find WebDAV on Apache or Lighttpd to be a good solution. You can configure either easily on FreeBSD and both Windows and OS X can access them as native disks.

Re:running iFolder on FreeBSD (1)

Krondor (306666) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114843)

I need this to work with Linux, OS X and XP clients (my wife needs XP for online classes, thus that support option ;))

I can't comment on BSD, but it works with OS X, Linux, and XP quite nicely. I think that's one of its strongest points is cross platform file access and collaboration.

This would be more effective... (1, Funny)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113448)

While I appreciate the reviewer's piece, I wonder what it would take to have a review done entirely in flash. These movies would require no software install on most PCs and would be very very effective in passing the message across. The whole business of posting pure HTML with graphics for reviews is becoming very ancient in my opinion.

One draw back though, would be for those still using dialup. They would cry foul! Heck, such a movie could be uploaded to Google Video for free. With this route, the problem is that the video would have to go through some form of editorial process. The advantage in the end would be very much worth the effort.

Re:This would be more effective... (1)

Errtu76 (776778) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113535)

While i agree that it would be worth the effort for anyone not reading the review through a text-based webbrowser (lynx for example), don't you need Macromedia Flash for this? AFAIK they haven't created a 'free' version yet, so how would i make a review?

Re:This would be more effective... (1)

oojah (113006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113810)

It should be possible with vnc2swf. I've never used it mind so can't really comment.

Cheers,

Roger

Re:This would be more effective... (1)

omega9 (138280) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114351)

Why not use Wink [debugmode.com] ?

Re:This would be more effective... (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15116852)

Excellent point, and the exact reason why this review should have been an AJAX app/service.

(Isn't there a flash plugin for Lynx yet? My god, how long has it been?)

No way (1)

alienmole (15522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114590)

Then the reviews would show up on my machine as a blank box with a message reading "click to install plugin". I'd click, and it would say "no compatible plugins found". The problem with Flash is that it's proprietary, not open. HTML is a standard. The one can't substitute for the other. Get Macromedia to open-source Flash, then we'll talk.

One of Novell's Coolest Products (5, Interesting)

baptiste (256004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113542)

We used iFolder 2 in a Novell cluster and it was a really nice product. Our laptop users loved it. None of the hassles of Windows offline folders (which seems to try to use a sledgehammer to nail in a tack) iFolder simply sits in the background and watches your iFolder for changes/new files and seamlessly syncs them with the iFolder on the server. You could use an SSL browser w/Java to view your iFolder from other PCs, etc. The one thing that took a while to get yoru head around was that the file store on the server was encrypted, making backup interesting. But you could link the user with the directory name (which was a hash of some kind) so restores of an iFolder were possible, but restores of a single file were not. The benefit was the files were 'pre' encrypted so you didn't have to encrypt the files on teh fly. But the obvious downside was how to get granular backups. Not sure how v3 is handling that.

v3 of iFolder definitely takes it to the next level with the ability to share iFolders with others and the ability to have multiple iFolders. I've got the rpms on hand and am setting up a Virtual Server to give it a whirl here myself.

Remember - v3 of the server JUST got released as open source. They've been banging on it VERY hard so I don't expect it to be flawless. But its a very exciting product.

As for the windows locking issues - unless that's something the commentor saw in v3 - we had a lot of iFolder users and never saw locking problems, even from users with laptops and desktops who had iFolder active at the same time. That's one of the appeals for computer geeks with more than one computer - true sync of files between all platforms and the server. If you can afford the space usage, its nice to know that even if the network is down, each unit will have that file you need.

I hope iFolder draws a following - its a sweet product.

Re:One of Novell's Coolest Products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15114643)

Not to comment on the product itself, but... that's a whole load of astroturf right there.

Re:One of Novell's Coolest Products (1)

baptiste (256004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114725)

Not to comment on the product itself, but... that's a whole load of astroturf right there.

Not even close. I just happen to have overseen a significant Novell deployment where iFolder was one of our more popular offerings with our users. Never have worked for Novell, sold it, etc. Only deployed it. Life with Novell wasn't without its pains, but overall we found it a great suite of products for what we needed to accomplish.

Sorry - no astroturfing here.

a sledgehammer to nail in a tack (1)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15117447)


We used iFolder 2 in a Novell cluster and it was a really nice product. Our laptop users loved it. None of the hassles of Windows offline folders (which seems to try to use a sledgehammer to nail in a tack) iFolder simply sits in the background and watches your iFolder for changes/new files and seamlessly syncs them with the iFolder on the server.

If a file becomes dirty [i.e. if it's altered], then, traditionally, Windows copied THE ENTIRE FILE to the server.

So if you were goofing around with a 1MB PDF, say, and you saved some changes, then Windows would push the entire 1MB across the wire.

iFolder, on the other hand, pushed ONLY THE DIRTY SECTORS - if, for instance, your alterations were confined to a single 512 byte sector, then only that sector was pushed across the wire.

So, in effect, Windows was like encrypted FTP, whereas iFolder was more like an encrypted file system over TCP.

Traditionally the great drawback to iFolder was that its passwords and passkeys were not stored in NDS, so you had to remember a set of passwords and passkeys that were distinct from your NDS password, which put a real damper on things. Don't know whether they've cleaned that up in v3, but having to memorize a second set of credentials kinda obviated the whole purpose of turning to Novell in the first place.

What iFolder is.... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113543)

Basically, what iFolder allows you to do is keep synchronized copies of data in multiple places. For instance, if I have a folder on my desktop, and a file in the folder named Bob.txt, Bob.txt will be stored not only on my local machine, but also updated to the iFolder server, as well as any other machine I have running the iFolder client with my Login.

So, the result is that I can work on a file when at work, and know that when I get home the synchronized copy will be waiting for me there. If I don't have the iFolder client at home, there is a nice web interface where I can get the latest copy.

Now, the really nice piece is that the file is synchronized on a block level, which means only the delta changes will be synchronized. This allows large files to quickly be synched across rather small pipes.

Re:What iFolder is.... (1)

forrie (695122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113950)

Sounds slightly reminiscent of the CODA [cmu.edu] filesystem, though more simplified. In terms of many copies and one server to replicate to.

Re:What iFolder is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15114064)

IN TERMS OF

Thinking different. (0, Offtopic)

ABoerma (941672) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113583)

Just an iFolder? With .Mac you get an entire iDisk [apple.com] .

Re:Thinking different. (2, Informative)

ziegm1 (967820) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113607)

The benefit with iFolder over some of the other solutions on the market is that it runs across Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. And the files will synchronize to each of the different systems, regardless of the OS it was created on.

I'm glad you know what iFolder is about... (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113698)

Why not tell us?

Criminy. I'm sick of having to read the comments in every single story because the story summary doesn't give you any useful information.

Re:I'm glad you know what iFolder is about... (1)

dns_server (696283) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113873)

Or even worse, reading the story itself.

ifolder than who? (1)

The Fun Guy (21791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15114493)

What exactly am I comparing myself to? I'm one of the oldest servers in this restaurant, but that's just because I haven't finished my dissertaion yet. If older than who? And what am I supposed to review?

IFolder concept great implimentation nightmare (1)

jwieland (81762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15115441)

iFolder sounded like a perfect product for me and my business. It goal: to transparently integrate a network file system into desktop experience. Where you can store, backup, share, access file from any location that is networked is awesome. The transfer are encrypted and there is a full featured easy to use web admin portion. It would be awesome for simple collaborative file exchange activities,

However, do not even try to install this product on fedora core (It might be easier on fedora core 5 because on the mono integration, I don't) or rhel or any derivative. The dependencies need are just insane. The first being mono which is way enough to install. The pain start when you need to install log4net (which no rpm i found exists). Since it is built in .NET framework it require you to setup nant. My god, I've been using linux for 10+ years now on a daily basis but this was completely painful.

SUSE must be taking a page from the Apple notebook. Build a great product and use it to push your OS. Which is fine, using virtualization does solve this issue since you can just create a slice of SUSE.

Re:IFolder concept great implimentation nightmare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15116052)

Fedora Core 5 rpms [novell.com]

Re:IFolder concept great implimentation nightmare (1)

vbillings (967901) | more than 8 years ago | (#15116199)

Things have changed since you initially tried this which I suspect is the whole point of the Slashdot article. In the past, the only way to get the Enterprise server was to buy OES. Now, the iFolder team has open-sourced the server which means they have some motivation to make packages for whatever your favorite distro is. They have also created fedora core 4/5 packages in a yum repository with a corresponding howto. I got it working on FC4 in about 10 minutes.

Check it out http://www.ifolder.com/index.php/HowTo:Configure_i Folder_Enterprise_Server_on_Fedora_Core_4 [ifolder.com]

You may still have some difficulty getting binaries for the client on Fedora, but I have suspicions that will change shortly as well.

Re:IFolder concept great implimentation nightmare (2, Informative)

baptiste (256004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15116538)

It it clear they have not looked beyond x86 right now. You can find binary RPMs for many i386/i586 platforms at: http://forgeftp.novell.com/ifolder/server/3.5/ [novell.com] Just click that latest build, then 'linux' then your OS. They include log4net, libflaim, and iFolder rpms.

I'm trying to get it built for x86_64 and have run into a few snag which I've outlined here [baptiste.us] . Anyone with more x86_64 build smarts than I, by all means let me know.

So yes, the source RPMs are not perfect as I have found, but they are buildable (well, I'm still working on iFolder-Server itself - I'm close) Remember, this JUST got released open source. I expect it will be a little while before the RPMs stabilize and work for all the variants out there.

Comparison to FolderShare (1)

D4MO (78537) | more than 8 years ago | (#15116828)

I took a look at iFolder some time ago, mainly through my interest in mono. Anyone out there who has used iFolder and FolderShare [foldershare.com] care to post a quick comparison?
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