TurnKey Linux Virtual Appliance Library

'Dropbox like' TKL server

JedMeister's picture

I have long wanted a 'Dropbox like' server for syncing files between computers, but instead of having a limited cloud storage outside of my control I want a FOSS client, with inhouse (FOSS) server that I control!

A long time ago I stumbled across iFolder (blueprint, dev wiki) but I never had any joy with it. A kind user posted instructions on how to install it successfully on Ubuntu 10.04/TKL v11.x but I never got around to it. Development seems to have stalled (last update on SF was 2010) and it doesn't have a .deb file which would allow easy client installation to Ubuntu/Debian (although it does have .rpm and .exe client binaries).

So anyway I did a bit of searching today and came across some other options and I thought I'd document it all here. So here are the list of options I found with some brief details:

  • iFolder - The 'original' FOSS 'Dropbox like' client server sync. May still be an option for TKL but I think there may be better ones.
  • SparkleShare (GitHub) - Looks very cool. Seems to use Git as a backend so everything is versioned, can use your own server or other services (such as GitHub). Multiple OS clients supported (Win/Linux/MacOS/Android/iOS). Has relatively easy setup. Whilst this looks pretty cool, I'm not sure of the value of a TKL appliance unless it was perhaps integrated into the Fileserver (or similar) as it would still require some manual end-user config so not a lot of added value by TKLising it IMO.
  • Untitled Synchronization and Backup Project - Some interesting ideas and links etc, but not really anything usable... (I almost didn't include it here but it was one of the first things I stumbled across so thought I'd include it).
  • LipSync - Lightweight auto folder sync tool. Looks interesting, but not really a condidate for TKL appliance IMO as it is Linux only and doesn't have any GUI (commandline only).
  • Unison - Interesting take on the scenario. Cross platform, don't know much about it beyond that...
  • Syncany (LaunchPad) - Looks very promising setup but is yet to release anything stable (and to try to release soonish they are currently looking to strip features). Also as it can use just about any external storage, the merits of a TKL Syncany server are limited IMO. Besides this development seems to have stalled. Still probably one to watch.
  • ownCloud (or ownCloud.com) - I think this is the most promising one of the lot! IMO it is a true open source contender to DropBox. They are looking to release their commercial version this year which will be a direct competitor to Dropbox. It is still lacking versioning and recovery (of deleted files) but it looks like its a planned feature. The best feature IMO is the Web interface (demo here). This makes it the best contender for a TKL appliance IMO. And having said all that I think I will do a patch for it soon and have a play...! :)
Chris Musty's picture

Own Cloud is the way to go

When I created the blueprint I had owncloud in mind but it certainly wasn't a finished product then.

The final turnkey image will also need a desktop/portable client to manage the synching to the server, much like dropbox has today but as mentioned its the ultimate control that we are all after.

Dropbox give you a 2 Gb account for free but also state they can delete that account without a moments notice. Personally I use the 100Gb paid account and it is absolutely fantastic. I never worry about data between my home, office, laptop, tablet and phones - its all there but especially important is knowing if I delete a file or modify one I can restore a previous version.

The above points will need to be rock solid before I will attempt any switch.

Wonder what the trade offs will be between the commercial version and the free version...

Chris Musty


Specialised Technologies

Chris Musty's picture

Tried Unison

I just saw Unison on your list.

I have tried it for a client a while ago and found it works ok but is hard for the average joe to setup and or manage so I scrapped it. It was based on CAML programming language and maintained by some university (cant rememeber) with as far as I could tell at the time infrequent versioning and bug fixes.

Chris Musty


Specialised Technologies

Jeremy Davis's picture

Thanks for your feedback Chris

Yes I think ownCloud is the one. Once they have versioning included then it could be a 'Dropbox killer' (in my world anyway).

As I said above, I might make a patch for it sometime soon anyway and have a bit of a play. It seems like it's under heavy development and they have a clear release schedule so it's definately promising.

Monte Milanuk's picture

Just wanted to chime in...

Just wanted to chime in... its something I think would be very *very* useful for a lot of people.  Good luck with this one guys, and let the rest of us know when you have something ready!




Jeremy Davis's picture

Just bashed together a quick patch of ownCloud

Have a look here. It is pretty much untested and undocumented at this point, but hopefully I'll get back to it soon.

Jason Lehman's picture

I'm signing up to follow this thread...

This is a great idea. Can't wait to hear how you progress. I will help try it out & provide feedback, once it is a little further. I to would like to see a standalone client, before I start messing around with it.


Jason Lehman's picture

Looks like the OpenSuse team is working on this to...

Just wanted to share something I just found. OpenSuse has a OwnCloud virtual appliance project http://susestudio.com/a/TadMax/owncloud-in-a-box available now. They are also working on a client called Mirall. Mirall, is still in its early beta stages & is limited to which platforms it supports. For me, we will need to have a client that will run on Linux (me), & Windows. Mac/iOS would be nice, but at this time; not needed. Not sure if this will help you get TurnKey OwnCloud going, but its the first news I've read about a client for OwnCloud.




Jeremy Davis's picture

Thanks Jason

I too have read about Mirall but am yet to try it. I have spoken to others on the ownCloud forums and whilst it's still not a tidy solution, a little script for Linux was suggested to me. The main reason why I haven't followed up on this further is because of the lack of GUI client - not that it's a biggie for me personally, just that as far as I'm concerned, the value of a TKL ownCloud server is greatly reduced without a user-friendly GUI client.

As for OpenSUSE, AFAIK they are (at least somewhat) sponsoring development of ownCloud. Relatively recently one of the OpenSUSE devs left OpenSUSE to work with ownCloud full time so there seems to be a bit of cross-polination going on there...

Anyway I still think that ownCloud is our best bet at this point for a 'Dropbox-like' TKL fileserver so we'll just have to hope and wait. It'd be awesome if they get it together soon. We'll see what happens with the next TKL release, but maybe ownCloud will make it in and then we'll just have to wait on the client...

Landis Arnold's picture

DropBox is Practical...

I would love to have some "secure" and "remote" file sharing.  Perhaps FileServer or Domain Controller do this, but my experience is I only really run these behind a firewall.

Dropbox, by the way, also integrates with Android and IOS so the bar might be a bit higher.

Jeremy Davis's picture

There is already an ownCloud Android client

And plenty of options for desktop syncing, but I haven't tried any of them. I think it has promise but not quite ready yet. It is under heavy development though...

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