Re: Online Desktop, Tomboy, and user storage

Hi Guys

I'm one of the Conduit developers and I'd just like to get your feelings
on where Conduit and/or OpenSync fit in to this.

I understand that you guys are heading the charge on this, but especially
wanted to draw your attention to Conduit. We are one of a handful of
projects that have been already working with 'online desktop' goals in
mind. It would be a shame if we couldn't work together when we have the
same, or very similar, goals.

So the purpose of my writing is to share our vision. I want to see how it
compliments what you are trying to achieve and find out how we can best
work together (and not end up duplicating our efforts!).

Here is the state of Conduit for those of you not familiar with our work.

For the Tomboy users... Conduit is currently able to sync your notes to an
iPod, Evolution Memos or to Oh, and to any folder that
GnomeVFS can see. Local, SSH or otherwise. I've not tried it myself, but
it looks like you can also sync notes to

For those braver than average, running from SVN trunk gives you the
ability (with some luck!) to sync your notes, contacts, and soon any type
of data, to other Conduit instances over the network using a simple
XML-RPC protocol with avahi discovery. (There is a low res video of laptop
to laptop tomboy and evolution sync on my blog @

Ongoing work will see (or was originally designed to see) a "Conduit
Server" emerge that you can run on a spare machine or, like me, you'll
install it on your VPS/VM box. As your notes are synced from Tomboy on
your laptop to the server they can be pushed out to other machines
connected to the server. The server can use multiple plugins for storage -
it could be flat files, it could be a database, it could be Google's
BigTable. It's storing using the same plugins as normal Conduit - so the
server could really be just passing everything back to!!

The Conduit Server was then to lead on to a Django, TurboGears or
otherwise Python based web app for viewing (and editing) your data online.
Hosting it was a problem for us but we were hoping to get interest from
the distros on that front. Also, as quite a small python app it would have
been (hopefully) VPS friendly. This is pretty much defunct with, though I don't think I could run my own personal "gnome
online" on my VPS :))

We would like to see Conduit on other platforms - so you can sync the
notes using your Mac, ******* PC, or even your N800. (A native N800 port
is likely to be the first of these).

We are working with OpenSync devs to allow their plugins to work in
Conduit, and eventually the use of their sync engine if desired. This will
bring support for more devices (which is outside the scope of Online
Desktop discussions, but worth mentioning). This includes the possibility
of over-the-air phone sync...

We aren't a sync GUI, we are a sync platform. Our dbus service provides
sync for the whole desktop. An example, our API allows tomboy the option
of syncing without involving the Conduit GUI at all. Tomboy can discover
which targets are compatible with its "Note" datatype, create a group for
that and sync. Similarly one click photo upload to
Flickr,Picasa,Smugmug,iPod using eog is also in progress.

As a project, I think we are good citizens. We have a history of working
with other teams to enable sync. That includes bug reports and patches to
Tomboy, patches to libgpod and even patches to SynCE. We maintain the
python bindings for evolution, which we hope to eventually move upstream.

If it's important to you to know how deployed we are, I know Conduit to be
present in Foresight, Debian unstable, Ubuntu Universe (Gutsy) and Fedora
Extras. Not really sure about the others... We are also working with one
distro to enable Conduit "out of the box" in their next major release.

So that's Conduit from a (mostly) notes perspective.

In the online desktop climate, where do we fit in?

* We can provide sync logic and conflict resolution. Intelligent client,
server (or client for server) just needs a storage API.

* We can provide "Dataproviders" for services (and it
should be a lot easier than Flickr and its frobs and tokens!).

* Apps like Cheese can use our one-way sync api to push images to Flickr,
and get and other web services for free.

I saw this in another e-mail:

> So it looks like we'll need to duplicate the work here, although

> putting additional pressure on Google to open source it is also a good

> idea.

We have a guy working on bookmark sync for Epiphany, Simply Bookmark and
Delicious to scratch his own itch :)... I don't know how far along he is
though. An backend would be quite easy too I imagine...

So what are your thoughts?

Also, could Conduit (at least the dbus part of it) merge in someway with
the ideas of the "Online Desktop Engine"?

Thanks for your time

John Carr

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