Re: [Evolution] Funambol, syncing, etc.

Hi Nick!

Excellent email. Thanks for taking the time to provide this kind of
feedback. As the author of SyncEvolution I very much like to hear where
the software or installation needs to be improved. Of course, I was also
glad to hear that it worked for you better than the other methods tried
first and thus was hopefully worth the effort ;-)

Some more specific comments below...

On Sun, 2009-03-15 at 12:09 +1100, Nick Jenkins wrote:
== Experience / Timeline ==
4:58 completed reading a bit more about syncevolution. Ran: "sudo
aptitude install syncevolution". There's no such package in Ubuntu.
Express annoyance about this....

I'll help anyone who wants to package it, but I cannot do that myself.
There is an active intent to package it for Debian, but this is
currently a bit stuck due to lack of time.

Writing up your experience for LWN would be useful to get the attention
of other developers and potential packagers. So far I have focused on
providing information about SyncEvolution on and in my
blog. I prefer word of mouth to get it known elsewhere because that
gives a less biased view of the software.

5:02 Some more googling -
confirms that there are no packages.

That page is out-dated. The setup instructions are way more complicated
than those on
and create an old-style configuration, which is still supported, but
only for backwards compatibility. The config files are now in
~/.config/syncevolution, as suggested by the XDG FreeDesktop standard.

I try not get involved in downstream usage and documentation (there are
too many of those, that would be a loosing battle), but the old
information should be removed and replaced with links to - if
no-one beats me to it or objects, then I'll do that.

I wonder why you didn't find first. It's the first hit for
"syncevolution". Probably you searched for "syncevolution Ubuntu".

== General comments ==

* This is not easy. Any attempt to pretend this is easy is incorrect. My
grandma could not do this. My mother could not do this. Most normal
people will simply not do this many steps. As soon as it requires using
the command line, changing repositories, or anything like that, most
normal people just won't do it.

Agreed. In my opinion the technology is mature enough that it could be
packaged more nicely, but that still needs to be done.

* This is not quick. Any attempt to pretend this is quick is incorrect.
Most people will give up long before spending this much time (58 minutes
in my case) on getting it to work.

It would be interesting to hear from someone who followed the steps
outlined on I hope it would be a lot simpler and faster.
Admittedly that would be without the GUI frontend.

Especially when the other methods are
buggy, it makes you far less inclined to spend the time seeing if yet
another method works, since you start to suspect it's an intractable

Yes. It doesn't help that other projects promise to solve the problem on
their start page and then don't document what really works and how well.

* The main solution to the above 2 problems, so I can't emphasise this
enough: Please please please add Ubuntu packages for syncevolution and
genesis-sync to the standard repositories. From what I understand,
Fedora gets this right, and has packages. If "aptitude install
syncevolution genesis-sync" had worked out-of-the-box, it would have
saved a LOT of time, and made it much easier.

Again, I couldn't agree more.

== Bugs ==

Having said all this, the Funambol method is still a little bit buggy /
incomplete. I particularly notice this with addresses:

* It doesn't seem to sync a contact's "other" address from evolution to
the phone, as far as I can tell. In fact, it managed to delete an
"other" address from one of my evolution contacts, probably after I
modified the contact on the phone, and then the other address that I
previously had in evolution ended up blank. I would personally prefer
that syncing didn't delete my data :-)

Funambol only supports one address in the current release. A few days
ago they announced the features planned for 8.0 and support for a second
address is listed. With ScheduleWorld you shouldn't have had that

In SyncEvolution I currently depend on the server to support all data
that needs to be synchronized. I am aware that not all servers are up to
that yet, so on the command line you get detailed information about what
was changed and you can enable automatic backups to recover if something
didn't go as expected (see the logdir option).

In the future I might also change this so that data that cannot be
stored on the server is at least preserved locally.

* If a contact has a home address in evolution, I sometimes seem to end
up with both a straight "address" on the phone, and a "home
address" (i.e. 2 addresses from 1). Then if I change the "home address",
in evolution, the "home address" on the phone updates, but the "address"
does not. ... but, if I delete the "address" on the phone, then the
"home address" in evolution sometimes also gets deleted. So there's
something odd going on here.

That would require further investigation. I can help with this on the
SyncEvolution side, but at least the first part (Funambol -> phone
duplicates the address) is something that Funambol would have to look

* I have one contact that I edited multiple times on both the phone and
in evolution, and then synced both (i.e. sync computer, sync phone, sync
computer), so that it should all be in sync, but ended up with the
address on the phone and the address on the computer out-of-sync (i.e.
two different street addresses, yet syncing did not update either, and
no warnings at either end about a conflict or being out-of-sync).

Might be related.

It's hard to know where these problems originate from, since there are
so many different bits of software involved, - at least 5 by my count:
Evolution <-> SyncEvolution <-> Genesis <-> Funambol <-> Nokia's sync
software on the phone; and presumably there could be problems at any
stage of that chain.

You can take Genesis out of this, it really is just a GUI and invokes
the normal SyncEvolution binary. Apart from that you are right.
Unfortunately it won't get much easier. Due to combinatorial explosion
there are too many combinations that writing dedicated software for each
of them is not feasible.

Bye, Patrick Ohly
Patrick Ohly gmx de

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