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Messages - SamK

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...if anyone could contribute doing it, we will be very glad to integrate it :)
Have a look here for information which will hopefully be sufficient for integration.

Installation and Upgrades / Zentyal Desktop Link to Shares
« on: October 27, 2010, 02:48:12 pm »
Topic arose from reply #2, #3, #4 in this post:

It seems there is an opportunity here to provide flexibility and choice in the way Zentyal Desktop handles Samba shares (and do it quite simply).  As a non coder I am unable to provide a coded contribution but offer the findings of my tests which are repeatable and clearly demonstrate a workable proof of concept.  They can be recreated by anyone who wishes to do so.

After making the above post I created a test setup.  Unrestricted Samba shares were published to the LAN and a test-rig-PC created based on Lubuntu 10.10.  PAM was not used in order to avoid uneccessary complication at this time as it will be unchanged by either of the following choices.

Connection to the remote shares from the test-rig-PC appears to rely on a local installation of gvfs and gvfs-backends (Ubuntu repositories).  These are required packages common to both the Nautilus and PCmanFM ways of graphically browsing the shares.  GVFS creates local mounts to the remote shares in ~/.gvfs; this can be accessed from the command line, Nautilus, and PCmanFM which suggests that the use of Nautilus within Zentyal Desktop is optional rather than required.  In essence, discovering, mounting, and presenting the shares uses exactly the same packages and mechanisms for either Nautilus or PCmanFM. In this respect, removing Nautilus and substituting PCmanFM requires no other changes, they are entirely interchangable without modification.

Symlinks to ~/.gvfs were also tested and found work.  This enables easy access to the shares from the File Open/Save menus of locally installed apps such as a word processor.  As a further (optional) refinement Gigolo was installed ( again from the Ubuntu repositories. This provides a GUI frontend to GVFS and confers other benefits such as:
  • Bookmarks to remote resources
  • Automatic connection to Samba shares
  • Automatic connection to WebDAV, ftp, ssh etc

Empirical or partially measured tests were conducted and both options worked reliably.  Using Nautilus felt sluggish compared with PCmanFM. Nautilus certainly requires more CPU and RAM and may thereby be unsuited to the widest range of existing PCs. A fully working Lubuntu-10.10+gvfs+gvfs-backends+gigolo provided quite acceptable levels of performance on the venerable test-rig-PC and used approximately 100MB memory for a basic set-up.  This may indicate it is well suited to use on a wide range of existing kit.

LXDE is the default desktop of Lubuntu and PCmanFM the default file-manager but neither is dependent on it or each other.  Both are widely used in other flavours of Ubuntu and you may recall I posted this guide demonstrating a way in which it could be added to eBox.
It is entirely possible for an existing desktop user of the full (Gnome) Ubuntu to choose LXDE and or PCmanFM to gain the advantage of smaller resource usage and increase in performance.

My request is not to support another distribution or flavour of Ubuntu but to enable use of mainstream Ubuntu packages in order to confer the most advantage to the end user.  The above tests demonstrate this can be achieved at no additional support cost and marginal single coding cost.  As a non-coder I may not be the best candidate to make suggestions on how to undertake integration.  As both options are interchangable it suggests that only a minimal amount of coding will be required to offer the choice at installation.

From the perspective of a desktop user, Zentyal Office functions are likely to be a primary requirement.  Confining the ease of set-up of a *buntu desktop by requiring Nautilus is uneccessarily restrictive, produces degraded performance and hinders the redeployment of existing PCs.  As we are only at the alpha testing stage and inviting feedback, it seems that the desktop client can be independant of the default Gnome file-manager.  This in turn provides an opportunity for Zentyal Desktop to be used on a wider range of existing machines which must help secure the use and success of Zentyal.

Are these findings sufficent for integration to occur?

Lubuntu 10.10 mistakenly omitted gvfs-backends from the release and must currently be installed manually.  I understand this will be rectified in the next release.

...we've been working on Zentyal Desktop and we're now glad to announce the availability of the first alpha version!

Please note that this is still alpha software (it's the first version indeed)...

Your help in testing it, giving us feedback, or even sending patches fixing stuff ;) would be really really appreciated.
Hi J. A. Calvo
It is good to see the desktop-client is being reborn.

The documentation indicates that Nautilus is the only means of providing links to Samba shares.  This is quite restrictive.  Nautilius is not suited to all Ubuntu installations and indeed is not included as a default package in some Ubuntu flavours.

By way of example take Lubuntu:
Quote from: Lubuntu site
lubuntu is a faster, more lightweight and energy saving variant of Ubuntu using LXDE, the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment. The lubuntu team aims to earn official endorsement from Canonical.
Apps such as Nautilus are deemed to be to heavyweight and resource hungry.  Is it possible at this early alpha stage of development to consider a less restrictive policy.  A possibility might be to use the default components already provided in Lubuntu 10.10 the file-manager PCmanFM (part of LXDE) and GVFS.  This currently provides automatic location and mounting of remote shares in the user home directory.

Lubuntu is very close to becoming an officially recognized Ubuntu derivative, having been established a couple years ago at the direct invitation of Mark Shuttleworth (founder of Canonical), it is here to stay.  I request that Zentyal-Desktop be compatible with it and its philosophy.

News and Announcements / Re: Zentyal 2.0 released!
« on: September 01, 2010, 02:29:29 pm »
With my first Zentyal post I wish you continued success.

Installation and Upgrades / Re: Groupware server for eBox
« on: August 29, 2010, 08:56:05 am »
I, on the other hand...
All just my own 2 cents, of course.
Good cogent stuff as usual, Sam.

I have never needed or used the groupware functions provided by eBox. I interpreted the view of Oceanwatcher I mentioned as widening the discussion on thread title of "Groupware server for eBox". If this is not the case the comments are perhaps wandering off topic and may be better moved to a different thread.

There was a time when I also required deployments to be as bullet-proof as you describe. This is no longer the case and lower levels of certainty have become acceptable. Responding to the question from J. A. Calvo from this perspective was meant to indicate that alternatives to a chain of eBoxes (Zentyals?) can be a valid and appropriate choice depending upon the requirements of the site in question.  Perhaps the point should have more clearly expressed to indicate that it was not a question of relative merits but an illustration of some of the reasons that might underpin a choice.

I also have been unable to investigate/test the forthcoming release; hopefully this will change soon but unfortunately not before the release date.

As we don't use cents in Great Britain would you accept 2 new pence?

Installation and Upgrades / Re: Groupware server for eBox
« on: August 28, 2010, 05:39:46 pm »
In my book, those two things can not exist on the same physical system. So I have never used eBox/Zentyal as a gateway or router. I prefer other, dedicated, systems for that.

Zentyal is completely modular, what's the problem in having two Zentyal machines, one as office server and another as a gateway?
My view is similar to that expressed by Oceanwatcher
Quote from: Oceanwatcher
What is Zentyal? From what I have seen so far, the focus is supposed to be on "Small business server", but lately there has been a lot about Zentyal as a router and firewall.
This will see it being used in the Small-Medium-Enterprize (SME), Small-Office-Home-Office (SOHO), and also I suggest as a family server (FS) in a purely domestic environment.

In many of these cases Zentyal will not be introduced to a green field site. Each location is likely to have an existing internet connection and a range of hardware.  High on the list of requirements is normally a demand to minimize capital outlay (redeployment of equipment) and running costs (energy consumption, subscriptions etc).

Internet Connectivity is often provided via multi-function broadband routers which are commonplace and inexpensive in a Windows environment.
Commonly provided functions include:
  • Remote management
  • IP address allocation
  • Status monitoring and reporting
  • Device backup
  • Regular firmware upgrades
  • Quality of Service
  • NAT
  • Firewall
  • Access control/Filtering
  • Dynamic DNS
  • Port Forwarding
  • Demilitarized Zone
  • Wireless/Wired connections
  • Integrated high speed switches
These devices also consume less power than a dedicated server machine. They are usually physically smaller than a server machine and therefore easy to accommodate. An existing Windows site is likely to have a suitable device which is adequately fulfilling the needs of the user/organization. Additionally it is already known how to manage the device and therefore the learning curve of a replacement Zentyal box is eliminated. Combine with this a history of device reliability (otherwise the device would have been abandoned) and the exposure to non Quality Assured Updates is reduced with a consequent reduction in recurrent costs.

News and Announcements / Re: Zentyal 2.0-rc1 released!
« on: August 27, 2010, 09:48:48 am »
I also think that you should keep up the work on the Zentyal desktop client that automatically configures a workstation for LDAP authentication against Zentyal.


Don't worry, we will work on that for sure after the 2.0 release.

Just thought this may be an opportune time to refresh my longstanding request for the ebox-desktop module to not be specifically tied to an Ubuntu distro. From my perspective it will be ideal if it can be made to work out-of-the-box on the widest range of Linux clients. 

Perhaps it might be possible to also include a section in the forthcoming docs/manual that covers in detail: 
  • The client requirements
  • The way in which it is constructed
  • How it operates.
In turn this might then be extended by users contributing actual working examples of clients which work in a variety of of operating systems to augment the range  provided by default.

Installation and Upgrades / Re: Fresh install of eBox 1.5-1 ISO
« on: August 09, 2010, 12:30:16 pm »
vi is installed if nobody noticed.

Does not help me much :-) And the fact that nano is missing makes me wonder where the Ubuntu Server packages comes from? As nano is standard on Ubuntu Server!
I'm with you on this one - nano is available in previous versions of eBox and life is way too short to learn vi.

The style and content of your opening post is clear, informative and genuinely helpful - more of the same.

Apologies; I really had no intention of hijacking your thread.

For sure, we are going to inform the community about any issue with the software, as we always have done. Talking specifically about software updates, I don't know how exactly though. It might be using a kind of table, as you suggest, or just with a post/announce.
It is reassuring to learn that a mechanism will be introduced and that you are considering the most appropriate way to do it.

A few refinements of my previous suggestion...

The published information is to become a single point of reference which is easily searched.  It may be preferable to publish the list rather than display it within eBox to cater for cases where the server is no longer responding.

The table to be set up in a new area in the forum and be editable by eBox staff only.  This way it will become an official statement, uncluttered by opinion.  User postings and feedback will continue to use the existing forum areas.

The benefit of documenting incompatible updates is that the list will (hopefully) be a short one.  It also allows for targeted guidance to be issued indicating to how to prevent installation or re-install a previous version. However, this approach may lead a user to make a spurious assumption that it is safe to install anything which is not on the list.  Perhaps the opposite approach may be preferred, where only known good updates are listed. In turn this will correlate directly with the software available in the private eBox repositories.

The published list will need to be kept up to date in order to achieve optimal effectiveness.  If the known good software list is used, it will be possible to automate the synchronization of the eBox private repository directly to the published list.  Anything which reduces effort is welcome.  The known good list will also introduce more certainty into update process but at the expense of targeted preventative/corrective guidance.

Thanks for the clarification, javivazquez it is helpful. 

I would like to offer a suggestion that appears to fit with your business model, assist those non-subscription clients without prejudicing subscribing-clients, and attract an almost zero cost.

for users who pay for subscriptions, we already have a private (eBox) repository with quality assured updates.
The support directly from eBox staff in the community forum will remain as it's today, say, when our staff have time enough to help, without any SLA or warranty.
I hope everything is clear, but let me know if you have any further doubts. Thanks.

If I understand correctly, ebox staff currently test the compatibility of software before it is placed in the private eBox repository.  In this respect they are acting as type of filter; identifying and  preventing the issue of incompatible software in order to ensure high server availability, at minimum effort for subscribing clients.

At the point at which an incompatible upgrade is identified it is then possible to advise the wider community.  This might be achieved via a single table in the forum which simply lists for each incompatibility:
  • Package name
  • Nature of the issue
  • Actions to be taken to prevent the upgrade or how to downgrade
  • Date the incompatibility is resolved

This approach appears to have several benefits:
  • Subscribing clients are not prejudiced as QA means manual intervention is not required to ensure incompatible updates are not applied. The reason for using QA is therefore not diminished.
  • Incompatible updates are now being identified.  The additional cost is therefore only the time it takes to update the suggested single table in the forum.
  • Publishing the table will give non-subscribing clients the opportunity to take preventative/corrective action, thereby reducing the number of support requests.  The major difference here is that all actions must be conducted manually by each non-subscribing client.
  • Publishing the table will assist the community to become more self supporting with a consequent reduction in the need for support directly from eBox staff.
  • The reputation and image of eBox the company will be enhanced as these actions will further demonstrate eBox's commitment to its entire community of users.

All-in-all, is seems that there is an opportunity for a win-win position here.

* To guarantee that the software is up to date and the system is secure.
We understand this is mandatory, what every client should require. Via QA updates, we grant clients access to the latest tested updates directly from our repository, without any risk.
Obviously, when some related-to-eBox package in Ubuntu is updated, Canonical doesn't check whether the update breaks eBox, so the subscription is the only real safe way to keep your system up and safe.
I'm unclear about the implications of QA updates; would you explain further please.
  • Does this mean that in future the only way to obtain updates to eBox modules is by using the QA route?
  • Will non subscription users of eBox have access to updates only from the Ubuntu repositories?
  • If subscribed users have different updates to non subscribed users does this imply that support via the forums direct from eBox staff will be lost?

Installation and Upgrades / Re: Create RAID and/or use RSync
« on: May 13, 2010, 09:52:39 am »
Anyway, I've built a system to have a play around with, containing 2 x WD 160GB hard drives. I can configure a hardware RAID-1 using the on-board controller, but wondered if I could create a software RAID?

This thread contains information and links which will help get you started:

Hey SamK, there are some quotes of me from you in this thread with my name in them, would you mind cleaning those up so it's just my username please?

Happy to oblige.  It's a long thread containing quite a few instances of your name, I hope I got them all.

Installation and Upgrades / Re: ebox desktop on lucid
« on: May 03, 2010, 10:43:51 am »
guys now that lucid has been released. anyone has tried on install ebox desktop onto it and managed to get it working without any hiccups? thanks

I have not tried with 10.04 but it is certainly not working with 9.10.

J.A.Calvo supplied some information here about ebox-desktop for 10.04.

It will really strengthen eBox when ebox-desktop progresses from its proof-of-concept status to one of fully developed and supported, particularly if it then works with file-managers other than Nautilus.

I have long held the view that ebox-desktop is potentially a 'killer-app' for the eBox project, especially if it can be made agnostic of the Linux desktop environment.

Installation and Upgrades / Re: Machine wont boot
« on: April 30, 2010, 10:01:29 am »
This appears to be a question of how to diagnose a PC problem rather than a problem with eBox.

The following sites provide bootable CD-ROMs containing tools which might help.

If the machine boots using either of these there may be a good chance of retuning it to normal operation.

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