Synchronize local directories with Tahoe-LAFS storage grids.
Gridsync aims to provide a cross-platform, graphical user interface for Tahoe-LAFS, the Least Authority File Store. It is intended to simplify the Tahoe-LAFS installation and configuration process and ultimately provide user-friendly mechanisms for common use-cases like backing up local files, synchronizing directories between devices, and sharing files and folders with other users across all major desktop platforms (GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows). More broadly, Gridsync aims to duplicate most of the core functionality provided by other, proprietary “cloud” backup and synchronization services and utilities (such as Dropbox and BitTorrent Sync) but without demanding any sacrifice of the user’s privacy or freedom – and without requiring usage or knowledge of the command line. Accordingly, Gridsync is developed with the goal in mind of making secure cloud storage freely available to everyone, without exception, without added barriers, and regardless of one’s operating system choice.
Tahoe-LAFS already provides a number of highly desirable properties for secure file-storage: in addition to offering client-side encryption, it is decentralized, robust, free (as in both beer and speech), stable and mature, and written by a group of very talented developers. Unfortunately – and despite all of its technical merits – Tahoe-LAFS has a number of persistent usability issues which steepen its learning curve: its installation requires manual compilation from source on Windows and macOS, its configuration consists in hand-editing text files, its primary interface requires heavy command line usage, and many of its fundamental concepts (e.g., “dircap”, “shares”, “servers-of-happiness”) are opaque to new users or otherwise demand additional reading of the project’s extensive documentation. Accordingly, Tahoe-LAFS’ userbase consists primarily in seasoned developers and system administrators; non-technical users are naturally excluded from enjoying Tahoe-LAFS’s aforementioned advantages.
The Gridsync project intends to overcome some of Tahoe-LAFS’s usability barriers by means of following features:
- “Batteries included” packaging – Gridsync bundles will include Tahoe-LAFS and all required dependencies for a frictionless installation experience; no python installation or manual compilation is required.
- A graphical user interface for managing primary Tahoe-LAFS functionality (e.g., starting, stopping, configuring gateways) – the user will never have to edit a text file by hand or touch the command line.
- “Native” look and feel – Gridsync uses the Qt application framework, emulating native widgets on all target platforms; the user can expect Gridsync to behave like any other desktop application.
- Automated bi-directional file synchronization – Gridsync will monitor local and remote directories, seamlessly storing or retrieving new versions of files as they appear (using Tahoe-LAFS’ “Magic Folder” feature [*] ).
- Status indicators and desktop notifications – the user will know, at a glance, when folders are being synchronized (via system tray icon animations) and will receive notifications when such operations have completed.
- Easy sharing – Gridsync uses the magic-wormhole library to provide human-pronounceable “invite codes” for joining storage grids and sharing folders with other users.
- Simple recovery – Gridsync’s “Recovery Key” subsystem allows connections and folders to be easily restored from a single file in the event of a disaster.
|[*]||Tahoe-LAFS’ “Magic Folder” functionality is not (yet) fully supported on macOS or other BSD-based operating systems and is presently marked as experimental.|
Installation and running:
Downloads for “stable” releases of Gridsync can be found on the project’s GitHub Releases page and include pre-built/binary distrubitions for all three major desktop platforms. Users wishing to install these packages are strongly urged to verify their signatures before running and should additionally take into consideration the fact that these packages are presently compiled by third-party services (namely Travis-CI and AppVeyor). As a result – and until reproducible builds have been fully implemented – some users may wish instead to build or install Gridsync manually from source (see below).
To install and run Gridsync on GNU/Linux (tested on Debian 8 and Fedora 23; 64-bit only):
- Download Gridsync-Linux.tar.gz (and verify its signature)
- Extract the enclosed “Gridsync” directory anywhere (tar xvf Gridsync-Linux.tar.gz)
- Run the contained gridsync binary
To install and run Gridsync on macOS (OS X 10.10 and later) [†] :
- Download Gridsync-Mac.dmg (and verify its signature)
- Drag the enclosed “Gridsync.app” bundle anywhere (e.g., ~/Applications)
- Double-click Gridsync.app
To install and run Gridsync on Windows (tested on Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10):
- Download Gridsync-Windows.zip (and verify its signature)
- Extract the enclosed “Gridsync” folder anywhere
- Run the contained Gridsync.exe binary
|[†]||macOS users may need to explicitly allow third-party apps in order to use Gridsync (“System Preferences” -> “Security & Privacy” -> “General” -> “Allow apps downloaded from:” -> “Anywhere”).|
Because Tahoe-LAFS has not yet been ported to python3, and because some GNU/Linux distributions might contain especially old packages for some dependencies (including Tahoe-LAFS and Qt5), it is recommended to install and run Tahoe-LAFS and Gridsync inside their own virtual environments using updated dependencies from PyPI (ideally with hashes verified). Installing and running Gridsync with python3.5 (instead of python2) furthermore avoids having to install Qt5/PyQt5 manually (since PyQt5 wheels containing Qt5 are available on PyPI for python 3.5+ only).
The following series of steps (run from the top level of the Gridsync source tree) should work on Debian-based GNU/Linux distributions:
sudo apt-get install virtualenv build-essential python-dev libssl-dev libffi-dev python3.5-dev virtualenv --python=python2 ./venv2 ./venv2/bin/pip install --upgrade setuptools pip ./venv2/bin/pip install tahoe-lafs virtualenv --python=python3.5 ./venv3 ./venv3/bin/pip install --upgrade setuptools pip ./venv3/bin/pip install -r requirements/requirements-hashes.txt ./venv3/bin/pip install . PATH=$PATH:./venv2/bin ./venv3/bin/gridsync
Users of other distributions and operating systems should modify the above steps as required (for example, by installing Xcode on macOS in addition to python – or the dependencies listed at the top of make.bat in the case of Windows).
Unsigned binary distributions (currently tracking the master branch) are also available from the project buildbot’s “artifacts” directory. These packages, however, should not be considered trustworthy or reliable in any way and are made available only for testing purposes by developers. Please excercise appropriate caution when using these files (ideally by downloading and running them inside a disposable virtual machine).
Known issues and limitations:
While Gridsync ultimately aims to provide an easy-to-use frontend for users of Tahoe-LAFS, at present, its interface only supports a very limited subset of Tahoe-LAFS’s underlying features and potential use-cases (namely, it provides simplified means for joining storage grids, creating and removing personal “magic-folders,” and receiving status updates and notifications pertaining to those processes as they occur). Accordingly, users should not (yet) expect Gridsync to provide a complete backup solution or to serve as a stand-in replacement for other tools with robust sharing and collaboration capabilities.
In addition, it should be noted that Tahoe-LAFS’s “magic-folder” functionality itself is currently considered “experimental” and has a number of known issues and bugs that users should be aware of. For example, on macOS, magic-folders currently do not preserve metadata (such as file modification times), will often overwrite local file permissions, and have been known to create duplicate copies of local files. A more complete listing of upstream issues relating to Tahoe-LAFS’s magic-folders can be found on the official Tahoe-LAFS project website.
Contributions of any sort (e.g., suggestions, criticisms, bug reports, pull requests) are welcome. Any persons interested in aiding the development of Gridsync are encouraged to do so by opening a GitHub Issue or by contacting its primary developer: email@example.com
Copyright (C) 2015-2018 Christopher R. Wood
This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.
You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.
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