Gnome Conduit – Oh How I Hate to Love You

February 11, 2008

by — Posted in Technology

Gnome Conduit is both one of the greatest utilities Ubuntu and the most incomplete pain in the butt utilities.  To give a quick run down to what it does here is what the project information says:

Conduit is a synchronization solution for GNOME which allows the user to take their emails, files, bookmarks, and any other type of personal information and synchronize that data with another computer, an online service, or even another electronic device.

Conduit manages the synchronization and conversion of data into other formats. For example, conduit allows you to;

  • Synchronize your tomboy notes to a file on a remote computer
  • Synchronize your emails to your mobile phone
  • Synchronize your bookmarks to delicious, gmail, or even your own webserver
  • and many more…

Any combination you can imagine, Conduit will take care of the conversion and synchronization.

Now  we’ll start off with the fact that this isn’t even a 1.0 release so there are bound to be some issues.   Issues is what I’ve had all down long with this thing, even when it’s working properly.   In some ways this should be essentially rsync on crack – and sometimes it is.

Let’s go over the things I’m attempting to do with this utility:

While I did attempt to do this all I did manage to partly get things working.  Let’s go down the list.

I did manage to somewhat get my calenders to sync.   The problem is that it never completes.  It picks a strange percentage point and just stays there grinding away saying it’s syncing.   I do see new items from one side to another so I don’t need to try to work with Evolution’s borked gcal sync (promised to be fixed next version).   I can say syncing from outlook to Gcal was one of the things I missed most migrating to Ubuntu from windows.   Since it never completely finishes I can’t say that this is working as designed.  If it ever does finish I’ll give this function a glowing review.

Syncing RSS items into my calender.   While I can do an overlay in Evolution attaching to a Gcaldaemon server on my network fro this function I want it natively synced by an all inclusive product.   The Gcaldaemon takes an RSS feed, transforms it to an ical format and I can then overlay it on my calender.   This allows me to life cache my rss items in an easy to use interface.   Going through the options it would seem that conduit can do this but it isn’t working.

Syncing pictures from a local folder to flickr, the sync part works but not as specified.   When I configure the local folder it starts to sync with flickr.  I then realize that it’s not syncing with the local folder at all, but the one on that is the parent folder for the one i am targetting.   Essentially I made a “flickr sync” folder in my pictures directory under my home folder.   The flickr sync is working on the pictures folder and not the sub folder I specified.    Ironically syncing from the same folder to Facebook causes the exact same issue.

Syncing directly from flickr to Facebook seems to work at first.   The problem I noticed that it states it’s refreshing and starts to go – but nothing is transferred.   So essentially it’s not allowing third party to third party with my machine playing the man in the middle.   Since the program should work exactly the same I don’t see what the issue is where this couldn’t work, but this functionality doesn’t seem to be completely flushed out.

Now a lot of these problem could stop causing me to pull out my hair if I just read the documentation.   The rub behind this is that the documentation is next to non-existent.   The developers in their infinite wisdon have failed to fully document you the functions and how they work either on the site or in the help file included with the software.

This swiss army knife of a program is more important then I’m sure most people realize since it could be on the next steps to melding the web to the local computers.   All of your mobile devices could be synced automatically all the time by this little program.  Home file back-ups to a remote server?  Synced automatically.  The general populace hasn’t seemed to yet grasp the magic that this program promises.    This could of course be the lack of documentation that I’m complaining about.

This program seems to auto load on start in Hardy Heron which I recently upgraded to.  I think though for it to be truly integrated with the final build when they get to it, that the documentation definitely  needs to be flushed out.  Now I could stay here and complain and be just another joe schmo on the street that gripes about the software.   The greatest thing about open source software though is getting involved.   After I finish this article I’m going to be contacting the project lead via e-mail and see if I can start working on the documentation and help out where I can.

I stand behind this project and think it is fabulous.   It pains me that the bugs I am dealing with cause me undue heartburn.   This is why I hate to love this product.

3 thoughts on “Gnome Conduit – Oh How I Hate to Love You

  1. Nu en masse af disse problemer kunne stoppe forårsager mig til at trække ud af håret, hvis jeg bare læse dokumentationen. Den rub bag dette er, at dokumentationen er ved siden af ikke-eksisterende.

  2. Nu en masse af disse problemer kunne stoppe forårsager mig til at trække ud af håret, hvis jeg bare læse dokumentationen. Den rub bag dette er, at dokumentationen er ved siden af ikke-eksisterende.

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