Syncthing, the New Contender To Sync Folders

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Dropbox is not alone anymore to offer services related to syncing files and folders between computers. I had already covered BitTorrentSync a while ago, which was a good alternative as well for the Pandora since ARM builds were available. But both Dropbox and BitTorrentSync suffer from the same problem: they are not Open Source and therefore their security remains opaque to say the least. SyncThing is however Free Software, and simple to use as well. Let’s see how to get it working on Pandora.

First you should get the Syncthing PND from the repo (or through PNDManager) and put it on one of your SD Cards in the appropriate location.

Note that in my case Syncthing refused to work on a FAT32 SD Card. Once I used an ext2 card it worked just fine so bear that in mind.

The setup is quite simple. Since you want to sync your files with another computer, you need to have syncthing set up on the other machine as well. You can get go on the github page of the project to get such files. In my case I used a Linux PC together with the syncthing amd64 executable. After extracting the archive you can get a file you can launch (a double click will do) and it should open your browser on the http://127.0.0.1:8080/ page. This page uses a web interface to control the software, just like BitTorrentSync. The only difference being that this interface is responsive and therefore works great on any kind of screen, including the Pandora’s.

On the Pandora launching the PND will open a terminal window which will start a number of tasks. The first launch may take a while since it sets some cryptographic keys up, but worry not, subsequent launches will be faster. Once Syncthing is started, you should open the browser of your choice on Pandora and point it to http://127.0.0.1:8080/ as well. You might as well bookmark this address, by the way.

In the web interface you need to set things up a bit. First, you need to specify the ID of each computer you want to include in your circle. On the Pandora, you click on the settings icon on the top right hand corner and select “Show ID”.

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It will show a long list of letters and numbers along with a QR code.

Next, you add the Pandora node to your other computer. On the other computer, hit the “Add Device” button in the web interface and enter the Pandora ID you saw in step 1. Yup, it may be long but that’s an integral part of the security of the system.

Screenshot from 2015-01-04 01:39:08

On the other computer, do the same thing as before: “Show ID”, and enter that ID code on your Pandora by hitting “Add Device”.

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Now both of your devices are technically connected and ready for sharing. But you need to start sharing something.

On your Pandora, hit “Add folder”: you will need to specify a folder codename. Note that this is not the same thing as the actual folder name – this folder codename is just an alias that will be shared between devices, and it is case-sensitive. You have to indicate the actual folder path that your alias points to.

On your other computer, do the same thing. “Add folder” and give the exact same name to the alias to enable the synchronization. You need to specify another folder path here that will be local to that computer.

Screenshot from 2015-01-04 01:26:32

Now if everything went fine, you ended up with two folders on separate machines which are kept synchronized as long as both of these machines are connected to the Internet at the same time. Note that the sync process updates itself about once very minute or so (you can change the rescan internal, but it will use more CPU cycles) so it may take a short time before you see the data transferring.

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I have just used Syncthing to write this document on my Pandora and transfer it to my laptop PC to publish it on PandoraLive. Worked perfectly.

Another great thing with Syncthing: the software updates itself automatically so you do not need to do anything to get the latest version of this sync tool.

As for now, this tool has replaced Dropbox and BitTorrentSync for me. I’d recommend you try it as well and see for yourself it does what you want it to do ! If anything, for your files & folders, a Free Software alternative should always be prioritized.

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3 Comments on "Syncthing, the New Contender To Sync Folders"

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ajs124
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Glad it works for you, I really like it, too.
While the included updater mostly works, I’d still like to keep the pnd updated, but can’t at the moment.