Plasma, online accounts and sync: what is true

My previous post, as many have quickly realized, was an April Fool’s joke, sorry. But it will not be entirely false: the only sure thing is that something as complex won’t be released for the 5.7. And what makes it so complex is the involvement of the login manager (SDDM). In fact, as many pointed out around the web, there would be security risks. After all it wanted to be a joke.
By the way the integration with Internet services and sync of user’s data was and is a topic discussed in Plasma. Today, because ofย this joke, we at VDG discussed about this feature. Here there are some conclusions/ideas:

  • there are many protocols to sync personal data like contacts, calendars etc (cardDAV, calDAV);
  • most of the providers support those protocols (Kolab, ownCloud);
  • we need a way to keep synced specific config files for Plasma, KDE Applications and other apps/things;
  • when the sync start, it copies the files and tells to the apps that manage accounts (Kontact, Telepathy etc) the credentials of the accounts to connect to;
  • specify before the sync which folders in user’s home have to be synced (Documents, Images, Downloads etc);
  • find a place to store all these data: ownCloud, KDE Connect or other?
  • an user hasn’t to use all ownCloud apps that store personal data: if he wanted to use a cardDAV (contacts) resource provided for example by his Kolab installation he can and what would be store in ownCloud is “the user set [address-by-Kolab] as cardDAV resource in Kontact”
An example of wizard to be listed in System Settings > Online Accounts
An example of wizard to be listed in System Settings > Online Accounts

The sync with an ownCloud installation means that you have it running on a server and with a “Plasma Sync” ownCloud app installed. The sync with KDE Connect means that data are exchanged between two running devices with Plasma (laptop, desktop PC) or stored in device like Android smartphone. Both have obvious advantages and disadvantages, and the best would be to use both, depending on availability.

Maybe this could work also if you login as guest in someone’s PC.

From an UI/UX point of view, a wizard like the one in the mock-up above could be listed in System Settings > Online Accounts and when the sync finish you have everything set up, eventually including other services in Online Accounts. It could be included in the distribution installer (i.e. Calamares) to set up everything before the first login and/or show a popup in the sys tray to inform that “Plasma Sync” feature is available.

That’s all for now… about the login’s joke, sorry, but if it were obvious it wouldn’t be a joke ๐Ÿ™‚ and anyway what it had to raise suspicion was the fact I mentioned it as a Plasma feature and then posted a mock-up of the login manager (SDDM) that isn’t part of Plasma… Next year just check the mailing list: here we are always talking about FOSS software, not proprietary one which let companies make big pranks at April 1st ๐Ÿ˜‰ the mailing lists in general aren’t so scary places: you can follow discussions, stay updated and learn how the software you love becomes better.

Ciao!

Comments (Markdown supported):

  1. Alex Elsayed

    Another option worth noting is using Syncthing to sync such files (https://syncthing.net/) – or even a Qt reimplementation of its protocol, which is entirely open.

    It does not require any central server, has an open spec for the protocol, the reference client has been ported to almost everything under the sun…

    In addition, unlike KDE Connect, it works (securely, no less) over the public internet, not just a LAN.

  2. Pingback: Plasma, online accounts and sync: what is true http://www.alexl.net… | Roy Schestowitz - API Key Placeholder

  3. Johannes

    OTOH getting some sort of login provider functionality (i.e. LDAP + Kerberos) into ownCloud would be awesome. Yes I’m aware it’s not ownCloud job to handle this, but let me keep dreaming.

  4. Tuukka

    I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not because you didn’t go all the way: why not allow login with a Facebook account? ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. eliasp

    I don’t like the concept of syncing whole files – this will create rather messy situations with sync conflicts.
    I’d rather see a syncable (probably simply using git to ensure the change graph’s integrity would be the most straightforward solution) key/value store implemented as kconfig backend where each atomic configuration change is synced.

  6. MayeulC

    What could also be great would be a way to sync your settings with your phone (store the plasma settings in your phone with KDE connect). Then, you just “log in to your phone”. This could solve some bandwidth issues.
    One could also imagine the same with a simple USB stick, which would be equally awesome, and simpler to implement, IMO.

    But I don’t see any technical barriers to a feature such as the one described, just some implementation details that need to be sorted out (and, with that, of course, a lot of manpower to implement it, which is the biggest issue I see).

  7. Markus S.

    The only insecure aspect of logging in via a web-based account is ownCloud: http://www.cvedetails.com/vendor/11929/Owncloud.html

    Both OSX and Windows do this optionally since some time with no major problems. Therefore this April Fool clarification is a bit of a let down.

    1. What exactly is the advantage of online login over a “login as guest and then sync all the things”?

  8. Rog

    What I would love to see is not Owncloud syncing locally, but an online integration allowing Dolphin to browse the server, linking into the indexed search db and metadata. I’ll now be using Owncloud’s tagging and comments extensively, and it would be great to expose these through Dolphin, and to search quickly by querying the Owncloud index.

    1. Mounting ownCloud through webDAV in Dolphin partially do this, you know it, right?

      1. Rog

        I know that the WebDAV connection allows me to browse the folder structure, but does it expose the metadata, or allow fast searches of that metadata?

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