The joys of iFolder, and getting a basic user guide

If your a cloud type of person, whatever that means, meaning you like to put stuff online and share then you likely have been using Dropbox like I do. Its a free/paid service that lets you store up to 2GB free (and more if you pay) online. Thats not new, but what it also does it sync with local folders, and allows for you to collaborate on those folders and keep tracks of who is editing what. So its great way to share files with friends that you cant normally do with E-Mail. But What if you dont trust keeping your super secret files on some startups server? What if you need something with more control or more size and have sever power to throw at it. Then iFolder is for you! But with all OSS stuff their is no great end user – user guide around (as in the thing for your customer), but read on as I think I have the solution.

Some background on iFolder and how did i find it, a client came up to me with an unique issue. They have an ongoing legal matter that requires them to share large amounts of pdf’s and scanned documents with their lawyers. I run their private E-Mail server for them so I have them setup with high limits for incoming and outgoing attachments, but most other system admins dont because they dont want to clog up their networks with people sending E-Mails of their cats. Also most 3rd party ISPs and e-mail providers (like gmail) put hard caps between 10mb to 30mb which confuses more things. So they needed a way to put files up on a server, shared with others, be secure, and most importantly be dead simple. In comes iFolder! Now like I said a service like iFolder is Dropbox, but the problem is its not on your server. This is not a issue to most, but for companies and lawyers it scares the hell out of them. Just listen to TwiL and you get the idea. I am not saying Dropbox is unreliable or its ToS is bad, and I bet they have some strong provisions, i mean I use them for my own data, but for a company that already has invested in a server and connection they feel its better if everything is kept local. There is merit to that, as time and time again we have seen cases were groups will send legal notices to ISPs and its a crap shoot if they forward the request to the client or not, so their is a chance that your data might be handed over because of a warrant without you knowledge because it was hosted on someone else server.

So setting up iFolder is not straight forward as Novell who supports the project right now has built it on top of .NET, which seems an odd choice, meaning you need MONO on Linux/OS X to run the iFolder Server (And Client). Also officially Novell only releases the rpm packages (you can get the source) and support only SuSE, but, you can easily get it working on other Linux distros with some work. We use Ubuntu Server which is great, and a great guide on getting iFolder up and running can be found here http://www.x2b4.com/howto/how-to-install-ifolder-on-ubuntu-server/. Also great reading is iFolder Document which has some great tips on how to get going for an Admin, but thats the problem. They are written for a admin to get going. What about the end user? What are you going to give to help them get going?

The iFolder User Guide is great but a lot of useful info is burred under useless stuff, like LADP settings and etc. Really the user does not care about that, he/she needs to get up and running. So for my client I wrote them a End user guide! I used LaTeX to make the document and included two pdf extract from the user guide to help clear things up for the end user. I also took screen shots to include in the pdf and excerpts from the iFolder User Guide as two PDF files.

You can Download the PDF here: iFolder End User Guide

You can download the LaTeX code, photos, and PDF excerpts from iFolder User Guide here: iFolder End User LaTeX Code

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