Pydio is a free cloud solution

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One of the essential tasks for every cloud service is prompt and automatic synchronization of data saved locally and in the cloud. Pydio left me with an ambivalent impression because the installation process for the Linux sync client is clumsy due to lack of distribution-specific packages. In addition, its sync agent is also error prone and is missing important functions.

If you don't rely on a graphical client and want to let synchronization run in the background, Pydio offers the option of installing a sync agent. However, the agent still has to be configured in the browser before it is used for the first time. Installation is performed by downloading the current Linux client from the project website [4]. The tarball is approximately 44MB and should be decompressed using the first command from Listing 5.

Listing 5

Installing the sync agent

$ tar -xzvf PydioSync-Linux-Binaries*.tar.gz
$ cd pydio-agent
$ ./pydio-agent --api_user=User --api_password=Password

The archive contains the subdirectories pydio-agent and pydio-ui . Switch into the pydio-agent directory and execute the command to start the agent at the prompt (line 3 from Listing 5). Typically the synchronization service will then start and prompt the user to open the browser for the initial configuration. During testing, the routine was frequently interrupted by multiple error messages.

Through research on the Internet, I discovered that the Pydio developers have known about the error for more than a year. Apparently, it has to do with Python 2.7 and the GLib object system libraries. To date, no patch has been issued as a remedy. During testing, I found that the problem occurs on all Linux distributions using XFCE for the desktop interface. The agent started without any problems on systems using the KDE desktop or Gnome.

As soon as the agent is working, open a new session in the browser using the URL http://localhost:5556 and from there log in again. As before, serious errors occurred during testing with version 1.2.2 of the sync client, which was the most recent version at that time. It was not possible to generate a connection to the server under either Fedora 23 (Gnome) or Mageia 5 (KDE). The sync client refused to accept the authentication data. On the other hand, the sync client started its task without any objection under Rosa Linux.

As soon as you open the configuration interface in the browser, it makes sense in the next step to prepare the basic settings for update frequency, the logs, and those for the local database. After saving any changes, log in again and continue the process by defining the directories to be synchronized. The dialog in the extended settings also offers the possibility of indicating the frequency of synchronization and the direction for the data alignment. In addition, you can specify if conflicts arise when two versions of the same files are saved on the local system and server, or when one of these versions is deleted.

After saving all of the modifications using the corresponding button and then clicking on the Continue button in the main window, you receive statistical details about the pending first synchronization. Start the process by clicking on the Start synchronization button. After completing the first data sync, you receive a message regarding the success of the action. The following synchronization occurs according to the selected settings.

The graphical Pydio client is limited to the display of an icon in the message area of the desktop environment (Figure 8). However, during testing, the icon only appeared under Gnome. The Unity interface under Ubuntu withheld the program symbol.

Figure 8: The graphical interface for the Pydio sync client is limited to indicating status.


Pydio has an interface that is intuitive to operate. However, this free cloud solution has only seen very limited use under Linux due to the error-ridden client application. In addition, the documentation is in serious need of various supplements and updates. It is still not clear why installation for the client application continues to require deep Linux knowledge and significant manual work in spite of multiple years of development. It is also not clear why Pydio continues to try and target end users and small work groups that operate without a Linux geek when their install process is so lacking.

Hopefully, the developers ultimately start testing the software more thoroughly prior to a release. Testing is especially important for cloud services holding data, something which is often valuable to the user. Ideally, the software for these services should be rigorously tested and free of errors. There is not much room for experimental solutions with either private or commercial users. As a result, Pydio cloud in its current state is not recommended for beginners and unexperienced system administrators.

The Commercial Version

Pydio does not only offer open source software; it also offers commercial services. These services are available free of charge for a 30-day trial run with a maximum of 10 users. There is however no support option during the trial period.

Unlike the community version we tested, the commercial product is supposed to have better security, an improved user administration and an extensive administrator dashboard. Additionally, Pydio makes preconfigured client apps available. Fee-based support exists for the commercial version and costs at least EUR1350 (approximately $1505) per year. In addition, Pydio offers support packages at EUR1500 (approximately $1672) per year that include five annual tickets for 30-minute support sessions for up to 50 users.

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