Monday, November 28, 2005

Web desktop?

Miguel, your ideas aren't without merit. However, I am a bit scared of the web desktop. First, this would involve a substantial security risk, just by exposing new applications to external threats. Probably not an issue at home for you, since you are a home user with a firewall. But here at the university, opening up a port means opening it to the world. Needless to say, I'd hope that any such service was off by default, and had a good audit. Second, is it really necessary for each application to provide the functionality from scratch? Windos users have had SMB/CIFS since forever. If I want to share files with my family, I tell them to go to \\ben\photos, and they'll see the photos. In your case they go to http://ben:123/photos. Of course, the http user will get a spiffy UI. But what are the advantages to the SMB method:
  • One central security provider (the ACLs on the files). One program to audit
  • No work required for the application programmer
  • The files can be accessed even if f-spot or whatever isn't open
What about a combination of the two: we use Apache (a very well audited server) to serve up webdav based file sharing. Windows, Linux and Macs should be able to mount webdav shares. WebDAV could become the Linux SMB. However, users could also use a custom browser based view with search/rich ui. With your plan, it seems like every application would be reinventing the wheel.


Idan Gazit said...

Apache2 + mod_dav is great, except on windows. The default dav client in windows > 98 simply doesn't work well with apache/mod_dav. You can't really mount it as a drive, although you can (don't ask me why) work around this by mapping the dav share to a folder in "My Network Places".

DAV is wonderful but if you're looking for the lingua franca of network file shares, DAV doesn't fit the bill on win32. :(

Ben Maurer said...

At the very least, Windows folk would be able to view via http.

I guess we could allow samba to export the shares via smb as well as dav.

Eric said...

One thing to consider is that a web desktop would be able to share files over the web. Thisis the larger issue that Samba does not address. The idea behind the web enabled desktop is not so much sharing files, but allowing any person to make available resources on his/her personal computer easily and transparently without having to deal with things like uploading to a server or having a dynamic dns service.

Benjamin West said...

I think migeul is wrong, and I'll post to that effect on his blog... It seems to me this doesn't accomplish the goal. sure it's great if you've got a public address, but honestly services like flickr are going to still be a better option. I think they key here is making sure that f-spot, and other apps are gnome-vfs aware, and adding modules to gnome-vfs to load files into servers, or onto remote machines using X protocol.