<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/sparkleshare_intro.jpg”>There’s been quite a few problems and concerns that have risen about Dropbox in recent months that is making some people feel uncomfortable about using it and are seeking refuge by means of an alternative. Yes, there are plenty of other online storage services, such as Box.net, but it seems that there is absolutely no alternative that can compete with the benefits that Dropbox provides, namely file synchronization.
However, you don’t need to look any further because a solution has finally appeared, called Sparkleshare.
Sparkleshare is an open source file synchronization Dropbox alternative. It is not a website server in itself, but rather a service that you can deploy yourself to create your own synchronization setup. Since you can choose where it actually stores the data you wish to sync between systems, you can have complete control over your own data at all times and never have to rely on a third-party service.
Sparkleshare uses the GIT system as its backbone. For those who don’t know, GIT is a great file repository and version tracking service. Many different projects (especially open source ones) use GIT to control the progress of new code within more recently modified files. Best of all, Sparkleshare will eventually be completely cross-platform. Currently, builds are available for Linux and Mac, with eventual plans for Windows, Android, and iOS.
Windows users will eventually get an easy-to-use installer, and Mac users should already know how to install their package. Linux users have a slightly (and I mean this in a relative way) complicated way to install Sparkleshare, but it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Ubuntu users need to add a PPA that contains the Sparkleshare packages. You’re in luck, as this PPA was erected not too long ago. Add the PPA with
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:warp10/sparkleshare
, update your repositories with
sudo apt-get update
, and install Sparkleshare with
sudo apt-get install sparkleshare libwebkit1.1-cil git-core
Fedora users need to follow a similar path. First you need to add a repository containing the Sparkleshare packages by going to the folder containing the repo files (
), download the new repo file (
sudo curl -O http://repos.fedorapeople.org/repos/alexh/sparkleshare/fedora-sparkleshare.repo
), and install the necessary packages (
sudo yum install -y sparkleshare openssh-askpass
). To be on the safe side, it’s recommended by Fedora users that you remove a certain package to prevent unnecessary crashes. To do this, you’ll need to type
sudo yum remove -y nautilus-python
Users of any other distribution are on their own (as there are plenty of other distros!). However, do not assume that a Sparkleshare package does not exist for your distro, so do some Googling and see what comes up.
Getting Set Up
Since Sparkleshare uses GIT, you have a large variety of choices as to where to store your files. When you first start Sparkleshare, the setup gives you a choice between the top three GIT-running websites that people can get free accounts on, as well as the possibility of defining your own server.
Actually creating your own GIT repository to run Sparkleshare on is outside the realm of this article, but if you Google around a little you’ll be able to find some instructions. You can also be sure that there are instructions for creating a web interface for your own GIT repository. For the example in this article, I will be quickly setting up and using my own server.
After installing, go ahead and launch the program from your menu. When it opens, fill out your name and email address, then continue.
Next you can choose your source, and fill out the information as requested. Make sure you look at the site first, as they may require you to do an extra step, such as using an SSH key for secure, password-less access. For example, if you’re connecting to your own server, you’ll need to create an SSH key with
ssh-keygen -t rsa
and send it to your server with
. Then you can connect with Sparkleshare.
Other than that, you should be finished! You can now start synchronizing in the folder you chose.
That’s it! Now you can use it like you used Dropbox, but with added peace of mind. If you’re extra paranoid, you can apply the same encryption techniques as outlined here as well. What you do now is up to you.
Does this Dropbox alternative work for you? Are you wanting to switch to something else or stay with Dropbox? Do you think projects like Sparkleshare are valuable? Let us know in the comments!