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SyncEvolution Doesn’t Work? Tell me!

A fellow German has written about his (mostly failed) attempts to synchronize contacts and calendars using SyncEvolution and the Funambol server. He expresses the hope that 0.8 will fix his problems. I’m afraid 0.8 will be a disappointment then.

First, calendar synchronization will always lose information as long as any link in the chain from one Evolution client to the other is limited to vCalendar 1.0, because relevant features that Evolution depends on were added to 2.0 which the predecessor cannot express. This does not only affect Evolution, but also the Thunderbird client.

Second, nothing in the SyncEvolution support for contacts has changed since 0.7. The update therefore won’t magically fix the problem encountered in 0.7. I run nightly end-to-end tests between different Evolution versions using my.funambol.com, sync.scheduleworld.com, and www.synthesis.ch. All of these tests work just fine. There are no bug reports about it either.

Finally, the segfault mentioned in the blog was already fixed in the current stable release (0.7). All I can do is fix a problem and provide new binaries. I cannot retroactively fix the problem in installed older binaries – that would be the holy grail of system maintenance. The issue about the segfault is still open because some users had segfaults which I could not properly explain. They cannot reproduce them either anymore and thus the issue has to remain open until someone else can provide the information required to proceed.

That doesn’t mean that there is no problem, but it does mean that I am not aware of any that I can fix. If you have a problem, create a bug report or send me an email and will do my best to locate and fix the problem.

There is an ongoing discussion in the Open Source world about the responsibilities of users and developers. It started when Linux developers asked a bug reporter to execute a complex analysis to narrow down on the source of the problem. A good, complete bug report will speed up solving the problem. In the case of SyncEvolution that means describing the platform it runs on (distribution, Evolution version, …), how SyncEvolution was installed (binary or compiled from source), the server that is used, what the expected and what the real behavior is. If it segfaults, including a stack back trace (run under gdb, “thread apply all bt”) or a memory check with valgrind (just put valgrind in front of the command line) would help. If the log (normally written in /tmp/) does not contain confidential information or that information can be stripped, then providing it is a big help, too. I promise to keep all logs sent to me by email absolutely confidential.

I’m aware that not everyone is able to analyze a problem on his own. Just report the problem and I’ll try o reproduce it myself before asking further questions.

Another contentious issue is whether it is the responsibility of the users to make the developer’s life as easy as possible. If you use the SourceForge bug tracker, you will make my life easier and reduce the risk that your problem falls through the cracks. Just make sure that you assign the issue to me (happens automatically when selecting a category), otherwise I don’t get notified about the issue. However, I also accept bug reports by email.

Not reporting a problem is of course also an option which is even less work for a user, but then don’t expect that the next version will be any better than the old one…

{ 4 } Comments

  1. jukey | May 9, 2008 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I am not able to use syncevolution (0.7) with my N800, OS2008. Is it possible for you to do a sync or should I wait for a new version?

  2. Patrick Ohly | May 9, 2008 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Jukey, 0.7 worked fine on my N810 with OS2008. It should work for you, too. Please describe your problem in more detail (here, by email, or in a bug report) and we’ll try to figure out what is wrong.

    0.8 alpha1 for ITOS2008 also works and is easier to set up (or so I hope). See the blog entry about it for details. However, to install it one has to install the “Dates” application first. This limitation will be removed in the final 0.8 release.

  3. Fergus | June 11, 2008 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Patrick, firstly thank you taking the time to put all this effort into a tool. Of all the single developer tools i’ve seen your work rate is phenomenal. You are giving a lot of people hope that they can leave the outlook/activesync shackles. I have recently moved to evolution and have attempted to sync my contacts and callendar from myfunambol. At first the contacts were fine, but the callendar didn’t work. For some reason it works. I cannot explain why but i have just read this topic:

    http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/message.php?msg_name=1193161671.5788.77.camel%40ip6-localhost

    Could you clarify in recent terms if anything has changed from these statements?
    Also, just a few thoughts on improvements: i think you could do with a gui just to deal with the config files, its reasonable simple but it takes a little bit to get your head around all the settings. seconldy i think a better user forum would work wonders, the new funambol one is very poor, i actaully preferred the sourceforge one!

    cheers

    fergus

  4. Patrick Ohly | June 11, 2008 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Fergus, the next Funambol release will improve support for time zones, but it is not released yet and there still will be issues as far as I know so far. For example, I was told that encoding issues with iCalendar 2.0 won’t be addressed. If you need a working calendar synchronization now, then your only option pretty much is ScheduleWorld.

    Regarding the GUI, someone just volunteered to write an Evolution plugin. That might lead to the simplified setup that you asked for. We’ll see. Frederik’s “Genesis” also might be useful for you: http://www.estamos.de/blog/2007/12/02/genesis-a-syncevolution-gui-by-frederik-elwert/

    As far as a user forum is concerned, I’m not such a big fan of web interfaces and prefer mail for this purpose. The forge.funambol.com gets this right by allowing postings by mail and the web. If there is a need, I could register SyncEvolution and create a dedicated forum there, but I’d prefer to not run something on estamos.de.

    Any thoughts? Does SyncEvolution need its own forum in addition to the one on ScheduleWorld and the general Funambol user’s list (https://core.forge.funambol.org/ds/viewForumSummary.do?dsForumId=405)?

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