FTP, photo collection and file managers

Thu, 12/19/2013 - 11:54 -- admin

Morning :)

Today, I have been looking for a way to manage my remote files. More concretely the photographies I host on an FTP server. This is all part of my plan to take rid of this infamous cloud based service we all know about.

For FTP, I usually use Filezilla, and I don't plan to change that. It is an excellent FTP client, and I wouldn't ever trust anything else for my job (though sometimes I use mc under ssh when I have to work remotely). The problem comes when you have to manage a big image collection though.

The issue at a local level is the same. I usually do all the file management stuff in console, and, sometimes, when I have to deal with complicated file names and/or I can't find a pattern to glob them easily I use mc. But managing images is, again, a very different thing.

Up to no I had been using PCManFM, which worked fine, mostly... All I need is the ability to see my images in a grid, so that I can identify them and then copy and move them around. Nothing else. The problem came when I tried that in my FTP repository. Supposedly, PCManFM, just like any other gvfs based application, has support for FTP out of the box.

And it does, again mostly. I mean, I can connect to the repository and navigate it. But, the problems came soon enough. The first three thumbnails are shown ok, but the rest never comes, and when I try to open a file nothing happens. After struggling a bit with the configuration options I managed it to launch gpicview when I double click an image, but it appears empty and the image is not shown. Only okular shows it fine. And then the reason becomes clear: gvfs is supposed to bring networking support fo the applications that use it, but it doesn't work as well as it should. At least not with password protected FTP accounts.

Under these conditions, PCManFM becomes a decaffeinated version of Filezilla and there's no point in using it.

I've been looking around a bit and finally decided to install dolphin (I didn't get to it before because this is an old laptop and I wanted to avoid compiling kdelibs if possible). I already use dolphin under Openbox in my desktop machine, so I knew it would work without problems. But in this case I decided to go a bit lighter by not installing kdebase-runtime-meta, so I had to do some adjustment by hand. In first place, I did this:

$ emerge kdebase-kioslaves dolphin-plugins

Then, because there's no kde keyring running and hence dolphin will not be able to manage passwords in an automated way, I integrated everything into the URL, and it seems to work fine so far:

ftp://username:password@ftp.server.foo/my_file_repo/

After that, it all went smooth as silk. When I open a remote file the viewer comes up without problems and I can see my photos. Previews work as well (a bit slow, that was to expected :P).

With this and an FTP sync tool on my phone I can already discard my previous solution. My photos will always be safe and now I don't have an storage quota. Plus everything will be hosted in my server. A couple of lftp/cron scripts at my home desktop machine will take care of saving everything locally every day, and I won't have to worry again about this matter.

:)

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