Windows-Linux File Synchronisation

My development environment usually consists of a host machine running Windows and a development Linux “headless” virtual machine. I create and edit files in a Notepad++ text editor and then transfer them over to the Linux VM. Until recently I’ve been using a hypervisor-enabled “shared” folder. However, Windows file system emulators in Linux do not support symbolic links and therefore breaks a lot of applications that rely on them. This prompted me to start looking for a new way to sync my files. That’s how I came across this new amazing file syncing app called Syncthing. Why is it amazing?

  • It uses peer-to-peer architecture. User traffic is not uploaded to a centralised server and is transferred directly between peers.
  • It is open-source. It doesn’t use any proprietary syncing protocols like BTSync.
  • As the result of open-source nature it has big community support with clients, wrappers and extension available for any major platform.
  • It is secure. All transfers are TLS-encrypted.
  • It’s simple to use. Windows version installs like any other Windows app, Linux version, like any other Linux app, will take a little tinkering.
  • It’s written in Golang, an extremely popular language amongst professional programmers and surely these guys can’t be mistaken.

Windows installation

Windows installation is extremely easy. I use a package called SyncTrayzor which contains the application itself, serves as a tray utility wrapper and also implements “inotify” which allows for file on-change synchronisation (BGP ip next-hop tracking anyone?)

Ubuntu installation

Ubuntu package installation is an easy 4-step process

1 - Syncthing installation:

# Add the release PGP keys:
$ curl -s | sudo apt-key add -

# Add the "release" channel to your APT sources:
$ echo deb Syncthing release | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/syncthing-release.list

# Update and install syncthing:
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install syncthing

2 - Inotify installation:

# Choose the latest release for your platform
$ wget

# Unpack and copy inotify to the same directory as the main app
$ tar xvf syncthing-inotify-linux-amd64-v0.6.5.tar.gz
$ which syncthing
$ mv syncthing-inotify /usr/bin/

3 - Configure upstart script to control Syncthing

# Create a file for main service
$ echo "start on starting network-services
stop on stopping network-services
env HOME=/root
exec /usr/bin/syncthing" >> /etc/init/syncthing.conf

# Do the same for inotify
$ echo "start on starting syncthing
stop on stopping syncthing
env HOME=/root
exec /usr/bin/syncthing-inotify" >> /etc/init/syncthing-inotify.conf

# start both services 
$ service syncthing start && service syncthing-inotify start

4 - Update Syncthing configuration file

# Update the default Sync directory to match your dev environment
# using the correct device IDs
$ head -n 10 ~/.config/syncthing/config.xml
<configuration version="10">
    <folder id="ansible-blog" path="/root/tdd_ansible" ro="false" rescanIntervalS="60" ignorePerms="false" autoNormalize="false">
        <device id="MY-DEVICE-ID"></device>
        <device id="PEER-DEVICE-ID"></device>

# Add peer device's ID to the same file
$ cat ~/.config/syncthing/config.xml
    <device id="PEER-DEVICE-ID" name="NETOP-DESKTOP" compression="metadata" introducer="false">

# restart both syncthing services
$ service syncthing restart && service syncthing-inotify restart

Finally, Windows service can be configured similarly via Syncthing Tray. End result is that files are replicated between the two folders with a delay of just a few seconds

$ touch /root/tdd_ansible/testfile
$ tail -n 3 /var/log/upstart/syncthing*
==> /var/log/upstart/syncthing-inotify.log <==
[OK] 01:45:04 Watching ansible-blog: /root/tdd_ansible
[OK] 01:45:04 Syncthing is indexing change in ansible-blog: [.stfolder]
[OK] 01:46:16 Syncthing is indexing change in ansible-blog: [testfile]

==> /var/log/upstart/syncthing.log <==
[TLARX] 01:41:25 INFO: Established secure connection to DEVICE-ID at 192.168.X.Y:22000-192.168.X.Z:53007
[TLARX] 01:41:25 INFO: Device DEVICE-ID client is "syncthing v0.11.10"
[TLARX] 01:41:25 INFO: Device DEVICE-ID name is "NETOP-DESKTOP"

How can you not love open-source after that?