Synchronization in 2009: what's new, what's good, what's not so good

First things first, the eye candy: here's a video showing off how to synchronize with a Windows Mobile 5+ device (with GNOME) in Mandriva Linux 2009.

So today I finally got a 2009 test install on my clean testbed machine (long story), which meant I could get down to testing synchronization in a clean environment. I've now finished (more or less) the 2009 synchronization page on the Wiki. So - what's changed?

Well, the good news first: there's good support for Windows Mobile 2003 and earlier devices. 2008 Spring only really supported Windows Mobile 5 and later (as that was the only test device I had, and synce's WM2003 support at that time was not great). With the new synce-hal, and with my getting a Windows Mobile 2003 test device, Mandriva Linux 2009 supports WM2003 devices just great - it's pretty much exactly the same procedure as WM5 devices, and just as easy.

Also, I've been able to package the VFS plugins for GNOME, KDE 3, and KDE 4. This basically means that you can now browse your device, and transfer stuff to and from it, via Nautilus, Konqueror, Dolphin or any other app that supports your desktop's VFS system. No need to hack around it with wm5torage any more.

We're now using synce-hal, rather than the odccm system from 0.11 we used in 2008 Spring. This isn't massively visible to the user, but it does mean there's no more need for odccm to be handled as a system service - so you don't have to reboot or manually activate the odccm service the first time you install the synchronization packages. It's all handled by HAL.

And finally, the Mandriva firewall configuration tool is now able to configure the firewall correctly for Windows Mobile devices. If you tried to synchronize with the firewall active in 2008 Spring, you likely would have noticed it didn't work. I had a procedure to work around this documented in the Wiki, but it wasn't the cleanest of methods. Now you can just run drakfirewall (with the device plugged in), check off a box, and it'll open the necessary ports. Much nicer.

The bad news? Well, we use KDE 4 by default in 2009, and there's no way to synchronize with KDE 4's kdepim suite (KMail, Kontact, all that jazz). Simply, no-one's written an opensync plugin for KDE 4's kdepim yet. So it's just a no-go. You can only synchronize with KDE 3 or GNOME. Unfortunately, there's nothing I can do about that. A plugin will likely show up in due course, but it will likely be for opensync 0.4, which will make backporting tricky, as the entire current setup is based on opensync 0.2 (as the current 0.3 / 0.4 tree is completely unstable and unusable). So unless someone happens to write a 0.2 plugin for KDE 4, it's unlikely 2009 will ever get KDE 4 synchronization support. Sorry about that!


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