[Freedombox-discuss] BitTorrent Sync

Jonathan Wilkes jancsika at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 30 00:56:16 UTC 2013

----- Original Message -----

> From: Philip Hands <phil at hands.com>
> To: "freedombox-discuss at lists.alioth.debian.org" <freedombox-discuss at lists.alioth.debian.org>
> Cc: 
> Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 4:44 PM
> Subject: Re: [Freedombox-discuss] BitTorrent Sync
> Jonathan Wilkes <jancsika at yahoo.com> writes:
>>  ----- Original Message -----
>>>  From: Philip Hands <phil at hands.com>
>>>  To: Chris Troutner <Chris.Troutner at PACCAR.com>; 
> freedombox-discuss at lists.alioth.debian.org
>>>  Cc: 
>>>  Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 8:02 AM
>>>  Subject: Re: [Freedombox-discuss] BitTorrent Sync
>>>  Chris Troutner <Chris.Troutner at PACCAR.com> writes:
>>>>   I ran across this article on Slashdot about the new Sync platform 
> in
>>>>   alpha test by BitTorrent. Apparently it's 'like' 
> Dropbox, but 
>>>  it uses
>>>>   your own machine. It allows file synchronization between two (or 
> more)
>>>>   computers, like your laptop and personal server.
> http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/13/01/25/1941226/bittorrent-launches-
>>>>   dropbox-alternative
>>>>   Does anyone know more about this?
>>>  I don't, when I read about it I thought that if I wanted such a 
> thing,
>>>  I'd almost certainly use git-annex instead (and 'git annex 
>>>  assistant' in
>>>  particular).  See:
>>>    http://git-annex.branchable.com/assistant/
>>  It's like bittorrent sync, except it doesn't scale and doesn't 
> use
>>  encryption out of the box.
> Well, since you put it like that, I guess I have to set you straight:
> It uses ssh out of the box -- so there's your transport encryption, and
> it optionally uses GPG encryption for special remotes (i.e. dumping your
> files in Amazon S3, or a USB stick, say), so yes, it does do encryption
> out of the box in the places where one might actually want it.
>   http://git-annex.branchable.com/encryption/

"Supports ssh", or even "supports encryption" is not the same as "uses
encryption out of the box".  From that same link:

"git-annex mostly does not use encryption. Anyone with access to a git
repository can see all the filenames in it, its history, and can access
any annexed file contents."

and from http://git-annex.branchable.com/walkthrough/using_ssh_remotes/

"Note that normally git-annex prefers to use non-ssh remotes, like a USB drive, before ssh remotes. They are assumed to be faster/cheaper to access, if available. There is a annex-cost setting you can configure in .git/config to adjust which repositories it prefers. See the man page for details."

Note that "non-ssh remotes" are by default unencrypted-- these could include network drives
or other resources on the LAN that you're not accessing through ssh (and thus lose the benefit
of its encryption).  The user shouldn't have to choose the slower method of transporting data in order
to get encryption, nor should they have to tunnel a LAN resource over ssh just to get the benefit of
its encryption for syncing data.  "Unencrypted = fast" sets up a false dichotomy.

> As for scaling, it depends what you're after, but since (if using the
> assistant) you can nudge remotes into attempting to pull from one
> another via XMPP, I think it's got quite a few of the real world use
> cases covered for scalability too.

Why wouldn't the machines pull from each other by default?

> The big win for me is that it builds on proven technology, that is easy
> to trust.  I know I'd much rather trust the crypto in ssh and GPG than
> something alpha from bittorrent.

Yes, the BT Sync write-ups were sneaky-- they mentioned the open source
Bittorrent client immediately before talking about the new Sync stuff. It
unfortunately worked on me. :)


> Git's had a fair amount of testing too (as has git annex).
> Bittorrent sync on the other hand is currently in an invitation-only
> pre-alpha phase, it seems.
> Cheers, Phil.
> -- 
> |)|  Philip Hands [+44 (0)20 8530 9560]    http://www.hands.com/
> |-|  HANDS.COM Ltd.                    http://www.uk.debian.org/
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