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DICE

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DICE (Desktop Integrated Collaborative Environment) is a set of software components aimed at integrating popular team workspace servers with the Linux Desktop.

The current DICE maintainers are focused on integrating Microsoft's SharePoint product and Novell's Teaming+Conferencing product.


Implementation

The DICE implementation consists of several software components.

diced is a daemon process that is activated via a dbus message. diced is responsible for authenticating to the remote workspace server, synchronizing documents, document versions, calendar items and tasks, and exposing a dbus interface for other software components.

auth-agent is a dbus activated application that does little more than present an authentication dialog for gathering credentials and then passing those credentials on to diced where the actual authentication takes place.

dice-manager is a gnome tray application used to kick start the process. The first time dice is activated a user will login to the remote workspace using dice-manager. Once a user has logged on the first time, the daemon with signal the auth-agent when credentials are needed for synchronization.

gvfs-dice is a dice specific back-end provider gnome virtual file system. The user's workspaces show up as normal file volumes. User's can traverse down through the hierarchy as they would a normal file system. Normal CRUD operations can be performed through gvfs along with file open, read, write and close.

nautilus-dice is a nautilus extension that exposes shared document actions in the native file browser. The user can rollback to previous versions of shared documents, lock and unlock documents, and force synchronization of a shared document.

Calendaring and task entries are synchronized between EDS (Evolution Data Server) and remote workspaces. A user can view, update and delete these entries inside of the Evolution application.

Installation

DICE is enabled by installing the latest "dice" package. Once the package is successfully installed, DICE is launched by running the dice-manager application. You can also launch dice-manager by clicking on Computer->More Applications which brings up the Application Browser. In the Filter text box enter "DICE" which should filter down to "DICE Manager". Clicking on DICE Manager launches the application which will show up as a tray application. Right click the DICE tray application and select "Login". A login dialog will present itself at which point you can enter your username, password and server url to the remote workspace server. If you want the tray application to run at startup, in the Application Browser right click the "DICE Manager" button and select "Add to Startup Program".

SharePoint Setup

For accessing SharePoint's document and calendaring libraries, DICE uses both the WebDAV protocol and SharePoint's web services. Today DICE only supports HTTP Basic Auth for authenticating to SharePoint. By default both SharePoint and IIS are not configured to support HTTP Basic authentication. For DICE to work, you will need to configure both services.

Instructions for doing so are located here: Configure Digest Authentication Although this article is for configuring Digest authentication, HTTP Basic is done using the same steps. Make sure you also enforce an SSL channel for all communication when HTTP Basic is involved.

Usage

To start the ball rolling a user must authenticate to a remote SharePoint or Novell Teaming server. This is accomplished using the DICE tray application. The user can also force a full system synchronization from the tray application as well.

For accessing file versions, checking out a file and checking in a file, the user must bring up the Nautilus file manager application. From the "Places" pane select "My Spaces". Click down to the specified file, then right click and select the "Properties" menu item. Next select the "Collaboration" tab. From this dialog a user can view the available versions of the file, lock the file and perform a synchronization for just this file.

A GVFS FUSE file system also fronts the system so the dice file system is visible across the Linux operating system. A hidden directory ".gvfs" located in the user's home directory is where the FUSE module mounts itself. From a terminal enter "cd ~/.gvfs", then "ls" which should display the "My Spaces" faux volume.

FAQ

  • Q.1. Why am I not prompted to accept the remote server's certificate?
A. Currently DICE is accepting all certificates in the background. This feature still needs to be implemented.
  • Q.2. Why am I not seeing any file versions when using Novell's teaming server?
A. Novell Teaming v1.0 does not have a programmatic interface to view, download or revert versions. The next version of Novell Teaming will have full version support and DICE will be updated to take full advantage.