Blogs

Aaron Seigo's picture

egara: a groupware historian

In my last blog entry, I mentioned that we have been working on a comprehensive data loss prevention (DLP) and audit trail system for use with Kolab, with the end goal being not only DLP but also a platform for business intelligence. In that entry I listed the three parts of the system, noting that I'd be writing about one at a time. I had hoped to jump on the first of those a day or two after writing the entry, but life and work intervened and then I was off on a short family vacation ... but now I'm back. So let's talk about the capture side of the system.

Kolab can be viewed as a set of cooperative microservices: smtp, imap, LDAP, spam/virus protection, invitation auto-processing, web UI, etc. etc. There are a couple dozen of these and up until now they have all done the traditional, and correct, thing of logging events to a system log.

This has numerous drawbacks, however. First, on a distributed system where different services are running on different hosts (physical or VMs), the result is data spread over many systems. Not great for subsequent reporting. At the time of logging, the events are in a "raw" state: each service likely does not know about the rest of the Kolab services and thus how their events relate to the whole system. With logs going through the host systems it makes it difficult to ensure that they are not easily tampered with; this can be somewhat alleviated by setting up remote logging but this also only goes so far. Finally, logging tends to be a firehose of data and for our specific interests here we want a very specific sub-stream of that total flow.

So we have written yet another service whose entire job is to collect events as they are generated. This service is itself distributed, allowing collection agents to be run across a cluster running a Kolab instance, and it stores its data in a dedicated key-value store which can be housed on an isolated (and specially secured, if desire) system. The program running this service is called Egara, which is Sumerian for "storehouse", and it is written in Erlang due to its robustness (this service must simply never go down), scalability and distributed communication features. The source repository can be found here. Egara itself is part of the overall DLP/auditing system we have named Bonnie.

Aaron Seigo's picture

event and data logging

Working with Kolab has kept me busy on numerous fronts since I joined near the end of last year. There is the upcoming Kolab Summit, refreshing Kolab Systems' messaging, helping with progress around Kolab Now, collaborating on development process improvement, working on the design and implementation of Akonadi Next, the occassional sales engineering call ... so I've been kept busy, and been able to work with a number of excellent people in the process both in Kolab Systems and the Kolab community at large.

While much of that list of topics doesn't immediately bring "writing code" to mind, I have had the opportunity to work on a few "hands on keyboard, writing code" projects. Thankfully. ;)

One of the more interesting ones, at least to me, has been work on an emerging data loss prevention and audit trail system for Kolab called Bonnie. It's one of those things that companies and governmental users tend to really want, but which is fairly non-trivial to achieve.

There are, in broad strokes, three main steps in such a system:

  1. Capturing and recording events
  2. Storing data payloads associated with those events
  3. Recreating histories which can be reviewed and even restored from

I've been primarily working on the first two items, while a colleague has been focusing on the third point. Since each of these points is a relatively large topic on their own, I'll be covering each individually in subsequent blog entries.

We'll start in the next blog entry by looking at event capture and storage, why it is necessary (as opposed to simply combing through system logs, e.g.) and what we gain from it. I'll also introduce one of the Bonnie components, Egara, which is responsible for this set of functionality.

Aaron Seigo's picture

eGoverment in the Netherlands

Today "everyone" is online in one form or another, and it has transformed how many people connect, communicate, share and collaborate with others. To think that the Internet really only hit the mainstream some 20 years ago. It has been an amazingly swift and far-reaching shift that has touched people's personal and professional lives.

So it is no surprise that the concept of eGovernment is a hot one and much talked about. However, the reality on the ground is that governments tend not to be the swiftest sort of organizations when it comes to adopting change. (Which is not a bad thing; but that's a topic for another blog perhaps.) Figuring out how to modernize the communication and interaction of government with their constituencies seems to largely still be in the future. Even in countries where everyone is posting pictures taken on their smartphones of their lunch to all their friends (or the world ...), governments seem to still be trying to figure out how to use the Internet as an effective tool for democratic discourse.

The Netherlands is a few steps ahead of most, however. They have an active social media presence which is used by numerous government offices to collaborate with each other as well as to interact with the populace. Best of all, they aren't using a proprietary, lock-in platform hosted by a private company oversees somewhere. No, they use a free software social media framework that was designed specifically for this: Pleio.

They have somewhere around 100,000 users of the system and it is both actively used and developed to further the aims of the eGovernment initiative. It is, in fact, an initiative of the Programme Office 2.0 with the Treasury department, making it a purposeful program rather than simply a happy accident.

In their own words:

The complexity of society and the need for citizens to ask for an integrated service platform where officials can easily collaborate with each other and engage citizens.

In addition, hundreds of government organizations all have the same sort of functionality needed in their operations and services. At this time, each organization is still largely trying to reinvent the wheel and independently purchase technical solutions.

roundcube's picture

Update 1.1.1 released

This is the first service release to update the stable version 1.1. It contains
some important bug fixes and improvements in error handling as well as a few
new features and configuration options. See the full changelog here.

It’s considered stable and we recommend to update all productive installations
of Roundcube with this version. Download it from roundcube.net/download,

Please do backup your data before updating!

Aaron Seigo's picture

Kolab Summit 2015

We just announced that registration and presentation proposal submission is now open for the Kolab Summit 2015 which is being held in The Hague on May 2-3.

Just as Kolab itself is made up of many technologies, many technologies will be present at the summit. In addition to topics on Kolab, there will be presentations covering Roundcube, KDE Kontact and Akonadi, cyrus imap, and OpenChange among others. We have some pretty nifty announcements and reveals already lined up for the event, which will be keynoted by George Greve (CEO of Kolab Systems AG) and Jeroen van Meeuwen (lead Kolab architect). Along with the usual BoFs and hacking rooms, this should be quite an enjoyable event.

As an additional and fun twist, the Kolab Summit will be co-located with the openSUSE conference which is going on at the same time. So we'll have lots of opportunity for "hallway talks" with Geekos as well. In fact, I'll be giving a keynote presentation at the openSUSE conference about freedom as innovation. A sort of "get the engines started" presentation that I hope provokes some thought and gets some energy flowing.

Aaron Seigo's picture

Kolab Summit 2015

Kolab Summit 2015

We just announced that registration and presentation proposal submission is now open for the Kolab Summit 2015 which is being held in The Hague on May 2-3.

Just as Kolab itself is made up of many technologies, many technologies will be present at the summit. In addition to topics on Kolab, there will be presentations covering Roundcube, KDE Kontact and Akonadi, cyrus imap, and OpenChange among others. We have some pretty nifty announcements and reveals already lined up for the event, which will be keynoted by George Greve (CEO of Kolab Systems AG) and Jeroen van Meeuwen (lead Kolab architect). Along with the usual BoFs and hacking rooms, this should be quite an enjoyable event.

As an additional and fun twist, the Kolab Summit will be co-located with the openSUSE conference which is going on at the same time. So we'll have lots of opportunity for "hallway talks" with Geekos as well. In fact, I'll be giving a keynote presentation at the openSUSE conference about freedom as innovation. A sort of "get the engines started" presentation that I hope provokes some thought and gets some energy flowing.

Andreas Cordes's picture

How-To - Kolab with Seafile

Hello,

Seafile is an open source cloud software which is free for private use.

There is also a professional edition which is not necessary for my needs. I just want to sync files across more than one device. In the past I used ownCloud which was pretty good for my needs.

First I decided to have ownCloud integrated in Kolab as a backend but I had a bit lack of time so developing a new driver for chwala was not so easy.

After a while I noticed that Seafile is integrated in chwala 0.3.0 and with Kolab 3.4 it is quite stable to install.

Last week I managed all the stuff and here is my Step-By-Step Guide:

Timotheus Pokorra's picture

Nightly builds of Kolab now available from LBS

Previously, my nightly builds of Kolab have been built and hosted here:

https://obs.kolabsys.com/project/show/home:tpokorra:branches:Kolab:Development

There were 2 problems recently:

  • I was not able to add builds for CentOS7. The error message is:
    Failed to add project or repository: unable to walk on path 'CentOS:7/standard'
  • Each time there was a new patch or release on Kolab:Development, I needed to manually remove the patch from the nightly package because the patch was already part of git master. I also needed to resolve conflicts in the debian.changelog and package dsc file because the version number changed.

UPDATE: since there was an easy fix for Point 1 (just edit the Meta file of the project to add different Operating System), I also realised I could update the OBS packaging instructions the same way as I do for LBS, avoiding conflicts. So we will see if that works over the coming weeks…

After some improvements to my LightBuildServer, I am now able to build the nightly packages on my own LBS server.

This is done in two steps:

Andreas Cordes's picture

Kolab 3.4 released - New Skin - Chwala driver for Seafile

Hello @all,

+Kolab.org Community released Version 3.4 and it was time to get the new updates up and running.

This time there is a new driver for "chwala" integrated for +Seafile.VN so I gave it a try and tried to mix it all together.

After lots pf solving dependencies and so on I managed to get the new version up and running with Seafile attached.

That's quite amazing, for this you have to configure Seafile through Apache and connect to the LDAP.

When you were able to manage all these things, you can easily save attachments in your cloud and syncing them to your smartphone. :-)

There are still some issues on my Cubietruck which I have to solve but my Idea is to rebuild all the stuff from scratch in a chroot environment and track down all steps to get it working.

Two Screenshots showing the new skin for +Roundcube and the integration of Seafile into Chwala.

Daniel Hoffend's picture

Customize the chameleon skin

With the recently announced Kolab Groupware 3.4 Version a new default skin got introduced: "Chameleon". The new skin (which is still based on larry) provides a very clean layout which is very easy to customize.

Thanks to the LESS CSS Compilier you basically only need to define a few main colors (I changed 2), compile the style sheets and exchange the skinlogo. Most of the the other colors used within roundcube are based on your main-color (lighten by 30%, etc.).

If you don't like some of the colors in the icons, change them too by either changeing the psd files or just edit the png files (which sufficent) and within 10-120 minutes you got your personal kolab skin running.

The file structure

The roundcube theme is split into 2 componentes. The internal skin parts which consists of templates, configuration files, etc. and the asset part like CSS and images.

/usr/share/roundcubemail/skins/<name>/
/usr/share/roundcubemail/public_html/assets/skins/<name>/

Let's start

  1. Duplicate the existing chameleon skin
    cd /usr/share/roundcubemail
    cp -a skins/chameleon skins/mytheme
    ​cp -a public_html/assets/skins/chameleon public_html/assets/skins/mytheme

     

  2. Give your theme a name

    skins/mytheme/meta.json

    "name": "My Theme", 
  3. Set the 2 most important colors (main color + link color)

    public_html/assets/skins/colors.less

    @main-color:  #C1D72E;
    @link-color:  #ADAA38;

    ​ 

  4. To compile and minifiy your stylesheets you need the node-less compiler. You can either install nodejs and node-less (version >= 1.8.5) from your favorite repo or just use the version from the kolab repository.
    lessc public_html/assets/skins/styles.less > public_html/assets/skins/styles.css

     

  5. Replace the kolab logo (which is used in the upper left corner) with your logo.
    cp ~/mytheme_logo.png public_html/assets/skins/images/kolab_logo.png

     

  6. Change the skin in roundcube's configuration

    /etc/roundcubemail/config.inc.php