Seafile is an open source cloud file synchronization and collaboration tool, similar to Dropbox, OwnCloud or SparkleShare, that you can use on your Linux server or you can sign up for a Seafile account and get 5GB of free space on their servers.
- Seafile uses file libraries which can be synchronized separately;
- Users can create and join groups;
- File revisions;
- File preview, comments, event notifications;
- Library encryption;
- Share files;
- Clients available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android and iOS.
So why use Seafile and not Dropbox, OwnCloud or SparkleShare? According to the Seafile developers, their tool is more mature than ownCloud or SparkleShare, ready for production (both the server and client) and has an online collaboration feature useful for teamwork, which isn’t available in Dropbox.
However, Seafile does have less features some similar services: for instance, the calendar feature available in ownCloud is not available for Seafile. But Seafile is still very powerful: it doesn’t depend on GIT but it does uses a version control model similar to GIT, which is simplified and has some advantages such as: automatic syncing, no history stored on the client side meaning that the data is not stored twice (GIT is not efficient for large files), more user-friendly file conflicts, handles cases such as when the user modifies files when auto-sync is running, file transfer can be resumed and more.
The Seafile Linux client consists of an AppIndicator / tray icon that displays the sync status and lets you open the client (in the browser), disable autosync or restart Seafile, displays sync notifications, and a pretty basic web interface:
Unfortunately, there’s no file manager integration so you can’t share files, access previous revisions or see the file sync status from the file manager, but like I was saying above, you can see the global sync status thanks to the tray icon.
Most of the features are accessible from the server web interface (which is either installed on your own Linux server or via Seafile’s website): there, you can create new private or public libraries, see all the changes / revisions and files, download, upload or create new files and folders, share files, create or join groups, add contacts, post messages to grups, set up group notifications and so on.
When you click on library, you’ll notice that the interface looks a lot like GitHub:
Here, you can see all the files available in that library, access the library history and so on. Below you can see a few more Seafile screenshots (with Seafile running on my Ubuntu 12.04 server):
Try / download Seafile
To try Seafile without creating an account on their website or installing it on your own server, you can try the Seafile demo @ http://cloud.seafile.com/demo/
The Seafile server for Linux runs on Debian, Ubuntu (11.10, 12.04), Centos 5.8, 6.0+ and is very easy to set up thanks to a script that does everything for you. For the server installation instructions, see the Seafile wiki.