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Local sync, no cloud, no google?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by omniferrous1, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. omniferrous1

    omniferrous1 Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Hello everybody, I am a complete n00b so please bear with me. I currently have an iPhone 3GS and would like to upgrade to something newer. I'm thinking Android but I have some questions maybe you can help with me with.

    Firstly, I run Linux. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). I need the phone to sync with either Evolution or Thunderbird on RHEL.

    Secondly, I value my privacy, and I don't want the phone to sync my calendars, emails, contacts, etc. with some "cloud" or to Google. I want to only sync that data locally (via USB or TCPIP), to my own PC or server, but I want that data to be in my control, not in the control of someone else.

    Thirdly, I run my own internet domain for email. I need to phone to be able to access and sync with my own IMAP/SMTP mail system, I don't want to go through Google or any other 3rd party.

    Will an Android phone fit my needs? I'm a total Android noob, never used it before, so please pardon the question if you think it's silly. And how about the new Google Nexus unlocked phone? I'm thinking that one looks good.

    Thank you for your input!

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  2. Crashdamage

    Crashdamage Android Expert

    I *might* be able to help. I used CentOS (free version of RHEL) for years and currently use Fedora (though still on Fedora 15) and Thunderbird.

    Regarding sync of contacts, calendar, etc, how do you sync now with the iPhone? Likely the same can be done with Android. And I know it's against your principles, but this really is very easy via the cloud.

    As for your email server, email is email and should not be a problem.

    The Nexus is a fine choice. However, be aware it lacks a MicroSD slot or FAT partition on the internal storage. Other Android phones have one or both. So transferring files via USB between the Nexus and Linux must be done by the MTP protocol which is a real pain in the butt. Bluetooth is possible but very slow of course. Again, file transfer via cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive solves that problem very well.
  3. omniferrous1

    omniferrous1 Lurker
    Thread Starter

    How do I sync today with the iPhone? I don't. I used to use a Mac as my primary workstation, and of course the iPhone syncs very nicely with iTunes, Mail, Calendar on Mac. After recently switching to RHEL, I'm in search of a compatible phone solution.

    My server is running Kolab, and it seems there is a project to create an Android-Kolab connector to sync calendar, contacts, mail via IMAP.

    kolab-android - Synchronize Android addressbook and calendar to Kolab/IMAP folders - Google Project Hosting

    This looks like exactly what I'm looking for. The only lingering question, is if I go that route, and use this kolab connector, is there any way to disable Android from also syncing this data with Google's own servers? It isn't so much about convenience, as it is about privacy. I don't want my calendar, contacts, or email to be sync'd onto any server other than my own (like how BlackBerry does it).

  4. Crashdamage

    Crashdamage Android Expert

    I took a quick glance at it and it could be cool, but it's alpha stuff, not yet trustworthy. The site clearly warns you could lose all your data.

    Check out Thunderbird AB Sync in the Google Play Store. It will sync your address books over TCP/IP. Offhand not sure about calendars, but some simple searches may turn up something.

    Just go into Android's settings and disable sync.

    RIM is toast.
    And I take security very seriously, it's one reason why I use Linux. But I think you worry too much. Unless you're filthy rich, a celebrity, politician or spy it's very unlikely anyone will make the effort to break a decent password.

    I've found Google and Dropbox to be reasonably secure for most purposes. IOW, I wouldn't put my SS# there and don't use Gmail, but I don't care who sees my contacts and they're just too handy for most stuff. Really, really handy.
  5. Kookas

    Kookas Well-Known Member

    Yeah, the cloud is a fantastic solution. Also, if a hacker wanted your stuff, it would probably be a lot easier for him to get onto your home PC than to get into a cloud server (unless your password sucks). And no-one at Google is going to steal your data, either (what would they get out of it?).
  6. omniferrous1

    omniferrous1 Lurker
    Thread Starter

    No it isn't alpha stuff, that message has been there for a while now. it's on version 0.9.4 which means awfully close to 1.0 release.

    I'll take a look, thanks for the suggestion.

    Perfect! This is exactly what I was in search of. So it is indeed possible to prevent the device from syncing to Google's servers. Very good.

    I agree, I don't care about RIM, I was merely pointing to their private client-server model as being the phone sync architecture that I'm after.

    If you like it, congrats, enjoy it. A sales pitch isn't going sway me however.

    I have no desire to sync with a server that's controlled by someone else.

    My reasons are my own.

    Thanks for these suggestions so far.
  7. Crashdamage

    Crashdamage Android Expert

    RIM's really just another cloud service, no more secure than Google or Dropbox, but maybe less reliable.

    I used to feel same as you until I realized that the only true security was to pull the plug.
  8. omniferrous1

    omniferrous1 Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Not quite, data passing through RIM's "cloud" is encrypted end to end, and only the mail server owner has the keys. Mail/contacts/calendar are sync'ed to a Microsoft Exchange server that you own and control. Not to some mysterious "cloud" server that's owned and managed by someone else. This is precisely what is so attractive about BlackBerry for corporate and government use.

    I disagree, as there are plenty of very secure methods to store and transmit data over a shared or untrusted connection. The question is whether or not those methods and protocols are available on a consumer mobile phone.

    After all, even the President of the United States now carries a secure mobile phone with email, contacts, calendar syncing.

    Being based on Linux, I had hoped that Android would have the flexibility to take advantage of the open source tools to build my own secure solution.
  9. Crashdamage

    Crashdamage Android Expert

    If you have a corporate-issued Blackberry using private servers. If you buy a Blackberry on your own, it uses RIM servers pretty much the same way the same as anything else. It's just email.

    Not really. Strong encryption of large amounts of data is still a job requireing lotsa CPU power (and so battery).

    AFAIK no popular mobile OS is capable. Possibly could be done with Maemo, MeeGo or Tizen.

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