Hello,

this week I've had to fix the way jid are used for file transfer.

To explain you the problem, I need to explain you how communication is done in XMPP (*). To be brief, when an entity (with jid louise@example.net) want to access a component (with jid files.example.net), it sends a "stanza" which is an XML element. There are 3 kinds of stanza (presence, message, and iq).
In our case we use iq stanza, so Louise sends something like:

<iqfrom="louise@example.net"to="files.example.net"type="set">
  […]
</iq>

and the component answers with something like this:

<iqfrom="files.example.net"to="louise@example.net"type="result">
  […]
</iq>

Last week I've explained how I've used the local part in components to access files from somebody else. So far, when creating a stanza, I was using the jid we are connecting with in the from attribute (i.e. where we set the sender of the message).

This is working well with clients, or components if you don't use local part, but when somebody was accessing files from pierre@files.example.net, the jid used by the component is files.example.net, a different one, so this was not working anymore.

To fix that, I've simply had to change the code to use the jid used to contact the components (i.e. the one in the to attribute of the original request) instead.

I've also fixed a MAM (Message Archive Management, XEP-0313) bug where the same messages were requested again on next start up under certain conditions.

Finally, I've completed a generic invitation mechanism to notify somebody when an event or photo album is available. When the invitation is received, the data needed to retrieve the thing is saved in a private "list of interest", which is a pubsub node. With that I can now diplay in Libervia the available photo albums as you can see in the screen capture below.

Libervia Photo Album Vignette

We are nearly there, I still have to complete the guest page (page for people without XMPP account), so they can see events or photo albums, and I can launch the beta. It's a matter of days now.

Thanks for reading, as always feedbacks are welcome.

(*) to learn more about XMPP, you can check my series of articles "Let's talk XMPP". It's originally written in French, and only 4 articles on 10 are translated, help would be welcomed to translate the other ones.

Hello,

this week I've had little time to work on SàT : thanks to the extended easter week-end, I've had a break.

I did manage to work a bit on the file sharing service, still focusing on the photo album. As I've explained last week, file sharing can be used directly from device to device (e.g. retrieving pictures taken on a mobile phone from desktop computer), or with a server-side service.

XMPP allows to create "components" which can be seen as generic plugins to create services on the server (generic in the way that it's not tied to a specific server implementation, but can be used with anyone implementing XEP-0114). Starting with the incoming v0.7, SàT can be used as a component, and file sharing is the first one.

Until now, it was only used to store personal data, so the files could be accessed with the jid of the component. For instance, if your server is example.net your file sharing component may have the jid files.example.net. To access photo albums, we need the path of the album (e.g. /photos/week-end) which is set in the node attribute in XEP-0329, so you can request files.example.net to retrieve your files (i.e. photo album) from /photos/week-end.
Problem: if Louise is connected to files.example.net and wants to access /photos/week-end, she will get her own album. How to do if she wants to access the one of Pierre?

That's were the local part is used, i.e. the part before the @ in a jid. The files.example.net component will receive all traffic sent to any jid finishing with @files.example.net. So when Louise wants to access Pierre files, she can use pierre@files.example.net instead of just the domain name. That's what I've implemented this week. By using just pierre, the component will associate this with its own server (i.e. example.net), and will look for files from pierre@example.net (and check which ones Louise can access).

But what for people with an account outside of example.net, for instance what if file sharing service allows nestor@example.org to store files? Louise can't request nestor@files.example.net because it would get the files of nestor@example.net (note the .net insteaf of .org , it's a different user). To allow to retrieve the files of an external account, we should be able to use a full jid in the request, but it's forbidden to use @ in local part of the jid.

That's where XEP-0106 is used, it allows to escape a jid to do exactly that. I've implemented that so Louise can request nestor\40example.org@files.example.net to retrieve files from nestor@example.org. Don't worry for the complicated address, the end-user should not have to type it herself.

Last but not least, I have also fixed the margin issue with paragraphs and added missing Atom feeds links, it should hopefully be more confortable to read this blog.

To summarize, during this short week I've implemented a way to retrieve files from an other user in file sharing component, I've implemented XEP-0106, I've fixed a small CSS issue on the blog and I've added missing links for Atom feed.

Hello everybody,

this is the time for a second progress report.

After the implementation of the button for translations, I've updated the French version of Libervia, and of the new website I'm currently working on (which is not yet online). For now this is done locally using tools like Gtranslator or Poedit, I plan to install at some point a web app like Weblate or Pootle and if possible to integrate is with SàT/XMPP (at least for authentication) to make contributions easier.

Beside that I've mainly been working on photos album, I want to be able to use it with 0.7.
For a bit of background, photo album is a specialized view of file sharing. I've evaluated two XEP (XMPP Extension Protocol) for that:

  • File Repository and Sharing (XEP-0214) which is based on Pubsub and Collections Nodes (XEP-0248)
  • File Information Sharing (XEP-0329) which is a simple way to share a repository

File sharing is usable either with direct sharing of a repository from a device (e.g. photos from a mobile phone), or with a server component which host files.

I've chosed the second one (File Information Sharing) for now because the Pubsub one is based on Collections which is, in my opinion, currently not usable: permissions from collection nodes are overwritting ones of leaf nodes, and as a result a private node can be accidentaly opened. This needs to be addressed, it's not the first time I discard pubsub collections because of that, I'll try to propose changes to standard after the 0.7 release.

The other reason I've chosen "File Information Sharing" (FIS) is that the Pubsub one handles mirrors and versions, which I feeled overcomplicated at the time. With FIS, I could make an implementation quickly, and I have a working UI now, which is already quite usable (see this blog post to see how it looks like).

But when I'm using the component, I have no way to change access (everything is managed, there is just no interface to change it), so when I put a file on the file sharing component, it stays private for now, not ideal when you want to share a photo album.

So I've worked on a quick way to do it, using ad-hoc commands: one to change file/directory permissions, and one to delete files. It's nearly finished and will be the last thing before starting beta phase.

That said, Pubsub has already everything needed to manage access and subscriptions (to know when new files/photos are available), so I plan to re-evaluate XEP-0214 at a later point, and if I still find it ill-adapted, maybe propose an other option.

I've also noticed a couple of CSS issues on the blog engine (mainly some padding around paragraph would make it easier to read), and I've been noticed that link to Atom feed is missing on the blog. I was planning to fix that this week but could not find the time (I'm working on SàT on my free time). So I hope to do this in the next few days.

That's it for this week. I'm looking forward to start debugging phase, and then finally release.

Hello everybody,

I've decided to start writing regular progress notes on this blog, so I can have more feedback from you :). The goal is on one hand to show what is worked on, and on the other hand to explain some technical/design decisions. I'll try to make it weekly, but it's not a promise (maybe this one will be the only one who knows). Also even if I often try to publish both in French and English, this is additional work and I need to focus, so this will probably be English only.

For people who haven't heard about the project, Salut à Toi (or SàT) is a communication ecosystem, libre (free as in freedom), decentralised, encrypted, multi-platforms and based on the rock solid XMPP standard. There are numerous features, among which chat, blog, events, files sharing, etc. and even a web framework. You can check https://salut-a-toi.org for details. Cagou is the frontend for desktop/Android, Libervia the web frontend (which include the web framework), jp the command line frontend, and Primivitus the TUI (Terminal User Interface).

Let's go with this first weekly progress note.

This week I've been working on connection change on Cagou on Android: when disconnected, the backend will try to reconnect every 30 s, this makes no sense when network has been disabled, and would be bad for battery. Now, thanks to pyjnius and android module from python-for-android, backend can check connectivity status, and get notified when there is a change. With those data, the reconnection can be adapted to the situation.

This was the last feature I wanted to implement for Cagou. It is now ready for beta. I'm already aware of a couple of troubles, they will be corrected during beta phase.

To save some bandwith on connection, roster versioning has been implemented.
So far SàT was requesting whole roster (the name of the contact list in XMPP) at each startup, which is not really optimal. Roster versioning lets client keep a local cache, and request only for changes (added/removed contacts) since its version in cache.
This was already handled in wokkel that SàT is using, but roster needed to be saved in local storage, and updates to be managed. A jp roster resync command has been added to force a full resynchronisation with server.

On Libervia I've added a button to change language. Localisation was already managed in the engine, but not used.
An explicit button is needed because there is no good way to auto detect language of user (checking user location is not good for various reasons, and browser language is not good either because user can be using a third party browser in a library for instance), so this needs to be visible and easy to change.
I try to keep Libervia working as much as possible without javascript, so the button had to work without javascript enabled. When javascript is enabled, changing language on the dropdown will immediately reload the page with new locale. When javascript is not enabled, an additional button is visible to use the desired language.
capture of language selector with extra button when javascript is not available

Beta version is coming, the last thing I want to implement is a discovery page for photo albums. I've also started to write a new website using Libervia, where I'll move (and improve) SàT documentation, which is currently mainly on the wiki.

That's all for today, please let me know if this progress note is useful/interesting, and if it worth publishing it more or less every week.

N.B.: I haven't made a blog post with the links to my 2 talks at FOSDEM, so here it is:

First talk, about using XMPP beyond instant messaging can be found at:

Second talk, a presentation of SàT focusing on its use of Python

Hello,

a small note to say that I'll be present at FOSDEM this week-end and I'll do 2 talks:

  • "XMPP Beyond Instant Messaging" where I'll show that XMPP is far more than an instant messaging protocol. Room H.1309 (Van Rijn) Sunday at 9:25
  • "Salut à Toi: A Python Based Social Network And More" which will be a presentation of the Salut à Toi ecosystem. Room UD2.120 (Chavanne) Sunday at 16:00

I'll often be at the "XMPP lounge", but I'm also planning to attend some talks and meet people at other booths, so don't hesitate to ping me on the SàT XMPP room sat@chat.jabberfr.org (also available from this link) if you want to talk and/or have a demo.

Salut à Toi is in stabilisation phase, and the incoming 0.7 release will bring a new desktop/mobile(Android) frontend, advanced file sharing, events, the basis of a decentralised code forge (tickets and merge requests), OMEMO end to end encryption, etc.

A major thing is also the new decentralised web framework, the only one of its kind, which allows you to create website naturaly decentralised, by linking XMPP and Python.

See you there!

Time is running so fast that I can barely find some to write about the advancement of Salut à Toi, and there's a lot to say.

I'll be short this time (no more long list of features like alpha release ;) ).

If you are following SàT for long time, you may remember the experiment to have an universal remote control, and the demonstration with VLC.

Well, this is now implemented in a cleaner way, and it's user friendly. With Cagou running on your mobile device, it's quite useful as you can see in the video below.

Note: I'm testing Peertube to diffuse SàT demo videos, you can also see the video on the instance I'm trying.

If you have already SàT running on your desktop, all you have to do is run your media player (VLC for instance). Then on Cagou click on the new "remote control" icon, and you should see an icon for your media player. Note that this is working only on GNU/Linux (and probably *BSD) as it is relying on D-BUS which is not available everywhere.

The other thing to mention is that OMEMO support is now available in SàT (thanks to the work of Syndace on python-omemo, and his prompt reactions to feedback). It's not fully finished yet: fingerprint management is missing, encryption is only available on one2one conversations, and it's not yet available on Android, but the biggest part is done and working on desktop.

Note: this video is also available on Peertube

That's it. I'll publish a new alpha release in a couple of days. The list of features to implement before release become narrow, stabilisation phase should start soon.

Once again help is needed for packaging (Debian, Arch, or other GNU/Linux distributions, Docker, etc.), testing/packaging on many platforms (*BSD, Windows and Mac for instance), and would be welcome for development too. Also we have a very low visibility, don't hesitate to shout out loud about the project :).

It's my pleasure to announce the release of the first alpha version of Salut à Toi 0.7.

This is the occasion on one hand to show the state, advancement and direction of the project, and on the other hand to launch a call for contributions.

In this article I will show you a part of Salut à Toi capabilities, and explain briefly how to use them.

You'll find a link to an .apk file to test Cagou on Android in the "Test it!" section.

As a reminder, Salut à Toi is a collaborattive ecosystem, which is multi-frontends (web, desktop, mobile devices, terminal, command line), multi-platforms, and multipurpose. It let you handle your communications, organise yourself, share your files, etc. It is also, and above all, an activist project which think about the impact of new technologies on our lives, and which tries to stimulate public debate.

We'll concentrate on the web and desktop/mobile frontends, because those are the ones which will most probably be of interest to the mass.

Web frontend (named "Libervia")

Libervia has seen major changes, with a new web framework.

The idea, which has been explained in a blog post is to offer base components (account authentification, permissions, comments, etc.) ready-to-use and decentralised thanks to XMPP. This way we easily build website which are automatically decentralised and federated.

Please note that everything is prepared for translation, but for now only English is available. Help would be much appreciated to improve on that!

Let's check the available features:

Chat

screenshot of a "chat" discussion in Libervia

Let's start with the most obvious, there is an instant messaging page. To use it, you just have to click on "chat", et to log in if it's not already done.

You'll land on a panel with the rooms in your bookmarks, you just have to click on one of them, or to specify an identifier (jid) of a new room/contact.
It is for now quite basic, but still you can enter "/help" to check textual commands.

Blog

my own blog, powered by Libervia

One of the flagship features of SàT, really rare in XMPP world (the only actively developed other client implenting it being Movim), is the blog (which is then decentralised).

A click on the menu will bring you to a "discover" page where you'll find your contacts with a blog. Click on one of them to read, or specify an identifier to read a blog which is not in your contacts.

Forums

XMPP powered decentralised forums

Unique feature in XMPP world, SàT propose forums, allowing to organise discussions in categories. Because forums are under the hood the same thing as blogs, it is possible to use a blog as forum and vice versa.

The addition of new forums is done by an administrator using command line tool "jp" (see below).

Events

personal list of events

Other feature not seen elsewhere in XMPP (and in decentralised software?), SàT allows you to create events, and of course to invite people.

As with other features, the page is thought to be easy to use: you have a button "create an event" which bring you to a form. A name, location and date later (and optionally a picture to associate), and your event is created. You'll then land to an admin page where you'll have the possibility to invite people.

Events are private for now, only your guests and you have access to it, but public events are also planned.

a guest is answering to an event RSVP

Please note that it's possible (but not yet from the web interface) to add arbitrary fields to your events, for instance to let your guest specify what they'll bring to a picnic.

File sharing

sharing file from browser

Here we are talking about a feature useful daily, and in many circonstances. Salut à Toi has long been able to send files, or to upload them on your server, but we are talking here about sharing one or many directories, or to upload in an advanced way on a serveur component.

All of this is explained in a recent blog post, but let me add 2 use cases to understand well:

  • you are home, you've just taken a video and some photos on your phone that you want to get on your computer. You have installed Cagou, the desktop/Android frontend of SàT on your device and already shared your photo directory. From your desktop computer, in the "file sharing" mode you see your device and you can directly download the video and the photos from there. The connection will be done directly on your local network, from device to device, and your files will not go throught a external server located whoever knows where.

  • you have files that you want to access at any time from anywhere (pictures or working documents for instance). You put them in a virtual directory on your file sharing component (a SàT instance too) and you can access it as simply as for the previous example.

Note that while with Cagou the connection is done directly when possible, it's not the case for Libervia which will first download the file on the server, before taking it throught HTTPS. WebRTC will be needed for the direct connection, and that's planned for 0.8 release.

Permission are handled easily: you specify who can access your files in a couple of clicks.

Files are transfered in clear for now (unencrypted), but this should not be the case anymore once finale release is here.

Photos albums

a photos album with a comment

Based on previous feature, a photos album mode display a directory containing only photos with adapted view, an with comments.

Permissions are really useful here, allowing to let, for instance, only your family see an album.

It's not yet possible to access an album from the interface of Libervia, to test it you'll have to change the URL by hand from the file handling page (by replacing files/list by photos/album).

Tickets

SàT tickets, first ones have been imported from Bugzilla

Developed from our own needs, SàT now handles tickets in pretty much the same way as a code forge. This is classical issue tracking, bugs report, tasks to do, etc.

Fields are free, it's really easy to use this feature for any kind of list: TO-DO tasks, but also, for instance, shopping lists.

Merge requests

a major patch is being reviewed

In the same spirit as tickets, SàT also handle "merge requests". Developed and used primarly for SàT itself, this system has the benefit or not being tied to a specific tool (like Git or Mercurial). Il is currently used with Mercurial, but it is possible to use it with whatever we want, and I'm not only talking about software code here.

Those 2 features means that SàT is a decentralised code forge. Even if it's still relatively basic, it has the benefit of being easy to use, flexible and adaptable. Furthermore there are only a few decentralised code forge at the moment (we can probably count Fossil, maybe some others).

Once again, contributions would accelerate things and would permit to have a very powerful tool.

Application

the dynamic part, which in under minimal maintenance and will be re-written for 0.8

To conclude this small tour of Libervia, we have to mention the application which is an entirely dynamic page, more elaborated but also more complicated to use (one of the main base version goal is to be easy to use).

Libervia web application allows to use widgets that you can drop next to each other, to do end to end encryption (OTR), or to publish blog post in simple or WYSIWYG mode, with the syntax you like (Markdown for instance).

It's the historic application which, for technical reasons, is now under minimal maintainance and have a few issues (like the contacts which can appear 2 times as seen in the screenshot above). It will be re-written for SàT 0.8, but it's let in place in this release for people who want to use it.

Cagou (desktop/Android)

Promised after the success of our crowfunding campaign, which allowed us to get a bit more than 3000 €, Cagou is our new frontend for desktop and Android devices. Its goals are to be modern, easy to use, and powerful.

Its original UI is inspired from Blender, and let split the screen to show several widgets at once. This UI has been thought in a way that it can be used even without knowing this split capacity, while being straightforward to use once the feature has been discovered.

To change mode, you just have to click on the top left icon.

For now, 5 modes are available: chat, contacts, file sharing, widget selector, and settings.

On the very top, you have a menu (only on desktop), and a notification zone, where messages appear for a few seconds and are visible entirely when clicking on the head of the left Cagou. On the other side, an other Cagou head can appear when you get notifications needing a user interaction (new contact for instance, or authentification request – see below –). This way, no popup will steal your focus while you are writing a message or doing something else.

Split

It is possible de split the screen as much as you want by clicking on the 3 dots area (on top and left borders), and then moving your mouse/finger. If the bar is red, this means that you'll close the area.

Here is a small animation to make things more clear:

demo of Cagou's widget split ability

You can organise the way you want, and monitor several things at the same time. In the future, it should be possible to keep handy widgets organisations so you can re-use them easily.

Chat

Cagou "chat" mode screenshot

The chat should be relatively intuitive. The top area show the current room or the identifier (JID) of the person you're talking to. It is possible to enter an other identifier manually to change room. For instance you can enter sat@chat.jabberfr.org to come on Salut à Toi room.

Still on the top area, the "padlock" icon on the right (only visible in 1/1 discussions) allows you to encrypt the conversation end to end, with OTR only for now (see below).

If you have several discussions at the same time, you can switch from one to the other by swiping your finger horizontally. Only discussions not already visible somewhere on the screen will be available, and for now they are in alphanumeric order (most certainly recent discussions will be available first when stable release will be out).

Finally, in the bottom area, in addition to the text input, you can see a + button with a circle which allows you to open a media transfer panel. On the desktop for now you can only select a file from your file-system, but on Android you can select/take a picture/video, a file or record an audio message. In every cases you can choose if you want to upload the file on your server, or send it directly to your contact, without transiting by the server.

file sharing

The principle has already been explained for Libervia, here is an animation showing how to share a directory with Cagou:

sharing a directory from Cagou

As you can see, you just have to do a long click/touch on the directory or file to share, and to select people which will have access to it.

You can click on "share local files" button, in the header zone, to change mode and see the device which are sharing. You'll then see – as with Libervia – 3 areas: the first one with sharing component, if any, the second one with your own devices (your phone or desk computer for instance), and finally the devices of your contacts. Once again, the input area let your filter devices to show.

see devices which can share files

Third party website authentification

SàT is a project which push the use of XMPP in every directions, and this include authentifying on third party websites. The idea is to be able to authenticate yourself without having to create an account on any website just by giving your JID.

Here is a video demo, thanks to the demo website made by jnanar, the screen on the right is a phone (displayed thanks to scrcpy):

super easy authentication with XMPP

You can implement this in your own website either by using Chteufleur component (Chteufleur is actually the original implementer of the feature in SàT, many thanks), either by using a server where it's already available (it's for instance the case on jabberfr, thanks to the admins of this server).

Please note that once it's in place, in your website you just have to do a single HTTPS request to validate authentication.

Contacts

No need to take much time on this mode, but it's good to know that you can add a new contact there (with the top button), or delete an existing one with a long click/touch.

A simple click will launch the chat mode with the selected contact.

Command line (JP)

There are far too many new things in jp to describe everything here.

Some useful informations anyway:

  • in jp we always put commands first, then arguments (jp [command] [subcommand] --arg_1 --arg_2 --etc)
  • jp [command] --help tells you how to use a command
  • jp shell let you use a REPL shell
  • it is possible to have high level and low level commands. For instance with the blog, you can have blog posts in a nice way by using jp blog get -s bloger@somewhere.tld -O fancy, or the raw XML with jp pubsub get -s bloger@somewhere.tld -n urn:xmpp:microblog:0
  • many commands have an output mechanism with --output (or -O). For instance jp blog get -s bloger@somewhere.tld -O json let you find metadata of a blog feed in JSON
  • jp can generate static websites thanks to --output template
  • when the website generator handle it, you can directly use the blog URL to edit it. For instance, I can edit one of my last posts by using jp blog edit -u https://www.goffi.org/b/khii3yEKWDhmNYSDt5GGrY/vers-forge-decentralisee-basee-xmpp where https://www.goffi.org/b/khii3yEKWDhmNYSDt5GGrY/vers-forge-decentralisee-basee-xmpp is the URL of the HTML generated page. I then have my text editor showing the code of my page on one side (in my favorite syntax) and the metadata on the other. Note the this works with webpage generated by Libervia, but also by Movim.

A small demo of the shell to read a blog:

checking a blog from shell (jp)

Test it!

You can test all this, the installation instructions are available (in English only, we are lacking resources to translate) on the wiki by clicking here.

SàT (backend + jp (CLI) + Primitivus (TUI)) is available in Debian experimental (thanks to Robotux, Naha, Debacle and other packagers).

SàT and its frontends (jp, Primitivus, Cagou, Libervia) are available on Arch Linux (thanks to jnanar and Link Mauve)

We got confirmation that SàT and Cagou are working on Mac OS X (thanks to xma), we would like help of people to also test it on Windows, BSD*, or anything else.

You can test on Android by clicking on this link from your device (installation from external resources must be activated from settings).

Note that this is an alpha version, that means:

  • it crashes, the code is not stable
  • all features are not finished, or even here
  • it's not optimised yet
  • it's not polished

Oh, and while we are talking about features not yet implemented, there are strong possibilities that end to end encryption with OMEMO will be implemented before final release, thanks notably to the new Python module available (thanks to Syndace, the author). End to end encryption is already available for years in SàT, but only with OTR so far.

Participate!

A last animation to show you the automatic language detection, an experimental feature:

language detection, then messages filtering

Let's stop here for the features, but we have not seen all of them.

As you can see, there's a lot to play with, and there is enough for every taste in this project.

And that's good, with summer holidays you'll have more time, a perfect occasion to contribute to a unique project, ethics and activist.

Do not hesitate to come on SàT XMPP room (sat@chat.jabberfr.org, also available without account, from the web).

If you are lacking time (picnic on the beach is nice too), support on Liberapay and/or adhering to the association is also helping.

Try to spread the word around you, our project lack visibility and needs you. If you are willing to host an instance, you can start to test (in a "experimental/not stable" part of your website), and give us feedbacks. We are also looking for people helping to package in every place where it's possible.

Thanks in advance, and see you soon!

With the recent announcement concerning the biggest known centralized code forge owner change, we have seen back here and there discussions about the creation of a similar tool, but decentralized.

I've used this occasion to recall the work done to implement tickets and merge requests in Salut à Toi (SàT), work which was relatively unoticed at the time of writing, about 6 months ago.

Now, I would like to bring some details on why building those tools.

First of all, why not the big forge? After all, a good part of current libre software is already using it! Well first it's not libre, and we commited ourself in our social contract to use libre software as much as possible, infrastructure included. Then because it's centralized, and there too our social contract is pretty clear, even if it's not as important for infrastructure as it is for SàT itself. Finally, because we are currently using Mercurial, and the most famous forge is build around Git.
We do not hide the fact that we already ask ourselves wether to use this platform or not in general assemblee (cf. minutes – in French –), we were mainly interested in the great visibility it can offer.

« It's centralized? But "Git" is decentralized! » is a point we are ofter hearing and it's a true fact, Git (and Mercurial, and some others) is decentralized. But a code forge is not the version control system, it's all the tools arount it: hosting, tickets, merge/pull requests, comments, wikis, etc. And those tools are not decentralized at the moment, and even if they are often usable throught a proprietary API, they are still under centralization rules, i.e. rules of the hosting service (and its technical hazards). This also means that if the service doesn't want a project, it can refuse, delete, or block it.

Centralization is also a technical facility to catalog and search project… which are on the service. Any external attempt will then have more difficulties to be visible and to attract contributors/users/help. This is a situation we know very well with Salut à Toi (we are not present on proprietary and centralized "social networks" for the same reasons), and we find it unacceptable. It goes without saying that concentrating projects on a single platform is the best way to contribute and exacerbate this state of affairs.
Please note, however, that we are not judging or attacking people and projects who made different choices. These positions are linked to our political commitment.

Why, then, not using existing Libre projects, already advanced and working, like Gitlab? Well, first because we are working with Mercurial and not Git, and secondly because we would put ourselves here too in a centralized solution. And there is an other point: there are nearly no decentralized forges (Fossil maybe?), and we already have nearly everything we need with SàT and XMPP. And let's add that there is some pleasure to build the tools we are lacking.

SàT is on the way to be a complete ecosystem, offering most, if not all, the tools needed to organise and communicate. But it is also generic and re-usable. That's why the "merge requests" system is not linked to a specific SCM (Git or Mercurial), it can be used with other software, and it is actually not only usable for code development. It's a component which will be used where it is useful.

To conclude this post, I would like to remind that if we want to see a decentralized, ethical and politically commited alternative to build our code, organise ourself, and communicate, we can make this real by cooperating and contributing, being with code, design, translations, documentation, testing, etc.
We got recently some help for packaging on Arch (thanks jnanar and previous contributors), and there are continuous efforts for packaging in Debian (thanks Robotux, Naha, Debacle, and other Debian XMPP packagers), if you can participate, please contact us (see our official website), together we can make the difference.
If you are lacking time, you can support us as well on Liberapay: https://liberapay.com/salut_a_toi. Thanks in advance!

Avec la récente annonce concernant le changement de propriétaire de la plus grosse forge centralisée connue, on a vu resurgir ici et là des questionnements sur la création d'un outil similaire mais décentralisé.

J'ai profité de l'occasion pour rappeler le travail effectué pour implémenter tickets et requêtes de fusion (« merge requests ») dans Salut à Toi (SàT), travail qui était passé relativement inaperçu quand j'ai écrit à ce sujet, il y a 6 mois.

Désormais je souhaite apporter quelques précisions sur le pourquoi de ces outils.

Tout d'abord pourquoi pas la grosse forge ? Après tout une importante partie des logiciels libres actuels l'utilise déjà !
D'une part parce que ce n'est pas libre, et nous nous sommes engagés dans notre contrat social à utiliser tant que possible des logiciels libres, y compris pour l'infrastructure. D'autre part parce que c'est centralisé, et là encore notre contrat social est clair à ce sujet, même si c'est moins essentiel pour l'infrastructure que pour SàT lui-même. Enfin parce que nous utilisons à l'heure actuelle Mercurial, et que la forge la plus connue est construite autour de Git.
Ne cachons pas toutefois que nous nous sommes déjà posés la question notamment en assemblée générale (cf. les comptes rendus), nous étions intéressés en particulier par la visibilité.

« C'est centralisé ? Mais « Git » est décentralisé ! » est une réflexion que l'on entend souvent et elle est vraie, Git (et Mercurial, et d'autres) est décentralisé. Mais une forge n'est pas le gestionnaire de version, c'est tous les outils autour : hébergement, tickets, gestion des modifications (merge/pull requests), commentaires, wikis, etc. Et ces outils là ne sont pas décentralisés à l'heure actuelle, et même s'ils sont souvent accessibles par des API spécifiques aux services, ils restent soumis aux lois de la centralisation, c'est-à-dire du service qui héberge (et des aléas techniques de ce service). Cela veut également dire que si le service ne veut pas d'un projet, il peut le refuser, l'effacer, le bloquer.

La centralisation, c'est aussi la facilité pour cataloguer et rechercher… pour les projets qui sont sur ce service. Rendant de facto toute tentative extérieure moins visible et donc augmentant ses difficultés. C'est une situation que nous connaissons bien avec Salut à Toi (nous sommes également absents des « réseaux sociaux » propriétaires et centralisés pour les mêmes raisons), et que nous jugeons inacceptable. Il va sans dire que se concentrer sur une plateforme ne fait qu'encourager et prolonger cet état de fait. Notons tout de même qu'il n'est pas question ici de dénigrer ceux qui ont fait des choix différents, ces réflexions étant liées à notre implication politique forte et les contraintes changent d'un cas à l'autre.

Pourquoi, alors, ne pas utiliser des projets libres existants, avancés et fonctionnels comme Gitlab ? D'une part parce que nous travaillons avec Mercurial et non Git, et d'autre part parce que nous serions là aussi dans la centralisation. Il y a une autre raison : c'est qu'il n'existe pas ou peu (Fossil peut être ?) de forges décentralisées, et nous avons déjà tout ce qu'il nous faut avec SàT et XMPP. Et puis il y a un certain plaisir à créer les outils qui nous manquent.

SàT se veut un écosystème complet, offrant la majeure partie si ce n'est tous les outils nécessaires pour s'organiser et communiquer. Mais il est aussi générique et réutilisable. C'est pourquoi le système de « merge requests » n'est pas lié à un outil particulier (Git ou Mercurial), il peut être utilisé avec d'autre logiciels, et n'est d'ailleurs par réservé au développement de code. C'est une autre brique qui sera utilisée là où ça sera utile.

Pour conclure, je rappelle que si vous voulez voir une alternative décentralisée, éthique et engagée pour construire nos logiciels, nous organiser et communiquer, on peut la rendre possible en coopérant et contribuant, que ce soit avec du code, de la conception graphique (design), des traductions de la documentation des tests, etc.
Nous avons récemment eu de l'aide pour l'empaquetage sur Arch (merci à jnanar et aux mainteneurs précédents), et il y a des efforts continus pour l'empaquetage sur Debian (merci à Robotux, Naha, Debacle et les autre empaqueteur XMPP sur Debian). Si vous pouvez participer, merci de regarder comment nous contacter sur le site officiel), ensemble on peut faire la différence.
Si vous manquez de temps, vous pouvez aussi nous soutenir sur Liberapay: https://liberapay.com/salut_a_toi. Merci d'avance !

La dernière grosse fonctionnalité avant la préparation de la version alpha, le partage de fichiers, et désormais disponible pour Salut à Toi.

SàT est capable d'envoyer ou recevoir des fichiers depuis des années, soit directement quand 2 personnes sont connectées en même temps, ou via un téléversement sur le serveur (via « HTTP upload »).

Il est maintenant possible de partager une hiérarchie de fichiers, ou en d'autres termes un ou plusieurs répertoires. Il y a 2 cas d'utilisation principaux : avec un composant, ou un autre client.

partager un répertoire avec Cagou

Partager un répertoire avec un client

La première façon d'utiliser le partage de fichiers est directement entre 2 appareils. Ceci peut être utilisé, par exemple, pour partager des photos prises sur votre téléphone avec votre ordinateur de bureau, ou pour rapidement donner accès à des documents de travail à vos collègues.
Pour gérer les permissions, vous n'avez qu'à donner les JIDs (identifiants XMPP) des personnes autorisées (ou à cliquer sur les contacts dans Cagou, l'interface graphique).

Le transfert utilise la technologie Jingle, qui va permettre de choisir la meilleure façon d'envoyer le fichier. Cela signifie que si vous êtes sur le même réseau local que l'autre appareil (ce qui est le cas dans le précédant exemple de partager des photos prises sur le téléphone avec votre ordinateur de bureau, quand vous êtes à la maison), la connexion reste en local, et le serveur ne verra que le « signal », c'est à dire les données nécessaires à l'établissement de la connexion.

Mais si vos appareils ne sont pas sur le même réseau local, la connexion est toujours faisable, et SàT essaiera d'utiliser une connexion directe quand c'est possible.

partage de fichiers avec un client

Ci-dessus vous pouvez voir avec quelle simplicité on peut partager un répertoire avec Cagou, l'interface bureau/Android de Salut à Toi.

Le partage de fichiers avec un composant

SàT peut maintenant gérer des composants (qui sont plus ou moins des greffons génériques pour les serveurs XMPP), et un premier permet à un utilisateur de téléverser, lister, ou retrouver des fichiers.

Ceci est vraiment pratique quand vous voulez garder des fichiers privés pour une utilisation ultérieure (et y accéder depuis n'importe quel appareil), ou pour partager un album photo, par exemple, avec votre famille. Cette fonctionnalité est sur la voie d'un service similaire à ce qu'on appelle de nos jours « stockage sur le cloud », sauf que vous pouvez garder le contrôle sur vos données.

partage de fichiers avec un composant

Comme vous pouvez le voir, c'est très similaire à ce qu'il se passe entre 2 clients.

De plus avec le nouveau système d'invitation de SàT, vous pouvez partager des fichiers même avec des personnes qui n'ont pas de compte.

Quelques notes

Le transfert de fichier n'est pas encore chiffré, mais c'est prévu rapidement avec OX (OpenPGP) ou OMEMO.
La fonctionnalité de base est là et fonctionne, mais il y a encore des améliorations prévues à plus ou moins long terme : des quotas pour les utilisateurs, la synchronisation de fichiers, le chiffrement de bout en bout, ou encore la recherche avancée.

Tester

Vous trouverez sur le wiki les instructions sur comment utiliser cette fonctionnalité (en anglais).

Bien sûr vous aurez besoin de la version de développement pour tester. N'hésitez pas à demander de l'aide sur le salon SàT : sat@chat.jabberfr.org (ou avec un butineur).

Un paquet est désormais disponible pour Cagou sur AUR pour les utilisateurs d'Arch Linux, un grand merci à jnanar pour ceci.

Besoin d'aide !

SàT est un très gros projet, avec de fortes racines éthiques. Il est unique sur plus d'un point, et nécessite beaucoup de travail. Vous pouvez aider à sa réussite soit en nous soutenant sur Liberapay soit en contribuant (jetez un œil au site officiel ou venez sur le salon pour plus d'infos).

Le prochain billet sera à propos de la sortie de la version alpha, restez en ligne ;)