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Doubts about enabling CIFS in Alfresco 4

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Doubts about enabling CIFS in Alfresco 4

Hi,

I'm having a problem with Alfresco 4 Community version. In my job, everybody switched to windows 7 some months ago and they use alfresco through the webdav, but the alfresco's webdav doesn't work quite well for some reason, so I'm evaluating in letting them another way so they can access their files in alfresco without too much trouble.

Basically, the way they work is they open the repository (via a mapped drive in windows7 using webdav) and then they begin to operate on folders (create,move,rename,delete) and files inside them. For instance, they open a folder called "foo" and inside it there is a word document called bar.docx they do double clic on it, edit it and after a while they save and close it.

As Webdav is giving too much problems for them, I would want to know what do you suggest me, if they could use another thing like CIFS maybe?

My doubt with CIFS is that our Alfresco server is not in our local LAN, but in another network segment so as far as I remember when you are in this type of environment you need to setup a WINS server besides the Samba server (my alfresco is running in a Debian Linux box). Do I have to do this?

And another question, do I have to setup a Samba server in order to put Alfresco CIFS to work? :?:

thanks in advance.

Re: Doubts about enabling CIFS in Alfresco 4

No you don't need to have a separate SAMBA server.

But CIFS is not a good choice of protocol over a high latency network. Its optimised for a LAN.

What exactly do you mean by "alfresco's webdav doesn't work quite well for some reason"

Senior Software Engineer
Alfresco

Re: Doubts about enabling CIFS in Alfresco 4

Just that.

Alfresco Webdav with Windows 7 has SEVERAL ISSUES, and is almost unusable. When my users try to do some operations like rename, save, move, etc it randomly gives error that it can't save files, or for example if a user moves a directory with files in it to the repository via webdav, then if she decides to rename it then the files that are INTO the directory are not visible via webdav, it seems like the folder is "empty" (which is not, because you can visualize them in the web interface, or if you try to copy again those files from your desktop to that folder it ask you whether you want to "replace" the file, althought the view that you get is completely empty and yes, i've refreshed the webdav's view).

Sometimes you open a file in the webdav, let's suppose a word document, a edit it and after a while I decide to save it and close, then when I clic on "save" it gives me an error of "Document not saved".

That's why i want an alternative way of accessing the repository because webdav with windows 7 is to painful to use.

Re: Doubts about enabling CIFS in Alfresco 4

Just a FYI, I have found in practice CIFS is unusable if you are using Microsoft Office- you will frequently get locked files through cifs, even when no-one has them open. Something to do with MS Office not closing files cleanly- there is a post somewhere on these forums regarding this. In practice I only permit power users to use CIFS as the only way to clear the file locks is to restart alfresco. You can work around when this happens by checking out/in via web interface but this is too fiddly for average users, who will not understand, especially if they are used to windows server CIFS where we can manually close open files. AFAIK there is no way to do this with the CIFS server in Alfresco.

Haven't seen any other apps behave this badly so perhaps just move to OO.Org!

Have you considered using the Sharepoint integration instead? This provides a more reliable medium for users to access collaboration spaces in Share via webdav that doesn't run into the same webdav problems?

There also the online editing option which talks to the microsoft office 2010 plugin, that would let users access and edit docs directly from web interface- you could also do this with Google docs integration I guess. Couple that with drag and drop support on Share in firefox and other "good" browsers and you have a lot of alternative options that may be more suitable for a remote network.

Re: Doubts about enabling CIFS in Alfresco 4

Hi,

The problem is, that we don't use Share here, only Alfresco. And AFAIK, the sharepoint protocol plugin is designed to work with Share but not with Alfresco. Right?

Re: Doubts about enabling CIFS in Alfresco 4

Throwback,

I am glad I'm not the only seeing problems with CIFS and office. I thought I was the only one as nobody else ever chimed in on it. One of my previous posts may be what you are mentioning.

I donwloaded the latest nightly release and the problems still exist. :( CIFS is still not usable for us.

-Scott

Re: Doubts about enabling CIFS in Alfresco 4

I am a newbie to Alfresco. Probably my writing will not introduce any news for experienced users. If this is the case, I would propose that this findings would be included in the Alfresco documentation, just to keep new users on the right track and to keep their expectations down to Earth.

As far as my tests with Alfresco Community 4.0.d have shown, you have to be really conservative on the options you offer your users. If you mount the resource over CIFS or WebDAV, quite a lot depends on the implementation of the programs that are used to manipulate your files.

Example 1:
- resource is mounted over CIFS as a network drive on the Windows client
- PDF document is opened with SumatraPDF (which is really only a reader and does not support annotations)
- document _is not_ locked

Example 2:
- resource is mounted over CIFS as a network drive on the Windows client
- PDF document is opened with PDF-XChange Viewer which supports annotations
- document _is_ locked (even if user has permissions set to read-only)

You can argue that this is expected behavior. But, while the document is locked over the CIFS interface (you can not overwrite the file until it is closed), you can overwrite the file if you use Share web interface (Safari, drag and drop). Additionally, the file is refreshed (new version of file is opened when double-clicked) in CIFS only when I change to some other folder and then back. If I try to upload a new version of the file through Share web interface with the "Upload New Version" link, it fails - even after I close all open files (I did not investigate why this happens, jet).

Example 3:
- resource is mounted over WebDAV as a network drive on the Windows client (using Total Commander)
- PDF document is opened with PDF-XChange Viewer which supports annotations
- document _is not_ locked (compare with Example 2)

Example 4:
- resource is mounted over WebDAV as a network drive on the Windows client (using Total Commander)
- PDF document is overwritten with a new version
- a document receives a new minor version as expected

Example 5:
- resource is mounted over WebDAV using MAC OS X Lion Finder
- PDF document is overwritten with a new version
- a _new_ document with the same name is found in the repository (older versions are lost, if you refresh document page in Share web interface it reports "The item cannot be found. Either it has been removed or it has never existed.")

Again, you can argue that this is expected behavior, since it seams that Finder's implementation first deletes the file and then copies a new file with the same name in its location. This is not an Alfresco issue, one might say. I do agree, but that does not change the fact that you loose (documents are in Trashcan) versioning control over your documents. Users of Alfresco should be aware of this, and this is, in my opinion, an Alfresco issue - this should be stressed in documentation.

Conclusions:
1. It seems that I will use WebDAV only for read-only resources.
2. CIFS will be used in non-locking setup
3. When concurrent editing is an option, CIFS users will have to use checkinout.exe

Problem:
I am not able to configure non-locking CIFS. I have read the documentation, searched the forums, fought with Wiki pages for other versions of Alfresco, but not succeeded, so far. I have changed AVMLockingAwareService to AVMService in alfresco-4.0.d/tomcat/webapps/alfresco/WEB-INF/classes/alfresco/subsystems/fileServers/default/network-protocol-context.xml on my Linux server, but to no avail - locking is still in place. Here is the complete avmDiskDriver config from network-protocol-context.xml:

















Any hints would be much apprechiated.

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