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B2DROP

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The document discusses use of the B2DROP service by researchers.

Modified: 12 December 2016

Synopsis

B2DROP is a secure and trusted data exchange service for researchers and scientists to keep their research data synchronized and up-to-date and to exchange them with other researchers. In this document the user can find instructions on how to connect B2DROP to their computer using the MacOS, Linux and Windows operating systems.

Introduction

B2DROP is an easy-to-use, user-friendly and trustworthy storage environment which allows users to synchronise their active data across different desktops and to easily share this data with peers. The service is directed towards all European researchers whose institute does not host such storage. B2DROP is based on ownCloud. The service is intended for the long-tail and still volatile data which can change and are still subject to active research e.g. drafts of research papers. Therefore, B2DROP offers versioning of all ingested files but does not attach persistent identifiers to them.

B2DROP is hosted at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre, which guarantees that your research data stay in Europe. Daily backups of all files in B2DROP are taken and kept on tape. Data are encrypted on transmission through the exclusive use of the https protocol for data transfer. Each B2DROP user is allowed 20GB of storage.

Use of B2DROP is subject to the service terms of use.

Usage overview

B2DROP offers an intuitive user-interface via the web; this is mostly self-explanatory, with highlights discussed below. In addition to web access, users can mount B2DROP as a drive on their desktop machines via WebDAV, or use a desktop client which also allows offline synchronisation. In this section we give some quick-start instructions for the MacOS, Linux and Windows operating systems. For further help please consult the ownCloud documentation. Please note that a PDF copy of the ownCloud user manual is also available in your B2DROP home directory.

Web usage highlights

B2DROP includes customisations over ownCloud, highlighted below. Some finer points are also discussed.

Getting access

Please visit https://b2drop.eudat.eu/ and seek "Not registered yet? CLICK HERE" under the "Log in" button. Click on it and follow the simple instructions.

Sharing a file

There are two ways to share a file: via ownCloud functionality, you can share files with users in the B2DROP directory and on other ownClouds; and with anyone on email by sharing a link. Hover over an entry and click on the "Share" symbol, as shown on Figure 1.

B2DROP Share menu

Figure 1. The B2DROP "Share" icon.

Share via ownCloud:  If you start typing on the box shown on Figure 2, options from the B2DROP directory become available. Or you can use the format username@example.com/owncloud for users on other ownClouds. You need to repeat for each person you want to allow access.

B2DROP Local Share menu

Figure 2. The B2DROP menu to share with ownCloud users.

Share publicly: If you click on "Share link" instead, a URL is made available to you as shown on Figure 3. You can distribute this using your preferred means.

B2DROP Public Share menu

Figure 3. The B2DROP menu to share publicly.

Figure 4 shows the different icons that shared folders get: the chain represents a publicly shared link; the triangle signifies a locally shared folder.

B2DROP Local Share menu

Figure 4. The B2DROP shared folder icons (publicly and locally respectively).

More information on sharing is available from the ownCloud user documentation.

Accessing shared artefacts

When a B2DROP local user shares a file or folder with you, then a link to this artefact is added to your B2DROP home folder.

However, when accessing an artefact that was shared with you as a link, then the "Add to your ownCloud" button appears at the top right of the B2DROP webpage; see Figure 5. Clicking on it adds to your B2DROP home folder a link to this page.

B2DROP Add to your ownCloud button

Figure 5. The B2DROP "Add to your ownCloud" button.

Other functionality

Hover over a file that you won and note the three-dot symbol shown on Figure 6. If you click on that, you are presented with options to see the details of the file, rename it, download it onto storage available from your client or delete it from B2DROP.

B2DROP more options

Figure 6. Other file options on B2DROP.

Mount B2DROP using the WebDAV client

You can use the WebDAV client to mount your B2DROP folder as a drive on your computer. Note that this mode of using B2DROP requires you to be connected to the internet in order to open and save files, while the desktop synchronization client discussed below allows you to also manipulate files while offline and synchronize when re-connected. Instructions for using the WebDAV client for MacOS, Linux and Windows are discussed below.

  • MacOS

You can mount B2DROP in your "Finder" by clicking on "Go" on the drop-down menu and then "Connect to server" and entering: https://b2drop.eudat.eu/remote.php/webdav/
You then need to login with your username (email address) and password.
You can also mount B2DROP with Cyberduck by providing the above-mentioned information to the client.

  • Linux

The instructions below have been tested on Ubuntu but they should work for every Linux distribution supporting the NAUTILUS or GNOME file system.

You can mount B2DROP with NAUTILUS. Then select "Go to File --> Connect to server" Type in: davs://b2drop.eudat.eu/remote.php/webdav/. You then need to login with your username (email address) and password. Mounting via davfs is also possible, but it requires sudo access.

     sudo apt-get install davfs2
     mkdir oc
     sudo mount.davfs https://b2drop.eudat.eu/remote.php/webdav/ oc

You then need to login with your username (email address) and password. You can unmount with the following command: sudo umount.davfs oc

  • Windows

You can map B2ROP as network drive by entering the following URL as a folder: https://b2drop.eudat.eu/remote.php/webdav/
You then need to login with your username (e-mail address) and password.
Note: you may need to set your computer to allow Basic Authentication; please follow the Microsoft instructions for this. Because B2DROP is available under https, Option "1 - Basic authentication enabled for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) shares only" should suffice for Windows Vista and later.

Desktop Synchronization

You can also synchronize B2DROP with your computer using ownCloud desktop clients. Just download the latest version of the ownCloud Desktop Synchronization Client from the ownCloud Website. There are clients for multiple Linux distributions, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows, as discussed below. For more information on the client, check out the documentation.

  • Mac OS X and Windows

Installation on Mac OS X and Windows is the same as for any software application: download the program, double-click it to launch the installation, and then follow the installation wizard. The installation wizard takes you step-by-step through configuration options and account setup. You need to enter the URL of the B2DROP ownCloud server, which is https://b2drop.eudat.eu/. Then enter your username (email address) and password.

  • Linux Distributions

Linux users must follow the instructions on the download page to add the appropriate repository for their Linux distribution, install the signing key, and then use their package managers to install the desktop sync client. For the configuration options and account setup you need to enter the URL of the B2DROP ownCloud server which is https://b2drop.eudat.eu/. Then enter your username (email address) and password.

A note on B2DROP versioning

B2DROP supports file versioning, and it does so automatically. Access to the previous versions is straightforward on the web GUI and the desktop client; the file gets overwritten by the selected version, with other versions (including newer) retained.

However, in order to preserve disk space, B2DROP preserves a subset of the versions, progressively reducing the number of retained versions as time goes by. The scheme is discussed under "Version Control" in the ownCloud manual, but it is important to note that B2DROP will remove older saved versions and/or stop maintaining versions while the user exceeds 50% of their quota.

Future features

In future, further B2DROP instances at other EUDAT centres are planned which can be federated to allow data exchange between these instances. In general the developer team is looking into possibilities to allow federations between B2DROP and other OwnCloud instances.

EUDAT is open to suggestions for B2DROP plugins and is interested in developing such plugins for communities and hosting community-specific B2DROP instances.

Support

Support for B2DROP is available via the EUDAT ticketing system through the webform.

If you have comments on this page, please submit them though the EUDAT ticketing system.

Document data

Version: 1.3

Authors:

Christine Staiger, christine.staiger@surfsara.nl

Kostas Kavoussanakis, kavousan@epcc.ed.ac.uk

Editors:

Themis Zamani, themis@admin.grnet.gr

Hans van Piggelen, hans.vanpiggelen@surfsara.nl