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Installing and accessing Syncthing on Ubuntu server

Another way to backup mobile photos to a headless server, besides using Google Photos.

I am running a Ubuntu 20.04 server on a Raspberry Pi 4 and trying to use Syncthing (supports Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android) to backup my mobile photos. Following is notes on steps:

Installing Syncthing

Ref: https://apt.syncthing.net/ and https://www.linuxbabe.com/ubuntu/install-syncthing-ubuntu-desktop-server

# download the GPG key then import the key: should see 'OK'
curl -s https://syncthing.net/release-key.txt | sudo apt-key add -
# add the official deb repository with the following command.
echo "deb https://apt.syncthing.net/ syncthing stable" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/syncthing.list

# Because this repository uses https, we need to install the apt-transport-https package
sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https

# Update local package index and install syncthing on Ubuntu.
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install syncthing

Configuring to allow external access

Ref: https://docs.syncthing.net/users/faq.html#how-do-i-access-the-web-gui-from-another-computer

The syncthing systemd service creates configuration files under /home/username/.config/syncthing/ and a folder /home/username/Sync as the default sync folder. The main config file is /home/username/.config/syncthing/config.xml.

Now we need to modify the config.xml file

vi /home/ubuntu/.config/syncthing/config.xml # change 'ubuntu' to your username

to change to

Enable the service at system start

Ref: https://docs.syncthing.net/users/autostart.html#using-systemd

There are two types of services that can be enabled: system service and user service.

Running Syncthing as a system service ensures that Syncthing is run at startup even if the Syncthing user has no active session. Since the system service keeps Syncthing running even without an active user session, it is intended to be used on a server.

Running Syncthing as a user service ensures that Syncthing only starts after the user has logged into the system (e.g., via the graphical login screen, or ssh). Thus, the user service is intended to be used on a (multiuser) desktop computer. It avoids unnecessarily running Syncthing instances.

I am planning to set up the system service:

  • (NOT necessary for Ubuntu >=18.04) From git location mentioned above copy the Syncthing/etc/linux-systemd/system/syncthing@.service file into the load path of the system instance. [/lib/systemd/system/]

  • Enable and start the service. Replace “ubuntu” with the actual Syncthing user after the @:

# need to input the user password
systemctl enable syncthing@ubuntu.service
systemctl start syncthing@ubuntu.service

Then we can check the status of the servie:

systemctl status syncthing@ubuntu.service

Accessing the Web interface (GUI) from another computer

The address is by default: [server IP]:8384

Should set a password and enable HTTPS.

More to read: the FAQ of Syncthing

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