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An Architect's View

box.net and WebDAV

August 8, 2008 · 5 Comments

I've been using the free "basic" account on box.net for about two years. They've never really officially supported WebDAV but it worked and I used it to publish calendars for myself and my wife so we could easily subscribe to each other's calendars and keep in sync (we have crazy busy lives!). Over the last two years, they've changed the URL patterns and had numerous bouts of downtime on WebDAV. It was free, it was unsupported, it was only marginally annoying.As I've gotten my life more organized lately with EverNote and 43actions, my tolerance for things that don't work has decreased. For something reason box.net's WebDAV shut down yesterday and I can no longer find any mention of it on their site to troubleshoot it. They also don't seem to offer the free account now - I was one of the early adopters - but it was always a bit annoying to have to login every month or so to keep my account active even tho' I was continually uploading / downloading files from it. I searched around for free WebDAV-enabled storage and couldn't find any (I could find plenty of free online storage but only the "pro" editions seemed to support WebDAV). Frustrated, I wracked my brain trying to think how to easily share calendars with my wife... What about MobileMe? It's $100 a year!! Jeez, that's expensive for sharing less than 1Gb of data. I searched some more. Nope. Finally it dawned on me... I have a VPS running corfield.org and it has Apache and so it has... WebDAV! Yes, if you have an Apache-powered server, you have a WebDAV-enabled shared storage server. Great, so all I needed to do was slap a few directives in Apache and I was off to the races... Well, I have a love/hate relationship with Apache. Mostly I love it, but when something doesn't quite go right, it can be the most frustrating piece of software in the world. I spent about two whole hours messing with httpd.conf and reading page after page of Google results before I finally (and I hate to admit it - inexplicably) got WebDAV to work on my VPS so that I could change both my wife's iCal and my iCal settings to publish / subscribe to files on corfield.org. Lessons learned: WebDAV is extremely fussy about permissions; Apache directives are extremely fussy about settings and whether you have a / or not on your paths. No single tutorial page on Google gave me everything I needed so I still don't know quite how many of the conniptions I went thru are actually necessary (which I hate!). In the end, my httpd.conf file ended up with:
DavLockDB /var/lib/dav/lockdbfile
<Location /davdirectory/>
Dav On
AllowOverride None
AuthType Basic
AuthName "WebDAV"
AuthUserFile /etc/webdav.passwd
<LimitExcept GET HEAD OPTIONS POST>
Require user secureuser
</LimitExcept>
</Location>
and everything to do with this setup is locked down to just the apache user account. If anyone has hints and tips to share on configuring WebDAV, I'd love to here them!

Tags: apache

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Abdul Qabiz // Aug 8, 2008 at 8:28 PM

    Cool! I was about to suggest the same, good you figured out (Apache) :-)

    It's lot better to get a VPS and do things.
  • 2 Antonin // Aug 11, 2008 at 3:41 AM

    I used to be a box.net / WebDAV user and I turned to set up my own WebDAV server on my VPS with Apache2. I enabled SSL to secured my transfers which box.net does not offer, I also set up inotifywait to manage file permissions so that each user can have its own WebDAV directory. I benefit from a better file transfer rate (x5) and I have lot more disk space. I subscribed a special box.net plan for about 49$ a year with 5GB. In comparison my VPS is 9.99¬ a month. It is more expensive but I have a lot more. Lastly, I am using webdrive as a WebDAV client and it happens to be great software especially when you want to connect your WebDAV account as a network drive under Windows XP.
  • 3 Sam Clement // Aug 11, 2008 at 4:41 PM

    It's not WebDAV but google calendar now supports CalDAV. Just tested it quickly with iCal and and it seems to work pretty well.
  • 4 Sean Corfield // Aug 11, 2008 at 6:38 PM

    @Sam, yes, I use that for my Broadchoice calendar and it's nice that it's read/write.
  • 5 John // Feb 8, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    In addition to Google Calendars you can use Mozilla Lighting calendar along with the Google Calendar Provider Add-on and it gives you read/write access to shared Google Calendars. I just started using this and it seems to work pretty well (though check the Google Calendar Provider FAQ for any issues)

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